At the risk of major public humiliation, I will share a tale with you about my epic Instagram photo fail. Oh the things we do to get good photos. Amirite? I’m sure you have seen the dreamy perfect travel photos on Instagram. You know the ones; beautiful women with glossy blown out hair twirling in a long flowy gown at the top of a mountain or maybe in a crowded Italian piazza where there are miraculously no other tourists. We are presumably to believe that she hiked up there and looked so fantastic. The average person does have sweat glands and cannot pull this glamorous fashion shoot off after hiking up a mountain.
The reality is less of a fantasy and more of a
pain in the ass struggle. Fashionable travel instagrammers and bloggers will hike and then change for a photo. Did I just blow your mind? Ok, not so mind blowing and many have probably caught on to this little secret. When I first found out I was annoyed I hadn’t thought of it myself! (I could have looked so much cuter after hiking the Inca Trail! Dammit!) Regardless, I still can’t figure out how to pull off the good hair. Sweat really messes my hair up. I guess some people have sweat proof hair or maybe hike with hair products. I’m not sure. If you know the secret please help a sister out and share!
The other reality is that these shots are never effortless. Nobody is just casually laughing while swinging her hair and looking slightly off camera while holding a part of her skirt that is slightly blowing in the wind. Are we supposed to believe that her photographer friend just happened to catch her in this perfect candid moment? Is there a Beyonce style fan available in travel size to provide perfect wind blown photos? Most candid shots, as fun as they are, don’t capture us with a perfect expression or a perfect hair toss. Just, No! These types of shots are staged to the max!
I have been guilty of trying to take perfect shots and I recently went to great lengths to get what I thought would be an awesome photo. It turned out to be a major photo fail and a major wake up call for me to just chill and be myself. Hopefully you can have a laugh at my stupidness and feel less like crying into your smoothie bowl when you compare your pics to others and they don’t seem to measure up.
I was recently in Cinque Terre, Italy. I researched where to get the best views of some of the most photogenic villages. One village, Vernazza, looks the best when shot from the ocean, looking back at the harbor. Unless you are a mermaid, this involves venturing out onto some dangerous rocks that jut out into the sea.
Read More: Best Photo Spots in Cinque Terre
I decided to do this and simultaneously enjoy some beach time. Sounds reasonable right? Armed with a bathing suit, cute dress over bathing suit, sarong towel type thing to lay on, and my GoPro, GoPro stick and tripod, I headed towards the rocks. At one point, the rocks were not easy to walk on. Wet rocks are slippery. What a newsflash, right? A photo right there, on those first not-so- dangerous rocks would have probably been fine, but no. I wanted to go way out to the other rocks, the ones that you probably need mountaineering experience to get to.
I was pleased with my progress for awhile, until I fell on my bum, making my pretty dress dirty and wet. Grrr. After mentally recovering from my fall, I awkwardly climbed onto the rock I was heading towards, with some French couple staring disapprovingly. A few people were sunbathing here so I left my bag, grabbed the GoPro stick and decided to keep going further. I scaled a wall, clinging for my life, getting cuts everywhere, and came to this spot.
Then I realized…queue horror movie music…Vernazza was back lit. It was too early in the day to take this particular shot. I took a cleansing breath. No problem. In an hour it will be better. I will relax on the rock, get some sun, read my book, and then take the pic. Happy with my perfect plan, I headed back to my sunbathing rock. Somehow, scaling the same rocky wall was more difficult in reverse and I nearly killed myself. It’s really too bad nobody has pics of me doing this. I’m sure it was hilarious to watch. I came to the conclusion that the only way back was by swimming. So much for my hair looking good.
Back at the rock, I sat for awhile, I cooled off in the water, I read, and eventually laying on a rock became really uncomfortable. The damn sun would not move to where I wanted it to be. An hour later, the village was still backlit. Eventually around 1:00 pm. it seemed acceptable (plus I was hot AF and getting sunburned). Looking back at this picture, I can’t help but think the sun was making my brain malfunction. This view was fantastic and the lighting was fine. Why didn’t I just take a pic here and get on with my life? Why wasn’t this good enough?
Nope. I was determined for the view to be EVEN better. I swam over to the rock of choice, way out in the harbour, set up my tripod and starting posing. French couple in the distance laughing of course. I had a few choice words for them. You have to have no shame when getting that perfect photo!
Swimming back to where I started involved being pushed into rocks by the wavers, embarrassing to anyone watching, plus I ended up with a deep cut on my hand. Now bleeding, humiliated, sunburned (definitely a few steps closer to skin cancer), all I had left was the smug knowledge that I was going to have the best photo ever.
This is only one of my many wounds from this day.
Later when I finally pulled the pics from my GoPro, I was aghast to see that every pic has that damn water blur spot that the GoPro often gets when it’s wet. It needs some windshield wipers. Are you listening GoPro????? Plus, I have my normal “I hate my body in a swimsuit” feelings that many women sadly have. I don’t know why I imagined I would suddenly look like Shakira from the back and love my bikini body in pictures.
Ok. I don’t hate myself sitting down. But every freaking picture has that blurry spot!
With some creative editing I was able to produce this one. I tried to crop out some blur (and my non-Shakira bum).
Far from the best photo I’ve ever taken. That very same day, I look on Instagram and see some Swedish model posing on a rock in the same area in a beautiful dress and it literally looked like photographic perfection. I wanted to vomit. And then cry. And then vomit more.
So what did I learn? That Instagram photos are not that damn important! That I can’t compete with the lack of reality out there. That I’m not a Swedish model. That I don’t have a professional photographer following me around. That I need to just have fun and be myself with my regular old photos and that’s good enough! Risking my life and putting myself through this drama is just plain idiotic.
What is your worst Instagram photo fail? Tell me in the comments!!
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