If it’s not posted on social media, did your trip even really happen? It certainly seems that way with a recent surge of top travel Instagram influencers boasting pics in far away destinations racking up hundreds of thousands of likes and followers. Instagram’s focus on visual storytelling makes it the perfect place for those bursting with wanderlust to post their perfectly framed photos like the one’s below.
Uummanaq mountain in Greenland has a beautiful shape of a heart 💛 According to local legends once you've visited this place, you will keep returning here. That's true. I keep returning here each year. Definitely a part of my heart is left here, among mountains, lakes and icebergs of northern Greenland. Danielkordan.com workshop in Greenland 14-24 #nikkor + #lucroit gnd 4 stop soft filter #Greenland #Nikon #gitzoinspires
It’s All About Planning
Professional travel photographers will say how important it is to research areas they are staying to scout out perfect shooting locations. To capture that perfect Insta worthy shot I suggest applying this technique before your head on your trip.
Here are a few ways to find perfect locations before you arrive:
- Go on Instagram and search the location tag. Scroll through other people’s photos that have been in the area and note what you like and what you don’t like. You don’t have to recreate their photo exactly, but it will give you an idea of what are some points of interest in the area.
- Search in Instagram for accounts that post about the region or area where you are heading. For instance, the account @visitgreeceg posts daily pictures of Greece with location tags so you can see where the pictures were taken.
- Google it. Okay, that seems self-explanatory, but by simply searching, “Best Instagram locations in ______” you will find a plethora of information and exact geotags.
Now that you’ve found the spots you want to find to take pictures, create a quick story board with all the shots you want to get. Traditionally, storyboards (or shot lists) were created to help photographers and videographers organize exactly what shots they need for a project. Here is a sample storyboard I used for a recent trip to the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
- Positano - On the small beach. Close up, turned around.
- Ravello - In infinity pool. Back shot and lying beside the pool.
- Amalfi - Through the small alley while walking. Front and back.
Lighting is Key
Another important aspect to the perfect Instagram photo is lighting. With most travel photography you are going to be working with natural light, which is actually more favorable than most artificial lighting techniques.
The golden hour is the best time of day to get spectacular shots. It is the time right after sunrise or right before sunset. Use this Golden Hour Calculator to determine exactly what time you need to be in whatever area you want to shoot. Below is a shot from this extraordinary time of day. The light from the sun is diffused and casts a soft, warm light on the rolling hills. The green hue of the grass is rich and deepens as it moves towards the horizon.
Weather conditions can also play an important role in capturing the perfect Insta shot. Look ahead to see what days are partly cloudy, the best for diffusing the sun, to plan out small photo shoots. Clouds will be your best friend in selfies and keep you looking gorgeous even with #nofilter.
Let’s Get Technical
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a technique used to compose interesting images bursting with energy. A basic guideline is to think of your photograph divided into nine parts with two equally divided horizontal and vertical lines. You want the main subject of the photograph to either intersect with these lines or be on the line itself. With proper alignment more excitement to any photo instead of just centering the subject you are capturing.
Take a look at the photo below. The buildings are placed along the lines and intersecting points giving a much more interesting focus to the photograph. If the buildings were centered it wouldn’t be near as fascinating to the eye.
To apply this technique with your smartphone you can apply thin lines of tape to the screen of your phone to ensure subjects in your photos are lined up correctly.
Another photography technique that will easily up your Insta game is perspective. Specifically, the position of the human eye in relation to subjects of a photo. Most people take photographs from their eye level, but by photographing from a lower or higher angle you will begin to create a unique perspective that will set your photos apart.
Another great way to apply this technique is with food photography. In your travels, you will surely visit have a dish that will make for some drool worthy images. Most pictures of food are either from right above or from too far away. By slightly tilting the camera and getting close to the food your image will suddenly have a more captivating look sure to cause envy in foodies across the globe.
Use Your Images for #InstaFame
So, now you’ve taken some pretty amazing photos and you’re ready to post - now what? It’s time to have your photo be seen by the world! The best way to cast your pictures across Instagram is by honing in on the perfect set of hashtags. With hashtagging, I always suggest to not only being general, but also getting ultra specific to gain the most likes across multiple interest groups.
A great place to start with researching and exploring trending hashtags is by using hashtagify.me. This tool allows you to track related hashtags, find top influencers, and track usage patterns. You can even upgrade your account to track traveling hashtags on Instagram.
There are tons of popular travel instagram hashtags out there and I suggest using at least two or three of them in your hashtag group:
#travel, #instatravel, #traveling, #travelgram, #igtravel, #travelphotography, #mytravelgram
Your photo will also gain plenty of traction by using hashtags with your current location in them. Use two or three hashtags for the city/town/country you are visiting. By doing a quick google search you can find the official hashtag for any location. For example, Great Britain’s official hashtag is #lovegreatbritain.
A great way to find people searching your photos is by hashtaging the activity you are doing. If you are shopping at a local market in Italy you could use #market #walking #shopping #shoplocal. If there are any local holidays happening I usually add that hashtag as well. For example, #fourthofjuly #July4th #independenceday
A great update to Instagram has been the SnapChat-like addition of InstaStories. These are quick videos or pictures that are added together to create a 24 hour story of your day. The increased popularity of Instastories have made it a perfect place to share and drive traffic to your page. Here are a few quick tips to get optimal use of your story.
- Tag location. I have noticed that just by simply adding the location to my photos I see a huge increase in the number of views. It will be added to the local Instastory board and be featured in that location’s 24 hour story. If your image is interesting enough, people can easily click to your page to like your pictures or follow your account.
- Behind the scenes. Instastories are a great place to give followers a behind the scenes look at the pictures you are taking. If you are getting a great landscape shot from the balcony of your hotel you could do a few quick videos explaining where you are and what exactly you are trying to capture. Being more personable with viewers increases the likelihood of them following, liking, and commenting on future posts.
- Hashtag your story. Within the InstaStory you can also use popular hashtags. I suggest only using one or two, so choose wisely. Make them smaller and add them to the corner of your pictures or videos so it doesn’t take away from the image. This will also increase the number of views for that story.
Here is a great example and quick Instastory from @everchanginghorizon that captivates their “behind the scenes adventure” with location tags, photos, and quick videos.
Capture Every Moment of Your Wanderlust
The time on vacations always seems to slip away quickly. Luckily, with your smart phone, some planning, and a few photography techniques you can capture quality images of your travels to enjoy for years to come. And who knows, with proper tagging and hashtags, you may become the next expert vagabond instagram account to follow!