How To Look Good In Travel Photos

Looking Good in Travel Photos


You’re ready to travel the world—and realize that being glamorous while you’re traveling isn’t quite the goal. But looking good in photos for friends and family and bragging rights back home? There’s great tricks to learn to look great in photos while traveling! Here’s a reader question:

Dear Sarah Von,

I am heading to El Salvador this month to rebuild houses, so glamorous travel is not the issue, but I am wondering if you have any basic tips from your travels on keeping me from looking frightening in every picture? I am hoping to keep my toiletries to a minimum given where I will be living but I would like to maintain some semblance of myself, even when my full routine isn’t quite practical.
A girl after my own heart! When I headed out on my world ticket, I was vainly aware that the photos I would be taking on this trip would be photos I would be showing for the rest of my life. You only get to Angkor Wat so many times in your life, you don’t want to look all dumpy and blotchy standing in front of those Buddhas! Now, I certainly don’t look great in every travel photo I’m in, but here are the things that work for me.

How to Look Great While Traveling

A low-key makeup regimen

Really, just take your daily make-up routine and dial it down a few notches – tinted lip balm instead of lipstick, tinted moisturizer with SPF instead of foundation. If you’re really concerned, you could even get your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted before you left so you wouldn’t have to bother with mascara and eyebrow pencil.

The Power of Headgear

Traveling (and house-building) often result in less than fantastic hair. Just cover that business up! But not with a baseball cap (what’s up, ugly American?) or those all-purpose neck/headband things. I’d go for a cute bandanna, a silky scarf or even a fabric headband. And there are heaps of cute, out-of-your-face hairstyles to be had. Like the side braid, the messy chignon and may I shamelessly plug my own faux-mo?

Find a photo pose that works for you

If you want to take vanity and anal-retentiveness to a whole new level, like I pretty regularly do, find a few photo poses that work for you. It pains me to admit that I have perfected this art, resulting in photos that look damn flattering, though oddly similar. In the event that you’re dying to know, my photo pose of choice usually includes some angling of the face (makes your jawline look better), tilting my head down a bit (because then you can look up through your lashes like a Disney princess), and smiling in a way that creates a dimple. Good lord, can we pretend that I didn’t just tell you all this?

Know good lighting when you see it

Of course, you can’t always plan your visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa to coincide with that flattering afternoon light, but nobody looks great in overly bright, mid-day sun or all washed out by a flash. If you know enough about your camera, you can change the settings to counteract this. Or you can just load up on photos when the sun’s at a more flattering angle. And really, it can make a huge difference. This is one of my all-time favorite pictures – all that good light totally cancels out my total lack of makeup or clean hair!

When all else fails, photoshop

For real guys. Sometimes the only clean stuff you have to wear to the Eiffel Tower is that awful U of M t-shirt with the gopher and your mesh track pants. It happens. Or maybe you just happened to break out the day before you got to Venice. Don’t delete those photos! Both picnik and picassa are free to download and can remove red eye, unfortunate t-shirt graphics and that weird guys standing behind you.
How do you ensure you like the hottie you are in photos when traveling?
photo by moyan brenn (without text on top) can be viewed here



Great tips !

For me, I try to wear nice earrings, that make me look dressed up even if I'm not. A scarf also works.

It also helps to have clothes that don't wrinkle and sag after hours (or days) of wearing !


I've never seen anyone else don the faux-mo! Although I call my version the Steg (stegosaurus) Punky and Prehistoric.


For quite some time now I've been contemplating working on some fool-proof poses. I've given myself one too many double chins in photos to think I shouldn't do this.

A friend of a friend (who is a personal trainer) recently gave me this tip: Always put your shoulder and arm that's facing the camera ridiculously far back. It'll feel awkward, but it'll make your arm look totally slender and lean. Or actually, it'll make your arm look proportional to your body, and not disproportionately huge.


oh my gosh thank you for this. i was about to make the complete opposite choices on a vacay next week @_@


I think another good tip is to only pack outfits you feel good in. Even if you are hiking, pack the t-shirt you love or the tank that makes you feel sexy. It helps!


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