Leave The Camera At Home: How to Capture Your Travels With Only Your Phone

I decided early on that I wasn't going to bring my camera to Hawaii. When I told people this, everyone was shocked. "Why? It's so beautiful. Don't you want to take pictures?" Yes, I did. And I planned on it. But I didn't want to lug around expensive (and heavy) equipment. And I didn't want to spend the whole time looking through a viewfinder. If I took pictures, I wanted to be fast and then put it away and enjoy the experience.

If you plan to travel this year, I suggest leaving the big DSLR at home and just capture moments with your phone. I think you'll find it liberating. Here are a few things to think about when you're taking pictures during your trip (and some examples from our time in Hawaii).

1. Capture your surroundings, from a distance and up close. 

Above all things, the scenery is what sticks with me the most when I travel. The beauty of a sandy beach, a drive at sunset, the way the waves crash against a cliff. When approaching landscape photography, I think about what's compelling about these scene. What is it that I connect to? Are there interesting colors or textures? Is there action?

My approach varies from place to place. Sometimes I want to pull back and capture the vastness of the landscape: the sunsets over the Pacific or crowds snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Other times, it's a very specific detail, like the rocks and sand at the Wainapanapa Black Sand Beach in Maui or the bark of the rainbow eucalyptus trees that line the Road to Hana.

2. Food

Food is an important part of travel photography.  I like to focus not just on plated dishes, but the environment as well. I'll never forget when a Kalua pig, cooked in an imu (an underground oven), was uncovered at the luau we attended. Or the road-side taco stand we stopped off with to avoid hangeriness on our drive to Hana. Or the hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant in Honolulu we dined at on one of our last nights (turned out to be our favorite meal).

Smart Phone Travel Photography Tips by @athoughtforfood - www.athoughtforfood.net

3. Take some selfies!

When you're on a trip, sometimes it's nice to flip the camera around from time to time. Now, I'm not suggesting everyone runs out to get selfie sticks (we saw plenty of those in Hawaii), but it's nice to look back through pictures and see some of you and your traveling companion.  These may just be of you sitting out by the pool with a book, drinking Mai Tais, or on a hike with a beautiful view.

For more tips and tricks on taking pictures with your smart phone, check out my other posts here and here. And you can follow along on my food journeys over on Instagram.

Hotels + Restaurants Featured:

The Royal Hawaiian
Hyatt Regency Maui
Old Lahaina Luau
Star Noodle
Marukame Udon
Sushi ii (Honolulu)