#nofilter: 5 ways to perfect your Instagram travel pictures

09/13/2016
Instagram is a traveling photographer's dream. Whether you're wining and dining in a European capital or island hopping in the South Pacific, you'll be keen to give friends and family back home a snapshot of the experience.

The combination of artistic shots, breathtaking scenery and playful captions will see your follower count swell in no time. Here, we take a look at a handful of tips to help you find your way to Instagram success on vacation.

Subject matter: tell a story

On Instagram all your images go to one place: your gallery. When seen together, the pictures you take tell a story, so it's important to upload images regularly to keep the narrative flowing.

In the context of traveling, Instagram provides an opportunity to tell the story of your trip. Take you're your followers with you from the airport to the hotel, and from the beaches to the dinner table.

Modern airport terminals like the Barajas Airport in Madrid are not only relaxing environments with great shopping opportunities, they’re also hugely photogenic. To draw a line under your journey, consider doing a throwback shot of the same airport on your way back through.

Lighting: worship the almighty sun

Instagram is all about catching the moment. While you can't be expected to have professional lighting tools to hand wherever you go, that doesn't mean lighting isn't important. On holiday your major light source is likely to be the sun, so pay attention to it.

Shooting into the sun is an absolute no-no for portraits, in particular, because it plunges your subject into darkness. While it may be tempting to get a shot of your family in front of a beautiful sunset, this is to be avoided at all costs. Instead, make sure that your subject is facing towards a light source, and not away.

Composition: the rule of thirds

As with lighting, the instant nature of Instagram means that most people don't want to spend hours setting up for the perfect shot. Nailing composition in the context of point and shoot requires you to know a few basic rules and guidelines.

The rule of thirds is a great place to begin. When you're shooting landscapes (say, a panorama of the view from your hotel), try to split the major elements of the photo into three even sections. On vacation that's likely to be sky, sea and land.

Captions: focus on the headline

Instagram may be a visual medium, but that doesn't mean you can't back your shots up with some wise and witty words.

For a lighthearted and engaging touch, try playing some games with your followers. Snap a pic of yourself relaxing in airport lounges and ask your followers to guess where you're headed. Be sure to follow up with a reveal.

Be mindful of the fact that other users won't see the whole of your caption unless they hit the 'more' button. If you're planning a lengthy one, get your best stuff out there early on.

Hashtags: striking the #balance

Using hashtags is the best way to get your vacation shots noticed on Instagram. Getting it right is all about balance. If your terms are too popular, your pics will drown in the volume of images tagged in the same way. Get too specific and nobody's going to see them.

The good news is that you've got room for a few hashtags alongside each shot. Location's a great place to begin. You can then try narrowing it down by subject matter, and then signing off with a lighthearted phrase to get a laugh. For example:

#NYC #pizza #slicesthesizeofyourhead

Instagramming is an art that you'll perfect with time. Experiment with your images and see what resonates with your followers. Bear these five principles in mind and you'll be well on your way to Insta-fame in no time.