11 Tips for Taking the Perfect Travel Shot on Instagram
Shots of sunsets over Brooklyn, mountains in Switzerland, and perfectly cropped, perfectly sandy Bora Bora landscapes (birds mid-flight and all) are the stuff of many travel-lovers' Instagram feed. And for us regular folk (that is, not photographic professionals), it's easy to get jealous of the glossy perfection that embue the work of great travel instagrammers. It's natural to want to capture memories when on a trip of your own, though that swoon-worthy scene is just plain hard to get.
We caught up with the talent behind some of our favorite travel Instagram accounts to find out just how to take that smart phone photo to the next level. Read on.
Lindsey Campbell is the Associate Audience Engagement Editor. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lyndzicampbell.
Take the photo horizontally
"I always take the shot with the phone in horizontal position. The objective is to get the most part of the scenery in the original picture. I crop it in square format directly on Instagram—then I have the choice to show what I want." -@toinou1375
Extra tip! "A great photographer once told me, 'If you want to take a good picture, don't hesitate to get dirty.' So if you want the best picture of a scenery or a very original shot, look for new angles—from the ground, from high, over a canal or a river—go where other people don't go. And always look back when you walk in a place, you might be missing a different view."
Know Your Phone
"The iPhone is a very capable and versatile camera. But to maximize its potential, you need to familiar yourself with it. Most of my iPhone photos are captured with the native iOS Camera app. It is the quickest camera app, because it's right on the lock screen. This allows me to capture precious, short-lived moments before anyone can even turn on their fancy camera." - @sweatengine
A few of his tricks:
- Panorama lets me capture wide vast scenery and landscape
- Burst mode allows for photographing action continuously and quickly - so I can pick the favorite moment. To do this, start holding down the shutter button a little before the action takes place.
- Tap and hold on the screen to lock focus and exposure, then slide my finger on the screen to further set exposure to achieve my desired brightness
- Use the volume button on the side of the phone (or on the headset) as a shutter release to minimize shaking and avoid blurry photos.
- Turn on the HDR mode when capturing a scene where there are both extremely bright and dark areas.
- Turn on flash when photographing people in daylight - so their faces don't look too dark.
Don't be afraid to use third-party apps
"If you know how to post process or edit your photo it's possible to never take a bad photo! Love it or hate it, most if not all professionals tweak or adjust their photos to make a good shot great. This should apply to pictures taken on your phone as well. There are endless photo editing apps available out there, but my two personal favorites are PS Express and Snapseed." - @BrianThio (before and after pictured above)
Focus on focus
"Most smartphones allow you to be able to touch the screen in order to focus on your subject. This tool is incredible when trying to increase the depth of field of an image. The close you are to your subject, the more depth of field you will get when focusing. This creates an incredible blurry background while your focus point remains sharp." - @misshatten
Lighting is key
"Whenever possible I prefer to shoot during early morning or evening as I prefer the softer light, it also can be an opportunity to create silhouettes." -@mthiessen
Extra tip! "l try to align subjects to show symmetry if possible, or line them up diagonally to create balance in the shot. Sometimes you can frame subjects using objects such as leaves or branches"
Play with the elements of nature
"Play with the elements of nature. Clouds, birds and sun rays are good elements that usually come out well in a picture. Rain is not your enemy. The next time there is a storm, go out, take a walk and take advantage of the puddles. Some of their reflections can add pure magic to your photos." - @guigurui
Timing is everything
"Much like using most cameras, successfully photographing with the iPhone is all about quality of light. For the most dramatic scenery and landscape photos, try snapping when the sun is low on the horizon - like early morning or late afternoon. Overcast or cloudy days can make great photos as well. When the sun is high up in the sky (hours around noon), I usually go indoors (think museums, cafes, markets, restaurants) and photograph near windows and photograph interior, art, people, food, etc." -@sweatengine
Play with lines, curves and perspective
"Play with the lines, the curves, the perspectives, you will have the crazy pictures with it." -@Superchinois801
Respect the Rule of Thirds
"You must respect the Rule of thirds. With your phone you can have grid [use it], it's an easy way to find a different point of view." - @Superchinois801z
Be aware of what's in your frame
"When shooting landscapes I try to show depth by including something in the shot that helps to show scale and give a more accurate perspective. Be creative [for example] line up your hand to make it look like you're holding the Empire State Building." -@mthiessen
Clean the lens
"The first thing to do is clean the lens. Most people do not realize that our cell phones are always on top of a table or in a pocket, gathering dust and dirt. The cleaning of the lens ensures clarity and sharpness." -@guigurui
Forgo the filter (gasp!)
"Using filters on Instagram is a no no for me. A bit of brightness and saturation go a long way." - Dale Von Rooyen, @travellerdale