4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Holiday Photos

The mobile phone camera has come a long way and today it is possible to capture amazing photographs. When you go on holiday, you really can leave your compact camera behind and rely solely on the camera in your smartphone.

Last updated: 10th Jan 2019 at 1:59pm

Even affordable phones have high-resolution cameras that are quite capable, like the Samsung J3. However, you still need to know a few smartphone photography tips for holidays, if you want to capture exceptional results that will catch the eye, and envy, of your social network. So, let’s look at how to take better holiday photos.

Switch on HDR

HDR, which stands for high dynamic range, is one of the most powerful, yet underused, shooting modes. Crucially, it is an ideal shooting mode for your holidays because of the bright sunshine.

When you are in a bright environment, your smartphone camera will automatically adjust the exposure for bright colours. The result is that the bright parts of the photo look good, but dark objects appear to have no detail. This can be disastrous if a person is in the shot because their face will appear too dark

The solution to this problem is HDR. When you turn this on, your camera will take one photo at an exposure for light details and another for dark details. The camera then merges the two photos together, giving you a perfectly exposed photograph. Normally the HDR on/off switch is available through the camera app, devices such as iPhone X & iPhone 8 have the feature auto-enabled.  

A Perfect Evening Selfie

Selfies are probably shared on social media more than any other type of photo. It’s easy to get a good selfie under daylight but when things go dark, your selfies are in trouble. If you have a premium smartphone then you might be okay, but if not, there are a few tips that you can use to get a great holiday selfie in the evening.

The first thing that you can do is to look for a light source. You will get much better results if you are illuminated by a streetlight or by the light coming out of a bar or restaurant. If there is no light source, then you should take two photos, one with the flash on and one with the flash off. It is often the case that the flash will cause the image to look grainy or pixelated, so this is an important trick to try.


If you have a dual camera then you are probably already familiar with bokeh photos, where the background is blurred. If you don’t have a dual camera on your mobile phone, then it is still possible to get that background blur, which really makes portrait photos stand out.

Some phones have the option to blur the background with software during editing. For example, Huawei phones can do this and the editing tool is called illusion. If your smartphone does not have this feature pre-loaded, then head on over to Google Play or the Apple App Store and download one of the free apps found by searching for ‘bokeh’.  

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is the most well-known rule of photography. Using the rule will result in photos that are well composed and appealing to the eye. You should begin by imaging that the image you can see in your viewfinder is broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.

If you are taking a scenic photograph, then you should line up the photo so that two-thirds are above the horizon and one third is below. If the photo has a monument, person or any other object of interest within it, then you should line this up at the one third or two third vertical position.

To help you get the best results, many phones have an option that will place a temporary grid over your photo. On a Samsung phone, for example, this is called grid lines.

Smartphone Holiday Photographs Summary

Here are the main points that will help you capture great holiday photos:

  1. Switch on HDR if the scene has bright and dark objects
  2. Find a natural light source for evening selfies
  3. Blur the background on portraits
  4. Line up items of interest along the one third and two third lines

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