This is going to sound hypocritical coming from a professional photographer, but don’t live, travel, or explore for the photographs. Do it for the memories, to learn, to grow, to connect, to savor a new experience.
I love following travelers on Instagram and blogs. I think that the work and photographs these people take are incredible and I admire them. The photographs on travel blogs both inspire and create some travel, fitness, and fashion envy. We want to go there, eat that, look like that, and wear what they wear. But it isn’t real; it is not the whole picture. What you don’t see behind-the-photo are people who travel from place to place without enjoying or experiencing where they are. Not always, but most of these bloggers are following an itinerary inspired by others or what sells rather that their own travel desires. They spend hours planning, photographing, editing, and selling their images before rushing to the next location for the next photo shoot like a freelance model. They’ll wake up before sunrise to photograph places before tourists arrive and never experience the place they’re using as a backdrop.
Influencers often don’t actually stay at the expensive hotels that they use for their photos and they rarely wear the same outfit twice (often these are loans for photo shoots to help sell clothing). More often than not, these travels are not ethical or environmentally conscious and sustainable. It is important to remember that this is their job, although a very glamorous looking one. I am not speaking for every blogger, photographer, travel writer, or Instagrammer. There are many fabulous ones out there. But you’ll know them when you see them on Instagram posing in the same place hundreds have other travel bloggers have posed in front of with the same pose, same outfit, and selling the same things. Yet there are many travel bloggers out there who are authentic, those that give you real stories to go with their photos, who share travel advice, and share popular content through their own unique perspective.
When you travel, I hope you do it to grow your soul, not your Instagram following. I hope you meet new people, make friends, and learn about cultures, languages, art, music, food, and lifestyles different from your own. And of course, I hope you take plenty of beautiful photographs, but that you also collect amazing memories and stories to go along with them. Travel with thought and care to the people and the environment around you. Go ahead, visit the places you see online, strike that pose, visit that monument, but do it for the moment, not just the images you can share online. Do it because it means something to you and because it makes your soul sing.
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