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Should you avoid taking iconic Instagram shots?

On Instagram, you’ll be seeing lots of similar images you would then perceive as ‘iconic’. Which begs the question: should you go out and shoot these awesome places yourself? Or should you just do your own thing? In other words: should you avoid iconic Instagram spots?

The Instagram algorithm

On Instagram, you see hundreds of images each day, especially when using the Explore page. Some images, photography styles and locations are pushed extremely hard by Instagram. Sometimes it’s intentionally – you notice this when you create a new account and see the crap they want to stuff into your face on the Explore page – and other times it’s because their algorithm doesn’t work properly. If you’re into travel, you’ll be mostly seeing Iceland, Norway, Tyrol, and Cappadocia… Bad luck if you’re an Africa-fan, you’re stuck with Iceland! Another reason why I’m sure the algorithm doesn’t work is my hate for 1 specific picture that keeps getting shared on the app. Since the point in time when I indicated on the Instagram-app that I’m not interested in that particular image, I have seen that same image reappear over 50 times! (no exaggeration). Is it obvious I have a love-hate-relationship with Instagram?


avoid famous instagram spots


Obviously, as an Instagram influencer myself, deciding whether or not I should avoid iconic Instagram locations is a subject I’m really struggling with. Should you avoid the most popular photography locations in your Instagram? Or should you hop on the bandwagon of possible success and go there too?


avoid taking iconic instagram shots


Well, yes and no.

First of all there are still thousands of places waiting to be explored. There’s so much more to see in each country than those handful of iconic Instagram shots. Take photographs of which people say : “Damn, that’s original! I haven’t seen this before!” If you just recreate existing images, you’ll soon realize that this is giving you less and less pleasure in your photography.


avoid famous instagram locations in iceland


On the other hand, it’s not because a certain place has been overly photographed that you shouldn’t go. It’s how other more classic locations have gotten famous too, because they have been photographed many, many times. Back in the day, those iconic photographs appeared in books instead of online. The process just goes a bit quicker because of social media these days. But for you, it is still a new area. For you, it can be a first, which makes it fully understandable you’re craving to see the place with your own eyes. In other words, you shouldn’t avoid shooting a particular location just because lots of people have done the same.


avoid instafamous locations


Learn from looking at existing photos

You can also learn a lot in terms of framing or composition by looking at existing photos of a certain place. However, be aware you’re not just mimicking shots from famous Instagrammers. Remember to keep challenging yourself and do your own thing. I’m not saying to avoid those locations, but try to create your own, unique take on the location.


avoid iconic instagram locations


In my opinion, this can really make the difference between you and some of the other bloggers and photographers, and I hope to inspire you to do your own thing. When I was in Iceland, of course I stopped at the most famous waterfalls and mountains! But I also took a bunch of pictures at cliffsides of which 90% of the tourists don’t know they exist! Look for compositions outside the iconic viewpoints. I’m aware this can be difficult and challenging, especially in the age of social media. But it’s the challenge that makes it fun and in the end you’ll have learnt the most.


avoid famous instagram spots


Searching for locations to photograph is not just arriving at a certain viewpoint and press the shutter. It can take a while before you’ve found your composition. I recently wrote a thing or two about it in another blogpost. Also please check out my Instagram profile @bengoesplaces for more inspiration!