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Some U.S. millennials travel just to take Insta photos

Las Vegas
Visitors shoot selfies and photos at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on Las Vegas Boulevard.
(Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau)

One in 5 millennials in America thinks taking pictures for social media is a key reason to travel, according to a recent report. Maybe that’s why Nevada, home to Las Vegas and its 42 million annual visitors, recently captured the title as “selfiest” state in the U.S. With so many people posting pictures on Instagram, how do you make your images stand out? More on that later. First the numbers.

British travel e-tailer Jetcost polled 4,000 Americans ages 22 to 37 and found:

▶21% said taking photos for social media was one of the main reasons to go on vacation;

▶11% said it was the top reason to travel; and

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▶73% said they posted travel snaps on Instagram, with 56% also posting on Facebook.

And AT&T looked at 11,000 geocoded tweets labeled #selfie between November 2018 and March 2019 to come up with its list of selfiest states. After Nevada, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, New York and California were tops, the survey said.

Using Las Vegas as your test site, here are tips the pros say will make your Insta feeds sparkle.

Avoid the obvious. The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is one of the most photographed attractions in town. You don’t have to skip it, but Las Vegas photographer Mark Damon suggests shooting the other side. He once walked to the back of the sign to find it empty.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign
The back of the sign isn’t crowded and offers a different perspective.
(Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau )

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“Las Vegas is one of the most visually rich cities around,” Damon said. “I think the way to appreciate the place is to observe it and to look outward from yourself.”

Rise above the crowds. Both the Strip and Fremont Street can get packed with people. Las Vegas photographer David Becker suggested that great scenes can be found above the fray.

Las Vegas
Take the elevator to the top of the Delano for the spectacular view from the Skyfall lounge.
(David Becker)

“Go where nobody is, I would say, and look for a different vantage point,” he said. “Try to get higher vantage points — perhaps balconies or parking garages.”

Becker’s favorite perch is the Skyfall Lounge atop the Delano hotel, an ideal location for looking down onto Las Vegas Boulevard — and it’s free.

Take the road less traveled. Head for downtown instead of the Strip for your photo quest. Get off the streets packed with other tourists and find some of Vegas’ hidden — and Instagrammable — gems.

Las Vegas
An old Cadillac on South Main Street, looking south toward the Strip in downtown Las Vegas.
(Joe Buglewicz / Las Vegas News Bureau )

Along South Main Street, a few blocks north of the Stratosphere, you’ll find an eclectic mix of people, plus shops such as clothing recycler Buffalo Exchange and Vintage Vegas, with its selection of antiques and junk.

As another example, Damon pointed to his offbeat photo of reflections captured in the mirrored windows of the tram that links Excalibur and Mandalay Bay. He said the image was the result of “looking for the abstract within the mundane.”

Las Vegas
Old signs at the Neon Museum provide a perfect photo backdrop.
(Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Switch off the selfie mode. The report from Jetcost said: “If the focus of the vacation becomes taking pictures to show off on social media, then you sort of lose the point of going away.” Photographer Damon agreed.

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“The thing that amazes me with the way that people are constantly shooting selfies is that what is important to them is seeing themselves rather than seeing the locations,” he said. “They’re missing the variety of the landscape that makes up the feeling of being here, the essential sense of place.”

Las Vegas
Cellphones can capture great photos, like this shot of the Stratosphere.
(Jay Jones)

Turn (to) the other cheek. You’re not going to altogether stop taking selfies. The AT&T study contains this advice: “Left cheek selfies get more likes than right cheek.” How come? Psychology Today said “the left side of the face, whose muscles are controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, is emotionally more expressive.”

Work the angles. Your cellphone should work fine in composing a striking image.

“It’s not the equipment that you use,” Becker said. “It’s your eye and how you compose what you want in the frame.”


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