What makes a good travel photo on Instagram these days? With a whopping one billion active users on the app every month and nearly ten years of the app's existence—what does it actually take to stand out when it comes to your vacation snaps?
"The key thing is finding something original that hasn't been seen before," said Jack Morris, better known on Instagram as @doyoutravel. He's speaking on the phone from his picture-perfect home in Canggu, Bali that he and his also Instagram-famous girlfriend, Lauren Bullen (@gypsealust) built together. Between them they have five million #wanderlust-hit followers.
Morris has been traveling full time for more than eight years, for the first of those five years he had a totally carefree approach. "Rather than having a set itinerary, I did whatever. I’d see something online or someone would tell me a place is really cool and I'd just explore and see what happens". Now he plans trips around the jobs he has booked. With so many years of Instagram experience and algorithm changes under his well-traveled belt, we turned to the influencer to find out the answer to putting together a good travel snap.
Find the Right Lighting
"After you have an original idea, you want to shoot at sunrise or sunset when the light is nice and soft, and make sure that no one else is in the shot," he said.
"Travel blogging is usually staged, including my own," admitted Morris. "You see a lot of photos of people happy and laughing but it feels very staged. It’s good to try and create a moment that could be real," he advised. So be real, and "just eat the breakfast," he joked.
To find their next photo to post, Morris and his girlfriend set up a tripod, they take a bunch of photos and look through to find the best ones. Make it as easy for yourself as possible by going somewhere that will genuinely take your mind off the camera.
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Find Unique Angles
"I love shooting in Cappadocia in Turkey where the hot air balloons are set off. It's so easy to shoot the balloons going off at sunrise, and you can do loads of different shoots in that area too: rooftop shoots, breakfast set ups, actually getting up on the balloons, and then going into the ancient towns nearby".
Turn on the Right Camera Settings
Using the correct camera settings is where people often go wrong, apparently. "There’s no rule here, but having a low aperture (what controls the brightness of the image) usually makes things look a lot more soft and dreamy," said Morris. Don't just shoot a landscape on its own. Morris likes to shoot a subject with the scenery to put things into perspective for followers to picture themselves there. "If it's just landscape, you can’t comprehend the scale of it," he added.
But there's no one-size-fits all rule. "If you’re standing really far away from a massive waterfall then you wouldn’t shoot at low aperture or it’s blurry so its a happy medium as long as you are in the shot."
Consider Your Camera's ISO
Everything you change on the camera affects the light. The lower the ISO number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain, the higher the ISO. "That's when it’ll start getting grainy," Morris explained. "So if you’re shooting in the middle of the day I’d put ISO at 100 and then shutter speed needs to be adjusted."
Use a Good Edit Filter
Shooting a photo is one thing—editing is another. Morris and Bullen were possibly the first influencers to start selling ready-made Adobe Presets that followers could purchase, download, and then easily add to their own Instagram snaps. But to keep your images unique, play around with your own filters to find your personal style.