Stop Stressing About Getting The Perfect Vacation Photo

Vacation is supposed to be about relaxing, exploring a new place, and living in the moment. However, social media has made it so that so much of travel is focused on getting the perfect vacation shot.

I used to stress about getting the perfect shot in front of an amazing monument, but then I realized that that’s bullshit. When I come back from a trip I don’t just want to remember the sites— I want to remember MY experience of them.

So, stop stressing about getting the perfect photo and just live in the moment!

Here’s how to capture perfectly candid travel content that will help you remember the experience, not just the sites:

1. Shoot in burst mode.

Set your camera to continuous shooting mode or just hold down the shutter button on your phone to capture a bunch of photos quickly. This way you can capture more movement and don’t have to focus on getting the pose just right.

2. Take a video.

Have a friend (or a stranger if you’re traveling alone) take a video of you walking at a pretty site or just goofing around. You can put the video in slow-motion to make an aesthetic Reel for Instagram or just screenshot the video to capture candid shots!

3. Remember to capture the in-between moments.

Not every photo has to be in front of a beautiful site. One of my favorite travel memories is laughing with my friends on a train in Ireland but I didn’t have my camera out. I wish I had taken photos of that amazing time to capture our joy!

4. Bring a disposable or film camera.

Not being able to see your photos in the moment will make you less worried about perfecting them. I love bringing a disposable camera on trips to capture candid moments. Bonus: when you get the photos developed you get to relive the trip all over again!

I hope these tips help you relax a little more on your next trip! Check out this post for more tips on how to make your vacation photos pop!

How to Take Stunning Travel Photos

This may sound harsh, but if I see one more person do the skinny arm pose in front of an incredible monument that’s been admired for hundreds of years, I’m going to snap!

You didn’t come all this way and invest so much into seeing the most beautiful locations in the world only to take a boring picture that just sits in your camera roll!

Here are five easy tips to take travel photos you’re truly proud of while still living in the moment and not spending the whole trip chasing the photo!

1. Hit the most crowded locations during off-peak hours.

We’ve all done it—you get an idea in your head about this amazing photo you’re going to take in this incredible location, only to arrive and see a line of people who all had the same idea. Visit the most popular tourist locations early in the morning or on a weekday to make sure you have the time and space to get the shot!

2. Make a mood board.

This is something I’ve started doing before traveling recently and it’s soo helpful! It helps me to plan what I’m going to pack, how I’m going to pose, and possible photo angles so I know exactly what to do when I get to my destination. It greatly reduces my stress about getting great shots. Click here to see the mood board that inspired these photos.

3. Pack clothing that fits the location.

Once you make your mood board, you’ll have a general idea of a color palette and theme. Use this to plan your outfits and pack things that are going to fit in or stand out in your location. For my trip to Maine I mostly chose neutrals, and knits with a few flowy fabrics to capture the ocean breeze.

4. Browse the geotags.

This is a must before going on a trip! See where others are taking pictures around the area and how they’re styling the photos. You can get some inspiration, think about what you would do differently, and even discover some new locations you never would have found otherwise!

5. Edit on the go.

Being able to edit my photos from my phone and post in the moment was a game-changer for me when traveling. My new camera has WiFi that allows me to download photos right to my phone, but in the past I’ve used a dongle like this one to quickly transfer the photos from my memory card to my phone. I then edit my photos in Lightroom Mobile using my presets and post them right to Instagram! Click here to get the preset pack I use for all of my photos!

I hope you found these tips helpful! Where’s your next destination?

Maine Mood Board

Sources: @andforvintage, @chelseyrouen, @baluevama, @krystal_bick, @rebelrosey, @hannahliza

I’ve started a new habit of creating mood boards before I travel and it has made my packing and content planning so much easier! I use the mood board to guide what kinds of clothes to pack, where to shoot, and poses to use while traveling.

This month, Ben and I took a three-week trip to Maine to visit his family and get out of the city. The weather was still relatively warm, but we could feel the beginning of fall in the air. I wanted my wardrobe to reflect this transition period. I packed cotton button-downs, cable knits, and flowing fabrics to capture the ocean breeze. I kept my color palette confined to neutral tans and blues, but expected the addition of green from the forest scenery.

Coordinating my wardrobe to the scenery and planning my poses and shooting locations made it so much easier to create content while traveling. I didn’t feel stressed about getting the perfect photo from the trip because I had already had a game plan to capture photos I was proud of! Stay tuned for more posts featuring images from my trip!

Want to know more about my packing process? Read my post about how I pack light.

How I Dumped My Instagram Husband

When I first started blogging I enlisted the help of my mom and friends to take quick snapshots of my outfits. If I was lucky, I would end up with one in-focus image of myself centered in the frame that I could post on Instagram. When I moved away from home, my boyfriend became my go-to photographer. He had some experience behind a camera so we were able to take more photos and experiment with angles and locations.

However, as I got deeper into blogging and gained experience, I wanted to create more complex concepts for photos and be more intentional about my content. Shoots started to become longer and more complicated and I was more picky about my vision. Soon we found that taking photos detracted from the precious time we got to spend together. I knew I needed to take the photographer/model dynamic out of the relationship in order to focus on being present during our time together. So, I didn’t dump him as my boyfriend, but I did dump him as my Instagram husband.

I found myself in a difficult position: I needed a photographer with the time, skills, and equipment to execute my vision but I didn’t have money to hire a professional.

What I did have was time and a degree in Studio Art.

I had taken photography classes in high school and college so I knew how to wield a camera, but I had never explored self-portraits. I bought cheap a tripod and remote shutter release on Amazon and started following bloggers whose self-portraits I admired (@sorelleamore, @phobymo, and @anouskapb were big inspirations to me).

A lot of my first attempts were blurry or stiff. I spent so much time trying to get the camera to focus properly. To top it all off, I was worried about what people would think of me walking around with my tripod taking pictures of myself in public!

I persevered and slowly honed my skills. I learned that placing an object in the frame while I focus the camera and then standing where that object was will ensure the photo is focused on me. I learned how to pose in ways that mimic motion to create movement in my photos that doesn’t cause blurriness. I photographed in public so much that now I people’s comments and stares just roll off my back.

Now I’m proud of my ability to take photos of myself anywhere and capture dynamic images that showcase my outfit and my personality. It’s so freeing to be able to make my vision a reality and I’m sure my loved ones are grateful that I stopped asking them to take my picture!

Want to learn how to take better selfies? Click the button below to get my free self-portrait guide sent right to your inbox!

The Biggest Photo Editing Mistakes Made by Beginners (and how to avoid them)

Editing is an incredibly important part of digital photography. While you should try to master using composition, lighting, and your camera’s settings to controlthe outcome of the photo, post-editing is also super valuable to your toolkit as a photographer.

When photographing myself, I’m acting as both photographer and model, and I can’t always control every element of the photo. This has made me incredibly comfortable using Lightroom to achieve my desired effect.

When I was just learning to use Lightroom and Photoshop, I made a lot of mistakes that made my photos look amateur, and I wish I had someone to guide me through them. You’re always going to run into bumps along the way, but here are the biggest editing mistakes I wish I had known when I was a beginner:

1. Not editing at all. When I first started taking photos I wouldn’t edit them at all. I thought I was preserving the integrity of the photo, but I was actually just missing out on stylistic opportunities. Post-editing your photos can help you create a mood and develop a cohesive style.

2. Editing too much. After getting over my fear of editing, I went the complete opposite direction. I was using selective color and taking the saturation slider up to the maximum. I thought that intense editing and colors would make my photos more interesting. This is not always the case. Photos can easily become overwhelming if the eye doesn’t know where to land. Focus on enhancing the elements that are already present in your photo, this will keep it from becoming too busy.

3. Not using presets. This one is incredibly important, especially when posting your photos on Instagram. Purchasing or creating your own presets in Lightroom helps to create a cohesive artistic voice. It also helps cut down on editing time and gives you a place to start when editing each photo. If you’re just starting out, I definitely suggest purchasing a preset pack from a photographer you admire. This will give you a great starting point and insight into how they edit their photos. You can always make your own changes later.

I could talk about photography forever! Drop your photography and editing questions in the comments and I’ll tackle them in an upcoming post!

3 Ways To Use a Bed Sheet In Your Photos

If there’s something I want to be known for as a blogger and as an artist, it’s using what I have on hand. I fully believe that art and fashion should be accessible to everyone, and that means you shouldn’t have to keep buying stuff in order to participate. You can have the most high-end camera and the most expensive props, and still take shit photos. It truly is not about what you have, it’s about what you do with it. So, today I’m sharing three things you can do with a simple bed sheet to create fun and interesting photos!

1. Use it as a backdrop! Hang a string (here I tied it to two branches) and affix the sheet using clothespins. Pro tip: if doing this inside you can just tape the sheet directly to the wall!

2. Style it as a skirt. Tie the sheet around your waist and tuck the ends. You may need to fluff and style it to get the look exactly how you like.

3. Let it catch the wind to create movement. Toss the sheet up in the air to create an airy, breezy effect. It may take a few tries to get the shot!

Let me know which photo is your favorite and tag @shea_ish on Instagram if you try any of these so I can share your results!

How To Find Bomb Photoshoot Locations Anywhere

When I moved from Madrid back to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find any good locations for photoshoots. Cincinnati is pretty, but it’s nothing compared to the ancient monuments and winding streets of Spain. However, I decided to embrace the challenge and use this as an opportunity to find unique photoshoot locations in a suburban setting. It has actually been really fun to explore my area looking for new places to shoot and to get to know my city more intimately. Here are my top tips for finding great photoshoot locations, no matter where you are!

1. Go for a run. Going for runs or walks is my favorite way to get to know an area. You go down paths and see things you never would in a car. This was my favorite way to explore when I was abroad and now it’s my favorite way to find new and interesting photo locations near my home.

2. Check the lighting. Take note of which way the sun shines in this location and where you will place yourself in the space. Make sure to shoot at a time of day when the sun will be facing your subject so your photos don’t end up as a silhouette. This is especially important when shooting against buildings, you don’t want them to be blocking the sun when you go to shoot!

3. Follow location tags. Look at tagged locations in your city. Where are other people are taking photos? Is there a cool landmark or view that you could visit to shoot?

4. Color coordinate. Take note of the colors of the space before you shoot. If it’s against a light background, maybe you want to be wearing dark colors to stand out, or maybe you want to match your background for a striking monochrome moment. Make sure you plan ahead for what you’ll be wearing and, if you’re someone who likes a matching feed, make sure this location fits with your brand color scheme!

5. Keep a note or take reference photos. Keep a running list in your phone or notebook of great locations you notice in your city. You can also snap a picture to reference later and keep it in a dedicated album on your phone.

6. Keep an open mind. The perfect photo location doesn’t have to be a huge monument or breathtaking view. A flowering tree or pretty gateway can be all you need to create a vibe, as long as you frame your photo correctly. All of the photos in this post were taken in just a few square feet of lush bamboo in my neighborhood. Even in an ugly place, you can find one spot where the light hits just right and creates a magical photo!

These photos that look like they’re taken in a lush forest were actually taken in front of a bamboo fence in my neighborhood!

Reflections on 26


Even though I’m getting older, I still love my birthday. The festivities are becoming more low-key every year, and I enjoy using it as a time of reflection. It’s a time to be grateful for where I am, and think about where I want to go next.

This year I’m thinking a lot about my relationship with myself. This past year has been an adventure both outward and inward. I moved to a new country where I knew no one and it allowed me to get to know myself in ways that I could not by staying within my comfort zone.

The old cliché of traveling to “find yourself” is enduring, but I believe it misses the mark. I didn’t travel to Spain, or Austria, or Greece to find a version of myself I thought was missing. However, through the process of escaping my comfort zone, I fell more in love with myself.

As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. During adolescence and young adulthood, this relationship can be at it’s most fragile. Outside forces are always telling you how to be, that you’re not good enough, and that loving yourself is vanity. I always thought that I could improve myself into a version of me I would love. A little tweak here, a little work there, and voilà! I would be the woman I always wanted to be.

It’s not finding yourself and it’s not sculpting yourself into an ideal, it’s just loving what’s there. The more time I spend on this earth, the more I love being with myself. Self-love is a process, but I’m trying to work on it little by little. My mantra for 26 is, “I am the woman I’ve always wanted to be.” After all, no matter what happens, you will always have you.

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Scenic Madrid Views You Haven’t Heard Of


[This post originally appeared on the CIEE Teach In Spain blog.]

Whenever I travel to a new place I like to get high. That is, I like to find high ground or a tall building from which I can view the surrounding area. It always helps me orient myself in a new place and, of course, it’s a great opportunity for photos. Oftentimes, sites with great views can be hard to get to, crowded, or expensive. So to help, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite views in Madrid that are cheap (or free) and easy to get to. Whether you’re looking for the perfect photo op or just a lovely place to watch the sunset, these sites are ideal.


1. El Parque del Oeste

Wander through the rose garden in El Parque del Oeste and then take a gondola ride up to catch a view of the palace and Madrid disappearing beneath you. The ride totals 5€ for transport to the top and back and it was worth it for how unique these views are.


2. El Corte Inglés (Plaza de Callao, 2)

At the top floor of El Corte Inglés right off of Gran Vía, there is high-end food court style dining with stunning views. Enjoy your lunch while looking out over the Madrid city center. Many rooftop bars offer views of Gran Vía but some require an entry fee and are only open in the evenings. El Corte Inglés offers the same great views, but in a more relaxed environment with a delicious variety of food and drink.


3. Cerro del Tío Pío

El Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío (also known as “Parque de Las Siete Tetas” by locals) is known for its seven rolling hills and beautiful view of the sunset over the city and mountains. Located in Puente de Vallecas, a fifteen minute ride from the city center via metro line 1, this park is popular but never overly crowded. You’ll never be fighting for space to see the view which makes it a favorite spot for a sunset picnic with friends or a date night.


4. El Templo de Debod

Though the Egyptian ruins of El Templo de Debod are a beautiful sight during the day, the sun setting over the hill behind them is even more stunning. You may have to deal with crowds at this time of the evening, but if you arrive early, you can enjoy a gorgeous sunset. Groups of people enjoying drinks and music on the grass only add to the lively atmosphere. What’s really amazing about this site is the uniqueness of the view. Don’t forget your camera and a picnic blanket!


Wintertime in Copenhagen: A Story of Hygge and Gløgg

DSC04488October is upon us and, as the fall weather sets in, you may be dreaming of planning a winter vacation to the beach in order to thaw out and catch a break from the cold. However, I’m here to try to convince you to reconsider. You may think I’m crazy for suggesting a trip north for the winter months, but there’s a reason that the Danes have a specific word for the feeling of coziness and contentment created during winter.

My friends and I heard that the Christmas markets in Copenhagen were some of the best, but we really didn’t know what to expect when leaving temperate Spain and traveling north in the middle of December. I usually try to avoid the cold, so I was a little apprehensive while planning this trip. But immediately when we stepped off the train and arrived to the city center of Copenhagen, I understood why this city is the perfect December destination.

The sparkling lights, a warm cup of mulled wine in your hands, and quaint shops selling holiday sweets create the cozy sense of hygge that will make you forget about your dreams of sunbathing on a beach. The trip immediately got me in the spirit of the holidays, something I had been struggling to do without the snowfall I usually experience in the U.S. There were plenty of opportunities to warm our bones by ducking into a market stand for gløgg or hot cocoa and, when the sun went down around 3pm, we made our way to a pub to play cards and drink some Carlsberg.

Copenhagen is one of my favorite destinations to date because, though the city is unbelievably gorgeous, it was more about the mood and experience than anything else. It’s not the cheapest place to visit, but I have compiled a list of my favorite sites, experiences, and activities, that all fall on the more affordable side. That said, you’ll probably be fine money-wise as long as you don’t spend as much on gløgg as I did.



Predictably, Denmark in December is pretty cold. Layers, a coat, warm socks, gloves, and a hat were key. I also suggest making sure your outer layer is waterproof for any rain or snow you might encounter. We had some rain during our stay, but it was on and off and still allowed us to see everything we wanted to!


Stay: Copenhagen Downtown Hostel

Though slightly on the expensive side as far as hostels go, that seems to be the case with all lodging in the city. However, this hostel was great for the price. It was in the city center, had clean rooms and a cafe and bar downstairs with a cheap happy hour. This would be a great place to stay if traveling alone. We spent several evenings playing games and drinking mugs of Carlsberg in the bar, which was a great place to relax and meet other travelers from around the world!


Drink: Gløgg

I’ve mentioned it several times, so if you haven’t heard of it already, you’re probably wondering, “what is gløgg?” It’s basically Danish mulled wine. I drank far too much of it while hopping from market to market. It’s the perfect way to warm up while sightseeing.

Breakfast: Ebelskeivers

When I was a kid, my best friend had an Ebelskeiver pan and we would make the little Danish pastries every time we were together, filling them with various jams, fruits, and creative concoctions. We got pretty good at making them but the Danes of course do them the best. You can get them at restaurants or roadside stands. The fluffy little round pancakes are the perfect breakfast (or anytime) treat.


Cafe: Paludan Bog & Café

The quaint, intimate atmosphere of a bookshop paired with good coffee and a full breakfast. To me, this was the epitome of hygge.

Dinner: Eat Outside

Yes, you read that correctly. In Copenhagen it’s customary to eat outside, even in the winter months. Restaurants have outdoor seating outfitted with warm blankets and overhead heaters. It was a fun experience and a great way to take in the beauty of the city while enjoying a meal.


Christmas Market: Højbro Plads

This was my favorite Christmas market we visited. It had a great variety of stands for gifts and food, and the beautifully decorated buildings of the square were on display. We visited this market several times during our stay because it’s very central. I would suggest stopping by for a cup of gløgg and a bratwurst for dinner.

View: Rundetaarn

A  view from above the city is a must for me whenever I’m traveling. Not only is it beautiful, but it also helps me get my bearings. With the Rundetaarn, however, the real photo-op is inside the tower, along the winding ramp up to the top. The white walls, bright windows, and curved stone floors are like nowhere I’ve ever been before. Plus, it’s actually pretty cheap to get to the top: just 25 DKK which is a little less than $4.


Visit: Freetown Christiania

The historic alternative neighborhood created in an old military base is a must-see while in Copenhagen. Walking across the bridge to the town in the freezing wind and spitting rain was a low point of our trip. We surely didn’t pick the best day to make the trek. Reserve this sight for the day with the best weather forecast because it is a bit of a walk. The town is so different from the rest of Copenhagen with a hippie atmosphere and art around every corner. Just make sure not to take photos along Pusher Street and respect the community.

Extras: The Little Mermaid Statue & Tivoli Gardens

Though the Little Mermaid Statue is a very famous landmark honoring Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, it is also pretty out of the way and very small. In my opinion, it’s only worth seeing if you have the time because it’s a bit of a walk. However, the walk there and back is beautiful and will allow you to see different parts of the city!

The entry fee for Tivoli Gardens is a little expensive but if you’re into Christmas light displays or carnival rides, it may be worth the price. We were able to get in for free with a local friend who had a season pass. I’m not a fan of rides but the light displays were some of the best I’ve seen. It truly feels like a winter wonderland.

This amazing experience in Copenhagen has taught me not to shy away from traveling in the winter. If you pack and plan right, cold weather travel can have so much to offer. Now I’m just waiting for it to get cold enough in Cincinnati so I can make myself a cup of gløgg and cozy up by a fire.