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Travel pictures: a real pain in the ass

Perfect travel pictures, a real pain in the ass - Luca Travels Around

Last updated on 03/07/2017 at 16:00:29

There you are, scrolling dozens of perfect travel pictures on Instagram when you stumble into the place of your dream. A sandy beach on a Caribbean island, the sea slightly rippled with diamond reflections on the spume when the little waves ease down on the sand. The sky is like you’ve never seen before, a perfect 2995U Pantone color with only a small, white, shy cloud appearing to give movement and a sense of deepness.

And the beach! Did you say the beach? Yes, the beach! Look at it! Immaculate, with every sand grain at the perfect place, proud and still. Only the shadow of a palm tree disturbs their idyll but, when you see THAT palm tree, you know everything has a purpose. Its tilt and arching towards the water follow the Fibonacci spiral, and there’s nothing else you can do except to drool and crave to be there, alone, enjoying the best time of your life.

In reality, to make such a perfect travel picture maybe it would take longer than actually to reach it and see it by yourself. It’s so impeccable, so relaxing, so magnificent and so fake. And, of course, it has to be like this. We have to make people dream about exotic places, undiscovered spots, never seen before beaches that, well… sometimes you really see never seen before places, because you’ll never see them the way they appear in the picture.

Sandy beach perfect travel pictures - Luca Travels Around

Nice try, beach.

But a picture is not enough. It has to be eye-appealing to the readers and, of course, no pictures are perfect once shot. Some adjustments like contrast, lights, colors, hue and saturation, some filters if needed and many more corrections are the minimum requirements to publish some proper travel pictures. Have you ever timed how long does it take you to post an image on Instagram? More than you imagine.

And that’s a pain in the ass.

A photo posted by Luca P. (@travelingluca) on

You are somewhere traveling, and you want to take photographs of what you see or experience, but suddenly realize that you need to take them for your readers, not for you. So you start looking for an unusual angle, a “hipster” perspective for a city shot, or that “best-kept secret!!!11” you absolutely need to show everyone because you know, it’s a secret I swear no one knows about!!!

But, again, that’s not enough. With the advent of Pinterest, not only you need cool images, but you also need them to be vertical. If you don’t know how Pinterest works (for bloggers), check out this cool article by Two Scots Abroad. The only thing you need to know, though, is that vertical images have way more interaction than landscape ones. And considering that Pinterest is an excellent web traffic driver, everyone sticks to this fact.

I hate vertical images: it’s more uncomfortable to take the picture itself, I find it easier to find horizontal subjects than vertical ones, and I fucking hate to scroll continuously to try to read an article I’m interested in when there are dozens of vertical images between paragraphs.

Let’s continue talking about the fakeness of all these perfect travel pictures and places shown with the example of some of the most know touristic spot on earth: the Taj Mahal. It’s quite common to see this fantastic place in complete loneliness, no people around. Bad news for you, reality is much different. Again, to have a picture that could fit, you need patience, timing, luck and… screw it, I take no picture!

Taj Mahal fake and real - Luca Travels Around

Did you enjoy scrolling?

There are a lot of places I didn’t take a picture at, simply because I don’t like wasting my time trying to catch the perfect shot to share on the web. I try once, I could try twice, but then who cares, I’m in a place I’ve probably never been, enjoying my stay and learning from my experiences. I don’t need nor I want to show everything, there are plenty of travel pictures on the web, for every destination, and for sure better than the ones I would take.

I agree on a fact, though: sometimes trying to look for the best shot could be an adventure. Think about being on Machu Picchu at sunrise. Cool, uh? But being there without worrying about exposition, ISOs, the light and whatever you need for your travel pictures, wouldn’t it be better? Why not just enjoying the moment, realizing how magnificent is our world? If you’re good at writing, readers will see what you saw.

Well, that’s what I think about all of this. Am I saying this because I take crappy pictures? Could be, I’m not a photographer, and you’re free to consider this article as you want, of course. But at least try to avoid believing in all those super-duper perfect travel pictures you stumble around on the web, it could save you from disappointment the time you see a particular place by yourself.

What about you? Do you agree with what I say or do you have another opinion? Let me know in the comment section!

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Perfect travel pictures a real pain in the ass - Luca Travels Around

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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This is just so, so spot on! If the perfect beach really exists… it’s crowded. Same with everything else. I normally travel (and photograph) Greece a lot, do we need to discuss photogenic Santorini? It’s like the Taj Mahal and worst at times…
    Then, when you mentioned Portrait vs. Landscape for Pinterest reasons I just couldn’t stop laughing my @ss… So true in every-single-point! I am so sharing your story… It’s wonderful, you’re having my standing ovation. 😉

    • Thanks a lot! 😀
      I enjoy traveling and taking photos too, but sometimes I feel we’re surpassing the limit. I take pictures because I travel, I don’t travel to take pictures!
      I’m from Italy, Tuscany, and you can understand as well what it means to go somewhere slightly touristic and try to take a proper shot!

  • Interesting thoughts in here!
    I have pretty much the same feeling about Instagram-way-too-perfect images. From my point of view, there is a short boundary between too fake images and nicely post-processed ones in the Lightroom/Photoshop. I have started to teach myself how to edit images and I am pretty happy to see how photos can be improved when needed. Yet, I gotta admit it takes some effort to not over-edit it and make sure picture looks natural at the end. But taking images with Pinterest/IG/BlogPosts thoughts in my head is hopefully the stage I will never get into. Sure, I am happy to end up with some nice images after the trip but enjoying the trip itself is important to me as well. 🙂

    • Enjoying the trip is the main reason I travel, when I feel I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, I usually stop doing it or change the way I’m doing it. I like Instagram as well and I like photoshop long before the IG advent, so I post process my shots before publishing, but always keeping in mind that it’s a real image, not a painting. And I’m also very peaky with my pictures, that’s why I don’t publish very often!

  • I’m currently near Milan, so I really know what you mean.. I also get overwhelmed with this “get the perfect picture, edit it, post it, hashtag it now, now, live, hurry!!
    It’s craziness… let’s make a pause. Do we travel to take pictures or, as you say, is the other way round? Let’s pay more attention to what surrounds us and enjoy our privilege far from the lense…

    • Let’s say it: we’re ambitious! 😀 I mean, I write because I like it, but I like the fact that someone appreciates my articles and photos. And what can I do to make everything more appealing? “Waste” time on the perfect shot and forget to enjoy the trip!

  • This is a wonderfully honest post and one I couldn’t agree more with. There is no more surefire way of ruining a moment than to pop out your camera but, nowadays, as everyone likes to say, unless it’s on Facebook, it didn’t happen. And I also liked your point about how photos are rarely representative of reality but in many respects, that’s the mark of a good photographer. And, as a fellow travel blogger, I suppose it’s just our cross to bear… Great post!

    • Thanks!
      I never liked to take lots of pictures to avoid looking as a tourist, but now I see that even if I still take fewer photos than the “necessary” ones, I pop out my camera/mobile more often than before, to realize at the end of the trip that I just shot some useless stuff. And how I hate myself when I spend minutes over minutes to post something on Instagram as soon as I’m back to my accommodation! (and my gf hates me as well for this…)

  • Yes I too agree about this mad craze of sharing. That too instant, going live. I feel one must enjoy the moment come back and relive the moment by writing elaborately on it. Photographs add essence to the writing no doubt but then we are bloggers and not professional photographers. 🙂

    • I like your point because it’s so simple and obvious that I’ve never thought about it before: we’re bloggers, not professional photographers (well, not all of us at least).
      I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m on tour 🙂

  • I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this topic and the delivery of your message. I have been perplexed and confused with how to handle photography on my travels. Actually, I mean on my “treks.” Since I specifically go to the mountains by foot 99% of the time part of me wishes I can have the quality of a photo that can meet the taste of the national geographic photo gurus. But that takes away from the moment and stillness that I came to the mountain for in the first place. As a hiker, the point of going to the mountains is to stay away from gadgets and live as primitively without showers, proper toilets…but then as a blogger, it’s expected you have all the advanced gadgets to take photos. Seriously as a mountain trekker it is a pain the ass. And can you imagine worrying about photos after hiking 8 hours to get to the summit at above 18000 feet? Yes, very much a pain in the ass. Ok, I should stop as I feel I’m starting to write my own article here. Good stuff. Made me revisit the dilemma you presented. Cheers.

    • Thanks, I’m glad to hear I made someone think about something!
      Yes, I understand your situation. It’s a sort of catch-22, you trek to feel free from the “capitalistic society” (allow me to say that) and all that concerns, but on the same time you should be part of it taking pictures and sharing on social media your thoughts and experiences. But well, I’ll understand if you want to publish some pictures of your feet after a 8 hours trail! 😀

  • I guess we don’t find taking pictures to be a pain because we are pretty casual with it. We both just point and shoot and don’t always use a filter. It’s pretty much for the reasons you mentioned. There are plenty of professional photos out there and tourist traps are crowded with people so we don’t worry too much about getting the perfect shot.

    • I always aim to do the best I can, so for me it’s better not to take a picture than taking one just to have a shot. And when I publish an article it has to be of course the way I want it! I’ll try next time to remember that I’m no photographer, but it won’t be easy! 😀

  • I perfectly agree, travel photos do sell dreams, dreams that will never be real. Also while traveling if one really wants to enjoy the whole experience, than they need to chuck the urge to capture the perfect picture and just live and enjoy the moment.

    • I’m pretty sure there are people who wouldn’t enjoy the experience if they don’t take pictures. But I can understand that everyone likes to show the places they visited to their family and friends, or just have something to better remember a place, it’s only that if you want to “sell”, you have to look good. I see a lot of travel blogs with too many pictures in the articles or bad ones, and the overall products suffer from it. Of course, I’m influenced and used to a certain level of beauty and design, but often I feel “enslaved” by it.

  • This was spot on Luca. Agree with on all of this points. Even we believe that vertical pictures are non valuable and everything cannot fit well vertical like it does in landscape but we as bloggers do want to click some for pinterest. And yes every shot is not perfect and we do have to invest sometime taking shots from different angle to get best of the location we visit which is for sure painful.

  • I know exactly what you mean! We are constantly rolling our eyes at people who are consumed with taking photos of an attraction instead of being present in the moment. Well, not at professionals, but more so at selfie stick toting tourists. Although now that we are writing a blog, we have to be more cognizant and actually take quality photos- not exactly our strong suit.

    • I voluntarily omitted the “selfie” chapter because in my opinion is going out of control and it’s a phenomenon that should deserve an article on its own! I don’t like selfies, that’s why it’s extremely difficult to find a picture with me in it! 😀

  • I cannot agree more with this post. You are totally correct! Of course, I want to take photos for memories, but sometimes it can be really a pain in the ass, to borrow your phrase, and too time consuming. You need to have the perfect timing which often includes not having any tourist around. But for beautiful icons and landscapes, that is almost impossible!

    • Sometimes it’s impossible also at night to have a people free picture of some of the most famous monuments in the world, set aside the ones following opening hours!

  • I think that nowadays we are all stuck in the social media problem where we want to show our pictures especially bloggers. Some people more than other of course and sometimes without even realizing it. Travel photos especially could be very deceptive. Secluded beaches where you think you are the only one and when going there in reality there are tons of people and it was just the good angle of the photo that made the place so good. Same goes to huge touristic attractions like Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon.

    • You’re absolutely right. We risk losing focus on what’s the main “product” of our blogs, that is a well-written content. It’s understandable how we want to do good, no one want to settle for less than the desired result, but it’s not always possible. In my case, I also don’t like to take pictures with people in it (something like to respect their privacy), so it’s going to be hard to have a good angle!

  • Whoa I couldn’t agree more on this! Most people on the internet holds expectations, I mean high expectations of the unreal. And that’s a problem. I’ll support and will consider this on my next blogs. I find this very helpful on my part being new to blogging world. Thanks Luca!

    • You’re welcome! 😀
      It’s true about expectations: sometimes you may not like a place not because there’s is something ugly about it, but simply you had too high expectations. And I already know that when I’ll be able to go to Taj Mahal I’ll have “problems” 😀

      • However, when disappointment stands just right in front of you, my advice is to see things in a different kind of perspective. Like for example you expected Taj Mahal to be less crowded but not true on your visit, you can take it as a good opportunity to focus your photos on people especially locals. 🙂

  • As a professional photographer, I find your thoughts interesting. While we need to show the reality in most photos, it’s still more pleasing to look at something that is well-composed and thought of. It’s really not deceiving other people, but taking time to show the place from a different perspective – that hopefully will inspire others to do the same. 🙂 That’s just me though, and I respect what you’re trying to say – that we should also live in the moment and enjoy.

    • There wouldn’t be anything wrong in having different points of view, mine more focused on the experience and what I feel, your through the lenses of a photographer’s mind. It’s when I try to “do” your job that problems start 😀

  • Photographs are surely a major part of this travel bloggng business. I personally love this process but I do get the problem wth excessive processing. Some photos are so over-processed that they look nothing like the orignal place. So, they are giving a wrong impression to the readers, I wonder if that makes any sense at all.

    • Honestly? In my opinion no. We have the opportunity to make people dreams about unknown places just using our language. I wouldn’t like to deceive someone about a place I visited displaying a not honest version of the pictures I took. Yes, I always correct some contrast, highlights, shadows and other cosmetic settings, but it would be unfair and, always in my opinion, detrimental to our reputation to use these sort of tricks.

  • Hahahhaa totally true. I bought my actioncam for capture the landscapes. I bought an instantcam for making the pkcs for my travel diary, then resulted it doesnt like too muchas sunlight exposure. And i definitely fight for a fakely solo pic in incredible places 🙂 hahah

  • Aw taking pictures is one of my favorite part of traveling – more so sharing the memories after the fact. It’s what turned me to photography in the first place!

  • Definitely, if you go to a very touristy place you can never have a perfect photgraph unless you will take time to edit it in photoshop. Unspoiled beach is what I love to explore. Less people and more scenic photos I get

    • I like unspoiled beaches too, but at least in Europe, and Italy when I’m home, they’re not so common. That’s why I am quite good with Photoshop! 😀

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