Tips for Taking the Best Travel Photos for Instagram

How to Take Great Travel Photos for Instagram

Photo taken in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Lauren McGlynn

Tips for Taking the Best Travel Photos for Instagram

Travel photography is the best way to bring souvenirs home. My husband and I LOVE taking photos at the places we visit. It’s obviously ideal if you can hire a professional photographer (like we did for these amazing pics right before our wedding in Edinburgh), but if you can’t, there are still ways to get some amazing photos while on your travels. We started by just taking pics for ourselves, then for the blog, and now it’s a fun, slightly competitive game of photo creativity that we both enjoy. We are still learning, and far from professional photographers, but we have learned some tricks along the way.

Pictures cost nothing and weigh no more than the device you’re already carrying. Whether you are a professional travel blogger or just getting started, here are some Instagram photo tips to improve your travel photography.

1. Be ready. Nothing is more annoying than getting ready to take a picture and getting a notification that you are out of storage or having it die on you. Aside from being annoying, this could also cost you a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. So, make sure your phone or camera is ready to go, fully charged and has ample storage space to save those lifetime memories.

2. Tell a story. Know why you’re taking pictures and who your audience is. Whether the photographs are personal keepsakes or are meant to be shared within your social circle and the world at large, think about the story you want them to tell. Make sure they capture the essence of the place and the personality of the subject.

3. Know the basics. If you’re not a travel blogger and are just starting out, consider taking a crash course in photography basics to have a better idea of what makes a good picture. These are things like the Rule of Thirds, color theory and learning how to work with the lighting you have.

How to take great travel photos

Golden hour photo taken in Edinburgh by Lauren McGlynn

4. Take advantage of the Golden Hour. Speaking of lighting, early morning and late afternoon are the best times to get beautiful natural lighting. Not to mention, you are more likely to miss the masses and will have the opportunity to capture unbelievable sunsets and sunrises.

5. Props and Equipment. These days, an iPhone can take some pretty amazing photos, so if you’re taking photos for social media, you may want to stick with that. Or you may want to up your game with a DSLR camera. I use my iPhone X most of the time because it’s so easy and convenient. But when I want to up my game, I bring along my Canon t7i DSLR camera with a kit lens (I know, I know…). I really need to get some new lenses soon! Here’s an article on the best lenses for travel photography by a photographer who knows much more than I do on the subject. There are also a few essentials that you should consider adding to your pack from the get-go. These include a remote control, a lightweight travel tripod and an easy access camera bag.

How to take great photos while traveling - Peggy Porschen cupcakes London

iPhone X photo taken by me at Peggy Porschen bakery in London, England

6. Know your editing apps. While nothing beats good framing and composition practices when capturing an image, editing apps can help take care of minor blemishes and can take a picture from good to award-winning. Take some time to download some of the most popular ones for free and try them out to find the best fit and decide if you would like to invest in premium versions. I use Photoshop, LightRoom, VSCO and good ‘ole FaceTune.

7. Make friends. Selfies are great, but when you’re alone, don’t be afraid to walk up to strangers and ask them to take a picture of you. Try to spot someone who looks like they might have a cool Instagram account. Connecting with the locals is also a great way to find out about a city’s hidden gems and the best photo-ops around. You might get some gems, but be prepared for a lot of stinkers too. Either way – it’s a great way to talk to people if you’re feeling social.

How to take great photos while traveling - London Eye Thames River

The London Eye seen across the Thames River – iPhone X photo taken by me in London, England

8. Have patience. Take the time to think about the picture that you want to take and the angle that you want to take it from – get creative with this! Choose an interesting subject and figure out the best way to frame it against the background. If you can’t beat the crowds, wait them out. In most tourist spots, you’ll notice that the crowds come and go periodically. Stick around to get clean pictures in between groups of moving masses. Look at travel accounts on Instagram to get inspiration.

9. Notice things. See the beauty in unexpected places and capture it. Whether it’s the haunting beauty of an abandoned building or the way the rain puddles reflect the skyscrapers above, keep your eye open to things other people might overlook.

10. Set down the camera. Perhaps one of the best Instagram photo tips you can abide by has nothing to do with the app, but rather the opposite. Set down the camera, disconnect from social media and focus on being present in the moment. There will be time to share images with the world but, enjoying and relishing in the beauty of your travel destination is the best way to make memories worthwhile.

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