14 Easy Techniques for Amazing Instagram Travel Photos
Instagram travel photography is a language in itself, where wanderlust meets pixel perfection.
Spoken all around the world by collective victims of the travel bug, capturing the essence of your travels in photographs goes beyond simply preserving memories.
It’s an art form that inspires others to explore the world through your lens, and ignites a burning desire in them to pack their bags and chase their own escapades.
In a realm where each frame is a carefully crafted visual narrative that hopes to transport viewers to new and exciting dimensions, mastering the art of amazing Instagram travel photography is a learned skill, but you don't have to be a professional travel photographer!
In this comprehensive guide, we share 14 travel photography tips to improve the way you will remember future trips from now onwards.
Get ready with your camera gear or handy smartphone, as we unveil the alchemy behind creating envy-inducing travel photographs that will evoke emotions and ignite imaginations in your followers, even if they’re just your friends and family!
One of the most important travel photography techniques to master is lighting, as it can most certainly make or break your photo.
You can strive for every photographer’s dream of the “golden hour” which refers to the moments just after sunrise or just before sunset, when the sun casts a soft, warm light, creating beautiful, natural looking images.
The middle of the day is generally not a good time as the sun high above creates harsh shadows. However, you can use this to your advantage, such as capturing hard architectural shapes and shadows.
Low-light photography is difficult especially if you’re using a phone camera, but it can be so rewarding if it works!
Framing is a great compositional tactic in travel photography and can transform a ‘meh’ photo into an amazing one. When taking a picture of your subject, look around and notice the environment. Are there elements that naturally draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point?
Look for archways, doorways, windows, trees, bushes, or other natural and architectural structures that you can use to frame the overall image and tell a deeper story of where you are.
Catalonia by Pamela Loh (@pamgoestravelling)
3. Capture locals & people
Travelling is never just about landscapes and landmarks, of course; it’s also about immersing yourself in the culture.
Capturing shots of locals can add a profound sense of authenticity and human connection to your visual storytelling.
Even just documenting daily life at different times of day - scenes of marketplaces, street vendors, kids playing in the street - can offer an unfiltered glimpse into the real soul of a destination beyond its “touristy” offerings.
Just make sure you're doing this with respect; be sensitive to cultural customs and ask the locals for permission if possible!
4. Action shots
If you’re taking photos on your phone, you might not be able to play around with shutter speed or aperture, but you can still certainly capture action shots, be it photos or videos.
Action shots inject a vibrant energy that propels your viewers right into the heart of what’s happening on your adventures. These dynamic snapshots of movement freeze time almost, igniting a sense of being present in this very moment. Some common action shots include jumping, going down a slope and dancing.
Sometimes when we take travel photos, we’re so focused on capturing as much as we can, we take very zoomed out photographs full of everything. But capturing close-up shots can serve as a portal to the intimate details that define a destination’s essence.
Each texture, wrinkle, and intricacy becomes a story waiting to be told. Whether it's the weathered hands of a street vendor, the intricate patterns of local handicrafts, or the dew-kissed petals of a flower blooming in spring, these close-up shots magnify the beauty that often hides in plain sight.
You don’t even need a special camera for this, as these days you can simply purchase a macro lens for smartphones.
We tend to see the world from one point of view — eye level. Perspective shots, however, completely reshape the way we perceive the world.
By playing with angles, heights, and dimensions, you can unveil hidden narratives within the scenery. Whether it’s the view of a deep valley from atop a mountain, shooting from a low angle, including the foreground, or capturing a narrow alley, perspective adds depth and intrigue to your visuals.
These unique viewpoints challenge conventional perceptions, spark curiosity, and let your audience experience what is perhaps familiar from an entirely fresh vantage point.
Including more of the train tracks in the foreground creates a sense of visual intrigue
Vietnam by Heman & Cheryl (@todayweexplore)
Travel photography doesn't have to always be about seeing things head on… that’s so boring, isn’t it? Reflection shots are a great way to sneak a glimpse into a parallel universe where reality interplays with its mirrored twin.
Whether on tranquil waters, glistening glass surfaces, or street puddles after it rains, reflections not only amplify the aesthetic allure of your images but also add layers of symmetry and complexity.
Composition is all about balance, harmony, and evoking a sense of order in your visual narrative.
Symmetry is a popular choice for square 1:1 formats on Instagram, drawing your eye directly to the subject in the middle.
In contrast, the rule of thirds (imaginary grid lines that split a photograph in thirds horizontally and vertically) in a 4:3 or 16:9 format injects dynamic energy and sometimes even drama by placing subjects at intersections.
As the artist behind crafting captivating visual images, each composition choice will be your brushstroke that paints the narrative of your travels exactly the way you want it.
9. Think in colour
Make travel photography fun by looking around your environment and notice what kinds of colours or tones jump out at you.
It could be the soft embrace of the sun rising behind the mountains, the sun-kissed warmth of a Mediterranean village in summer, the ethereal blues of the vast ocean, or the cool serenity of an alpine lake.
Focusing on the colour palette of the place infuses your travel photographs with mood and atmosphere, and orchestrates a symphony of emotions.
10. Go for something new
When it comes to popular landmarks around the world, it seems impossible to avoid cliche shots, like *ahem* picking up a certain tower. But it most certainly is possible to create refreshing, interesting travel photos, even of well-known points of interest that have been “done to death,” so to speak.
Take the Eiffel Tower, for example. We all know what it looks like. If you’re travelling in Paris, you could very well just take another photo of it head on and call it a day. Or… you could try to capture it from a completely new and refreshing point of view. Here are some examples:
Meet the Eiffel Tower, naturally by Nina Tekwani (@tekwani)
11. Capture the extraordinarily ordinary
Some of the best pictures and photos you see on Instagram come from things you might have otherwise simply walked past. Everywhere you go, there are photos waiting to be captured and stories waiting to be told.
Look for the non-traditional opportunities, even strolling down the street, and catching corners of alleyways and streets you wouldn’t think might be interesting. Giving even the mundane a voice can really help bring a destination to life in your Instagram travel photos - no masterful photography skills needed.
Just an ordinary street seen through the eyes of summer
Belgium by Mitz Uninspired (@mitzuninspired)
12. Include yourself!
How many times have your photos said, “Yes I’ve been to such-and-such destination, look, I have the postcard perfect picture proof!” Then you might as well have purchased a postcard!
Including yourself or other members of your travelling party in your travel shots adds the human element and is a beautiful way of creating lasting memories that go beyond beautiful landscapes.
Through your lens, your viewers can imagine themselves standing where you stand, feeling the same breeze, and absorbing the same breathtaking vista.
Your presence in the frame also adds a sense of scale to any landscape photography, reminding us of our place in the grand tapestry of the world.
13. Turn your back to the camera
Sometimes, you don’t even have to be looking at the camera. Especially for the more camera-shy amongst us, turning your back to the camera can create beautiful and intriguing shots that captivate your audience. The best part is you don’t even need to have any makeup on!
Canada by Richelle Hunter (@richellehunter)
14. Share your travel photos!
Last but not least, don’t forget to share your travel photos on social media!
Just keep in mind: Don’t post your photos all at once! Space out your sharing instead. You can always share it as a #latergram. Post winter shots on days it’s extra warm in Singapore to transport your viewers (and yourself!) back to those chilly moments.
You can also create a personal hashtag so you can view all the photos from a particular trip, plus it makes it easier for friends and family to find and view them.
Now that you’re completely inspired to go out there and create your own amazing Instagram travel photos, don’t forget to prep yourself with travel insurance before heading off on your travel adventures!