Instagram Travel Photography Do's and Don'ts You (Yes, YOU) Need to Read Before You Hit "Share"

Ignore at your peril.

Instagram could have been made for travel pictures: There's no better way of informing (and bragging to) your nearest and dearest about where your travels are taking you and the adventures you are having along the way. But before you upload your next photo from a far-flung, envy-inducing locale, let's take a look at a few simple rules that will make you a good citizen of Instagram — and inspire your followers instead of make them cringe (and then hit that unfollow button).

Do: Consider Your Impact

Sweet dreams luv 💋 #tigers #phuket #thailand #tigertemple #tbt #love

A post shared by Hardly Home (@jenbunny85) on

Want to cuddle a (likely drugged and abused) baby tiger like Beyoncé in Thailand? Wildlife campaigners would like you to please reconsider. Here's the problem: Many visitors to Thailand are attracted to so-called "tiger temples," and other tourist attractions where they pose for a picture — then upload it to Instagram with a caption alluding to their fearlessness in getting close to the chained big cat. "People want something to say ‘I’m interesting, I’m cool,’" Philip Mansbridge, chief executive of Care for the Wild, told The Independent a couple of years ago, "and posing with a powerful animal like a tiger does that.” However, he said: “The back story is that people have gone into the wild, into the jungle, into the forests to snatch these animals.” And, he advised, don't be misled by the many tiger attractions claiming to be sanctuaries, the charity argues that any place intending to release animals into the wild would not allow them to be handled by the public. Another spokesman told The Independent: “Don’t be fooled into thinking that one quick photo won’t hurt — it will. Each and every photo taken is keeping the industry alive."

Don't: Be Insensitive

As Priyanka Chopra may have learned after she was slammed for posting selfies taken at Berlin's Holocaust memorial, if a place is too sensitive (as in a remembrance of genocide) don't post a selfie of you smiling in it. Reporting on the trend of taking selfies at Auschwitz, the New Yorker wrote that "the pictures have fed a perception of today’s youth as a bunch of technology-obsessed, self-indulgent narcissists." Let's try to disprove that perception.

Do: Post Good Photos

Stepping into a new adventure...

A post shared by Merlin Kafka - Scotland (@the_kafka) on

Seems like it should be obvious, but we've come across too many blurry, out-of-focus —and just downright unappetizing — shots of someone's dinner to let this point slide. The best people on Instagram are those who take care to post their best shots, sparingly. Don't overdo the filters and saturation — but you can at least crop and sharpen your images up a bit. Don't go too far, though: People will notice — and pounce — if you just straight up fake a shot.

Don't: Break the Law for a Shot

It's bad enough that Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler carved their names into the red rocks of Coconino National Forest. It's even worse that Hudgens bragged about it on Instagram (before pulling the photo after it was pointed out that she had broken the law). Then there's the "artist "Casey Nocket who got herself banned from all U.S national parks after she uploaded photos of her graffitied Instagram handle in six national parks in Oregon, California, Utah, and Colorado.

Do: Put Safety First

Everyone loves an epic selfie, but some people are going just a bit too far in their quest for the ultimate shot. Between early 2014 and late 2016, there were 127 recorded instances around the world of people dying while taking selfies. According to the BBC, "the most likely cause of death was falling from a great height, with people going to extreme lengths to take a selfie on cliffs or the top of buildings." Perhaps that Instagram post just isn't worth it. Stay safe by following local advice and, if it looks dangerous — don't do it. Do you really want to be remembered as someone who died while taking a selfie?

Don't: Be a Copycat

There's really no need for anyone else to do the "follow me to" pose anymore. You know the one: It's an image of an attractive woman reaching her arm back to take the hand of the photographer to, purportedly, lead them to the next fabulous destination. This now clichéd image was first done by Murad Osmann and modeled by his girlfriend Natalia Zakharova, and they got famous for it — so let's just leave it to them to do it well.

The weirdest Instagram copycat story, however, is the one where one Instagrammer followed another around the world and recreated her exact shots. That's just creepy. Don't do it.

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