The Secret To The Perfect Travel Photos

Your flawless Instagram post awaits

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People are always asking (or teasing…) me how I get my photos when travelling. Although I am a self-proclaimed expert on iPhone self timer, I often have to resort to other methods for the shot I want. So, I’m going to give you the low down on how I get the perfect travel photos.

Pictures are the best mementos

I personally love looking back at photos, and I think they are the best memory. Obviously I love postcards (hence my website name…), but I am not a fan of touristy objects and knick-knacks that clutter up the house, or just break/get lost on the way home. I’ll admit, I have fallen victim to keeping a memento or two. I have a few key chains, and almost never throw away tickets and maps…

New Zealand key chain
Memento from my New Zealand Christmas trip in 2018

But a picture truly is worth a thousand words. It’s a cliché for a reason. The perfect travel photos are something you look back on for your whole life. So, here are a few suggestions and tips I’ve figured out along the way for getting that perfect memory and Instagram post (we all want one, don’t lie).

Let’s get into it.

Train your friends and family

Example 1: During my parents visit to see me in the UK and Europe, I taught my mom to be the best InstaMom out there – I might be slightly biased… ANYWAY travelling with my parents was amazing, and I loved every minute of it, but there is no denying the eye rolls you get from Dad when you ask for some photos haha (Don’t even get me started on asking the boyfriend to take one, and god forbid, BE IN IT….) So thank you Mom for the great pictures!

sipping coffee at Highclere Castle in England UK during the summer
She’s a natural

Example 2: My other best photographer is actually the eye rolling boyfriend himself. He takes the greatest pictures, and even offers to snap them for me now before I ask! (this way he doesn’t have to be in them…convenient right?). He’s now at the point of giving out direction to get the best shot #InstaHubby

waterfall near Ubud in Bali Indonesia
I have so much Bali content from our couple trip – Thanks babe!
Piha beach New Zealand in the spring
Another one because he just keeps delivering

Whether you are travelling alone, with someone, or in a group you usually want some photos all together – Or of yourself (obviously) if you’re solo. I know how awkward it can be to ask someone to take a photo for you, but let’s be honest you will probably never see this person again, you might as well! 

So, my advice is…..

Stop caring so much!

Don’t overthink it. Like I just said, you truly will never see this person again, and if you do, maybe you’ve just made yourself a new friend! There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s just a photo.

Choosing your Photographer

Make sure you pick the right person for the job. They’re usually someone around the same age as you, who would seemingly have the same taste and vision you have in mind. Also, someone who can easily understand the basics of technology ie: how to frame, hold, and focus the shot. Sometimes you can even get lucky and spot an actual photographer or blogger. Jackpot!

The leaning tower of Pisa with my bestfriend Rebecca
We found a photographer while visiting Pisa

Take a photo for them first

Nine times out of ten the person you ask wants one too. If you offer to take one for them first it makes the whole situation more comfortable. If you take a good photo for them, they will be more likely to get a good one for you too. Visual learning!

Show them what you want

This is a bit repetitive, but it’s too crucial not to emphasize. Visuals make all the difference! Give them a brief run down of what you want in the frame (Use the photos you just took of them), and your overall vision in a few words ie. the focus, landscape or portrait style, etc. 
I always make a point to ask that they don’t center me in the picture because I want the main focus to be on the location and view. I also like a variety of landscape and portrait. They won’t know unless you tell them.

Thira view in santorini Greece

I know you’ve seen this photo of mine before, but it’s the prime example of the last two points. It’s how I got this iconic shot (in my humble opinion) in Santorini. I asked a couple who were taking a selfie if they wanted one together and then they naturally asked if we wanted some too. It’s my all time favourite picture from my travels.

Preset the settings you want

If you’re using your iPhone maybe you want live photos or Portrait mode – be sure to set all that up before you hand over your device. Personally, I LOVE Portrait mode, it’s so good! If you’re using a camera set it to automatic or set the lighting and other components before you give it to them. 

in the pool at our Ubud villa accommodation in Bali Indonesia
Thank you Apple for Portrait mode

Ask them to take multiple

This is the ultimate key to getting the photo you want. They of course can’t know exactly what you like, so make sure they give you options to choose from. Honestly, the more the better. Tell them to go paparazzi crazy! 

Your camera roll should look like this….

Camera roll from taking photos at Nusa Penida Island on Atuh Beach - Bali Indonesia

Use Self Timer

If you truly feel too uncomfortable to ask anyone, or there is no one around, use your self timer. It does wonders. I have become a little bit of a pro at this, if I do say so myself…

couple kissing on beach with dog in New Zealand - Takapuna beach
I mean the boyfriend AND dog… pretty impressive I’d say.

Use anything you have to prop up your phone or camera. An article of clothing, a coffee cup, rocks, a wall, your purse/bag (this has always been my go to). I once purchased a cheap little tripod for my phone, but I found it wasn’t that useful and I took better pictures without it. It was often too weak to hold up my phone, or I had to remove my case – Seriously too much hassle. Just use what you have around you! Or invest in a really good one.

on the beach in the Gold Coast Australia - Surfers Paradise beach

Here I used a towel, my beachbag, a book, and strategically piled sand...

I also really love my Apple watch for this. You can take the picture from where you are and not have to run back a forth to your phone. In love. Obsessed. Pure genius.

Disclaimer: You will have to take a few test shots to get the framing right, and avoid other people getting in them.

Okay, you are now fully equipped to get the Instagram worthy photo to commemorate that moment on your travels. Remember, don’t be shy! Just go for it! You won’t regret it when you’re looking back at those memories once you’re back in the reality of everyday life. As Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”! Hah.. bad pun… I should go….

Alright, BYE!
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