People Who Take Great Vacation Photos Do These 5 Things

If you've ever traveled with a group of friends, you'll know that no two vacation snaps are identical, even if they're of the same place. Some people have a knack for capturing the perfect moment with the right amount of lighting and razor-sharp clarity. If your iPhone photographs fall short of your expectations, there's no need to invest in better equipment. According to award-winning photographers, a few tricks can instantly improve your game.

Insider tapped several winners from the 2017 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) to find out how they capture professional-grade images on their phone. As it turns out, it's easier than you think.

1. Use flash when photographing a sunset. Most photographers agreed that they rarely use a flash to capture photographs, instead relying on natural light, but the exception to this rule is at sunset. Photographer Jen Pollack Bianco uses flash when she wants "some additional light in the foreground of the photo to keep the contrast from being too dramatic."

2. Don't use the zoom function. "Digital zoom isn't ideal to use on the iPhone because digital zoom only stretches the image area, resulting in a loss of sharpness," says Darren Boyd. If you need to zoom in, step closer.

3. Always adjust the exposure. "My first photography teacher used to tell us off whenever she found out we were using our cameras in auto mode. 'It's like asking your camera to take the picture for you. You give the camera total control over the image, while you are the one who should be in charge,'" recalls Marina Spironetti.

4. Take advantage of the HDR feature. This feature automatically combines three pictures of the same scene—one underexposed, one normally exposed, and one overexposed—making it ideal for high-contrast landscapes.

5. Use grid lines to straighten your shot. Go to the Photos & Camera options under Settings, and then turn on your grid lines. This will allow you to see whether or not your shot is perfectly straight.

What's your trick for taking great vacation photos?