Personal

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)

A Note on Food Deserts #DrinkGoodDoGood

 There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

I'll admit that I sometimes take for-granted the wonderful produce Eric and I have access to. Our weekly vegetable pick up is full of locally grown, organic ingredients. For those items that might be missing, we're within walking distance to a farmer's market or grocery store. It's a luxury, I know, and it's one that many residents in areas around Boston and other cities don't share.

Around the country, nearly 24 million Americans live in what are referred to as "food deserts."In fact, there are 71,000 people in Boston who live without ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s nearly enough people to fill up half the Boston Common! Which is why I'm thrilled to be partnering with Naked Juice and Wholesome Wave on their Drink Good. Do Good. campaign to educate folks about food deserts in urban environments. Even in Boston, which is surrounded by countless farms, there are areas of the city where people do not have many options. Not all neighborhoods have stores or farmer's markets, so for individuals without access to a car, it's a challenge to acquire fresh ingredients. And, of course, there's the issue of affordability. In parts of the city, like Dudley Square, 50% of the residents make $25,000 a year or less.

As a part of their Drink Good. Do Good. program, they'll be donating up to 500,000 pounds of produce these communities. And you, dear readers, can help too! Simply take a photo of yourself holding a piece of fresh produce, post it on Instagram and use the hashtag #drinkgooddogood. Lastly, tag a friend to do the same. For every person who posts, Naked Juice will donate 10lbs of fresh produce.

Learn more about the Drink Good. Do Good. campaign here. 

 There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

 There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

 There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

There are many Americans with limited access to fresh produce. Read more about this issue over on the blog and learn how you can help. #drinkgooddogood #sponsored

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Naked Juice and Wholesome Wave. Working with these brands to get the message out about such an important issue is something I feel strongly about. As always, any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Why I Love Taking Pictures With My Phone (+ Some Tips): Part 2

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

I used to take my camera all over the place, lugging a DSLR and a 50mm to every restaurant. I'd try to remain inconspicuous as I grabbed shots of the dining room and each plate that was brought to the table. I'm sure I wasn't as subtle as I thought I was being.

Things have changed a lot over these last three years. Smart phones have effected my experience as a photographer. It's allowed me to not only develop my photographic style, but it's given me the chance to hone my skills. Since my last post on smart phone photography, the quality of the cameras has gotten exceedingly better. I never thought I'd get to the point where I'd look at a picture on my computer and think, "Did I take that on my phone or my camera?" Everything is crisp and clean, with very little grain. It's a very exciting time in the world of photography and, today, I want to go over a few points about what I think about when I'm making photographs with my iPhone. In the below examples, you may see a slight difference in the quality. The majority were taken with an iPhone 6+ but others are older and were photographed using an iPhone 5s.

You can view my earlier post here: PART 1

1. Tell a story

There's always a story to be told. What that story is and how it's told is up to the photographer. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it is I want to say in a picture. Rarely is it a closeup of a finished dish. I like to pull back and reveal something else in the scene or show action. Food is so much more than a pretty plate. It's about how it's prepared, who is preparing it, how it's being served, where it's being served, how it's consumed (You get the point). Sometimes that's much more compelling than a beauty shot.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

2. Location

I think showing where you're dining - the vibe of the restaurant, the movement of the dining room, the decor - is just as visually interesting as the food. Look around and you'll find a lot to capture, from the table setting to the excitement of the open kitchen to the sign hanging outside the front door.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

3. Ingredients

It's not uncommon for me to return from the market, unload the bags, and get to work setting up scenes of chopped up fruit and vegetables, dressed fish, or plates of cheese and sliced bread. Unadulterated (uncooked) ingredients are a joy to play with because there are endless ways to capture them. A container of kumquats pop on a dark, rustic surface, while some bunches of fresh herbs pairs perfectly when placed atop a sheet of parchment. It gets the creative juices flowing when you start with these images that, a way to warm you up before you get to the final dish.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

4. Remember, there's a whole world outside of food

I know it's funny to say this, but I think it's important for food photographers/bloggers/Instagrammers, to take pictures of things other than food. It teaches us, as artists, to look at the beauty that surrounds us every day. Spend time walking around the town or city you live in or go into the backyard with your child or dog. Take pictures of friends and family. It's all about capturing moments.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
Smart Phone Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

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

Locations featured in this post (in order of appearance): Ostra - Boston, MA Neptune Oyster - Boston, MA Lone Star Taco - Boston, MA Egg - Brooklyn, NY Coppa - Boston, MA Blackbird Doughnuts - Boston, MA Soc's Ice Cream - Saugus, MA Cafe ArtScience - Cambridge, MA Mei Mei//SOWA Open Market - Boston, MA

For more restaurant photography, head on over to my portfolio page.