Black sand beaches, towering volcanic mountains that ominously loom over foggy fields of emerald moss, and crystal blue glacial caves that seem like portals to other worlds. On paper, this sounds like the perfect place to take incredible Instagram photos. Your account would explode with followers, likes, and comments. It isn’t hard to see why Iceland is called an Instagrammer’s paradise for those looking to become Instagram famous. If you are on the hunt for both adventure and visual aesthetics galore, then Iceland should be your next travel destination. Let’s get started talking about Instagram and photography!
Instagram Photography and Contrast
Contrast, as DJ Khaled would say, is “a major key” when talking about photography. What I mean by “major key” is that contrast is fundamental for making a strong photo. Our brains work in precise ways when it comes to processing an image. We look for comparison or contrast, amongst other things. Contrast is anything that has a striking difference to things its juxtaposes.
Finding contrast and interesting subjects in everyday life can be challenging for any Instagrammer. It takes a certain level of experience to see variation in real life and bring it into a photo. Iceland’s landscapes take all of the heavy lifting out of the equation because they are naturally full of striking contrast for your Instapics.
Take for instance one of the most frequently photographed areas of Iceland: Reynisfjara with its midnight black beaches and basalt columns. The world famous beach on the southern coast of the Nordic island is stunning. The rich black sand beautifully contrasts the brilliant green cliffs that surround it and instantly generates an exciting scene. Creating a vibrant and contrast-filled aesthetics on these beaches is almost impossible not to do. Long gone are the days when you need an expensive DSLR and technical training in photography. Just take whatever camera you have and shoot away. You won’t be disappointed and neither will people looking at your feed.
Instagram Photography and Composition
Contrast also plays a significant role in making an excellent composition. Composition is how you frame the subjects in your photo. By framing a photo to have differences within the composition and you instantly add another layer of interest to the photo. Again, Iceland’s natural landscape has contrast, regarding composition, in spades. Kirkjufell, the infamous Icelandic mountain is my favorite example of naturally occurring compositional contrast. You’ll get tons of followers from snapping pics of this natural beauty.
Kirjufell is visited by thousands of photographers a year for a reason. It is the perfect landscape. The towering mountain dwarves everything around it and has a distinctive look. Surrounding the mountain are rivers, small waterfalls, and if you are lucky, you can capture the notoriously handsome Icelandic wild horses. One of my favorite photos of this mountain incorporates the road leading up to it. The long swaying lines of the two-lane road next to Kirkjufell give you a natural contrast between man-made objects and naturally occurring visual spectacles. Your Insta audience won’t know why they are in love with photos like these, but I assure you they will have a hard time not staring at their screens and double-tapping.
Instagram Photography and Color
Contrast aside, colors also play a pivotal role in making a great Instapic. The most successful Instagrammers have a visual color palette or “look” that they tend to stick to. Some posters prefer deep greens and faded yellows, while others prefer vibrant, rich reds and blues. Iceland is unique in that you can find the whole color spectrum occurring naturally, and appearing in both dynamic and subdued ways. Between the Northern lights, mossy mountains, bright and vibrant water, and the uniquely blue geothermal hot springs you have endless color options to play with. In a pinch throwing a VSCO filter on a photo can always help, but with the landscape’s natural beauty you may find yourself keeping your editing to a minimum during your trip. Not needing to edit colors or saturation is every travel blogger’s dream, right?
Show Me the Light
The primary challenge with Instagram photography and photography in general is having enough light. Professionals and hobbyists alike can all attest to the need for good lighting. Even if you are a casual Insta user, you have definitely had a moment where you go to take a photo, and it looks absolutely terrible because it was so dark. In the summer, Iceland has more daylight than almost anywhere else on the planet. Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle means that it is inundated with light for close to 21 hours a day in some instances. This means more time to take and post your photos and add hashtags. And if we are all being honest with each other, is there anything else you would rather do? Other than scrolling through your feed.
Ease of Travel
The most challenging part of taking any trip is feeling like you didn’t see enough. In metropolitan cities, it can feel much more accessible to walk the city and get a vibe for it. Some of the best shots that I have taken have been walking alone through a big city, armed with only my smartphone or my camera. The countryside is another beast. In most places, organizing transportation to and from the backcountry can feel daunting.
Fear not, because Iceland is one of the friendliest countries towards tourists who seek to venture into the wilderness. Iceland itself is not that big, and you can circumnavigate the entirety of the country in around seven days driving. This route is called the Ring Road. Taking a road trip through the Ring Road is something I would recommend to anyone looking to step up their social media following, or anyone looking for an unforgettable journey.
When you travel outside the confines of the city, you can forget about time schedules and limitations of public transportation. This will allow you to leverage your creativity to the fullest. Some of the most magnificent photos ever taken have come serendipitously. However, more often than not, the best photos have a lot of deliberate intention behind them. It usually involves walking around and through a scene. Taking some time to situate yourself in the scene and feel its vibe and energy.
This can be hard to do in a city with so much visual stimulation taking place. In the countryside, you need only to pull over, park, and walk into the landscape. You become much more immersed in the scene, and it will show through your work. As your Insta photos become more purposeful, your following will grow. You will become Instagram famous, and then you can eat all of the gluten-free, naturally-grown, farm-to-table avocado toast you can get your hands on! Congratulations on becoming an influencer.
Iceland’s Landscapes and Instagram
Finally, we should mention the cornerstone of Iceland’s viability as an Instagrammer’s paradise: the righteous, otherworldly, breathtaking landscapes. Color, contrast, and light aside, in order to take an objectively good photo you need something to evoke emotion. It doesn’t matter what that emotion is. As long as your viewers feel a certain way when they look at your content, then you’ve done your job. The ancient and mystical aesthetic of Iceland’s landscapes will pull your followers out of the monotony of everyday life.
Why Iceland is an Instagrammer’s Paradise + Photography Tips
And that is the beauty of Instagram: it gives you a chance to immerse yourself in an entirely distant and foreign place, if only for a moment. I could go on for pages and pages of the different landscapes Iceland has to offer, but alas that is an article for another time. With such a full breadth of landscapes, colors, contrasts, and compositions, Iceland is indeed heaven on earth for photographers and causal Instagrammers alike.