Over 400 million people per month are now using Instagram, the popular social media platform where users share photos of real-life experiences through a smartphone app. Instagram’s impact on travel planning is massive as people around the world book vacations inspired by shots of sweeping vistas and even swimming pigs.
We spoke with five of our favorite luxury travel Instagrammers who do an excellent job of taking followers along on journeys to tropical beaches, first class cabins and penguins in Antarctica, while engaging in meaningful conversations along the way. Here, they’ve graciously shared their favorite photo editing apps, gear and tips for composing a fantastic Instagram post. We’re certain you’ll enjoy following their adventures just as much as we do.
Matt Long – @Landlopers
Matt transitioned from life as a Washington DC lobbyist to a profession centered around luxury adventure travel. A dream job, yes, but he works diligently to share relatable and honest experiences with his readership on LandLopers and via Instagram while still maintaining a home base in the nation’s capitol. He’s currently sailing along the Rhine River but has also recently sipped whisky in Scotland and sunk his toes into the beautiful sand of Queensland’s beaches. Storytelling is Matt’s key to success. He excels at conveying a sense of time and place by immersing his followers in a destination through well-composed photos complemented by detailed captions that are a pleasure to read. “However you decide to share your story, be sure that it reflects who you are,” Matt says. “And, most importantly, your thoughts and emotions which are necessarily reflected in that image.” Matt uses Camera+, Snapseed and/or VSCO apps to edit his iPhone photos.
Eric Stoen – @travelbabbo
Eric’s love of photography stems back to developing photos as a child in a dark room alongside his grandfather. Now a father to kids ages 5, 8 and 10 he admits, “I love combining travel and photography and I love including my kids in both.” And, does he ever. Starting at age four, each of Eric’s kids picks any destination in the world (as long as it is safe to visit) each year for a one-on-one trip with him. Even though his kids aren’t afraid to suggest far-flung places like Easter Island or Antarctica, Eric is more than happy to oblige and share the adventures on Travel Babbo. This means that his kids are in the picture but strategically so. As any parent knows, constantly posing kids or attempting to recreate picture-perfect moments your camera wasn’t ready for is a serious no-go. Instead, Eric shoots his kids in action while also capturing the venue or destination that he wants to showcase. He says, “I want to inspire people to travel by letting them picture their own kids in these places.” Ojai, CA is home when the family isn’t on the road. Lightroom is Eric’s editing tool of choice, whether he’s shooting in RAW with a DSLR or on an iPhone, for its ability to easily sync photos between multiple devices.
Ana Silva O’Reilly – @mrsoaroundworld
Based in the English countryside near Henley-on-Thames, Ana is one of Europe’s most well-regarded luxury travel bloggers. She’s been traveling throughout her entire life and such a trusted resource that as the number of friends and friends-of-friends started asking for advice increased, she decided to post her tips online at Mrs. O Around the World. In addition to beautiful photos of travels to Palm Springs, the Mediterranean, Maldives and beyond, Ana is is clearly having a fantastic time sharing decadent dishes, cocktails, shoes and products she loves on her lighthearted feed. Not one to carry heavy camera gear around, Ana keeps things compact. “I use an iPhone 6s which is much better than previous versions,” she says. Another fun recent purchase of hers has been a new pocket-sized Canon Powershot G9 X which connects to WiFi. She perfects photos using the editing functions in the Instagram app if necessary before sharing.
Kirsten Alana – @KirstenAlana
Instagram is the favorite social media platform of NYC-based photographer Kirsten Alana who travels the world on assignment for the likes of Four Seasons, LAN Airlines and VisitBritain. Clients and her well-over-six-figure Instagram fan base are drawn to her ability to make luxury feel accessible which continues on her blog Aviators and a Camera. Capturing a perfect indoor shot, especially inside of a restaurant, can be challenging. The key, according to Kirsten, is natural light. “I regret whenever I post a food photo without natural light because the food just never looks as edible or as delicious,” Kirsten admits. She also advocates shooting food and drinks from above which is often referred to as a flat lay style (check the hashtag #flatlay for ideas). “That’s always a hit with Instagram fans,” she says. As far as gear is concerned, rest assured that Kirsten has plenty of it, ranging from smartphones like iPhone or Note5 to smart cameras like the Samsung NX1. In regard to apps, Kirsten says, “I really love Cortex Cam for long exposure and VSCO for editing.”
Andy Luten – @realandyluten
When not busy with his job as a financial software consultant, Andy shares what it’s like to fly in premium class airline cabins such as Singapore Airlines Suites Class and Etihad’s First Class Apartment, in addition to stunning nighttime landscapes and life around his hometown of Dallas. He documents flights and breaks the latest travel industry news at Andy’s Travel Blog, a part of the Prior2Boarding network.
With space and lighting constraints, how does one shoot quality photos at 35,000 feet? “Your best friends are the reading light for food shots and the flashlight on other people’s phones,” says Andy. Sometimes, he’ll think of a shot on board and figure out how to make it a reality, even if it involves his smartphone camera peeking out from a ripped (and unused) air sick bag dangling from an overhead bin. For Andy, getting creative (and generating a few laughs) is part of the fun. It’s also in line with his advice of pausing to take a handful of extra photos using different angles to be sure you’ve adequately captured your subject.
Andy’s Instagram photos are mostly shot with a Sony a7rII mirrorless camera but he credits a wide-angle Moment Lens with greatly enhancing his smartphone photos. He edits using Lightroom Mobile as well as VSCO and Snapseed from time to time.
For more travel inspiration, follow Luxury Retreats on Instagram