Ami Vitale’s passion for highlighting the nuances between the many cultures of the world has led her to more than 85 countries. As a top Instagram influencer and photojournalist working for notable international magazines (currently on contract for National Geographic), she’s been able to capture the human condition in incredibly powerful scenes. Her nearly 200K Instagram followers seem to agree, as they regularly leave comments expressing just how touching her photos are.

Capturing Authentic Moments Around the World

ami vitale bio

Ami’s knack for telling compelling visual stories can be attributed to both instinct and skill, including several tips she shared with Curalate that can be useful to any photographer – from those who are just beginning to dabble with Instagram to the more advanced shutterbugs looking to experiment with different styles. Here’s how she applies these effective techniques on photo shoots around the world.

1. Use Proximity to Shape Emotion

national geographic ami vitale

Shooting a photo nearer to the subject can completely change the feel of a photo. As Ami explains, “When you are close physically, the images feel intimate and resonate more emotion.”

A glance at Ami’s Instagram feed would tell you that not every photo you take needs to be up close and personal. In the right setting though, this simple technique can produce a poignant effect, even more so within the context of a larger photography portfolio.

The example here, of a young boy in Rwanda, illustrates this well. We as an audience don’t know the boy’s story, and yet, the photo invokes a feeling of intimacy with him. Ami may not have been able to produce the same effect—an almost mesmerizing connection that’s difficult to ignore—had she taken that photo 10 or 15 feet away from the boy.

2. Allow Real Moments to Organically Unfold

first time ocean sri lanka

To capture “real moments,” Ami taps into photojournalism pioneer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” theory. Creating an authentic image is all about waiting patiently for a precise moment to capture the significance of an event. “To get real moments instead of manufactured moments, you need to be patient and wait for them to happen,” Ami tells us. “I suggest finding an interesting place – just stop and wait and watch. You become a part of the landscape if you slow down and let life unfold in front of you. People forget you are there, and that is one way to get an authentic moment.”

That’s exactly what she managed to do in the photo above of young women in Sri Lanka.

It was the first time in the girls’ lives experiencing what it felt like to get their feet wet in the ocean. And a comment from an Instagram user in reaction to the image sums it all up: “This photo captivates true joy.” It just goes to show how patience can be the determining factor between a photo that seems authentic and one that appears to be staged.

3. Bask in the Light of Dusk and Dawn

sunrise kenya ami vitale

As every photographer knows, good lighting is everything. It can make or break a photo, and Ami keeps this top of mind everywhere she goes. “One of the most essential parts of great photography is light,” Ami explains. “The light in the first ten minutes before and after sunrise and sunset is the most magical.”

You can find a great example in the photo above – a radiant image captured in Kenya.

In the sun’s morning glare, you can practically feel the scene, which shows how family members get up at sunrise to tend to their farm. Not only is it a beautiful shot, but it speaks volumes to culture, tradition, and familial duty. Photographers who welcome the light of these two particular times of the day into their photos can strive to reproduce enchanting scenes as Ami did in Kenya.

25 Tips for Taking Stunning Snapshots

Captivated by Ami’s images? Want to apply them to your own Instagram feed? Get Ami’s tips and those from 11 additional top Instagram influencers to build stronger connections with your followers and fans.