Girlfriend leading around the world

Travel Photography in the Age of Instagram, Facebook & Co

Summer is coming and with it travel, whether to far-flung exotic destinations or closer to home. Travel photography is as old as the invention of modern forms of travel and the advent of photography itself. Last year’s fabulous exhibition on the history of travel photography at the Berlinische Galerie charted exactly that.

We all want to show off where we have been and anyone who has ever sat through a tedious evening of slides (yes, I still remember them!) lovingly put together by friends and family will know that taking interesting travel shots is probably one of the hardest things to do.

In our age of digital photography, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the abundance of travel shots is overwhelming if not downright frightening. And yet, good travel photography is as elusive as ever and even if we take 100s or 1000s of images on our travel, most of us make the same beginners mistakes. Taking too much equipment, not taking our time – good photos take time, not knowing our cameras and what they can do. Before you shoot your next photo of a beautiful landscape, a beach or famous landmark, think before you click. Choose an interesting perspective, an unusual angle, compose your picture carefully and above all: don’t take too many! We are all guilty of not sorting through our travel photos once we get home and our precious memories linger on our hard drives.

Girl hand heart shape peak of mountain

Top 5 Travel Photography Trends

There are trends in holiday snaps just as in everything else and believe me, I have seen them all! The top five trends according to in 2017 were:

• “Making a heart shape with your fingers” in front of any background

• “Holding the sun in your hand” – remember those with the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

• “Leading by the hand”, very popular on beaches!

• “Hot dog legs” – who would have thought, but then you don’t have to get up from the beach to take one of those…

• Ditto the “bikini bridge”

People on the streets of Red Square in Moscow

Top 5 most instagrammed Places in Europe

Well, there are still the sights to photograph, especially on city breaks and the top five most instagrammed places in Europe in 2017, according to Deutsche Welle, were:

• Red Square in Moscow comes in at number 5, just don’t cut off the tops of those amazing spires and keep a clear composition in mind. Buildings can be tricky, especially if they end up „leaning“. There is only so much Photoshop can do.

• „I am Spartacus!“, the Colosseum in Rome is still one of the most photographed sites and yes, when I visited, I did shout „I am Spartacus“ at the top of my lungs, honestly. Not an easy building to take a good picture of, especially with 1000s of tourists around. My advice is to get up early and maybe you get lucky! In at number 4.

• Sagrada Familia in Barcelona makes it to the number 3 spot, both outside and inside, another devilishly hard building to take a good picture of.

• One of the most iconic sights in Europe, if not the world makes it to number 2, Tower Bridge in London. The only way to get a really good shot of this 120 year-old landmark is to stand on one of the adjacent bridges: the Millennium Bridge, Blackfriars or London Bridge give any aspiring photographer a good view and if you get one with a sunset or sunrise, well, perfect!

• And now, drumroll if you please, the coveted number 1 spot of the most instagrammed sites in 2017 goes to…wait for it…the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

This list doesn’t change much when it comes to tourist sights all over the world: the number one spot firmly belongs to the Eiffel Tower with over 4 million posts on Instagram since 2013, at number two is Big Ben in London, the Louvre in Paris in at number three. It is only after those iconic European sights that we move further afield: the Empire State Building in New York City at number four and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at number five.

All of these buildings have been photographed so much over the years that it might seem pointless to add yet another to the masses of images. I would say, fear not and try it but take your time over the perfect shot. Tall buildings are very hard to take good picture of, especially from the ground and so it is always worth finding that perfect vantage point from where to take your shot.

Female tourist selfie Tower Bridge

Masses of tourists are a hindrance for the perfect image!

I am not an early riser, especially on holiday, but I have been known to get up at the crack of dawn to take an almost empty shot of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and of the inside of the Pantheon in Rome. Okay, so I’ve only done this twice but it was worth it! Otherwise, embrace the crowds and integrate them into your image but remember that clothes, hairstyles and makes of cars can really date a photo very quickly. If you want to use the image for anything commercial in years to come, this could make them obsolete. Unless, of course, it is old enough to have become vintage all over again and then treasure them!

One of the first things that struck me when I started at Copytrack after working in picture libraries for over twenty years, was the amount of travel photography that seems to get stolen. It was precisely this group of photographers who had the hardest time licensing their images when tastes in travel guides and online guides changed to using more user-generated content or microstock. Now the fashion has changed again and most travel photography has the „Instagram“ look.

Looking at most of the cases that come across my desk, however, it is the more traditional, well-lit and expertly photographed images that appear on travel websites all over the world, selling everything from flights to cruises, holiday homes to hotels. There is a reason for these amazing photos being stolen most – travel photography is an art and we at Copytrack are doing our bit to redress the scales.

© COPYTRACK | Ute Krebs



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