When I launched my first company, Kalaki Riot (an urban driven, island inspired lifestyle brand that I successfully sold), taking photos while I was on vacation always played a big part in my content strategy. It was really exciting to share a “behind-the-scenes” look from some idyllic setting (or post pictures from any destination that wasn’t NYC where we were based). But those first attempts at travel photography for my brand were abysmal. I’d stick my product anywhere in the shot (a la @drinksintheair) no matter how random the content seemed. And then it would all go up on my social media feeds or my website (which, by the way, still makes me cringe just thinking about it).
Travel photography is an excellent way to produce refreshing imagery and create stories around your product or brand lifestyle to share with your customers. But without enough effort and proper thought put into it, it can quickly turn into one of those “shiny” things about entrepreneurial life; your photos, while exciting and well-intentioned, won’t help sell your product or elevate your brand if they seem random and off-brand in context or quality to your audience.
While palm trees and sunsets usually are instant crowd pleasers, here are some quick and easy things you can do before setting out to explore. Read on to see what I mean.
You can’t always count on getting a relevant shot every time you set out to explore. Get a quick lay of the land before you venture out by quickly researching and making a list of recommended places to visit (Instagram and Pinterest are goldmines for this). Figure out which cafe, eatery, or hike is really unique to where you are. And see if the decor, vibes, or color scheme makes sense for your brand. Once you find a place, you can loosely fit this into your itinerary beforehand and are guaranteed to get a quality shot that you know is on-brand and that your customers will love.
Imagine having done the research, coming up with a pretty good idea of what you’re going for, and then making a plan to get this all done on your last day in town. But then you get there and you find out that they’re closed…all week.
This has happened to me more times than I’m willing to admit. It’s easy to forget to do something so obvious like checking business or operating hours when you’re on vacation! So before you go, make sure everything is open and accessible and see if there is an optimal time to visit. Does it make sense to get there first thing in the morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds? Do you need to make a reservation or buy tickets ahead of time? Is there a certain table you should snag for the scenic views? If you figure this all out ahead of time, you won’t need to resort to Plan B or go back to the drawing board.
Chances are you’re not the first person to take a photo in some of these places. So how do you make it your own? Not only should it align with your brand aesthetically, but you need to give your customers and followers a reason to care. A few ideas:
- Product Placement: position your product in the shot (do this only if it makes sense!)
- Showcase You: if you’re the face of your brand, get in the photo! If you’re not or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, take a photo with your hand adjusting something in the shot (i.e. holding a coffee mug, etc.)
- “Work” Remotely: if you have your notebook or laptop on you, share what your remote workspace looks like for the day
- Daily Ritual: set the stage for a quiet or private moment (i.e. reading a book, drinking coffee, etc.)
Pro-tip: random photos can still have a place in your content strategy (there’s a time and place for everything, right?). If it makes sense with your overall aesthetic, use them as filler imagery or custom branded stock photos for your brand. You could also overlay some text and create eye-catching title images for your blog posts or newsletters. My Pinnable Graphic Checklist has easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on how to do this for your own content and attract more qualified leads for your website.
So where to next? Let me know in the comments and I’ll personally research and get back to you on a few ideas for where you can find the most Instagrammable shots in your destination.