You know who we’re talking about: the person who travels the world, spends what is probably several hours capturing the right shot, over-doctors their photos, and then posts them on Instagram with obnoxious captions about how great their lives are.
Yes, the world is beautiful. It’s full of incredible things, and social media is a way to share images of remarkable sights that people would not otherwise be able to see. Travel photography is abundant in the media, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
There is something about the “obnoxious Instagram travel influencer” that sucks the joy out of it, though. They’re just trying to show off. We know what you’re about to say; everyone shows off on Instagram. But still, if you are planning a vacation or a trip somewhere (or are already a travel photographer that wants to tackle Instagram), here are a few tips for not annoying your followers:
Recognize your privilege
Acknowledge your privilege of being able to travel the world. It’s not a cheap experience, so it’s inaccessible to many people.
Captions that say things like, “What are you doing if you aren’t traveling?” or “You haven’t lived if you haven’t traveled” are tone-deaf. It’s true that travel can be educational, enlightening, and a wonderfully rewarding experience, but making people who want to do it feel bad about their inability to do so is rude.
Don’t make travel seem like an everyday thing. It’s not, and you know it — and your followers know you know it, so pretending otherwise rubs people the wrong way.
Don’t take the same photo every time
If you are trying to be a legitimate travel influencer, then you need to distinguish yourself from the rest. As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett says for The Guardian, she was disappointed to see that many travel photos follow the same format:
“A thin, blonde, white girl stands in a floaty dress, her back to the viewer, in a seemingly preordained beautiful location. Off camera a queue of other ‘influencers’ wait patiently to get the perfect shot.”
Instagram is saturated with travel photos (many of them in the same location), so differentiate yours from everyone else’s and buy Instagram followers now and then. Shake it up. Take photos that are honest. Make videos that convey how much fun traveling can be — and how challenging and exhausting it is. As an Instagram tip, don’t post too many pictures of you in front of a landmark. Pose differently while being respectful of the landmarks themselves.
Don’t over-edit your pictures
In the same vein, don’t over-edit your pictures. It’s great to make some of them feel “artsy,” but again, you need to shake it up, both inside and outside your feed.
By all means, take fun photos of your trip! Your grandmother and other followers will love seeing what you are up to. Travel photography is an excellent way to remember past experiences. However, doctoring your photos to an extreme extent makes it look like you’re trying too hard. Have fun on your trip instead of worrying about how people will perceive you, so please dial it back on the filters.
Don’t overdo it with the hashtags
Hashtags are an important part of Instagram because they make content discoverable. They can help you connect with followers — and you can always buy followers if you are trying to build an audience — but again, it’s clear when you’re trying too hard. There is no definite number that will maximize your exposure or penalize you, but it’s generally agreed that 8-12 is sufficient.
Using dozens of hashtags results in a similar effect as over-editing your photos: people know you want attention, and they’ll be less inclined to give it to you. Only use relevant hashtags and don’t use ones that are saturated with millions of posts (for example, the general #travel tag probably won’t do you any favors).
Be real in your captions
We mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: be real in your captions. Your life is not all sunshine and rainbows now that you are traveling, and no one will believe that no matter how amazing your photos look. People will appreciate honesty: how has travel challenged you? What do you wish you had done differently? Let your followers see the cool things you are doing, but don’t try to fool them.
Don’t forget the purpose of traveling
Travel is supposed to allow you to experience new cultures, broaden your horizons, learn new things, try new foods, meet new people, see extraordinary sights around the world, and more. Vacations are also meant to help you relax. Don’t get so wrapped up in capturing the perfect Instagram shot that you waste your time.
We all know who those obnoxious travel Instagrammers are, so how will you approach social media when your next trip comes around?