TRAVEL

How to Improve Your Instagram Travel Shots

*This article first appeared in Endless Vacation, September 2017.

A Pro shares ways to up your game

 

With 56,000 followers watching her feed, travel writer and influencer Erica Firpo(@ericafirpo) knows how to make an Instagram post pop. We asked her to share her tips—follow the advice below to help reap likes, comments and Insta-envy.

Shoot It Like You Mean It

Hold the smartphone steady and with authority, making sure to align the camera perfectly parallel with the subject. Shoot horizontally for more range in the picture plane and then double up with vertical shots for your Instagram Stories.

 

Timing Is Everything

Early mornings and late afternoons, also known as the “golden hours,” are some of the best times to take photos because the light is warm and soft. For uncrowded shots, get up and out at sunrise to have the sites to yourself.

Get Some Perspective

Change up the vibe with a change of place. Head to higher ground for sweeping views, or kneel closer to the floor for action shots. My favorite, high or low, is to find a vanishing point for a stylized shot.

Keep It Natural

And as much as I like to frame a gorgeous golden ratio, great photos come when you don’t force the scene. Let the natural elements play out right in front of you, and shoot away. For help on where to shoot, you can research locations in advance with Google Earth and Instagram.

Nip/Tuck

Sometimes a little editing (like cropping, alignment and light and/or color correction) can upgrade a photo from nice to amazing. For Android* and iPhone,** I like Snapseed(iTunes/Android; free) for overall editing; VSCO(iTunes/Android; free) for its tilt-and-level tool (which helps with photo alignment); and A Color Story(iTunes/Android; free) for adjusting color balance. Editing rule of thumb: Be as authentic as possible.

Bonus Tip:Bring an external battery so you don’t miss out on a shot.Mophie(cases, from $60)makes cases that can extend battery life by more than 100 percent while protecting your smartphone.

Fotografia Moderna and Me

I hardly ever get to be in front of the questions, but this time, I am flattered to be the subject of Fotografia Moderna's Interviste series, in Italian.  For a quick read, I thought I would translate it for you to English:

  • How did you begin?  Good question. I started as a journalist in high school, writing as a beat reporter (sports) for a regional newspaper, and from that moment I didn't stop, writing art, travel and lifestyle for newspapers and magazines.  In 2006 with Twitter and 2011 with Instagram, I quickly realized taht social would be the next step for journalists and that I could "speak" without with limits, writing an article, a tweet or sharing an image, I had many possibilities.
  • Are you a  #travelblogger disguised as a journalist or a journalist disguised as a #travelblogger?  What is your goal when you publish a photo?  I am journalist with a blog and strong respect for bloggers.  A photo should make me smile. If that happens, I publish it.
  • Your point of view on museums?  Ever since I was little, museums have been my playground, refuge, sanctuary and dream. I could walk across centuries and worlds in a few minutes.  I would love for everyone to have even just a second of that sensation and because of that my collaborations with museums are very important.  If my [#empty] photo is a success, I am happy for the museum.
  • Photography and social media? Social media has broken barriers- to be precise, social gives opportunities to everyone, especially those who would have never thought they could even be creative.
  • Your Best Photo?  It is impossible for me to pick a single photo, I love them all and for different reasons.   With Instagram, I never think "I am doing a great job", mainly because I don't consider it a job but a pleasure, a way to express myself.
  • You are one of the Top Influencers on Instagram for Italy, that is wonderful but at the same time dangerous?  I didn't expect it [Repubblica article] and I am very honored.  My objective is not to influence someone to buy something, I like to believe that I encourage people to have the desire to know more, travel more, share with them all the amazing culture that is around to uncover. And because of that mentality, I don't see anything dangerous.
  • How do you see your Future?  What do you have coming up? There is definitely going to be an evolution, I don't know exactly but I already feel I am changing.  Coming soon- I have a series of projects that combine journalism and social media, and this year, I'd like to do more  “behind the scenes”, i.e. consulting for editorial projects and campaigns.

Let's get empty . . . me + you and #emptylagallerianazionale

I was raised to be a museum geek.  When I was child, my mom would take us to the Philadelphia Museum of Art almost every Saturday afternoon and said it was our playground-  Sol Le Witt's On A Blue Ceiling was our sky, Cy Twombly's Fifty Days at Iliam our playfround, and Peter Paul Ruben's Prometheus Bound our babysitter.  She'd let me cut school for a morning at the Barnes (original location), and my parents would rev us up with weekends in Washington DC, (my sisters and me fighting over what order to visit all of the Smithsonians) and New York (name a museum, we were there).  If anything, we wanted to live in museums like Claudia Kincaid, so my latest obsession makes sense:

Mornings in a museum all to myself.   Or better yet, organized visits to La Galleria Nazionale with you during hours that are normally closed to the public.   You read correctly:  closed galleria, all yours, but you have to let us know--  aka the next evolution of all these Emptys in Rome and Milan Darius and I have been hosting.  All you have to do is send a message via Instagram direct message to @LaGalleriaNazionale.

#EMPTYLAGALLERIANAZIONALE

12 December 2016

9am

Wanna see what La Galleria Nazionale looks like empty?

 #EMPTYLAGALLERIANAZIONALE

For past  Empty projects I have hosted...

We're only #HumansofTechnology

Every want to be in a national ad campaign?  I never thought about it until an early September 2016 call asking me to share my passion for digital technology as an ambassador for Italian brand Unieuro and its project #HumansofTechnology.  Unieuro wanted me as the face of travel journalism and digital media, a kind of digital multi-tasker of the travel kind, along with fabulous digital innovators including BASE jumper Roberta Mancino, DJ Ema Stokholma, food blogger Lisa Casali, band and the Voice judges Elio e Le Storie Tese, e Youtuber and gamer mistress La SabriGamer. Did I jump at the chance? Well, let's just say I tiptoed and grabbed the flipside of my culture coin, Darius, whose creative mix of archaeology, cultural heritage and digital media has made the classics contemporary.

Check us as in the 2016-2017Humans of Technology campaign

 Milan with photographer phenom  Nima Benati .

 Milan with photographer phenom Nima Benati.

La Repubblica and me, Italy's digital media influencer

Italy's Presidential Palace and Instagram

Perhaps the one good thing Silvio Berlusconi did was put the Italy's Prime Minister role on the map as the Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri della Repubblica Italiana, but how many of you know about the Presidente della Repubblica, aka the Prez of Italy? More likely, you 've heard of the Quirinale, that gorgeous residence and office of President Mattarella, a place that has more history, art and style than Buckingham Palace, and better dressed security. Over my life in Rome, I've only been able to snag a visit to the Quirinale once with a decisive search for a fresco by Melozzo da Forlì, and virtually meandered its gardens and halls via its virtual tours [English is narrated by a winsome Stanley Tucci and Greta Scacchi!], but it wasn't until last week that I had it all to myself IRL.  Instagram invited me and 14 Instagrammers for a walk through an #EmptyQuirinale, for a private after hours visit where we sized ourselves up with the 6 ft 2 in corrazieri (carabinieri honor guards), walked through the President's kitchen, garden and hallways, and selfied our way into history. Italian newspaper La Repubblica joined us and caught all the action in celluloid- check me at 1 minute 25 seconds.

To join in on the fun, click #EmptyQuirinale-  and for my personal perspective, here's a Steller Story.

#EmptyVatican, totally #blessed with Instagram

A photo posted by Erica Firpo (@ericafirpo) on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:26am PST

I like art.  It's pretty obvious if you happen to hear me chatter, whether face to face or on social media.  I love going to galleries, meandering museums, investigating installations-  it doesn't matter, I just need to have an art experience.  I could probably call it an addiction, which may explain why I am so adamant about being first in line at the Venice Biennale, finding art tags on Instagram or helming my own Insta-artsy project #EmptyMuseo.   Combining my love for art and the fun I can visually have on Instagram, The Professor (aka Darius) and I have been curating some great art meet ups in Italy's galleries over the past year.  The latest installation was October 26's #EmptyVatican the love child of a great coffee talk between me, Darius and the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, an organization focused on bringing together restoration projects and donors within the walls of the museums.   Darius and I would select a group of 10 Instagrammers, including ourselves, based on interest, aesthetic, community participate, and committed desire to share Italy's cultural heritage, and let the world know about the Vatican Patrons and its free app Patrum.

The game plan:  The Vatican Patrons would curate an early morning away from the crowds and in non-accessible areas of the museums.  So yes, the Galleria of the Maps, Raphael Rooms, Lapidarium and Sistine Chapel were all ours.  To be clear, we abided by the rules of the Vatican Museums and did not use flash, nor take any photos or videos in the Sistine Chapel.  With just 10 photographers,  #EmptyVatican increased followers by more than 35% and brought the Vatican Museums and Vatican Patrons to the fore front of international press-  as seen and written about in  The Guardian, Condè Nast Traveler, Condè Nast Traveller India, Swide, Lonely Planet,Catholic Herald… and more

The Players:  @Aivenn, @DavidPinto_, @EricaFirpo,@Helium_Tea, @MarkoMorciano,@MatteoAcitelli, @Mattego,@MBMissMary, @Saverome,@Sherokee

Click below to see all the photos.  And give me a shout if you want to join the next #emptymuseo erica@ericafirpo.com

#EmptyVatican
#EmptyVatican

Venice Dreaming: The Contest [updated]

A decade and a half ago, I lived in Venice, that dreamy archipelago of islets and moody blues.  Manganese in the mornings, Idranthene at night, cobalt turquoise in the reflections, Phthalo turqouise and Phthalo green cobalt mix in the rain, Ultramarine and Davy's Grey mix in the winter.... a Winsor Newton palette plus Campari red and Aperol orange accents.  Venice bore into me with azure and indigo moments that I can still feel if I close my eyes.

I get the same feeling when I open up the pages of  Joann Locktov's Dream of Venice. A Venice love letter, Locktov's book is a beautiful curation of photos by photographer Charles Christopher and prose by writers, artists, directors, Venetians and Venetophiles, including Nicolas Roeg, Julie Christie and Patricia Highsmith-- artists who led me to get lost in a Serenissima of Don't Look Now and The Talented Mr. Ripley. 

All 37 lyrical contributors, like luminaries Peggy Guggenheim, Marcella Hazan, Erica Jong, Woody Allen and friends Jessica Spiegel, Giampaolo Seguso,  Nan McElroy and Eleonora Baldwin, are paired with Christopher's beautiful photos of Venetian alleys, disappearing campi and piazza, and glittering water, in color and black-and-white shots.  It is the perfect book to get lost in Venice for a minute or a whole afternoon.

Venice Dreaming:  The Contest

Welcome to my very first contest (and quite possibly the only one).  Through November 11, I want you to share with me your Venice Moody Blues by posting your favorite Venice photo on Instagram. Make sure to tag me  @EricaFirpo, and #VeniceMoodyBlues so that everyone can find the photos.

On November 12, I will announce a winner, (by random selection), who will receive a copy of “Dream of Venice", shipped directly by Joann to anywhere in the world.

WINNERS UPDATE:  After 170+ submissions, I needed help so Joann and I perused through all of them came up with a tie: Alessandro Sarno and Brian Etherington.  To see all,  please take a look at #VENICEMOODYBLUES.

A photo posted by Alessandro Sarno (@thelonesomephotographer) on Nov 11, 2015 at 1:14pm PST

A photo posted by Brian Etherington (@notdavidbailey) on Nov 10, 2015 at 7:38am PST

La Repubblica: Pioneers of Instagram

Talking Digital Italy with Tamu TV and All The Pretty Birds

There are a few things in life I can't say "no" to: gazpacho, a quick trip to Milan and a great conversation with a fabulous friend.   That's a trifecta rarely attained, if at all, until this past July when Tamu McPherson, the eye and voice behind All the Pretty Birds and Milan girl about town, invited me to her cafe to talk about Italy in the Digital Age.

Here's a little back story:  I've being following Tamu and All the Pretty Birds for years, from her beginning as a street style photographer and to her evolution into one of fashion's bestlifestyle blogs.  I've long loved Tamu's style- writing, behind the lense and her fresh look on fashion.  Most of all, I love how much she loves and lives Milan through art, culture and fasthion.  Tamu's Cafe is a food/lifestyle series that brings fashion, design and food luminaries to the table, so you can imagine how flattered I was when she invited to bring over a recipe.

Tune into Tamu TV for a little bit of gazpacho, Milan-with-a-view, a chat about Italy in the Digital Age with me!