[buzzsprout episode='524468' player='true']

using instagram to travel the world

Raise your hand if you’ve ever dreamed of using Instagram to travel the world?

Yep! Pretty much all of us!

This episode covers exactly that in a conversation with David Pomfret, a globe-trotting Instagrammer with impeccable taste in design, originally from England. David had a successful design agency and then dropped it for traveling the world. Which is funded by his work on Instagram. We talk about his best practices on Instagram and much more! Enjoy!

Using Instagram to Travel the World


Where are you from and where are you now? [00:02:27]

  • I'm originally from England and right now I'm chilling in Thailand

What are you doing in Thailand? [00:02:41]

  • I'm just exploring on a daily basis and try to see as much as humanly possible before I leave in about a week.

Give us a little bit of background about your career. Where did you come from and how did that evolve to where you are today? [00:02:58]

  • Throughout school, I was a designer. After school, I continued on that path as a graphic designer.
  • I got a little bored and I started my own company which transitioned into web development, then transitioned into mobile and I just built this design agency where we designed and built products for digital tech companies.

You were able to go from a one-man operation to a bigger operation, working for bigger companies. How did you walk away from it all and decide to go travel the world? [00:04:18]

  • After working for the design agency for about 3 years, I realized that the travel motivates me more than the design.
  • I've been designing as a career for 10 years so I felt it was a time to step away and follow my passion which was to travel.

How did you get the courage to do it? [00:05:05]

  • I never have a good answer for this.
  • I'm a “yes man,” and I feel you should say yes to things and try them and if you fail you fail and you should just move to the next thing.

How did you transition into doing travel photography? Was it a hobby? [00:05:40]

  • At the beginning, it was a hobby. I did a lot of travel photography when I started traveling full time around about four to five years ago.
  • The family requested that I should take pictures so they can see what I'm up to.
  • Over time it progressed into something that I realized that I can capitalize on in order to fund travel. It's also a huge passion of mine.

Did you feel like photography came easy to you? [00:07:15]

  • Because I studied photography and design at the same time, I see a lot of similarities between them.
  • I have always seen photography as relatively easy as well as design and illustration and anything else that’s remotely creative because I think that’s part of my DNA and I'm just aware of the details. When I see them, I pick up the camera and start shooting. If I don’t see them, the camera stays in my bag.

There are two types of photographers: the pure artist who imagines something magical that they want to capture and then there is the technical photographer. Where would you fall in those categories or would you say you were in between? [00:08:15]

  • I would say I'm in the middle and a lot of it comes down what I had to learn in college for photography. We were given two sets of rules.
  1. First, our camera had to be film and completely manual.
  2. Second, we had to develop our film and prints in the darkroom.
  • Amongst the two, I liked picking the manual settings and getting it right but developing of the film wasn’t my strong suit.
  • It's the same with design, I didn’t love drawing with pen and paper but I loved doing it with the computer.

How did you get started on Instagram? Talk about the inspiration for embracing Instagram and how you’ve been able to use Instagram to travel the world. [00:10:05]

  • It goes back down to working in the tech industry. I am a hacker and I test everything and see what works.
  • My love of photography and the medium of Instagram stuck and I was able to enjoy taking pictures and posting them on Instagram and hacking and testing everything to see what would work.
  • All of sudden, people just started getting in touch. So, it just was obvious that this can fund travel and soon it would be able to fund life and travel. I've literally been able to use Instagram to travel the world.

Was it mostly people approaching you or did you reach out to some people to generate some interest? [00:11:37]

  • It started with people approaching me which gave me the realization that my account is good enough.

What are some things that work well for you on Instagram? There are a lot of white hat and black hat techniques that people use. What are some of the things that have worked well for you? [00:12:24]

  • For me, the thing that has surprised me the most and got me the most engagement are locations. For example, it's not about going to somebody’s beach club and taking lots of pictures and tagging it as somebody’s beach club. I would go take pictures somewhere in Bali and I would tag every picture I take in Bali as “Bali” because those who are planning a vacation, they don’t know where they want to go in Bali yet.
  • They're just going to search for Bali and see where they like and try to find out where that is in relation to their hotel or wherever they are staying in Bali. Because the location is Bali, they don’t know where it is. They just know they want to go there, and that forces the engagement.
  • So, they would post on the picture saying, “Hey where is this in Bali?” You’ve got your engagement, they’ve found your content and it's a win-win.

One thing that I've noticed on Instagram that gets more engagement is photos where people are smiling. Is there anything that would relate to that for you as a travel photographer? What images get you the best engagement? [00:14:31]

  • If there isn’t a person in the picture, traction is ridiculously low.
  • The traction has doubled just for me putting myself in these couple of images for the last couple of weeks.

As a design and photography expert, what do you think people are connecting with? [0:15:34]

  • I think first, it’s adding that focal point.
  • Second, the contrast of colors. In the pictures of Bali, the color contrast adds the interesting focal point. It makes it more wonderful to look at. It adds a sense of identity.

What about hashtags? What is your philosophy or theory about hashtags? [00:16:44]

  • Hashtags help tremendously.
  • Having your own hashtags helps someone to find your content and they could use your hashtag and keep that momentum going. I've got this method where the first hashtag is my own.

What is your preference? Are you someone who likes to use hashtags in the initial captions or do you put it in the first comment? Have you tested it? [00:18:02]

  • I haven’t tested it. The only reason I haven’t tested it is because the designer in me hates seeing the hashtags.

Do you use any type of a third-party app like Later or Planoly to help you plan out your post? What's your method of post-production on getting things posted? [00:18:37]

  • After every shoot, I would edit it.
  • I use Lightroom so, I have the Lightroom mobile app on my phone.
  • Then I would create a single post as a draft with the caption location and everything ready to go. I post it every morning when I wake up. It's my routine.

Are you a business account or a personal account? [00:19:24]

  • I'm a business account with analytics.

What about comment pods, have you ever used those to raise engagement? [00:19:51]

  • I have not and I haven’t heard about it until the other day.
  • [00:20:08] How comment pods work on Instagram

How has the Instagram community been to you? Have you made real friends or connected with people in real life? [00:22:17]

  • Yes. I think the Instagram community is good.
  • The best part for me is using Instagram to find places to shoot photos or where to find good food when traveling.

Give us an idea of what of the most exciting moments was for you when it came to finding a sponsor or somebody who wanted to hook you up with something. [00:23:29]

  • I think my favorite time that I got a sponsorship was last month in Bali. This company got in touch because in my description is says where my current location is and where I'm going to next.

What kind of gear are you traveling with? [00:25:21]

  • The traveling camera right now is the Sony A6500. It is a beast. The shutter speed is ridiculous.
  • I have a drone also.
  • (David's blog post: What's in my bag?)
sony a6500

If I remember, you have a YouTube channel, is that part of your larger goal as well, for example as a portfolio to get gigs creating video content for some of these resorts and hotels? [00:26:35]

  • For the past year or so, I started out experimenting with different things.
  • I started experimenting with travel blogging and then I switched to travel blogging. How could I use Instagram and video to Travel the World?
  • Video has a huge soft spot for me and it's something I want do more with.
  • Right now, I'm focusing on the career switch and when that is solid, I shall go back to video.
travel photography

Where are you off to next? [00:27:57]

  • I'm heading back to Bali. I had a month there previously and it was unbelievable.
  • From Bali, I'm back to Europe to do a road trip around Scotland.

After Scotland, any other plans? [00:28:21]

  • Cape Town, South Africa.