Picture Perfect: The Art of the FOMO Shot

Max Wanger IG Print- P 2014

Max Wanger IG Print- P 2014

Before you start sharing your holiday travels on Instagram, here are a few photo-taking tips that will make your shots look beyond epic. Warning: Your followers will experience major FOMO.

Sierra or Kelvin? Earlybird or Valencia? If those words sound all too familiar to you, it's likely you've spent too much of your free time trying to figure out which filter to use before posting that awesome Instagram shot. We don't blame you though — we've been there before and we understand: The struggle is real. In between all the upcoming holiday events and, for the especially lucky, travels to exotic (or not so exotic) lands, the Instagram pressure is definitely on.

But fret not! The art of taking the perfect "FOMO" (aka Fear of Missing Out) shot is easier than you think, thanks to some helpful advice we got from our favorite pro Instagrammers. So whether you're going to Hawaii to spend Christmas on the beach, traveling to Taiwan to celebrate New Year's Eve at Taipei 101 or simply sitting around Grandma Ruth's table trying to look interested, these tips will leave your following to experience major FOMO this holiday (and beyond).


As you head out to your dreamy destination this season, try to take out your iPhone as often as you can during the day, rather than at night. "Shoot in the daylight hours! There is nothing worse than dark grainy photos at night," says Jamie Beck, fashion photographer and co-creator of Cinemagraph, who has 111,000-plus followers under her @annstreetstudio Insta account. Adds photographer and author of Picture Perfect Social Media Jennifer Young (aka @iartu_jennifer): "I recommend capturing the raw beauty and uniqueness of a scene with good light — shooting shortly after the sun rises or a little bit before sunset makes for the prettiest photos."


A photo posted by Jennifer Young (@iartu_jennifer) on

L.A.-based photographer Max Wanger agrees. "Early mornings and dusk, late afternoons when the sun is going down, the light is really soft and beautiful," says Wanger, who's best known for his incredible use of negative space in photos, as evidenced on his @maxwanger account. "It really does make a difference in how your images translate." And if recent L.A. weather has taught us anything, it's not always sunnier on the other side, though, it turns out, cloudy days are actually ideal for taking photos. Says Wanger: "It's one big sort of soft box. You have this really clean, even, natural palette of light. You don't deal with shadows or anything like that."


From that breathtaking view at the end of a long hike to an iconic building swarmed by eager tourists, it's all about the scenery when traveling. So, what's one way to take in the atmosphere with a quick snap? "Instead of putting the horizon line across the middle of the photo frame, move it up or down into the "rule of thirds" of photography composition, which will ultimately make a more impactful image, allowing the eye to travel," says Beck. "In scenery, outdoor shots, composition is everything!"


A photo posted by Jamie Beck (@annstreetstudio) on

Sometimes, it's also about where you happen to be at that moment in time. For anyone who follows Wanger on Insta, his most recognized and celebrated photos are his Waikiki shots. "I was on a commercial job in Hawaii, and we happened to be on a rooftop, and we had this amazing view looking down on the water. I love playing with negative space and making people look really small, and everything just kind of aligned," shares Wanger, who's work was recently featured in Kate Spade's Places to Go, People to See coffee-table tome. So the next time you're grabbing a mimosa on a rooftop, consider busting out your phone for a scenery snap.


Of course, a great adventure means epic meals should always be involved. But capturing the deliciousness of your food isn't always the easiest task, as Martha Stewart has shown with her poor taste in posting gross-looking entrees. So what's a foodie to do? "Soft lighting is usually most flattering for foods. Also, make it pretty! I am one to rearrange the table and stand on chairs to get those awesome magazine-like shots from above," shares former THR staffer and freelance photographer Kyleen James. If you want to make the shot even more interesting, Young says, "Add a human element that helps elevate the shot, like a hand interacting with a drink or silverware."


A photo posted by Kyleen James (@kyleenjames) on

"Always use natural light," says Beck, and if you must, move over to the sunlight. "I've literally walked a plate of food over to a window for an Instagram picture."


We're certainly not pro photographers, but there's nothing that bugs us more than scrolling through our feeds and seeing that one blurry filtered shot. One way to improve your next photo? Avoid using the zoom. "If I can't take it from where I am or get closer, I usually won't take the photo," says James, who recently shared her road trip to Big Sur and Redwoods on Instagram (@kyleenjames). "The fuzziness drives me crazy and can make a really cool photo look unappealing." For Beck, she shares that "a good rule of thumb is to use Rise or Amaro, which make anything look magical." 

If you're anything like selfie-loving Kim Kardashian, ditch the self portraits when you're traveling. "Selfies are fun for memories, but most times, they're just so redundant," says James. Instead, be in the moment and embrace the experience. "Try to catch real moments, not 'posed, smiling at the camera' shots. That way, you can remember what it felt like being there, not just what it looked like," notes Beck.

But most importantly, says Wanger: "Don't think too much, just take what you think is beautiful. There's no limit to what you can photograph." Here's a double tap to that.



A photo posted by max wanger (@maxwanger) on