Who’s going to run your Instagram tours? Are you going to work with an Instagram influencer who can pick up the skills required to lead a tour? Or an experienced guide who does a little photography on the side? Or maybe you want a photographer who’s already running solo tours and photo shoots through local experience sites? There are so many options, but no matter which way you decide to go, there are a few extra skills you’re going to want to look for.
Patience to Spare
There’s a reason most Instagram tours are advertised for small or private groups: good photography takes time. Your guides need to be on top of the usual tour content and they also need to be comfortable giving guests time to find, frame and take their shots. They might even have to put up with the occasional wardrobe break.
Remember, guests on an Instagram tour want a good tour experience—but in the end, they’re expecting to come out of it with a pile of top-notch photos to share with their followers. So even if your guides have flawless instincts for when to give guests time to explore and when to move them along, they might need to make adjustments to hit the right pace for a photo tour.
Guests attending Instagram tours should know that they’re not going to get extremely unique settings for their shots—your tour might promise them the best-kept secrets in town, but the rest of the tour is going to be snapping right alongside them.
Still, no one who fancies themselves any kind of photographer or influencer wants to be part of an assembly line of photo ops. Guests on Insta tours might be happy to visit the spots on your tour, but many of them will also want to get creative, snagging shots at extra locations along the way, finding new angles or new places to shoot from, and generally looking for ways to add their own unique flair to the photos they’re taking.
While there are times your guides should be prepared to keep them reined in (and we’ll get into that a bit more in a second), having a little flexibility can make the experience a lot more successful for everyone.
Certain people will go to any lengths for the perfect shot, even if it puts them in danger. Some, like South Korean artist Jun Ahn, get famous for their death-defying photography. Others aren’t as fortunate or as careful—over 250 people died taking selfies between 2011 and 2017, and that’s not counting all the near-misses and serious injuries.
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How do people die taking selfies? They take risks near water, cross safety lines, perch on the edges of buildings, step in front of moving vehicles, climb things they shouldn’t—all the same sorts of accidents that happen to people every day, but exacerbated by inattention and the hopes of putting something truly jaw-dropping in their feeds.
Guides already need to be well-versed in keeping guests from wandering off into danger. But when your tour promises the perfect photo, reckless guests will inevitably expect your guide’s support when they want to dangle off a bridge or pose atop a waterfall. A guide who knows how to set firm boundaries, exhibits good judgement, and knows the right times to say “no” might just save someone from their own exuberance.
A Good Eye
Instagram isn’t just for selfies. Many of the site’s big users employ professional photographers and all the tricks of a traditional photo shoot, and travel influencers are no different. You’ll never get a shot like this with a selfie stick:
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So don’t be surprised if guests on your Instagram tour need your guide’s help. They shouldn’t expect the services of a pro unless that’s what you’re advertising, but basic snapshot skills won’t cut it. If you have a photographer or Instagram star running the tour, that shouldn’t be a problem, but otherwise, your guides may need to pick up a few extra skills.
At the least, guides should know the basics of how to use both DSLRs and phone cameras. They should also be up on the basics of photography—especially lighting and composition. It’s helpful to know how to make use of natural light to light a subject, when symmetry might be preferable to the golden ratio, and how to frame a shot specifically for Instagram.
Ideally, they’ll also be skilled enough to offer tips and suggestions for the best framing, positioning and angles. Since your tours will travel through the same areas at predictable times of day, those tips can be planned and memorized just like historical facts and trivia, but the more your guides understand the fundamentals, the better they’ll be able to adapt their advice for the individual guest and the day’s conditions.
Encouragement and Positivity
Most Instagram pros are fearless about getting in front of the camera, but for more average folks, even the most casual modelling situation can be a little awkward. Especially when you’re surrounded by a half-dozen people you can measure yourself against.
A guide who can put guests at ease will make the experience more fun for everyone. You want someone who can bring the same energy as a good instructor in a yoga class: encouraging, calming, and able to offer tips without putting anyone on the spot.
Instagram tours can be great fun with the right sort of guidance. You can’t control how many likes your guests wind up with—but that’s okay. You can give them a great experience with a guide who knows what they need, and that’s the memory they’ll carry with them every time they look back through their feeds
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