Snap the perfect photo with your smartphone

Capturing picturesque landmarks has never been easier. These apps, tips, and tricks will help you take the perfect photos as you travel the world.

Capture incredible landscapes with your smartphone. Image credit: martin-dm/iStock
Capture incredible landscapes with your smartphone. Image credit: martin-dm/iStock

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, lugging around heavy photography gear can detract from your experience. However, the current crop of smartphone cameras offers a convenient, and professional, way to capture the world around you.

We’ve outlined a great selection of apps, accessories, and tips that’ll ensure your images are so striking you won’t regret leaving your DSLR behind.

The essential travel photography apps

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

For the most comprehensive image editing app, you can’t look past Adobe Lightroom Mobile. Focused on providing users with professional-quality editing, organizational, and sharing features, Lightroom offers basically everything you need to improve on your images. 

The app has all the essential sliders, so you can make adjustments to exposure, color tones, and clarity, among a myriad of other options. There’s also a paid subscription where you’re able to develop RAW files and sync with the desktop version of Lightroom. 

Available on Android and iOS.


Snapseed is another photo-editing app that comes complete with a wide range of features. The menu system takes some getting used to, but you’ll quickly find Snapseed’s almost endless options particularly helpful for refining your photographs. 

Across its collection of 29 filters and tools, you can brush out unwanted elements and tweak colors and details with fine precision. And best of all – it’s completely free. 

Available on Android and iOS.


If you’re frequently moving from one city to the next, it can be a challenge to find the most beautiful locations. Explorest aims to change that, with its user-friendly city guide, showcasing particularly photogenic places that have been captured by top-notch professional photographers. 

These experts then offer their advice on how you can do the same. From the best time to shoot, GPS coordinates, and suggestions for your camera settings, Explorest helps people capture a city’s most unique side. 

Available on iOS.


For travelers that have to keep a busy schedule, it’s not always easy to find time to edit your images and post them to Instagram. By using Later, you can schedule your images and have them posted automatically to your followers. 

Once you have your images looking perfect, simply upload them into the calendar where you can draft your captions and preview exactly how your gallery will look as they’re posted. 

Available on Android and iOS.

Don't miss those special moments. Image credit: supersizer/iStock
Don’t miss those special moments. Image credit: supersizer/iStock

Moment – Pro Camera

Your smartphone’s default camera likely already has a “pro’” mode. But the Moment Pro Camera app takes smartphone photography to a whole new level. 

The app includes a series of professional manual settings, where you’ll be able to intuitively adjust exposure, focus, and framing before taking the perfect photo. 

Meanwhile, a host of expert features like burst shooting, focus peaking, and zebra stripes are also featured, which you’d typically only find on a dedicated camera system. 

For video, Moment Pro Camera gives you control over color profiles, frame rates, and bit rates.

Available on Android and iOS.

The travel accessories you need

Smartphone lenses

Flagship smartphones already have incredibly complex cameras, but you can make them even better by using attachable lenses. Moment makes some of the most impressive on the market, featuring a range of macro, wide-angle, and telephoto lenses. 

Olloclip is another popular brand, producing a variety of optics that have a clever clip design, which makes them especially easy to use when you’re shooting on the move. 

A travel-size tripod

Most professional photographers don’t leave home without a tripod and neither will those who shoot exclusively with their smartphone, thanks to the wide range of mini tripods available. 

One great example is the Joby GripTight GorillaPod, which you can attach to just about any surface for stability and selfies. The neat design works with every kind of smartphone and its small form and lightweight structure makes it perfect for frequent travelers.

Smartphone stabilizers

If you’re serious about capturing video, using a smartphone stabilizer is virtually a must. Making it simple to shoot professional-quality videos, these devices help you avoid shaky or blurry footage. Ideal for producing incredible content, they’re popular amongst regular travelers and vloggers alike.

For many, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is the stabilizer of choice. Featuring a sturdy metal design that’s comfortable to carry, there are multiple triggers so you can rapidly shift between capture modes.

There’s also a side-wheel to adjust focus and zoom and you can also record time-lapse, slow-motion, and vertigo shots – a style that Alfred Hitchcock pioneered.

Tips and tricks for great photographs

Shoot in manual mode

If you want to rapidly improve your photographic skills with your smartphone, switch to manual mode. A number of high-end smartphones give you control over settings like the ISO, aperture, focus, and the shutter speed, providing you with more flexibility to craft your images.

You should also turn on the rule of thirds grid, so you can precisely frame your shots. If possible, it’s a good idea to capture your images as RAW files, which save far greater detail compared to JPEG files.

Follow the rule of thirds to capture the perfect image. Image credit: urbazon/iStock
Follow the rule of thirds to capture the perfect image. Image credit: urbazon/iStock

Clean the lens

Looking after your photographic gear is important and shouldn’t be ignored just because you’re using a smartphone.

With your phone likely rolling around in your bag or pockets throughout the day, the camera lens can become covered in dirt and fingerprints, leading to blurry images. Give it a clean with a microfiber cloth to sharpen up your images.

Don’t zoom in, walk.

Smartphone cameras are certainly great quality these days, but optical zoom is still one facet they can struggle with.

The best way to zoom in with a smartphone is to get physically closer to your subject. And if you want to alter the perspective of your shot later, you’ll still be able to crop into the image.

Pack a portable charger

As you spend the day on the move, shooting and editing plenty of images can rapidly wear down your battery. Get yourself a portable battery so you can always keep your smartphone topped up. This way, you’ll never have to worry about conserving battery power or having to find a place to recharge in the middle of a busy city.


Hudson Brown

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Hudson Brown is a freelance journalist who focuses on the intersection of art, culture, and travel. You can find his work in publications such as SBS Food, Treadlie and Gobe Magazine.