How To Take Great Travel Photos (Even If You Hate Being In Front Of The Camera)


Somehow, we’re all expected to take professional magazine quality photos when we travel. That’s what Instagram has done to us. Now, there are some travelers who naturally smolder at the camera, but if you’re not a member of the naturally photogenic gang, we have some tips. Here are a few ways to make yourself comfy in front of the camera — since that’s the key to great photos, after all.

Experiment with angles.

We’re in the age of shameless selfies, so don’t hesitate to turn the camera on yourself if you’re preferential to that look. Dead straight on with both shoulders facing the camera can be a bit blunt in the final product. Angling your shoulders a little bit can give your body more dimension in a photo and make you look more casual.

Think about posture.

No matter if you’re Gigi Hadid or freeze up when someone suggests snapping a pic, everyone looks better when their posture is on point. Slouchy photos aren’t the ones you want to frame forever. Shoulders back, head up and try to loosen up your limbs. You can actually physically shake them out if you’re traveling with friends.

Taking anything in profile? Take an extra minute to stand up a little straighter. Same goes for anything where you’re facing away from the camera.

Avoid what makes you self-conscious.

A post shared by Carmen Chong 🌵 (@carthemen) on

Not super confident in your beach body? Even though we think everyone who’s got a body is beach body-ready, we get it. There’s a lot of bikini pressure out there. Instead of posing in your two-piece, take your glam beach or pool shot while wearing a chic sarong or sundress — with the straps of your suit peeking out for some watersports flare.

If you’ve got upper arm worries, relax. Your guns can look just like Michelle Obama’s by just lifting them off of your sides. Everyone’s arms look bigger if they’re pressed against another surface; that’s just physics. But if you put the old hands on the hips or let your arms sway while walking, you can alleviate those (unnecessary) anxieties.

Go all out.

A post shared by Kulsum Khan (@theveilednomad) on

Action shots are a great way to forget all about your insecurities and focus on your adventures. Believe us, no one is thinking about your weight or flyaway hairs or one eye that squints more than the other (okay, that one is our personal nitpicky photo qualm). Instead, they’re in awe of your adventurous spirit for hiking up that mountain or jumping off that cliff or trying that enticing street food.

But don’t pretend in your photos. Often, people will pretend to walk down the street if they want a candid strolling photo or they’ll pretend to talk or pretend to stare of into the distance. Don’t fake it, just do it. Walk down the street, talk to the photographer or find something to look at in the distance. Do the damn thing. That’s what travel is all about.

Skip the cheesy smile.

A post shared by Daniela Bueno (@danielabno) on

Show some personality. The typical camera grin isn’t natural and can be more stress than it’s worth. Our favorite photo moment is mid-laugh. So if you’re traveling with friends, make someone in your group tell you the worst dad joke in their arsenal. We can’t help you much if that doesn’t make you crack a genuine smile.

In case you’re traveling solo, here’s what to keep in mind when asking strangers to take photos for you:

  • Pretend they’re your pals. No one smiles naturally at strangers. Do a little magical thinking and pretend the person behind the camera is your bestie — or your crush, depending on the vibe you want for the photo.
  • Ask for two or three pics. Insider secret: Most people aren’t that great at taking photos. Yes, even in these social media maven times. Don’t trust that your friendly photo helper got the best shot on the first try; ask him or her to take at least one more so you have options to choose from and hopefully you’ll get something better from the second attempt.
  • Find a fellow photographer. Always ask the person with the giant DSLR camera to take your photo. He or she will likely have high standards and probably have great aesthetic instincts.

Spell out what you want.

If you have a vision for your ideal photo to commemorate your trip, go after it. But unless you’re a whiz with a tripod and remote shutter, you probably won’t be the one behind the camera. Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends, it’s a good idea to describe (in extreme detail) your dream shot.

It’s okay to be a bit of a diva in the moment. How else do you think those enviable travel bloggers get the perfect pic with the perfect lighting in the perfect pose? They take one million and one photos.

A post shared by Bailey. (@lemermaiddd) on

Remember that you want to capture the moment in a travel photo. It’s more important to document your slightly sunburned nose than to look like a supermodel in every shot.