81% of shoppers do their research online in several areas, including traveling. As I launched my first website almost 12 years ago and I work in marketing, I’ve seen how the online environment changed. Apart from my Romanian website and blog, I also have two English travel blogs. And, oh boy, did things change in this area as well!
I had a couple of themes for my first travel blog (this one you are reading right now). Each new at its time, each fitted to the trends of the moment. And one thing I’m guessing every [travel] blogger noticed is how things evolved in what taking photos for a travel blog is concerned.
At first, photos were small. And inserted on the right or left part of the text. They were not the focus. Hey, I still have some old posts with small photos – articles that I didn’t manage to change, to allow photos to appear bigger (back then a 300px photo was OK). Nowadays, it seems that a great post must have at least one amazing photo. And nowadays, there are posts with only a photo (I too have several such posts) or photo-essays.
Social media changed the way we take photos. Social media changed the way we THINK photos. Because in order to be successful as a travel blogger, you have to be successful on at least one social media network. And each has its own requirements.
I was actually explaining recently to a colleague from my husband’s workplace why I take several photos of a house, different orientations. We were at the Village Museum in Bucharest at that moment. And while I was explaining to him, I realized that indeed things changed – and some didn’t even notice.
So, for all those out there who didn’t experience all the stages of blogs and photos and for the readers who are not travel bloggers, here is how I think being a travel blogger influences the way you take photos.
To all of you travel bloggers reading this article, please confirm or deny if things are as shown below. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that all the observations are universal, valid for every travel blogger out there, but I believe many of you will encounter several common points.
First, it’s about the equipment
A travel blogger doesn’t just go and buy a simple camera. They do their research and buy a camera that has important features that will allow them to take perfect photos. Now, for each blogger the requirements might be different – some prefer bridge cameras, others choose DSLR (my case), some pick several lenses for different types of photos. Other go with small cameras and also choose a Go-pro – and so on and so forth.
One thing is clear though: the camera has to serve the blogger’s purposes which means fulfilling a long list of criteria. And yes, I recently bought a new camera and, even if we did a lot of research, we still spent almost two hours making the perfect choice for us!
And it’s not only about the camera often. Sometimes it’s also about choosing the perfect accessories. A battery extension, the perfect selfie stick, a microphone, additional tools for your smartphone camera, and so on – you get the idea. See, it’s not that easy!
Then it is about the perfect photo, light, and formats
As a simple tourist, who is not a photography enthusiast, you take photos of what you like. You don’t think automatically about THE perfect photo. You don’t “chase” the perfect light – and I am sure you saw many photos with people photographed with the sun from their back, etc. But as a travel blogger, you don’t have this luxury. So, yes, usually a travel blogger is someone who read a lot about taking photos – guides, recommendations, etc.
Social media, as mentioned before, is important. Which means that the different requirements for photos are in our heads. As I was explaining to my husband’s colleague, a travel blogger takes photos thinking of a perfect one for Facebook, another one for Pinterest – one that will have no text over it – another one that will go on Pinterest, but with text (actually, you’ll have several photos for Pinterest, to have more pins to promote in time and get traffic for an article that way). You also have to think about an instagram (at least) photo. And, of course, for the blog.
And it’s about apps too
If you use a phone to take pictures, you most certainly have several apps you use. It may be a HDR app, an app that adds effects, and editing app, but it will definitely be an app. Some use instagram as an app (given how many filters are available and easy editing options).
There are also photography editing programs that travel bloggers are familiar with. Happily, some of them are free and easy to use.
Food is first photographed, then eaten
Depending on what social media platforms or networks a travel blogger uses, they will take pictures of the food prior to eating it. They will take pictures of the restaurant – before going in. And inside. Many photos.
Everything has to be documented. And the travel blogger becomes an influencer. They are those who’ve been to a place, those who say how their visit went, how the food tasted and so on. They are experts. And photos document that.
Same goes for hotel cameras or other places that travel bloggers review. Because they document their experience, present the good and the bad, to help other people make the best choice for their travels.
Let’s not forget about the post-process
Travel bloggers take a lot of photos. Digital cameras and cards allow us to have enough space.
I read an article a while ago – though I don’t find the link now – with tips and tricks for an instagram account with an impressive number of followers. That travel blogger said that she doesn’t posts pictures when she takes them. She said that it is recommended to first get to a computer and post-process it. Choose the perfect photo from the many frames taken, editing it, and then using it on social media platforms/networks.
And if you’ll look at the most successful posts, instagram accounts, Pinterest accounts, you’ll see that the quality of the photos is important. You’ll see edited photos. You’ll see HDR ones.
I wrote a while back why I think that too much enhancement is harmful – it creates an image that’s not actually real: brighter colours, for instance, which raises the expectations of those who want to visit that given place which, inevitably, leads to disappointment. And yet, it seems that there is a contradiction, as without perfect photos – great light, perfect contrast, bright colours, etc. – the photo doesn’t get that many shares. I know there was an instagram account that was deleted by the owner as she said it was a lie – it looked perfect, but taking those pictures was far from perfect. As you can see – long discussion.
A picture is worth a thousand words
I hear that a lot. And I admit that it is true. At least sometimes. I have well documented articles that don’t have as many shares as some with more pictures in them. And I’m comparing the same type of an article.
Nothing is as easy as it looks
When someone looks at an instagram account or a travel blog with quality photos, they admire those. Some think it is very easy to take that kind of pictures – because the travel blogger makes it seem easy.
In fact, taking great photos, having enough and relevant ones for all social media platforms, is not really that easy. It takes time. And effort. And dedication.
Things changed in terms of taking photos – because the cameras are better and better, there are many options available, and because different on-line environments have different requirements. I witnessed these changes – and it seems like they all happened so fast! But hey, I felt old while visiting the Technical Museum in Brno – so… 🙂
How about you?