Want to know how to edit Instagram photos and build a cohesive theme like many travel bloggers?
If you are an aspiring travel photographer or at least someone who wants to BOOST their Instagram then keep reading to learn how best to edit Instagram photos like a travel blogger!
Please note: this post is not for you if you are what I like to call a photo editing guru who never needs to rely on YouTube and miracles.
As I just passed my 2-year Blogiversary, I couldn’t help but reflect on how dumpy my early photos were and how far I’ve come this past year as a photographer.
Am I still amateur? Absolutely.
Do I know everything there is to know? Definitely not!
Yet, I have learned a lot and want to share my tips with anyone who is in a place of “what the hell am I doing?”
Since learning how to edit my photos and build a unique style, I have grown this incredible community from 400 to over 30,000 and I’m sharing it all with you.
In this post, I am going to share with you tips on how to easily learn to take travel photos, find your editing style, and helpful tools you should not live without.
But that’s not all! I will also share a few learning lessons and tips for building a cohesive Instagram feed.
One very important thing to remember is…
The path to amazing travel photography does not happen overnight.
Instead, it takes lots of practice, terrible photo after terrible photo, and embarrassing moments in front of random strangers.
You also need to be creatively skilled in post-editing (i.e. color correction & color grading).
These are skills and methods used by all the top travel bloggers.
Luckily, I will be guiding you through both so keep reading!
Table of Contents
Picking Up a DSLR
If you are serious about taking your photography to the next level, you need a professional camera.
Plenty of people will tell you it’s possible to get great photos on your iPhone, which is true to an extent.
When it comes down to it, no cell phone can compare to a professional DSLR or mirrorless camera.
They offer many benefits, with the biggest one being the ability to shoot RAW images.
Until you have captured a RAW image on a quality camera, you will never understand how much creative control you truly have.
That wasn’t my case in the beginning though.
After dropping a whopping $1,400 on a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR), I was determined to turn the dial to anything BUT Automatic.
I caved after the first photo though.
I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the various knobs and buttons, and quickly realized this was a beast I knew nothing about.
From that moment, I vowed to only read the owners manual and any articles on travel photography tips I could find.
No joke, I even read the owners manual on the plane to New York City, on my lunch breaks, and before bed.
There was just one problem with my method.
I was not practicing what I was reading.
How To Practice Travel Photography
Burying yourself in tutorials will only take you so far.
I repeat. Burying yourself in tutorials will only take you so far.
At some point, you need to let go of the training wheel that is Youtube and go snap some photos.
Until you physically start practicing, you will never grow your skills. Can we all agree on that?
Here are a few tips I used to practice and grow my skills:
I created homework for myself.
I created collections on Instagram and boards on Pinterest with all my favorite photos I came across.
Some I replicated for the sole purpose of practicing angles and shooting techniques with my camera.
It was the only way I knew how to create homework for myself, and honestly, it was very effective.
Once I got comfortable paying attention to little details (i.e. not cutting people’s feet off), I started feeling more adventurous with my angles and the less I relied on finding material to practice with.
I took photos every weekend.
Every weekend I forced myself out of bed to go take photos.
That meant waking up at 6 am in order to get soft natural lighting.
“Why didn’t I go at sunset instead?”
Crowds. Weekend crowds are more present during sunset than sunrise.
It’s just my personal preference.
Once I got into the groove, it felt less dreadful and more exciting. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for the weekends!
How I Found My Style
In a way, finding your style is also finding your brand.
You want your pictures (and captions) to depict how you want to be perceived by viewers (aka your brand).
For most, this part takes the longest. After all, you are trying to narrow down who you are and deliver that in a meaningful and artistic way your followers will appreciate.
Think about it. What do you want your audience to know about you?
That very question is what helped me find my style.
I wanted people to know three things about the Seeking Neverland brand: We’re outgoing, We love colorful things, and specialize in city travel.
From there, I only captured photos that sent the message of those three things (i.e. me being silly and real, colorful street art & clothing, walking around big cities).
Does that make sense?
So to reiterate. . .
FIRST STEP: Describe what you want to be known for in 3 words.
SECOND STEP: Capture photos that relate to your 3 words.
(example: If you want to be known for your dreamy beach escapes, positive attitude, and active lifestyle then take pictures of you at the beach with lots of sky, always smiling, biking through surfer towns, etc.)
THIRD STEP: Keep reading to find out!
How to Edit Instagram Photos
The post-editing process was by far my greatest battle. . .
Everyone loves those moody, airy photos you see all over popular Instagram accounts like Gypsylust and Game of Tones.
Well, that didn’t exactly work for me. Why do you think that is?
The reason for my failure (which didn’t occur to me for a while) was my photos were not me on top of mountains overlooking a valley with tons of negative space (i.e. airy).
No, no my photos were me against colorful backgrounds in cities. Basically with lots going on around me.
Can you see the problem now?
You can’t edit a busy photo to magically appear as some airy photo. It all ties back to what I mentioned before. . . your style.
Seeing as I wanted my photos to be colorful and send a happy/fun message I couldn’t very well edit them to appear dark and moody now, could I?
The same applies to you. Knowing how you want your photos to be perceived makes editing insanely easier.
What type of emotion and/or picture do you envision when you read these popular editing styles below? Which one fits the emotion you are trying to depict?
A) Dark tones with matte effect
B) Bright airy, minimalist photos (lots of white negative space)
C) Bright, colorful photos
D) Orange and teal cinematic effect
After I figured out my style this is what I did next:
Knowing that I was predominately city travel who wanted to show colorful photos, I looked for photos that had similar traits and collected photos that I liked.
Then, I used those images as inspiration when editing my own photos.
Watched YouTube until my eyes were dry.
YouTube is a great learning tool. I searched for editing tips that would help me give my photos a tasteful, colorful look and proceed to watch until my eyes were dry.
Practiced, compared, and practiced again.
More times than none, I would edit photos to my liking, find a new trick, then go back and re-edit them.
Guess you can say I’m a bit crazy over small details.
After months of practice, I can quickly edit photos to my liking all because I practiced. Who knew?!
So to reiterate…
THIRD STEP: Edit your photos to enhance the emotion of the photo.
(Back to our beach style example. All of your photos should have beach color in them: blues, tans, and greens. The hue, saturation, or lightness of those colors will vary to your liking.)
How to Give Your Instagram a Cohesive Look
By now you should have your style laid out in at least three words, as well as, your color palette. Now, we tie it together by building a cohesive look.
Here is the best way to achieve a cohesive look on your Instagram feed:
#1 Shoot around the same time of day.
One of the easiest ways to give your photos a cohesive look is to shoot around the same time of day.
If you’re going for a dreamy beach look then you would most likely want to shoot at sunrise or sunset during golden hour, or say you want a blown out white look, then midday is probably best.
It’s easier for me to shoot during sunrise than sunset because I like to keep my ISO between 100-400 or risk fuzzy images.
This also allows me to keep similar settings on my camera.
These are my standard settings in manual mode:
#2 Shot similarly to edit similarly
If your photos are shot similarly then you can edit similarly, completing a cohesive look.
Think about where/how you generally take photos (style) and when (i.e. morning, afternoon, night). What type of colors are involved?
(For your dreamy, beach vibes theme you need tons of blues, tans, and greens in most of your photos. Edit those colors to match as closely as possible in every photo.)
Given that I go for bright and colorful photos. These are a few of my standard edits in Lightroom:
Low highlights to bring out more colors
Slight increase of whites
Slight increase of blacks
Slight decrease to clarity
Slight decrease to saturation to balance out the vibrance
P.S. If you want a crisp clear photo when uploading to Instagram, make sure to 1) Crop photo to 1×1 2) Export with a minimum of 1080 pixels
Photography Editing Tools I Cannot Live Without
Here are a few photography tools I use on the daily:
I think I’ve talked enough about my love for Lightroom and how it’s used. If you have a desktop/laptop and are willing to spend $10/mo. then give Lightroom a go.
A Color Story
This is a free app with in-app purchases available. They offer amazing filters. Perfect for those on-the-go Instagram edits.
Basically the same as A Color Story app only they allow you to store photos in the app. Say you want to edit a bunch of photos and see them side by side you can in VSCO.
Golden Hour App
A great tool for letting you know what time of day is the best for shooting photos. By far my favorite app on this list. Costs $2 and well worth it.
Since my recent entry into the travel photography world, here are a few learning lessons I have learned along the way:
It’s true what they say about Golden Hour.
Always shoot and edit with RAW images.
Practice makes perfect no matter how silly you feel.
Don’t be afraid to let your creativity run wild.
Failure means you are at least trying.
It’s ok to learn from other people until you develop your own style.
This post should have given you a better understanding of what goes into creating awesome Instagram photos like a travel blogger. Whether you are looking to become a travel blogger yourself, or simply want visually appealing photos to remember your travels by, hopefully, this helped you.
Psst. . . Looking for more Instagram fun? Check out a few of these posts:
If there is anything you still have questions about? Please let me know in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no cost to you) when you purchase through these links, which helps me keep my lights on and order pizza from Dominos! I am extremely grateful. Thank you.
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