How To Instagram Your Summer Vacation Like The Pros

We’re here to help.

White Outdoor

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


While the days of having a precious, two month summer vacation is long gone, it doesn’t mean our proclivity for travel (or excitement we feel when setting our OOO email) is ANY less. And truth be told, one of the best parts of travelling the world is the beautiful and meaningful memories and photographs you collect throughout your trip—and post on social media. So in the spirit of capturing moments this summer in only the most stunning locales, we spoke with two of our favorite travel photographers to get insight into what makes the perfect travel ‘gram. Trust us, you’re going to want to read their advice before your next weekend (or week long!) adventure.

[Updated July 10, 2017]

Taupe Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


KRISTEN KELLOGGBrand Storyteller, Filmmaker, Creative Director Behind Border Free Travels

What is your favorite thing to take photos of when you’re traveling?
It’s really hard to pick a favorite because I am so inspired by various elements like nature, people, and food on adventures, but one thing I take great joy in is creating scenes with fellow travelers in well designed spaces like boutique hotels and luxury villas.

What do you look for when taking travel photographs?
I try to keep my camera ready to snap at a moment's notice when I go out to shoot images especially in small towns and big cities. I look for those moments you can’t recreate—scenes like this one in San Juan. It was sprinkling and I spotted a couple with umbrellas who I wanted to photograph. As I was setting up my shot, I saw a man on the other side of the road with the paper walking down the street about to cross. He quickly pulled the paper up to cover his head as he began to cross. I had three seconds to position and snap as he crossed and then the moment was over. I LOVE when moments like this occur and I am able to capture them.

Do you plan your itinerary around things you want to photograph?
Not really. I usually just wander off and find things. Spontaneity is so much more fun!

Do you have a favorite time of day you like to take photos?
I love sunrise. For the obvious reason that the light is just incredible, but also because most people just don’t get up that early. I love being able to share things that most people don’t get to see.

Blue Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


Do you have any tips for taking photos when the lighting isn’t great?
For low light situations, borrow a friends light on their phone to help light food or people instead of using your own phone as a flash. In the middle of the day high light, try playing with shadows and lens flare.

What about photographing sunsets and sunrises?
Do everything you can to catch sunrise. Not many people get to see it as I mentioned. When photographing it, you can find a nice middle in exposure between foreground and background so you can brighten up the foreground and pull down the background making your final edit look more like what you’re seeing in real life. You can also do this when you have people in the scene. It will allow you to show their faces and also the beautiful sunset.

Do you have any advice on capturing moments with friends and family?
While many people love traditional posed and say cheese type photos, when I’m photographing friends and family on vacation, I love trying to focus on catching people in their authentic moments and not let them know I’m snapping a pic. I find that these often turn out to be my (and their) favorites.

Blue Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


How do you balance taking good photos with being in the moment?
I’m learning more and more what types of images end up on my social media channels and blog. I’ve dramatically cut back on photographing the things I post less of leaving more time to enjoy these moments with my own two eyes.

Do you have any advice for getting photographed by strangers?
Yes! I could go on and on about this. If you want an excellent photo from a stranger, have them stand in for you, take the photo, show them, then position them, and run in and give them the okay to snap. If it’s not your favorite the first time around. Give them a compliment on what they did well, and then show them what they can improve on for the next try. Also, know your own quirks to steer clear of and favorite looking poses before you hand over your camera.

Blue Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


Whhat do you think makes a great travel ‘gram?
Always the random moments or things you stumble upon, but most of all, adding in a great caption! Give context to where you are, why you’re there, and what makes it special and unique. Share with people what you think they might live about the place and why they should visit. I try to make my aim to share something that will inspire and/or educate the people following along.

Any advice on what not to do?
Don’t focus too much on creating amazing Instagram photos so much that you miss out on what’s happening on your adventure! Take some great images then put the camera down and enjoy your surroundings and conversation with the people around you. I love getting to know locals. Also, it’s nice to stick to sharing only a few Instagram images per day, saving the others for #latergram’s. Also, try to space out the timing when you are posting. leaving at least two or three hours between each.

Taupe Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


this was taken with a self-timer!

What about general advice or techniques to help with taking good photos?
If you’re using an iPhone, steady your hand and use the focus lock. You can also change the exposure to where you like it. When you see the little yellow box and sunshine symbol, you can push it up or down. I find that so many people don’t know about this. Use burst mode for action shots. Also, when you’re traveling solo, try using the self timer on action shots - You can get great images.For any device, DSLR to Camera Phone, trying different angles, for example getting low to the ground or standing on a chair to photograph food or people over the top. Playing with water and reflections is also a favorite of mine.

What are your favorite filters or apps you like using?
VSCO cam is excellent for brightening up images and sharpening food shots. For editing travel videos on my phone, I love the Cameo APP. It comes with amazing music for you to use by up and coming artists.

Green Outdoor

photography by @BORDERFREETRAVELS


What is your favorite non-cliché destination you’ve recently visited?
Hands down Dominica (not to be confused with Dominican Republic). I recently went back for the second time. This little island has so much natural beauty and is a place where you can really disconnect while actively exploring and meeting locals.

And don’t forget about videos…
Video’s are just as fun to Instagram these days with awesome in phone editing apps and the amazing ability to record slow motion, and now that Instagram allows you to use up to 60 seconds to share these moments, you should look at capturing and creating more moving images. As I mentioned before, Cameo APP is a great in phone editing with music. You can also record on a go pro and connecting it to your phone for easy uploads and immediate editing.

Blue Outdoor

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


RICHELLE HUNTERDestination Wedding Photographer & Traveler

What is your favorite thing to take photos of when you’re traveling?
Natural landscapes, the food we are trying, details of floors, what we’ve packed, colorful walls and all of the off-the- beaten-trail locations and recommendations for our followers!

What do you look for when taking travel photographs?
For me, I look for textures and soft colors. We also love trying to take photos of new cities in new ways. For example, the best compliment was a local Parisian saying that she had never looked twice at the Paris’ city hall and was reminded of its’ beauty through our photos – to us it was beyond magnificent!

Do you have a favorite time of day you like to take photos?
I love the softness of the last couple hours before sunset.

Taupe Exterior

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


Do you have any tips for taking photos when the lighting isn’t great?

  • If the light isn’t working for you, find a location that will reflect more light for you – concrete sidewalks and white walls are great for this!
  • If it’s cloudy out, take the photo with your subject facing where the sun “should” be in the sky, even if you can’t see it! It will give a beautiful soft light effect.
  • If you are snapping indoors, move your subject (or self!) near a window and shoot with your subject facing the light source. For example, stand at the window to take a photo of your friend, and have them face you and the window – this will illuminate their face beautifully with even light! It makes a big difference!
Do you have any advice on capturing moments with friends and family?
Talk and laugh WITH them. People freeze and your lose that special candid realness from people if you give them the room to overthink being in front of a camera! This goes for how we interact with our clients, as well as our friends and family. (Pro tip: turn off that pesky shutter click sound to be more of a little ninja-snapper.)

Green Outdoor

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


How do you balance taking good photos with being in the moment?
I try to take the photos that I “need” at the beginning of a get-together or lunch with girlfriends and then I put my phone away. This way I am still able to get the fun shots I want, but I allow myself to be present for the actual memory!

What are your go-to poses when the camera is flipped and you’re being photographed?
Try looking away from the camera with a smile, or in a group photo, exchange laughs by looking between your friends. Less eye contact can make for more artistic photos!

What do you think makes a great travel ‘gram?
I love a fabulous small set of travel photos that are a combination of detail photos (less personal) and you exploring the colorful places that make you happy (personal)! Oh the details!

Green Outdoor

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


Any advice on what not to do?
Don’t get lost in trying to take the “perfect photo” – truly, you will get too particular and end up not having as much fun. Look for simple backdrops, pretty light and photograph the real you!

What about general advice or techniques to help with taking good photos?
If you look at my feed, you’ll notice I almost never post dark pictures, so I don’t even bother struggling to photograph with my phone in low-lit situations.I also am personally in love with soft colors, so I often naturally hone in on soft-colored palettes to photograph!Last, this is an important one! If you’re looking to master a new technique – try holding your phone perfectly straight – horizontal or vertical - parallel angles make for really cool photos with an extra artsy feel.

What are your favorite filters or apps you like using?
VSCO and Afterlight.

Green Outdoor

photography by @RICHELLEHUNTER


What is your favorite non-cliché destination you’ve recently visited?
We have had the luck of being wooed by Europe, so when we took a trip for work last month to Western Canada, we didn’t expect to be as mind-blown as we were. I highly recommend a trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada’s only desert. It is your standard desert complete with cactuses, sandy plains, and lizards - except there is a huge mountain range in the distance. It’s a popular wine region with lots of free tours by amazing winemakers - some of our new favorite wines come from there!

Published on July 10, 2017 - 5:10am EDT

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