We fawn over their envy-inducing snaps on social media, but what is it actually like to be a travel influencer? Is it as glamorous as it seems? We talked to Instagrammer Henry Do about the secrets to his success and what it takes to be an influencer yourself.
What sparked your interest in travel photography?
I like travel photography because it helps inspire other people to get out of their bubble and see the beautiful world that we live in. Since I was five years old my family used to take me on trips, and looking back at those pictures now, I truly cherish those moments.
What are your ‘rules to live by’ when it comes to photographing a travel setting?
Try to get to a high vantage point to take images from an above perspective. I always research the weather so I can plan what to bring and what to wear.
In your eyes, what makes the perfect picture?
Lights and shadows. Without lights, there would be no picture. Without shadow, we might as well be looking at a blank canvas.
What are the key things you’ve learned about being a travel influencer?
People are really nice everywhere, you just have to give them a chance and be respectful to the local culture.
What is a standard day as a travel blogger?
Wake up and have a good breakfast (lots of coffee!). Then I research hot spots in the area and find ways to get there. I pack up my camera gear and double check it. First, I find a safe location to shoot, preferably somewhere with good light. The sun plays a HUGE role in your photos so I shoot before, during, and after sunrise or sunset — never at high noon because it is too bright and will cause harsh shadows on your subject. Then I shoot from multiple angles. Lastly, I grab dinner and explore the night scene. Then back to charge my camera batteries and get a good night’s rest.
How did you build up your followers?
Many of my images have gone viral on Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit. Having a unique style and trying to capture things that have never been seen before really helps grow your audience. Lots of patience and dedication to creating consistent work have helped too.
Quick fire round...
Longest delay: 20 hours. Flying home from Mammoth mountain for my snowboarding trip.
Best city: Dubai, UAE.
Comfiest hotel bed: Any of the Hiltons.
Number of passport stamps: I’m on my second book. My first book is filled with over 30 stamps and visas, which take up a whole page.
Best sunset: Nothing beats the majestic sunsets on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Cleanest airport: Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
Best place to photograph: Hawaii. There are eight islands and every one offers something different. Hawaii has it all: beautiful sunsets, sunrise, mountains, volcanos, and best of all, the beaches.
How do you pack your gear for each trip?
I always carry my mirrorless camera, two lenses (dependent on the trip), my drone for aerial images, an umbrella, tripod, batteries, and a laptop. Clothes go in my carry-on luggage for a one- or two-week long trip so there’s no need to check any bags.
What does being an influencer mean to you?
Being an influencer means I have the power to influence people through my photography. I always try to bring out the positive and try to inspire people to be the best that they can be.
Is it half as glamorous as it seems?
Definitely not. There’s quite a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. I sleep less than six hours, and there are the common mishaps and headaches that you have to deal with when traveling.
What is the best advice you'd give an aspiring travel influencer?
Find that one thing you’re good at and focus 110% on it. If that’s videos, focus on that exclusively. If you’re young and don’t have much money, work two or three jobs and save as much as you can so you can travel in six months. You’re still young so it’s ok to take risks.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.