How to take an Instagram-worthy photo

World renowned travel photographer Mary Quincy shares her top tips for capturing that perfect shot to share.

When passionate traveller Mary Quincy moved to Paris she began exploring her new city on foot. “I’d walk a few kilometres every day and started taking photos with my phone. I tried to capture the authenticity of the moment, an instance in time. It quickly became an obsession: exploring and photographing.”

The self-taught photographer rapidly grew a devoted following on Instagram, where she shared these everyday snapshots of Parisian life, together with photographs taken on her her many travels around the world.

Today a professional travel photographer, she boasts an enviable client portfolio that includes the likes of Jack Daniel’s, Huawei, Lufthansa, Marriott International, the Paris Tourist Office and, of course, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection.

“Photography needs to stay a passion first and foremost,” Mary insists. “From travel to food, fashion to portraiture, pick the subject you love the most and stick to it so there is consistency in what you do.”

Here, she shares her top tips for budding photographers…

I make a point of walking around, even getting a little lost. You never know what hidden gem you may find around the corner.

Mary Quincy



Pick your moment

For Mary, the best time of the day to take photographs is early morning: “Light is the most important ingredient for a great shot – and soft, warm morning light creates amazing images,” she says. Waking up early also means you’ll have fewer tourists and fellow photographers to contend with. “Besides, there’s something really special about being the only person around,” she adds.


Do your research but allow for spontaneity

Pre-trip location scouting is the key to gathering ideas for your photographs and creating a shot list, says Mary, who advises scouring the internet for articles and blog posts, talking to friends who’ve been there and even reaching out to fellow photographers. “However, I also make a point of walking around, even getting a little lost. You never know what hidden gem you may find around the corner.”


Capture the ‘essence’ of a place

Photography is about really seeing what’s in front of you. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart and mind too. “I’ve always wanted to inspire a wanderlust in my viewers, to make them want to travel and, if they can’t physically do so, to at least make them feel that they are there,” says Mary, who insists that the divine is the detail: “The colours, the atmosphere – that’s what matters most.”


Slow down and keep your options open

Good photography takes time. Be willing to spend a few hours waiting for the perfect shot, Mary advises. “Be patient and make a conscious effort to become aware of your surroundings before pressing the shutter. Then, when you do, be sure to take a lot of shots of your subject, allowing for variations in focus and frame. You can always delete images that are too similar to get to the right one.”


Improve your editing

There’s a myth that editing your photos using software is cheating. “All digital professional photographers edit their shots,” says Mary, who uses Lightroom software to adjust colours and give her photographs their signature style. “Find an editing style that works for you and that differentiates your work from others. Take time to learn how to improve contrast, sharpen image elements, soften colour tones, reduce highlights, boost shadows, minimise ‘noise’, and adjust exposure levels – without going overboard.”