IN Central Slovenia , Hiking blog , Instagram , photography

It’s not very often you get the opportunity to hang out with a large group of photographers as good as this pack of Instagrammers. Last weekend, I got a chance to talk with @IgSlovenia, @VisitLjubljana, and @DomagojSever, and learn from the best landscape Instagrammers of the region. Lessons learned? Quite a few actually, but let’s get down to five for now.

InstaMeet, hosted by @IgSlovenia and @VisitLjubljana, on Velika Planina
Say “štrukljiiii”! Our InstaMeet group right in the middle of the shepherds’ settlement on Velika Planina. Picture credit: Zavod za turizem, šport in kulturo Kamnik.

First off, a short introduction.
InstaMeet on Velika Planina
Two big players in Slovenia, the Instagram trendsetter @IgSlovenia and the capital’s leading tourist organization Tourism Ljubljana (@VisitiLjubljana), joined forces on Saturday, 26 August, to host an InstaMeet event (as the name suggests, InstaMeet is a get-together of Instagrammers to connect with others, explore creativity in a common place, and possibly learn from one another). The goal was to promote Central Slovenia, the wider Ljubljana region, and to point out spectacular places that go well beyond Slovenia’s capital. Where? I couldn’t think of a better place than Velika Planina, a stunning high Alpine pasture with the biggest and oldest shepherds’ settlement in Europe. Imagine vast plains underneath a playground of jagged peaks, slow paths, unique oval buildings for shepherds and their cows, friendly people and good food. That’s Velika Planina, a most stunning place just 30 km outside Ljubljana.
A female hiker enjoying Velika Planina, Slovenia #centralslovenia

Exploring Velika Planina, InstaMeet hosted by @igslovenia and Tourism Ljubljana
About 30 Instagrammers explored vast plains of Velika Planina together, searching for the best light, angle and spot for that next great photo.

Now, the Instagram photo tips learned at the Velika Planina InstaMeet.
1. Embrace local focus
As necessary it is to own a style and stick to it consistently, capturing the very essence of a place might help you get more shares. For example, if you’re into high mountains like me, you’d want to capture jagged peaks together with unique shepherds’ oval huts, arguably Velika Planina’s most famed landmark, in the background.

A shepherd's building on Velika Planina
There you go. While the picture captures high mountains, the unique wooden house in the foreground undoubtedly says that’s Velika Planina.

A female hiker enjoying Velika Planina, Central Slovenia
My style; here’s me, there’re the cows and shepherds’ houses, and obviously high mountains in the background.

2. Add people
Including a person in the foreground of the beautiful landscape shots adds perspective and a sense of grandeur to the surroundings. Also, the more personal the picture is, the easier it is for the audience to identify with it.
Either pose yourself, bring along a friend, or use random passersby (generally legal with some exceptions in Slovenia). Established Instagrammers, like @DomagojSever and @IngmarWein used friends in their photos at InstaMeet, while Ingmar’s girlfriend even brought various clothes for different themes. Nice, huh?

Velika Planina, Slovenia, #centralslovenia
While the frame itself hardly catches anyone’s attention, yet with a person sitting on it, it’s quite a different story.

3. Lighting is crucial
If you want your pictures to be perfect, aim for either early morning or late afternoon (early evening) shootings. With the right light, even a bland subject comes alive.

Mountain biking near Ljubljana, Velika Planina
If you’re taking pictures during the day, try to catch the light shine directly onto your focus. Thanks @AeroZele for posing! 😉

4. Tell the story
Trust me, the audience appreciates a good story along a good picture. Tell them about your photo, the landscape, the people, tell them about the adventure and the fun.
5. Optimize hashtags
Unless you’re huge and famous, you need hashtags. Period. Make yourself discoverable by using appropriate active #hashtags, those that best fit your style, activity and location. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post, while using 11+ hashtags supposedly increases engagement by 442% in comparison to using none (How to use hashtags on Instagram). Make sure you add them immediately as they’re bound up with the photo’s original posting time.
Of course, I imagine these tips only work if you actually know how to use your camera, which is a step I should definitely work on myself (besides using the good old automatic settings). Good luck and see you all on Instagram (come follow me)!
A female hiker enjoying Velika Planina, Slovenia #centralslovenia
A happy cow on Velika Planina
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