How to document your holiday on Instagram, according to social media star Ellie Gonsalves

Step 1: Have FUN.

By Erin Cook

Are you one of the 1.4 MILLION people who follow Ellie Gonsalves on Instagram?


One scroll through Ellie's grid and you'll be struck down with a serious case of wanderlust. One minute, she's lounging around beach side eating a Zooper Dooper, and the next, she's on a plane again wearing chic AF cat-eye sunglasses. Jealous? Us? Never!

Ellie was an early adopter of Instagram and has steadily been building a following since the app launched. Initially, Ellie saw Instagram as a means of building a profile after she was rejected by modelling agency after modelling agency. "When I was around 18 years old, I wanted to pursue [modelling] full-time but I was told I was either too much of something or not enough of something else," Ellie explains. "At the time, skinny, super tall, runway looks were in — but I don't look like that. I have a curvaceous, fit body so I wasn't able to work for any of them."

So she took matters into her own hands. "After I got turned down by every single agency I went to, I thought, 'you know what? I'm going to do it myself!'" That's where social media came into the equation. She started building an online presence for herself, using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. "I thought it was a great opportunity to put myself out there and get in contact with all of the companies I wanted to work with." Now, Ellie is an ambassador for Rpple, an app that connects influencers with brands who are looking to collaborate.

Here, Cosmopolitan sits down with Ellie for her top tips on how to take the perfect Instagram shot while you're on vacation:

Step 1: Focus on FUN

Do you know what makes for the perfect Instagram shot? Good ol' fashioned fun.

When Ellie travels for work, taking Instagram snaps for her grid comes with the territory. "I just went to the Bahamas [with a brand] and we went swimming with the pigs on Pig Island, and I went swimming with reef sharks and it was one of the most crazy, incredible experiences ever."

But when she's on her own personal holiday — i.e. the kind of holiday you or I would go on — Ellie is less Insta-focused and more in the moment. "[When I'm travelling for work] we really do some amazing, incredible things but on my own holidays, I don't go for content," Ellie explains. "I'll take a couple of photos but also really enjoy myself and have fun."

Step 2: Know a good photo op when you see it

Ellie's idea of a good photo op? "If there's cute animals, that's a go-to," she tells Cosmo. If you don't spy any cute animals on your trip, a picturesque view will also do the trick. Ellie says, "It's things you can interact with [that make for a good shot]."

Step 3: Take photos now, post later

Sometimes, your dinner is so 'grammable you need to take a snap right then and there. Go forth and take pics — you have Ellie's blessing! But don't feel like you need to post to straight away. "If I'm at a restaurant I won't be sitting there taking photos for thirty minutes and then post," she says. "I'll take a couple of photos and then I'll be like 'OK, I'm going to enjoy myself now and then I'll post these later.' You don't need to post it right now. Sit there and be with people, enjoy the moment and get off your phone."

Step 4: Lighting

Let's be real, lighting can make (or break!) a photo. Being a social media superstar, Ellie knows a thing or two about how to find good lighting. Her tips? "I never take photos in direct midday light because it's the most unflattering — the best light is when it's a bit cloudy."

If you're taking a selfie, you need to find a window. Then "go to the back of the room and move towards the window" watching the screen as you go. Somewhere along the way, you'll find the perfect lighting.

Step 5: Know your angles

"Of course angles come into play," Ellie says, "Because there are things people don't like about their faces and other things that they like to embrace."

"I have a nose that when you look at me straight on you can see right up it. I always keep that in mind and there's no getting around that. My nose is my nose and if I've got boogers up there then the whole world is going to see it."

Step 6: Apply a filter

TBH, we're not sure if we love or hate filters. On one hand, they make photos look amazing, but on the other hand they give us unrealistic expectations.

Ellie uses the VSCO filters or the ones on Instagram. "When I've got my selfie, I go through and save six different filters that I like and then I go through those and pick my favourite."

Step 7: Post

That's it! Finito! Capiche! Post away, babes, your work here is done.