Learn the correct #insta hashtags for #travel #photography

Social media users have come up with a classification system

NEW YORK • Maybe you like to take photos from airplane windows. Or of monuments reflected in puddles. Perhaps you routinely train your lens on trees, street signs or your own shadow.

The poetic images you capture when travelling can feel original and personal. But just as biologists name and group plants by categories such as kingdom, phylum and class, travellers on social media have developed a worldwide taxonomy and nomenclature for photos with shared characteristics.

These characteristics may include the angle from which the image was shot, the time of day it was taken, its theme, composition or location. That photo you took of the Eiffel Tower reflected in a pool of rainwater is a #puddlegram. The one of your shadow stretched across a park bench in Buenos Aires is a #shadowselfie. If you think you are among a select few who photograph airplanes streaking across a sunset, check out the more than 414,000 photos on Instagram tagged #planespotting.

For a solid, if not always appetising, travel niche, see the more than 21,000 still lifes of #airportfood. And if you are one of those travellers who has been photographed leaping into the air in front of a landmark or landscape, you have joined the ranks of those who have partaken in a #jumpstagram (there are about 97,000 of them on Instagram).

There are no hard rules about how to take these photos. The names are self-explanatory. Popular types of images, including puddlegrams and Instagram projects such as #WHPreflective, which encourage users to take photos and videos of reflections, are chronicled on Instagram's blog along with advice about how to pull them off.

Granted, there are better things to do with your time (like travel) than play around with hashtags. Still, it is a new year. If you are not up on the established lingo, take a moment to find out what others are calling your vacation photos.

Airports and airplanes

Photos of mountaintops, sunrises, wings and more from 10,000m are, obviously, #fromtheplanewindow. You can use the window as a framing device, but many people do not bother. Photos of planes themselves - images of their nose, bellies, engines - are #planeporn. "Porn", an ubiquitous Instagram suffix, can be used to generate hashtags on any number of photos.

Fashion-minded travellers and gifted packers use #whatsinmybag to share photos of the contents of their (often designer) luggage and purses. These shots require some amateur art direction to ensure that the items - make-up, mints, wallets - are styled so as to spill out of the bag in a way that does not look as if it fell over while you were hopping shoeless through security.

And while many travellers do not think twice about boarding a plane wearing Uggs and a neck pillow, those who use #airportstyle are the exceptions. Use the hashtag to find women with long scarves draped around their necks and supple leather carry-on bags or snapshots of models and celebrities sauntering through airports in sunglasses.


There is a hashtag for every space you can photograph around a hotel, including #hotelbreakfast, #hotellobby, #hotelbar and #hotelpool. For vistas of bridges, sunsets and cityscapes, there is #frommywindow.

Out and about

If you take photos of yourself or friends against walls of graffiti, bricks, books, bamboo or any other sort of visually compelling material while exploring the world, you are among those who belong to the #friendsandwalls tribe.

When it comes to photographing cities, you can find travellers who focus on a particular time of day. You can look at millions of posts tagged #Paris, but why not go straight to the transportive #Parisbynight where you can explore the city illuminated?

Speaking of being transported, travel is also about getting where you are going. If photographing trains is a pastime, take a look at #train_nerds. Driving? Those who get a kick out of chronicling their trip from the shoulder may like the photos that turn up when searching for #roadtrippin and #roadside, where images run from pets in the back seat to the long, open road ahead.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Your photos have a name'. Print Edition | Subscribe