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Instagram has more than 300 million active users, and is one of the most popular ways avid travelers share and discover new places around the globe. I mean, what is traveling the world if you can’t find a way to share your experiences with others?

But of those 300 million users, there are a select few who always seem to look better and head to more photogenic destinations than the rest of us. Of course this is never the case; usually this is actually the result of a lot of effort and editing, and your favorite traveler knowing how to take better photos than you.

If you’re heading overseas and want to step up your Instagram game, you might be able to benefit from the following tricks and tips. These are strategies that some of the most popular accounts use.

And, if you’re a UK resident, after you’ve snapped some amazing shots you can enter your favorite holiday photo using the #myparadisemoment on Instagram for the chance to win £1,000. Competition is running until May 31 2016. More details at the end of the post.

Tips for Taking Great Instagram Travel Snaps

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Avoid the in Camera App

The camera in the Instagram app is terrible. Avoid using it to take your shot.

Using an actual camera and then importing the photos when you open Instagram is a far better way to achieve a beautiful feed. This way you have the ability to zoom, film in slow motion, control your exposure, and take advantage of a huge range of other functions like the grid feature to compose your photos.

The camera in the actual app is extremely limiting, and nowhere near as capable as the camera in your smartphone, or using the WiFi feature to transfer photos from your DSLR. On top of all of that, it automatically crops your image into a square. It’s better to take your initial photo with a capable camera, and then post them to Instagram.

iPhone photography

Shoot From Different Angles

The difference between a professional travel photo and a “tourist snap” can often come down to the angle.

Experiment with taking your pictures from different angles and unusual viewpoints. Think outside the box, and try to avoid snapping a photo from the same angle you’ve seen before.

Shooting photos from right down on the ground, or positioning yourself up high will achieve more interesting pictures. Iconic scenes which everyone are already familiar with can look amazing if shot from a completely different perspective than people are used to seeing.

Use Natural Light

Lighting is key to any form of photography, and that goes for Instagram too. It doesn’t matter how much filtering or editing you try to apply after the fact, you generally can’t save a photo from being poorly lit.

Photos shot in natural light usually turn out better, so if you’re heading outside, aim for early morning or late afternoon for the best light. Cloud cover from overcast days provides great light too.

If you can’t get the lighting right, try moving around. The lighting will change depending on your angle and position to the sun.

Play With Props

Playing with props and pulling different objects into your frame can “enrich what your photo is trying to convey.”

Whether this is adding a suitcase to the scene, or positioning a set of rowboats behind you, suddenly you’re not just taking a photo – you’re telling a story.

Know Your Square

While you can now upload horizontal and vertical shots to Instagram, the optimal size for a photo is still a square. So you should keep this in mind when shooting and place the focus of your photo in the center of the shot.

Using the grid feature to aid your composition can really help. But it’s also a good idea to compose the photo in your mind before aiming the camera lens.

Instead of whipping out the camera and snapping away without purpose or thought, spend some extra time to actually look at the scene in front of you. Use your eyes to frame the picture, and you’ll find you have a much higher success rate when taking a fantastic shot.

It’s Better in Bad Weather

Bad weather is generally when you’re able to take the best photographs. So grab an umbrella or a rain jacket, and embrace the bad weather while everyone else is indoors.

Take advantage of the clouds for dramatic shots – these can provide a great backdrop for old buildings, new skyscrapers, and trees. There’s nothing more boring in photos than clear blue skies.

Utilize the wind for artistic exposures and motion, and use the snow for added emotion. Fog can be great for high impact scenic pictures, and reflections in puddles can make really interesting shots.

Practice All the Time

Like anything, practice makes perfect when it comes to taking beautiful photos for Instagram. So practice as often as you can. Practice composing your photo, play around with props, and get to know the many filters available in the editing process.

You will perfect the process as you go.

Share Your #MyParadiseMoment

Sovereign Travel is giving UK residents (18 years or older) the chance to win £1,000 for sharing their favorite holiday photo on Instagram using the #myparadisemoment hashtag.

To enter, follow @Sovereigntravel on Instagram, or @Sovereignluxury on Twitter, and upload a ‘Paradise Moment’ photograph (.JPG format only) taken while on holiday. You need to tag the photograph with ‘@Sovereignluxury’ on Twitter or @Sovereigntravel on Instagram and ‘#MyParadiseMoment’.

Images can also be uploaded through the website through the competition element. The closing date for the Competition is at 11.59pm (London time) on Tuesday 31st May 2016.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. Thanks for the great tips, Megan. I’m desperately trying to improve my Instagram at the moment, so this is just what I needed :-)

    • You’re welcome! Glad to hear they help :) What’s your instagram username? I’ll make sure I’m following you :)

  2. Thanks for the tips Megan, I’ll have use some of these for my next trip and using on my website social media. Graham.

    • You’re welcome Graham – glad we could help! Happy travels :)

  3. Fab tips, thanks so much! I’ve started using Snapseed recently and love it for Insta :)

    • Glad we could help Sarah! I haven’t actually heard of Snapseed before, will have to check it out – thanks for the tip :)

  4. Thanks for the tips. Always looking for ideas on how to improve my snaps! Happy travels xox

    • You’re welcome Silke – glad we could help! Happy travels :)

  5. I am too late for the contest (and not a UK resident) but I love the photo tips. I have also found that less than ideal weather leads to some fantastic pictures. Travel happy!

    • Glad you enjoyed the tips! I love bad weather shots – can make for some really dramatic photography :)

  6. These are excellent tips! The only way to get better is to just get out there and practice. I particularly like the tip about the angle and lighting. It’s amazing how different a pic can turn out just from changing the angle or lighting.

    • Thanks Marteen! Absolutely on getting out there to practice as much as possible. Only way to find your groove :)

  7. Great tips Meg! I think the key is to just practice practice practice – but every little helps! And I have been known to be lay on the floor at different/inopportune times on my travels for that ‘perfect angle… its always worth it!

    • Thanks Vicki! Lol yes you’ll usually see me laying on the ground or perched up as high as I can get for that different camera angle too :D

  8. Great tips! I tend to add photos later, but I didn’t know the Instagram camera wasn’t using my phone camera. Game changer for me. The other tips are great for Instagram and regular photography. I need to step outside the box and start using some props!! haha Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Nancie! I usually add photos later too – and props can definitely be a game changer – we’ve begun throwing objects into the car so that we always have access to a couple of things when on the road :D!

  9. Great tips! I especially think the different angles and natural light is important and I should do more of!

    • Thanks Rachel! Different angles and natural light can really make a shot stand out above the rest :)

  10. Great article! Especially on props, It will help me to organise my work. I usually stick around three colour combinations green blue and gold for bringing post consistency. Most critical thing is to bring engagement, Even if you’re posting awesome images, you need a strategy to get people to even see them and start following you and of course, Including trending Hashtags will widen Your Discoverability. So a quick question apart from hashtags what are other ways to grow your account organically?

    • Thanks Himanshu, so glad the tips were helpful for you. Totally agree on engagement being key, I’m constantly going back over my account and reviewing which photos perform best, so I can make sure I’m putting up a style of photos that my audience wants to see.

      In terms of growing your account organically, right now stories are a great opportunity that people aren’t taking full advantage of – if you add hashtags and a location to your stories, you can be found organically when people search. For instance my stories using the #DiscoverTasmania hashtag got picked up by a lot of people searching, and while that’s a competitive hashtag normally, hardly anyone utilizes the story feature at the moment, so you have a huge potential for visibility :)

  11. Thank for the great tip Meg! I am going to concentrate more on stories.

    • You’re welcome, I’ll watch for your stories! :)

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