A (Humorous) Guide to the Perfect Instagrammable Vacation Photos

A (Humorous) Guide to the Perfect Instagrammable Vacation Photos

I considered whether it was worth writing this post at this time of the year, when technically in the UK, summer is over and peak travel season is gradually reaching its end. But then my Instagram feed seems to be telling me otherwise, as travel photos are continuously popping up and people seem to be constantly jetting away for short breaks and late summer holidays. I know for a fact that of these 9 Female Travel Enthusiasts we previously featured, at least 4 are on holiday at the moment, and of course Chiamaka - Nigeria's Social Prefect is currently planning a tour to Benin Republic! But whether or not you have any travel plans in the imminent future, this post should help a ton. 

For the people around me, travelling seems to be one of the new cool things to do, and even I have definitely been bitten by the bug - experiencing a few hilarious travel mishaps along the way. On holidays and vacations, there's often a desire to take photos, and record the lovely (perfect?) times. Also thanks to the social media world we live in, there's a high sense of "if you didn't take a photo, did it actually happen?". 

But much more than just taking boring old travel pictures as in times past, many people seek to get the perfect travel shots capturing a mix of excitement, nature & adventure. They often make your Instagram feed look gorgeous, get a ton of likes and are handy ones for a "Throw Back Thursday #TBT" or "Flash Back Friday #FBF".

However if you're anything like me, there's the dilemma of 'what sort of photos do I take exactly?'

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Many times I've returned from a holiday thinking I failed to actually capture the beauty of the location and my camera roll is filled with selfies or a million takes of me attempting to get one decent photo against a beautiful or photo worthy backdrop. 

For Tee and I's first trip together to Paris and Amsterdam, no kidding, we had over 500 photos. In our excitement we finally managed to short list a few (which was so hard as we imagined friends and family would be keen to see most of it). But then we sent the photo album to a friend and the response wasn't what we were expecting. She said "but there's nothing to see here. This is just a million photos of you both. We can't get an idea of what Paris or Amsterdam was really like". Well, it was our first trip and indeed we wanted a million photos of us - constantly using the self time feature of the camera. 

But in retrospect I do get her point, and I've generally become more aware of taking photos that actually capture the experience. But that didn't automatically translate to actually knowing what sort of photos to take!

So when Mari Andrews, one of my fave illustrators posted the above guide on Instagram, I thought 'boom, here's a start'. I re-posted it on my Instagram page and it generated quite a number of comments with people saying they needed that guide as well and had saved it away for future reference!

I thought I'll also share here. It further prompted me to look back at my travel photos and give myself a tap on the back for the times I have actually captured some moments as suggested on the guide. And also realise how much I've fallen short of this guide!

Palm Trees Against Blue Sky

We seemed to have ticked this off during our Staycation in La Campagne Tropicana Lagos. So yay!

Asides palm trees, I think blue skies and beaches generally make for a great photo. Here's some from Altura, Portugal and I've shared a few before from our time in Barbados and Cornwall

Cocktails + Bracelets / Coffee Moment

Well I seem to have missed the memo on this one. While I'm such a lover of cocktails and sometimes wear bracelets on holiday, the trick is to apparently take a photo of just your arm + the bracelets - not with you in it, as I have done. Fail. 

And I've actually never drank coffee, but this photo of hot chocolate and tea I had while in St Ives, Cornwall should suffice yeah? For coffee moments though, those have to be taken from the top, not the side! So kind of a fail again. 

Door Portrait

Our accommodation in Cornwall was so pretty. Look who got a door portrait! I think I passed this one. 


Hazy City Landscape and Red Roof tops

I think I got quite a good photo of this during our very short stay in Cape Town

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And I quite like this one of the Amsterdam Canal. 


For red roof tops, say no more. While climbing Olumo Rock, Abeokuta we got quite a good view of the town - and of course some red roof tops! 

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Metro Sign with Good Font

Now that I think of it, I've been to four cities with the metro (underground railway) system. London, New York, Paris & Kuala Lumpur. I was pretty disappointed with the system in NY & Paris, so probably couldn't be bothered to get decent photos (not like that should matter! more reason to capture it all). But I agree that good signage often makes for a good photo. Not sure if those qualify as good fonts though. 

Portrait of a local cat?

I'm pretty sure there's nothing like this in my entire camera roll and cloud! The closest I've come has to be the camels in Abu Dhabi.


And that's because they're camels which you don't see everyday. They're too many cats around me on a daily, that I'm not sure I'll be fascinated to see on a holiday. But I guess you can swap cat for 'local or not commonly seen animal'.

Local Produce

In retrospect, I should have taken an actual photo of the local market stalls in Barbados which had such lovely local produce. And I didn't have to be in the photo. But after purchasing mangoes for £1 each in the UK, I was super excited to see these tropical mangoes fall from the tree directly!

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Best ______ of my life

The guide seems to suggest that this should be a meal. But as much as I'm a foodie, I can't think of any meal I've had that fits in. Guess I could say Best Nazi Goreng (Malaysian fried rice) of my life and best Henna of my life (in which case best here means the first and only times I've had both!).

Last Day Captioned "Never Leaving"

This one genuinely made me laugh out loud , as I've actually seen this exact caption a number of times.  It's up for you to post anything as you deem fit! But I get the feeling, that it has to be something abstract.

Apparently asides knowing what photos to actually take, there's still the bit of getting the right angles, setting, frame, having a good camera and in some cases editing the photos. All for good ol' Instagram. 

Let's face it, it's a skill and/or will take a lot of effort. Does this take away the whole essence of the vacation if you have to go through a lot for the photos? Well, up to you to decide.

Writing this post meant I had to look through a few of my travel albums. And I don't think I'll stop taking my million and one photos of myself and awkward poses. I loved looking at them and they make me so happy. Ok, I might reduce it to half a million and then try to incorporate more photos of the actual destination and views. 

Do you struggle with taking photos on vacation? What photos would we typically find in your travel albums? What do you think of this guide and would you be incorporating any? I'll love to hear!

Kachee... Xx

pS: I'm quite surprised the guide doesn't provide for photos of iconic tourist landmarks! What? How does one go to Paris without a photo of the Eiffel Tower for example. No way

ppS: Of all the above, it's kind of struck me that while I do have an albeit unflattering pool portrait, I'm not sure I have a museum potrait as we hardly do museums on holiday. Do you?

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