Taking Instagram travel photos is not complicated. Basically, it’s the art of taking photos of famous places without taking photos of famous places.
Nobody wants to see another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Here’s a quick guide to taking pictures that don’t just show how much you travel, but also how awesome you are at doing it. Ideally, this is accomplished with a vintage camera, but today we’re focussing on Instagram – the people’s tool for artsy photography. Below are some rules to keep in mind when snapping away on your iPhone.
1. Filter absolutely everything
Instagram effects are there for a reason – use them profusely. Even if you’ve got a proper camera for HD shots, import the pictures to your phone and go crazy. Blur it, frame it and tilt it until it’s just right. Upload using the “nofilter” hashtag:
Any filter is good, except “Kelvin”. Never use “Kelvin”.
2. Be in the frame
Assuming you’re sporting your best (yet horribly impractical) travel attire, you have to put yourself in the photos. Remember – people don’t want to see a church, they want to see your cherry red Converse All Stars parked in front of the church. Without your dazzlingly bold and fresh fashion sense, the church is meaningless. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Also, remember to act casual. Failing to act casual can mean the difference between this:
Leave waving to the grandmothers. For your trend-conscious friends, tagging them will suffice.
3. Make sure you include friends
Travelling alone is a risky concept. It can make you look strong and determined (Christian Bale in Batman Begins), though you might also come across as a little creepy (Tom Hanks in Cast Away). Including friends in your pictures assures your followers that you are a sociable, likeable and all-round awesome person.
As with portraits, keep your cool and go for nonchalance. The idea is to show that you have friends, not that you’re just happy to have any at all. Alternatively, you can make it look like every minute of your trip is a party:
4. The art of the selfie
Selfies can be dangerous – too many of them and you’ll look like a no lifer. Too few, and you’ll look like you’ve only just discovered the Internet. Selfies work a treat when you need to emphasise a perilous situation – you were so far off the beaten path that there was no one there to take your photo. You don’t even have to go anywhere particularly dangerous or isolated, just make it look like you did:
That shot has “bear hunter” written all over it. Also, make sure you screw up the angles to make the scene look more hectic. And never do anything Bear Grylls would do, that’s not cool.
5. Avoid famous landmarks
After establishing yourself as the protagonist of the incredible non-stop adventure that is your life, it is time to pay some attention to your surroundings. Skilled hipsters travel without seeing anything famous, ever. But if you are going to take a picture of something touristy/famous/generic, make sure you completely disregard conventional photo aesthetics. Capture as little of the landmark as possible:
Alternatively, you can play with contrast:
Keeping focus away from obvious landmarks will make your travelling habits look more obscure than the contents of your first generation vintage iPod.
6. Pick unconventional scene
Visiting the Louvre or Big Ben will not earn you cool points. Instead, turn to the dark side of urban life and try to capture the non-touristy parts. In order to find the strangest scenery, try to figure out where the local hipsters live. They are commonly found around run down (yet curiously expensive) neighbourhoods, train yards, abandoned factories etc. If you can, grow a mustache in order to build rapport with them. Imitate hipster mating calls by shouting out words like “aioli” and “vinyl” frequently. They will come.
Crucially, upon discovering an unorthodox attraction, be sure to dismiss local hipsters and emphasise how the “real” people showed you around:
Also, ruins – always do ruins. Make sure to use hashtags like “dilapidated” and “life”. Black and white filters are pretty much mandatory. Completely ignore the fact that ruins look the same everywhere.
7. Introspection is a virtue
Always try to get a photo that captures your pains of reflecting on the meaning of it all. Pick a wide vista like the seaside or a cliff, and look dreamily into the distance. This is to show that your quest carries deeper meaning, serving to stimulate personal growth towards a previously unattainable spiritual domain. This will also help you get laid.
Basically, do this:
8. Avoid clichés (unless you’re being ironic)
Pictures of your feet or lunch (or worse – feet and lunch) lie in the dangerous nether regions of cliché territory, so tread carefully. A food photo might work if it’s a Happy Meal eaten at an unorthodox location, ideally coupled with words of anti-corporate wisdom. Just make sure it’s obnoxiously ironic:
P.S. Never, ever, do the Pisa tower lean – ironically or otherwise.