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How to Take Travel Snaps Like a Pro

Trave-grammer and blogger Ian Thornley gives us his best photography tips...

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  • 13 June 2017
  • • 5 min read

Want to up your Instagram game? Then learn from the pro himself. Ian Thornley is an up-and-coming travel blogger who really knows how to capture that perfect shot. For proof, just take a look at his  Instagram  feed (he has 31.9k followers for a reason!). Ian travels all over the world blogging and snapping his adventures. To achieve travel photos as awesome as his, follow his 7 steps and you’ll be a master of photography in no time...

Check out his blog


This is the most important point of all...okay, so imagine 2 boxers about to square off in the ring, one comes out all guns blazing throwing careless shots and hopelessly missing with each one, the other bides his time and lands the perfect shot. Which one are you when it comes to taking photographs?

If you type #eiffeltower into Instagram you will see some great examples of both Some people overcome with joy take the first photograph they are physically able to, which is usually half of their head and the lower half of the tower. But you will also see some great examples of people who have spent 5 minutes finding great angles in the surrounding gardens, these are also the ones with the higher engagement. If you have time, spend a few minutes exploring and find a more secluded spot for a unique shot.

(This was a 2 minute walk from about 10,000 people and brings in the different colours of the gardens)


It doesn’t matter what the subject of your photo is, it could be you, a sunset or a plate of food. What does matter though is positioning of the subject, my mantra here is to always have it on the left, the right or the centre of the photo; this makes it look really clean and appeals to the subliminal OCD that exists in all of us! It’s amazing how much better you can make a photo look by simply cropping yourself to the left or the right of it. This works really well on panoramic landscape shots.

'To the left, to the left'


Ever take a photo of something really tall and always seem to chop the top off? Getting low and shooting upwards is a really effective technique to get great portrait shots. By doing this you can capture a lot more of the background than you are able to do at the usual chest level shot. If you are in the photo, try moving closer to the subject and/or get the photographer to go further away to fit more of you in.

Remember to get low


I avoid taking photographs at night as unless you are using some pretty powerful kit they come out granulated. That being said you’re biggest friend (and enemy) in daytime photography is light. If you are in the photo always shoot away from the light as this will light you up rather than flash you out. Make use of the focus on your camera/phone to adjust to the right level of lighting.

Use light to your advantage


Do you want to know the easiest way of making a good shot a great one? Shoot it at sunset. Seriously, the colours make the photo so much more interesting. If you scroll down your Instagram explore feed 1 in 5 images will likely be of a sunset and there’s a reason for that, people love them! I always head to a local viewpoint or peak for sunset. One little tip is to shoot West, away from the actual dipping sun, if it’s a good one this is where you will see all of those amazing palma violet colours! If you are shooting into the sun, lower the contrast as this helps create cleaner shadows.

Shoot at sunset for the ultimate Instagrammable pic


Just because it’s in your photo, doesn’t mean it has to stay there. Ever see those photos of people hanging from remote cliff edges with a 1,000 meter drop below them? In truth, there’s usually a tree to the left of them a souvenir shop to the right and the ground is just 1m below them. They have cropped the rest out to create the image of danger! This applies to all photos though, if there something unsightly in shot, crop it out!

(Believe it or not I’m in no danger at all here. Just below the photo is a ledge that I cropped out)


The hand holding shot, pinching the top of a tower, looking into the sunset, you’ve seen them all right? Variety is the spice of life. If every photo of someone was with their hands in their pockets smiling in front of a landmark you’d soon get pretty bored right? Try new things and get creative to keep people interested, and if you look like an awkward creep? You don’t have to share them but they are often the funniest!

I love LA this much!

Article by Ian Thornley. Follow him on  Instagram  (@IanThornley),  Twitter  and check out  his travel blog  for awesome tips!

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