4 Tricks to Taking Incredible Travel Photos With Only Your iPhone, According to a Photographer

“I think we’re closer than ever to an iPhone camera being a true replacement for a DSLR camera," Tiffany Nguyen says.

<p>Tiffany Nguyen&nbsp;</p>

Tiffany Nguyen

Tiffany Nguyen didn’t set out to become a professional photographer. She, like many of us, started simply by snapping photos on her iPhone 4 to document her everyday life. Slowly but surely, she learned a few tricks of the professional trade, using tools available on her mobile, which have now made her one of the most respected travel photographers in the game.

“I was in my first year of dental school, and I hadn’t started my photography career yet. Fast forward to 12 years later, and I’ve transitioned to a career as a full-time photographer,” Nguyen told Travel + Leisure. “The iPhone was definitely an integral part of my journey as a photographer and made me realize how much I enjoy taking photos and creating something unique.” She added, “I didn’t take the straight line path that I expected to take in life, but I hope [talking about it] encourages others to chase their passions as well.”

With the release of the latest iPhone 14, Nguyen shared that she’s been “so impressed with the image quality” thanks to its 48-megapixel RAW capability, that she says “can stand up next to DSLR images better than ever before. There is so much information contained in each image which allows for much more in-depth adjustments when editing.” She added, “I think we’re closer than ever to an iPhone camera being a true replacement for a DSLR camera.”

To help others step up their game, Nguyen shared a few pieces of critical advice to level up right from your phone and shared a few of her favorite photos from Los Angeles taken on her device to help inspire you to get out and shoot more too.

<p>Tiffany Nguyen&nbsp;</p>

Tiffany Nguyen

Try shooting in RAW.

“A lot of people don’t realize that you can shoot in RAW, which allows you to have more information to work with in order to maximize your editing capabilities,”  Nguyen explained. RAW is an uncompressed file format that allows your camera (or, in this case, your phone’s camera) to capture as much data as possible. This way, when you go to edit an image, you can do so in much greater detail. (The only downside is that shooting in RAW takes substantially more data space.)

“With 48 megapixels to work with, you have so much flexibility and can really bring an image to life with editing. Being able to lock your exposure and focus when shooting also helps you to capture the scene exactly as you envision it,” Nguyen added. “Dialing in your exposure in camera and making sure it’s as close to ideal as possible can make the editing process a lot easier.”

Get to know the basics of composition.

Taking great photos isn’t just about having fancy equipment. It’s also about understanding a few basics of composition.

“I would recommend shooting close to sunrise or sunset to capture your images during the most ideal light,” Nguyen shared, pointing to the time commonly known as “golden hour” to give off those dreamy warm tones.

“Having a strong composition can really make or break your image," Nguyen added. "Some of my favorite composition techniques include leading lines, negative space, symmetry, the rule of thirds, and using layers. Utilizing these techniques along with shooting during periods of soft light will really help take your iPhone photos to the next level.”

Pick a subject and practice, practice, practice.

<p>Tiffany Nguyen&nbsp;</p>

Tiffany Nguyen

Nguyen's favorite thing to practice with is cityscapes, as evidenced by these gorgeous L.A. shots. Picking a favorite, she explained, helps people want to get out and practice even more.

“The best camera really is the one you have in your pocket, and the iPhone allows me to quickly capture moments in high fidelity while I’m on the go,” she said. “There’s so much that goes on around you when you’re walking through a city, and shooting on an iPhone lets me stay fully immersed in the moment while still being able to capture high-quality images of my favorite sights and memories.” 

Learn how to edit on the fly.

Yes, taking stellar pics is key, but learning to edit, Nguyen noted, is also a big part of leveling up.

“Editing is half the fun and is where I really get to bring my images to life,” she said. “I edit all of the images taken on my iPhone with the iPhone as well. The apps I typically use are Lightroom Mobile and Touch Retouch. It’s the quickest and easiest way to edit my images when I’m on the go and gives me almost the same editing capabilities as compared to editing on my laptop. I’m always amazed at what I’m able to create 100% on my iPhone.” 

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