Aloha from the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, where every day feels like a vacation! Depending on where you live, though, summer holidays are in FULL swing. With a month and a half left until Fall, some of you still have vacations to look forward to. If you’re like me, you’ll want to remember every epic moment. And if you’re like me and 99% of other smartphone users, you’ll use your phone to capture those moments. Why? It’s just so convenient! You know what they say…the best camera is the one you have with you! Using your smartphone as your camera allows you to reduce the amount you have to carry and pack – in addition to having it ready for those Instagram-worthy shots at a moment’s notice.
As a professional photographer, I’ve spent a lot of time shooting photos and video not just from my Nikon professional cameras, but also from my iPhone 7 plus. I’ve gotten SO good at it that one of my images was featured in the “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign! Since I’m both a local in Hawaii and a phone photography evangelist, I wanted to share a few tips with JOBY fans to help take your vacation smartphone photos to a new level. Here we go!
- Shoot video horizontally! There are a few things that people don’t tend to think about when capturing video footage, but they really should! No one watches vertical television, so shoot sideways with your phone! TVs aren’t vertical, so video shouldn’t be either.
- Stabilize your images or video. Nothing is more frustrating (or nauseating) than shaky video or blurry photos, so I highly recommend getting some tools to help you stabilize your shots. I use the JOBY GorillaPod Focus with BallHead X most of the time. This bendable tripod can be used with heftier cameras, but is also great for phones when you pair it with the GripTight Mount PRO Phone. A tripod like this has limitless possibilities, meaning you can get exactly the angle you want, stabilizing your video to give it a more professional look and feel. Need something smaller? Try the GripTight POV Kit for easy handheld videos, the Bluetooth remote even helps you get better selfies!
- Consider your angles. Looking for the perfect shot? Consider which angle you are using. While unique angles can make for great shots, some just don’t work. If you’re shooting with a visible horizon, you’ll want to make certain that it’s always level in your background. Something else you may want to try is using scenery to frame your shot. Try to frame your photo with some interesting detail, like a palm tree framing the right end of a beach shot. These little details can transform a shot from blah to beautiful. I am a BIG fan of extreme perspectives … see how low you can go and get ground level … or get creative and use a selfie stick and your remote to get your phone as high as humanly possible to see what you come up with!
- Edit. Once you have that amazing surfing footage, you may think you’re done, but trust me when I say that a little editing can go a long way. There are some great free and paid tools out there that are well worth the time and effort. If you’re looking to make waves for yourself with a travel vlog – editing is essential. My go-to tool for editing is VideoGrade, which isn’t free, but is well worth the money for simple color grading of videos. Splice is another great easy app that works well for trimming and editing down your video, in addition to adding musical soundtracks. For still shots, Snapseed is one of my go-to apps, it’s very reliable, powerful and. Even just cropping or adding a filter through the built-in tools in many applications (like Instagram or Facebook) can turn an ordinary image into something extraordinary. The more you hone this skill, the better your video and images will be.
- Be respectful. Travel photography should be a sustainable practice that doesn’t compromise the environment or subjects you are shooting. Make certain you are respecting the culture and the rules of any place that you are visiting, in addition to other travelers. Don’t get too close to wild animals and by all means – don’t touch them! When I take people out to photograph turtles in Hawaii, the most important thing I do is show them how to do this the right way, without impacting these beautiful ancient Hawaiian creatures or their habitats. No shot is worth endangering or harassing the subject in any way whatsoever. If you want your shakas and aloha to actually mean something in both your images and your heart, please have sincere respect for our land and the amazing creatures that inhabit Hawaii.
Smartphones are incredible in that they make photography more accessible to people who have never picked up a standalone camera. Now that you have this amazing tool at your fingertips, I hope you are able to capture all of life’s best moments, whether on vacation or at home. These are just a few suggestions, and I know many of you out there are also highly skilled, so feel free to add your best smartphone photography tips below.
Aloha and mahalo.