Top 5 Tips for Capturing Holiday Memories with Your Smartphone Camera

Top 5 Tips for Capturing Holiday Memories with Your Smartphone Camera

The best holidays are those you can look back on – years later – and still recall the excitement and wonder as if it were only yesterday. But memories can fade over time and postcards aren’t exactly personal. Photos you’ve taken, on the other hand, are the perfect gateway to reflecting and reminiscing on your favourite overseas experiences.

Fortunately, capturing these memories no longer means lugging around a heavy camera bag. Now we all have handy (and often high-quality) cameras packed right into our mobile phones. Whether you keep your snaps on your phone’s camera roll, upload them to Facebook, or print them out for a physical photo album, we’ve got 5 top tips for capturing those holiday moments you never want to forget.

1. Snap, Snap, Snap

Gone are the days of carefully choosing which photos are worth taking and which ones are not. With the amount of digital storage space built into most smartphones, you can generally feel free to take as many photos as you like! Snapping pictures liberally means you’ll have plenty of options when you get around to posting the highlights on social media or framing them as mementos when you get home.

Handy hint: Some smartphones have more gigabytes than others, and your available space for photos will depend on how many apps and other files you already have saved. Before your departure date, we recommend doing some digital spring cleaning: go through all your apps and past photos, removing anything you no longer need. Consider transferring precious pictures onto a computer or uploading them to a cloud-storage program such as Dropbox so that you’ll have more space for new snapshots.

Guest Tip: A Stranger is Just a Photographer You Haven’t Met Yet

Landmarks and monuments can look great in photos – but unless you and your companions are in the photo too, you might as well just buy a postcard. Luckily, solo travel blogger Jaharn Giles has a simple way to capture those perfect personal pictures (without the embarrassment of using a selfie stick!). “Need someone to take a photo for you? No worries, just ask! The worst they can say is no, so swallow your nerves and go for it. However, to avoid the disappointment of a bad photo, simply set up your smartphone camera and take a few practice photos to show your new friend so they know what you're trying to capture.

Hint: Look for people with really professional cameras as they'll probably know a thing or two about photography. So when you hand them your smartphone, you'll be more likely to get a killer photo!

Instagram image by misterweekender

Some photos just aren't speciall unless you appear in them. See more from Jaharn at or by following on Instagram @misterweekender.

2. Let’s Get Technical

Here’s another thing to do before your holiday begins: sit down with your smartphone and really get to know its camera. Where does the button move to if you change from horizontal to vertical? How do you turn the flash on or off? Is there a way to set a timer or take a series of rapid photos? Knowing the ins and outs of your smartphone camera will help you save time and improve the quality of your snaps during your tour. Looking up an online guide for your specific type of phone (e.g. Apple or Android) can help you master it.

Advanced advice: Already familiar with the basics of your smartphone camera? You might want to try something more advanced to capture some unique photos of your holiday. Turn to photography blogs for some tips and tricks – you may even want to try taking a panoramic photo of one of the landmarks you explore abroad!

Guest Tip: Stick to the Grid

An amazing photo doesn’t require expensive camera gear or a degree in photography. Sometimes, all it takes is a little grid guidance and a bit of intuition – something Aussie travel writer Phoebe Lee has plenty of.

“Be sure to turn on and use the 9 square grid on your smartphone camera. It'll help balance your shots, making them more appealing to the eye. Line up key focal points where the grid intersects."

Instagram image by Little Grey Box

A simple 9-box grid can help you line up the perfect shot. See more from Phoebe at or by following on Instagram @littlegreybox_phoebe.

3. Lighting and Composition

You want your holiday photos to look as wonderful as possible, so put some thought into the lighting and positioning of each picture you snap. Avoid positioning the subject of your photo (e.g. yourself, your companions or a landmark) between your smartphone and the sun, as this will create unsightly silhouettes.

Natural lighting is usually ripest for photos in the morning and close to dusk, rather than around midday, so capture important memories around these times when possible. Also, one benefit of overcast days is that they often produce a more pleasant light for photography, so don’t let any clouds dampen your spirit!

When it comes to composition, it’s important to strike a balance between focal points and background scenery. If the ‘rule of thirds’ is something you’ve never heard of, your upcoming holiday is the perfect excuse to brush up on some photography basics!

Inspiration: Browse through some of your favourite photos online and think about what you like about them. Then you can keep these appealing elements in mind while taking your own photos. The pictures on our destination pages are a great source of inspiration to get you started!

Lake Macugnaga, Italy - courtesy of Stephen Blee

Guest Tip: People, Food, and Editing Apps

Serial traveller Victoria Brewood has plenty of travel tips to share – as you would expect from someone who has made a living from travel blogging since 2008 and visited over 45 countries! When it comes to holiday photography, these are her top tips:

“Feature a person in your photo to give it some perspective. It could be someone wearing a hat looking out at the view, or a #strideby where a person walks across the frame. 

When taking pictures of food, I like to photograph in daylight. But just in case, I always travel with a pocket Manfrotto LED light so I can light up the meal in low light situations. 

On Instagram, I always try to take advantage of the portrait mode but never use landscape – why waste pixels? For editing, I love to use apps such as Camera +, Touch Retouch and FaceTune – those are my 'go to' apps.”

Instagram picture from Pommie Travels

Looking away from the camera can create a refreshing photo for your album – especially if you have a nice hat to show off! See more from Victoria at or by following on Instagram @pommietravels

4. Editing

It’s not always possible to get a flawless photo. Luckily, smartphones generally have multiple image-editing tools to help you perfect your pictures. Whether you do some touch-ups each night in your hotel room or save them all to do on the flight home, you have options such as rebalancing the contrast, increasing the brightness, and fixing those pesky red eyes.

Handy hint: If you’re an Instagrammer, why not play around with the many filters and see if you can transform those not-quite-there photos into visual masterpieces? Once you’ve shared the image, you can save it over the original in your camera roll – nobody needs to know that the unedited version wasn’t perfect!

Albi, France - courtesy of Euan Landsborough

5. Put the Phone Down

This is a bit cheeky, but our final tip isn’t really about taking photos at all! During your holiday, make sure to take breaks from looking at all the sights and scenery through the screen of your phone and create some direct memories with your eyes. When looking at photos in the years to come, you want to remember the experience itself – not the experience of constantly taking photos! So once you have a picture you love, put your phone in your pocket and just take it all in for yourself.

We know you can’t wait to have a smartphone brimming with beautiful snapshots from your European getaway. If you’re touring with Albatross, you can look forward to countless opportunities to capture moments that you’ll never forget. Browse our destinations to choose your picture-perfect wonderland!

Enjoying the snow, Germany - courtesy of David Jenkins

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