Make All Your Friends Jealous: A Guide To The Perfect Instagram Shot

I am hardly an expert on Instagram (though my mom likes to think I am).  But, as a fellow student traveler and millennial obsessed with social media who’s taken a real liking to photography, I see it as my duty, nay my honor, to impart and share my knowledge with you.  Every travel destination has its own unique culture, people, and stories that we’re all looking to capture so that we can look back and remember what it was like right in the midst of it all – again, speaking from personal experience here – so it only makes sense to try to take the best pictures we can, and if people get jealous of the views we’ve been lucky enough to see and experience? Well…at least we can say that we’ve inspired more wanderlust right?

The Bread and Butter

The Rule of Thirds

One of the most basic and classic of photography tips, understanding the Rule of Thirds will help you create a more balanced picture and will make you feel like a legit photographer once you name drop this concept.

perfect instagram shot - thirds

Imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it’s split into different sections.  Your overall goal is to place important parts of the photo into those sections, and help frame the overall image in a way that’s cool to look at.  You might place a person along the left or the right grid line rather than right in the center.  Or in the case of a horizon, you might line up one of your lines on the bottom line rather than the central line.

Natural light

…is your bestest friend…especially if you want to take pictures of your food.  Artificially lit food photos are likely not to look as appealing as those shot in natural light.  Bonus tip: If you’re looking to take a picture of your meal, aim for an overhead shot.  Yeah, you might get some judgey looks from your fellow restaurant goers, but ignore the haters. Do it for the ‘Gram.

A photo posted by @utosh on

Early birds and worms

Speaking of natural light, are you wanting a post card shot with no people in it? Get where you’re wanting to go EARLY.

perfect instagram shot - early

In this, the early bird does get the worm.

Stretching out ? (?: @elialocardi)

A photo posted by BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS (@beautifuldestinations) on

Refraining from basic-ness

Everyone’s seen some of those tried and true Instagram posts in certain locations. Aim to make your picture unique in some way.  Try different perspectives and vantage points.  Get closer to your subject, take a picture from below…the world is your oyster.

Photo Editing Essentials:

The Apps to Use

If you’re looking to add a little extra something something to your likely already awesome pictures, you might want to look into a photo editing app.  The most popular (and quite frankly the best in my book) are: VSCO Cam, Adobe Lightroom, and Snapseed.  The best part about these mobile apps is that they are freeeeeeeeeeee.  They also are pretty intuitive to use and have some really cool editing features.

All Things in Moderation

There is such a thing as too much editing. My personal recommendation is to find a happy medium – you want your colors to be vibrant but in a realistic, not a pain to your eyeballs sort of way.  Edit your photo and then step away from it for a while.  Once you go back to it with fresh eyes, make your final edits and proceed to rack up the Instagram likes when you post.

The Final Product

Witty captions

Right.  We’re not all blessed with comedic genius.  The point here is that some thought should be put into your Instagram caption.  Keep it short and sweet or add some context and background.  It’s your choice!  The caption lets you add your own voice and perspective to the picture, so take advantage of it.

The Art of Hashtagging

Hashtags are a pretty fun way to add #emphasis to your #TravelPhotography captions.  They also serve as an awesome way to generate more traffic to your picture.  You don’t necessarily want to put all your hashtags into your caption however.  Just create a comment under your picture and hashtag to your hearts content! Instagram won’t allow you to use more than 30 hashtags (including the caption AND the comment) so be sure to choose wisely.

Do you have any tips to achieve the perfect Instagram shot? Let us know @team.rakbo where you can also enter our monthy Insta contest!

Profile photo of Aracely



Aracely hails from the wild lands of Hope, Arkansas where she grew up living on a farm and gaining a love for travel. She is currently a Senior at Harvard University studying Psychology and wondering what she's going to do after graduation. When she's not traipsing around taking pictures or day dreaming about the next time she'll get to travel, you can find her dancing or serenading people with her ukulele.


  1. I loved reading this! I’m also a Rakbo blogger and I’m studying abroad right now and I can’t tell you how reliant I’ve become on Instagram to document my time abroad! These are some really great tips and I can’t wait to put them to use! Oh, and feel free to follow 😉 @charlotte_pickles <— (absolutely shameless haha)

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