What I learned in 7 days as a travel instagrammer
BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF A TRAVEL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT
Ever wonder what it’s like behind-the-scenes of those perfect travel Instagram accounts? Honestly same. I try really hard to show you the beautiful mess that is (bare minimum) motherhood and entrepreneurship on my Insta Stories...and that’s a conscious decision I’ve made that definitely comes with pros and cons.
Pros: you all feel like my best friends. Cons: loss of privacy and crossed boundaries. (I mean i get it, I Instagram from my bed, pajamas and no makeup, fairly often.) You win some you lose some. Which is why I completely respect that not everyone shares the behind-the-scenes.
But in true Bachelorette-tells-all style, I’m going to expose travel bloggers for what they really are. Insanely hard-working and talented people (who lets be honest happened to also win the genetic lottery.) What did you think I was going to say? The travel blogger I followed around is my sister. This is my sister we’re talking about people. Iloveher. most days 😂
I spent 7 days in Mexico with my sister (and brother-in-law) who are the instagrammers behind @ourtravelpassport. My kids and I “modeled” for a video they were creating for a travel company, which meant we followed them around for a week and hopped in and out of the frame as we were told. It was fun, it was weird, and it was educational. So today I’m sharing everything I learned and shedding some light on what it’s really like to be a travel blogger and instagrammer.
what it's really like
I know Instagrammers get a ton of flack for their fake lives, but listen. WE ARE THE PROBLEM HERE. You and I created these monsters (for the record: I don’t think they’re monsters, I think they’re smart hard-working opportunists) with our double taps, our follows, and our comments. Everytime we scroll past a blurry dark iphoto and then tap tap on a beautiful inspirational picture, we're saying: we want more of this! You and I? We made them. So let’s either embrace it, unfollow or get off Instagram. I choose Instagram. K, good talk.
You control what you let into your life. If something's making you feel crummy, let it go. Unfollow. You're in control of your Instagram.
IT'S NOT REAL, IT'S EDITORIAL
Your work is not your life, and neither is Instagrammers. Travel bloggers get paid to create marketing materials for companies. When you’re creating marketing material to promote a company, they want to show off all their best features, meaning you’ll get private access to the Presidential Suite, all the best amenities...and yes, it’s all free. But it’s not like its free for you to lounge in all day. You get to wake up at 5am to get the morning light, sweat like a crazy person running around creating different scenarios to shoot...it’s not free it’s your office for the (very long) day.
Nothing is ever free. You can’t get vacations for free. You can get work at vacation locations for free, but then it’s not vacation–it’s work.
IT'S A LOT OF HARD WORK.
Remember, creating photos and videos for travel companies is not a new job. Marketing agencies have been doing this since always. The only difference is the way the job is getting done is changing. What used to be done by a team of 20 is now done by a hot 20-something couple running around with 3 backpacks and a drone doing all the jobs– creative directing, producing, modeling, and editing.
It used to be 20 people’s jobs because it takes an insane amount of hard work and talent (and talent in different skill sets) to be able to pull it off: videographer, photographer, model, creative director, brand manager, editor, etc. The end result is glamorous photos and videos to promote vacations. The process is just as hard and exhausting as it was before.
Don’t get swept up in believing your life sucks because you don’t run around traveling the world for free. Your life is awesome. And if it’s not, do something about it. The grass isn’t greener it’s just a different type of sod.
what i learned
You can learn so much from watching other people’s workflow. I’m not a food blogger, but I spent a couple days with my friend and food blogger Sarah Fennel a few months back and she changed the way I create Insta Stories. You have her to thank for my oversharing ;) It was so eye opening. I’m not a travel blogger, nor do I have any intention of becoming one, but I learned some really valuable lessons that I’m so excited to implement.
Follow someone around for the day–someone in a different field or industry or department than you. Watch, listen (caveat: don’t ask questions. honestly nothing is more annoying than someone asking “why are you…” all day. Just ask any mom of 5 year olds). Everyone knows something you don't.
LESSON 01: PLAN YOUR INSTAGRAM CONTENT 30 DAYS IN ADVANCE
No seriously. Ever open your phone to post, realize you have nothing to share, it’s 9pm, the light is gone, and let’s be honest you didn’t put on makeup today anyway? Also you’re on season 3 of younger and coming up with a caption seems harder than pressing play on Hulu. (that last part might just be me)
My sister opened her Instagram planning app (can’t remember which one she uses, I use Later) and it was FULL OF IMAGES. I asked her about it, told her my dilemma (my job isn’t taking pictures, it’s sitting behind a computer all day) and she assured me – you can do this, too.
Schedule a photoshoot for 1 day/month. Hire a photog, snag a friend, or just plan a day to set up your iphone tripod and take pictures in different outfits and different scenarios for the entire day. Voila! 30 days of Instagram content.
LESSON 02: CHOOSE YOUR AESTHETIC AND BUY A PRESET.
I get so much Instagram overwhelm about how my feed looks. If a picture has the wrong color, I can’t post it. It’s a huge huge huge perfectionist problem. 1. Because no one really cares and 2. Because it means I just don’t post. I told my sister I only post images in a certain color scheme and she laughed, patted my head (figuratively not literally) and told me the answer to all my problems was a Lightroom preset.
Presets are like fancy Instagram filters, it’s a way to edit all your photos with the same look and vibe. You’ll need to shoot photos on a DSLR in RAW (not jpg) but you can also buy presets for iphone photos as well. It’s really simple to upload presets you purchase and then edit photos on either your computer or your phone.
Decide what kind of vibe you’re looking for (I wanted a soft, pink tone, so I purchased from Aspyn Ovard–my sister also has some. shameless plug here.) and then purchase a preset that fits that aesthetic. You don’t have to learn how to edit (omg its so hard) and if you work with different photographers (like I do) or you’re a beginner photographer (also me) all your photos will look the same. The secret to how Instagrammers all get a cohesive feed? presets.
for $10/month you can access Lightroom on your desktop and your phone and quickly make all your photos match with presets.
LESSON 03: DON'T POSE FOR PHOTOS, SWAY A LITTLE.
Raise your hand if you’re awkward AF at getting your picture taken? Oh, just me? No I know you feel this way, too. If you find yourself envious of all those women who look poised and nailing the doesn’t-care-but-really-she-does look, good news!
All you have to do is stop trying to strike a pose and start awkwardly swaying from side-to-side. (I still find this so weird but v educational). The key is to capture movement, making it feel like you captured a moment in time, and not an overly posed image that looks just as forced and awkward as you felt when you took it.
Bend your elbows to 90ish degrees and sway your forearms right and left just slightly, alternatingly lift and lower your thighs a bit as your sitting down, take a few steps forward, then a few back. Don’t strike a pose, repeat small movements in a loop.
Act like you’re super uncomfortable and constantly re-adjusting and you’ll nail the blogger look.
That concludes this episode of Travel Bloggers Tell All, tune in for my next edition: Commercial Real Estate Project Partners Tell All. Just kidding. I had to google my other sister's Linked In profile to even write that 😂This what-my-sister-does-for-a-living thing was a one time thing. Hope it was helpful though! Okay your turn to spill. What do you wonder about travel blogger life? What surprised you? Helpful tips you're going to implement? Comment on Insta and lmk!