Simple Tips for Better Travel Instagram Photos

Social media has been around for years now, and yet the only one that has really stuck with me is Instagram. Perhaps it’s because it’s heavily dependent on images. Perhaps it’s because, when I “like” something, it doesn’t spam the feeds of my friends. I also wasn’t big on taking images with my phone until I got the iPhone 5s (still do) and until Instagram’s editing feature improved, along with the help of 3rd party image editing apps.

I’ve learned that I like to travel lightly. This means that carrying a big ol’ dslr + a couple of extra lenses is just not practical for me, so I’ve come to rely a lot on my phone and its camera.

Here are some tips for better travel Instagram photos, for those who also depend on their phones for travel memories:

Reasons why #iloveny is now #ontheblog, one of them being the New York skyline 🌆

A photo posted by Deasy S. (@deasynoel) on

Straighten the Photos

One of my biggest pet peeves when it come to images is crooked images, especially if the subject of the photo is architectural. Now, if the photographer intends for the photos to be crooked for artistic reasons, then okay, make it as crooked as you want. But if the photographer just didn’t adjust the lines to perfectly be horizontal or vertical because of laziness, that gets under my skin.

How do you fix this? Adjust in-camera. Tilt the camera / phone around until you get the lines just how you want them. Or you can fix it in Instagram by using the ‘Adjust’ tool.

#tbt to seeing this cute little church in Yosemite Valley

A photo posted by Deasy S. (@deasynoel) on

Clean your lens

If your images are producing a misty / ghosty / blurry look that is not supposed to be there, chances are, your lens is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Make a habit of just quickly wiping your lens with a cloth (or better yet, microfiber cloth) before taking any photos to ensure crisp, clean photos.

Is the weekend over already?

A photo posted by Deasy S. (@deasynoel) on

Take advantage of lighting

Natural daylight is the best kind of light for everyday photos, especially Instagram photos. The worst time day to shoot is during high noon because it produces harsh shadows on your face and the stark contrast between highlight and shadows in general are hard to edit. Instead, opt for a morning sun or an afternoon sun to lessen the harshness. Even better is if it’s during sunset hours called the Golden Hour! However, I know that sometimes it is out of our hands what time of day things happen (i.e. traveling somewhere in the middle of the day), and in those cases, try to find somewhere that’s shaded to photograph.

If you happen to be indoors, the best place that has light is by a window. So the next time you’re at a restaurant, snag a table closest to the window for those awesome tabletop foodie shot! Extra tip – when shooting natural light indoors, turn off the lights. Any kind of artificial light will produce some sort of tint that you probably don’t want to have.

Photograph several compositions

When I was visiting Washington, D.C. last year for the blooming of the cherry blossoms, I went nuts taking pictures. Out of over a hundred photos, maybe 4 or 5 made the cut. Now, this is probably extreme for many of you, but I highly encourage you to take several photos, in several different compositions to find that one photo that stands out and is “instagrammable”. Maybe one photo has the subject low to the ground with a lot of negative space up top. Maybe the second photo has the subject far out in the distance, so you get a better sense of the scale and surroundings. There are so many possibilities with composition, each creating a different sense for the photo.

Exploring Malibu with @sahmanne.

A photo posted by Deasy S. (@deasynoel) on

Take a portrait

… versus a selfie. This is especially critical when you’re traveling. When you’re taking a selfie, you’re limited to how far your hand can extend. Most of the time, this causes your head to take over the majority of the space, and we end up seeing very little of what’s actually around you (i.e. the travel part). Instead, opt to have your travel buddy or a stranger to take your portrait. This gives you the freedom to be jumping, to be dangling your feet off a cliff, to be swimming in that resort pool, to be sipping on a coconut and swinging in a hammock, and of course, to turn your back to the camera altogether. The limit is endless and so much better than just staring at the camera.


If you’re a professional photographer, no photograph will see the light of day without some sort of editing done to it. This is true with phone camera photos as well. It’s not enough to just post the images straight-out-of-camera (sooc) to the digital world. To make it stand out, you must do some sort of editing to it.

Here is how I edit my images:


This is a tool that I’ve just recently started using, and this is mainly used to ‘whiten’ things that, because of bad lighting and whatnot, would have been a murky yellow.


After going into FaceTune and making a couple of adjustments, I open up Priime and go through some filters that might suit the photo best. My favorite is Cathedral for indoor shots and Emerald for nature shots, but I try on a lot of other filters to see what looks best. Also, be sure to adjust the amount of filter you want to use. It’s rare that I ever use a filter at 100%.


Before hitting “post”, I make sure the photo isn’t crooked (see 1st tip), adjust the brightness, add a little bit of Lux, add just a hint of sharpening, add a dash of saturation if the post is nature-related, and that should do it!

Ahh! I hope this helped! Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or further tips on how to get those instagrammable images!


    • Deasy Noel
      May 7, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      Aw, thanks so much, Erik!

  1. May 6, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Excellent tips Noel, I have to check out the apps you mentioned because I love photography. Just followed your insta, love your pics! Follow me if you like my feed. Thanks for visiting my blog recently, hope you stay in touch.


    • Deasy Noel
      May 7, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      Awesome, I hope the apps help in the future!

    • Deasy Noel
      May 7, 2016 / 10:45 pm

      I’m glad they were able to help you in some way, Danielle :)

  2. waketonroad
    May 9, 2016 / 10:11 am

    These are amazing tips! I also hate when photos aren’t straightened… a beautiful beach horizon can be ruined when it’s crooked! Thanks for sharing all of these great tips!

    XO Bryn

    • Deasy Noel
      May 10, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Haha, yes about crooked beach horizon!

  3. mintnoti
    May 10, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    Your photos always look so nice! I never used Facetune before but I will have to check it out. I like your tip about good lighting and sitting by the window when you’re indoors, that makes a huge difference!

    Eden | Mint Notion

    • Deasy Noel
      May 10, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Yeah, Facetune is an interesting app. I’m sure when it was created, they meant for the whiteness feature for things like eyeballs and teeth, but it’s definitely good for other things :)

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