Going on a trip with friends will always be exciting! The new sights you’ll see, the new food you’ll eat and the memories you make with them will make the trip all the more worth it! Best of all, you can take some amazing photos along the way to look back on and most importantly, post on Instagram!
But what we don’t want is to capture the same shot thousands of people have already caught. How do we truly stand out in IG feeds? How do we really take the perfect IG travel shot?
Well, first things first, be comfortable with the gear you’ll be using when traveling.
There’ll be plenty of people who like to travel light and to capture their experiences without lugging around too much gear. And there’ll be some people who wouldn’t mind the extra luggage. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I prefer traveling light, but I don’t mind having a mirrorless camera with me to capture great quality photos!
In any case, be comfortable with whatever you choose to bring and be confident in using your gear! Whether you’re only bringing an iPhone or packing up a drone or a tripod, make sure that you’ll be comfortable using the gear you bring to capture the shots you want to take!
Which brings me to my next point: Visualize and research for the shots you want to capture!
While travel planning for the attractions you’ll be visiting, get an idea of what shot you want by visualizing this in your head. Always keep note of the photo spots you want to go to. A good way of doing this is looking through IG and blogs for reference and inspiration. I even go through GoogleMaps and virtually travel to these attractions in advance, just so I can find unique angles or interesting spots to get the right photo easily.
Once you find your spots, think about what time of day you want to take it and what that means!
Assuming you’re just a normal tourist and aren’t planning to stay in that city/country for very long, time will be a very important factor to consider when planning your shots!
My rule of thumb, especially when it comes to popular tourist attractions, is to get there as early as possible to avoid crowds and to get the background of shots as empty as possible. Coming as early as sunrise will also give you great lighting with warm hue and no harsh shadows (or as is commonly known as the Golden Hour). Some tourist attractions like Park Güell in Barcelona actually offer free entry, provided that you come in before 8am! So there are definitely a lot of perks when it comes to going in early!
You can also consider coming in around sunset to catch the Golden Hour as well, especially if your itinerary is a bit tight. Keep in mind that the attractions will most likely be more crowded at this time. For me, I like to put the attractions of high importance in the morning and those of lesser importance in the afternoon.
Take note that the same tourist attraction might look very different in the day vs in the night. For example, the Eiffel Tower looks magnificent during the day….
But, at night, it is lit with beautiful, golden lighting and even has a spectacular sparkling light show for 5 minutes every hour!
With this in mind, look into how a certain attraction looks in the day and in the night and decide which time of day you would want to take it!
And if you think you’ll only take 5 minutes to take that perfect IG shot, think again! Give yourself more time and your future self will thank you for such great photos!
Now, you got the vision, research and even the time down, what else do we need?
Well, let’s go through a few basic photography tips (as a quick run-through!):
- Always clean your lens (be it your phone or camera)!
- Pretty basic, but remember to focus before taking the shot!
- Keep in mind the Rule of Thirds! (Most cameras and smartphones should have a grid feature you can enable to see this more clearly). Most important elements of your photo must be in the places where the lines meet!
- Symmetry, symmetry, symmetry is always a good idea with photos!
- Play with colors in your OOTD to match the scenery!
- Adjust your exposure and lighting to get the best photo possible!
- For mobile users, do not use a social media application’s camera, rather use the actual camera itself - much better quality!
Here’s a special photography tip from my end:
Incorporate elements from your surroundings to add another layer to your photographs!
Since we mentioned it already, let's use the Eiffel Tower as an example. When taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower, most people would shoot it straight-on and that would already be a good photo.
However, I would suggest framing your shot of the Eiffel Tower from within a street and lining the monuments in between the rows of Parisian buildings.
It makes your shot feel a lot more lived-in and adds way more personality of the city itself into the picture. Play with different angles and POVs and you’ll end up with a lot more different and more interesting photos.
Last, but not least, get ready to be creative!
Now let’s be honest, the worst could happen. Our timing, research and shot planning could all be ruined by a change in weather, a delay in transportation, closed attractions, surprisingly large crowds or even forgetting to set your alarm in the morning!
Assuming the worst can happen, our best bet is to be creative! Be adaptable and find your silver lining! Sometimes, the most normal of shots will stand out the most. Even a shot as simple as a group selfie in your Airbnb, while you’re walking on the sidewalk or even the food you eat in another country might even prove to be the most memorable IG posts yet!
As a sample scenario, back in 2019, I went on a trip to Shanghai, China. I did a lot of research on what kind of photo I wanted to capture and I was inspired by this photo of people practicing Tai Chi during sunrise in front of the famous city skyline (though I can’t share due to copyright issues). Regardless, I went into GoogleMaps to figure out where these were taken and I tried to recreate the image as best I could and here’s the result!
I also incorporated another lesser known attraction next to the Bund called Waibaidu Bridge. I was very interested in the steel architecture and figured it would look great if I framed the iconic city skyline behind the metallic structures. Here it is!
Hope these tips and my personal experiences help you take that perfect IG shot!
While you’re here, check out MiTravel: we’re a small team trying to reimagine how group travel planning is done. Check this link to see how we envision the future for group travel and sign-up to join our waitlist. We will be launching the MiTravel Planning Board this summer!
Follow us on these social media to stay updated! (we’ll follow back, we promise!)