The Instagram Star's Guide to Taking Your Best Travel Photos Ever

Because, ugh, how do they make it look like that??

Human body, Denim, Hat, Summer, Street fashion, Landmark, Fashion accessory, Beauty, Tourism, Sunglasses,
(Image credit: Instagram)

Traveling is about the experience, sure—but really, who are we kidding: It's about the Instagrams. So just how do you get the perfect snap of your destination? We caught up with Instagram phenom Olivia Lopez of Lust for Life (opens in new tab) to get her tips on just how to capture the perfect moment—selfie stick not included.

1. Plan Ahead

"Most sightseeing is better experienced when you don't spend loads of time cramped or crowded around a landmark, and this especially applies to photography. If you're planning to see something tourist-heavy on a trip, try going in the morning or a weekday when it's not so busy if you can. For example: The Eiffel Tower is much more scenic (and photographable) in the early morning hours when you don't need to fight for a view amongst the selfie sticks."

2. Find Your Light

"My key to a capturing a great photo is good lighting. Whenever you're shooting a subject, make sure the sun is facing what you're photographing instead of shining behind it—this ensures your images won't be blown out."

3. Download editing apps

"People are always surprised to find that most of my images are caught on my iPhone—editing takes any photo to the next level thanks to VSCO (opens in new tab)Snapseed (opens in new tab), or Afterlight (opens in new tab)."

4. Frame Your Images

"Framing your images with architecture, a blue sky, or nature adds an inviting element of perspective."

5. Live a Little

"The best images are moments, and I've found that some of my favorite photos capture the unplanned parts of travel. Aimless exploring allows you to absorb the details of a city you may have otherwise missed."

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Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.