You’ve come to the right place if you want to take, edit, and post amazing travel snaps. One step beyond our tips for photography newbies, this ultimate guide will teach you how to get your ‘Gram on. We’ll cover everything from composition and editing to lighting and equipment. But before you snap your way to Instagram fame, you’ve got to start with some scrolling and studying.

Woman posing for a picture
Scroll around Instagram to find your favorite photography styles.

1. Do your research 

Sorry, all those meme pages and pets you follow aren’t going to help you take great travel photos. Instead, you need to fill your feed with accounts that post top-notch travel snaps. Not only will this introduce you to some of the most photogenic locations on the planet (think Batu Caves and teamLab), but it’ll also act as a mood board of photography styles. Learn about the latest trends by slowing your scroll and studying the types of filters, composition, and color schemes used by your favorite influencer, magazine, or that annoying friend who’s always on the road.

Download photo editing apps to explore all sorts of ways to stylize your photos.

2. Get creative with your editing

All that research will come in handy when editing your post-worthy pic. Of course, you don’t want to just copy someone’s signature style, so get creative. For starters, only use Instagram to post your picture. All the editing should be done on apps like Lightroom (iOS and Google Play), VSCO (iOS and Google Play), and Snapseed (iOS and Google Play). The tools available in these easy-to-use apps go above and beyond what you’ll find on the ‘Gram. In Lightroom, for example, you can create or download pro-looking presets that put Insta’s filters to shame. Before tinkering with the texture, temp, and tint, remember that less is often more when editing a photo.

Man laughing in front of Brandenburg Gate
Take your feed up a notch by choosing your personal Insta aesthetic.

3. Find your signature style

If you really want to have an A+ profile, editing one pic to perfection isn’t going to cut it. Before you start posting, you need to settle on an easy-to-define aesthetic for your whole grid. We’re talking color palette, dimensions, subject, presets, and more. Are you dialing up the grain for a retro vibe? Or ditching color for a sleek noir profile? What about leaving a border around your snaps? Decisions, decisions! You don’t want to wander far from a couple of go-to presets, but settings and subjects can always change — providing they fit your newly established color scheme! To check you’ve got a postable pic, download an app like Preview (iOS and Google Play), which lets you play around with your grid’s layout away from the public eye.

Man overlooking misty hills
They say patience is a virtue. It’s doubly true when it comes to finding the perfect light.

4. Wait for the perfect light 

We’ve covered research, editing, and vibe setting. Now, it’s time to dive into the details of how to take great travel snaps. First up, no matter how many cameras Apple strap to their latest iPhone, the lighting has to be on point. Too bright and your pic becomes all washed out, too dark and your epic composition becomes a blurry mess. It’s all about filling your camera with travel snaps during the fabled golden hour. No matter if you’re roaming Austria’s mountains or lounging on Australia’s dreamy beaches, the golden hour (the period before sunset) is prime shooting time. The low sun does away with awkward shadows, meaning it’s perfect for portraits as well as creative backlit and side-lit shots. On top of portraits, this is when landscapes are at their most snappable. The warm colors add a touch of golden magic to even the most camera-shy of locations. Plus, who doesn’t love a sunset snap?

Couple holding hands outside
Respect the rule of thirds and the perfect photo will follow.

5. Learn all about composition

You might be able to edit like a pro, but it’s often the composition of a pic that makes or breaks it. Before you start snapping, turn on your camera’s grid feature, which splits the picture into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and helps you comply with the hallowed rule of thirds. You’ll also want to have one focal point in your photo, where eyes are immediately drawn to. To ensure your subject gets the prominence it deserves, experiment with angles and perspectives. Sometimes just a slight tilt of your phone will make all the difference. Also, try to limit your use of the zoom feature. Nothing pixelates a pic like a clunky zoom.

Woman photographing skyscrapers
Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned camera. For truly profesh pics, invest in a DSLR.

6. Swap your smartphone for a DSLR camera

A smartphone camera can only take you so far in the quest for awesome Instagram posts. If you really want to up your game, you’ll need to take a DSLR camera on your travels. This means sacrificing posting on the go, but the quality of pics more than makes up for that. Once you get home, you’ll be able to use awesome desktop editing software like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Luminar before transferring it to your phone and unleashing it on the ‘Gram. As well as a digital camera, a tripod is a must-have accessory for capturing awesome shots — especially if you’re traveling alone. Just set up the tripod and timer, do that awkward walk/run/shuffle away from the camera, and strike a pose.

Woman being filmed by a drone
There’s always more to learn! Taking a photo tour on your next trip is a great way to improve your skills.

7. Join a photo tour wherever you find yourself 

One of the best parts of vacation is exploring a new destination. But, not knowing where the most photogenic sights are can be a frustrating experience if you want to fill your feed with awesomeness. Luckily, photography tours are here to save you a whole lot of aimless wandering. In Bali, you can join a knowledgeable guide to explore the most Instagrammable waterfalls, rice fields, and jungle swings on the island. If you’re all about shooting sleek cityscapes, book this aerial photography flight over the Big Apple. Elsewhere, those who fill their feed with food snaps will love this tour of Hamburg’s most Instagrammable restaurants.

Can’t wait to start snapping incredible shots for your feed? Check out our handy guides to the most ‘grammable destinations in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

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Plan a snap-happy trip