(Updated 2020). As a travel blogger I work on campaigns to promote hotels and travel destinations. I get asked a lot about how I'm able to capture great images when you have to shoot the content by yourself. Below are some tips and tricks to creating beautiful images for destination content without hiring a professional photographer.
TIP #1: Confirm Required Image Files
Before you leave for your trip you'll want to understand what types of images the hotel needs for your project. There's nothing worse than submitting Iphone images and the client thought you were going to shoot with your DSLR camera! Confirm this up front so that you don't disappoint your client. Don't worry if you don't own a DSLR camera-- you can still capture really great images on your Iphone that can satisfy many campaign requirements. This is especially true if they just want to use the images on social platforms.
I also do quite a bit of research on the client's social channels to understand the type of look and branding they have for their images. Is it light and airy, colorful and fun, or dark and moody? This helps you determine the props and fashion choices for your images.
TIP #2: Pack the Right Camera Equipment
A tripod with remote is an absolute most for me to capture some of the images required to complete these campaigns. Most hotels I work with are at the corporate level or through a PR agency and in many cases they don't even want the local hotel to know that you're there. So-- asking the bellman or staff to help take your images is a big no no.
Here are the items I pack:
Tripod with remote control (I use this for standing couples shots and shooting myself)
Small flexible tripod (use this to secure onto handles, tables are restaurants, etc.)
Small high res camera (I use a Panasonic Lumix)
Larger high res DSLR camera (I use the Canon Rebel)
IPhone (I have an XR model and it takes great images)
Honestly you can satisfy most destination campaigns with your Iphone or a high res mostly point & click cameras like my Panasonic Lumix. It's easy to use and doesn't require me to be a professional photographer to use it. I spent soooo much time researching cameras, and the Panasonic Lumix is small and compact, but takes incredible photos.
TIP #3: Props are Everything!
Some of the best images that I capture include some sort of prop. Balloons, confetti, sunhats, etc. can really create interesting compositions that destination brands love. I've found that Target has some of the best balloon props that you can blow up on site with a small straw that they provide. I've use the rainbow, swan, Love sign, etc for shoots. I've also traveled with my own colorful balloons that I take to the local grocery store the morning of our shoot to blow up with helium for me.
This image is so much more successful with the addition of fun balloons we purchased at the local grocery store. Flanked by palm trees, you can see the hotel rooms in the back (on location at Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms SC).
TIP #4: Always Look for the "Money Shot"
When you arrive on location scout the hotel and grounds for a "cover shot" that can be used for your blog post, feed post, etc. that is the quintessential shot for the whole trip. You'll want to think through apparel, props, and people for this shot as it will be used as the main image to sum up your trip. For destination images the background is super important. Look for images that could include signage, views, or architectural details depending on your destination.
(Below) These are the "cover shots" for trips to Richmond (The Quirk- shot with DSLR), Chicago (shot with Iphone XR), and Charleston (Wentworth Mansion- shot with Iphone XR).
TIP #4: Don't Forget about Video
Most of my campaigns do not require video tours, etc., but I find that it adds so much value to my partnerships and I can use video in so many different ways.
Videos can be tedious, but they really set you apart from what average bloggers will provide. I use the Inshot app for Iphone to splice, edit, and add text to many of my videos. I can then load them on TikTok, IGTV, Stories, etc. to use on different platforms. Sometimes I will create them directly in TikTok. I really like the ease and functionality of Inshot, and I use it most of the time.
Remember to think about all of the social platforms that you need content for when capturing your images-- static, long, square, and video. You will then be able to use these for IG feed post, Stories, Pinterest, and video content when you get back home. Having options is always better.
I hope these tips are helpful. XO, JuJu
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