How to Plan Your #Slaycation
Slaycation: a vacation enhanced by taking advantage of opportunities to exude confidence and poise in your photographs.
I may have led you to believe that the art of slaying was effortless. Beyoncé, with her team of makeup artists, stylists, and professional fanners, may have “woken up like this” but, rest assured, the rest of us put careful thought into the illusion of glamour that comes with perfectly curated vacation photos. When my cousins stormed into Panama last week like a mini-Haitian army, we proceeded to have a week worthy of the term "slaycation". For those who are unfamiliar or still novices in the art of “slaying”, I have put together this helpful guide:
Coordinate your outfits beforehand
What distinguishes a slaycation from the humble vacations of yore is the attire. A coordinated look is essential to amplify the grandeur of your photos. Before my cousins arrived, they were instructed to bring one white outfit with subtle pink accents in order for us to take photos at the ruins of Panama Viejo. What’s key here is that, although we were coordinated, we did not match. Matching outfits give you the appearance of bridesmaids resigned to their fate at the wedding of their closest frenemy. That’s not the look you want to immortalize in your vacation photos.
Carefully research locations that enhance your outfit
My cousins somehow managed to be 2 hours late for our 9:30am departure to the ruins of Panama Viejo. Once we arrived there, they quickly realized both why I’d picked this location and why I’d specified an early morning time given the crippling heat of Panama at midday. Established in 1519, Panama Viejo was the first European settlement along the Pacific Ocean. The ruins of Panama Viejo’s cathedral, convents and public buildings stretch out over a mile under the weight of ancient stones. Lined with trees, the remaining scattered walls and partially intact façades of the once-impressive structures provided an eerie yet regal contrast to our white attire. Because the site is farther than the better known Casco Viejo, it has fewer visitors, making it easy to set up and take photos without tourists walking into our picture. Thus, the location provided a background that emphasized the fact that we were on a vacation without being cliché.
Travel with someone that knows your angles
There are few things worse than asking someone to take your photo when your traveling and they either leave out a significant portion of the scene or take photos of you at an unflattering angle. Once, I asked someone to take a photo of me in front of the Duomo in Milan. I assumed that it would be reasonable to actually include the impressive cathedral in the photo as well given that I purposefully stood in front of it. When the person handed me my phone back, there was simply a photo of my smiling face and nothing more. The moral of the story is that it’s important to travel with someone who knows your angle and knows how to capture the inspiration for your photo. My cousins posed alongside the debilitated yet colorful residential houses remaining in Casco Viejo during the Gang Tour. The photo below captures both their looks and the vibrancy of the house they stood in front of. If you cannot travel with someone who knows their way around a camera, set your photos up yourself using the timer on your camera, a tripod, or a remote control for your DSLR. Besides, who knows your angles better than you?
Master gazing thoughtfully into the distance
The art of gazing thoughtfully into the distance is a time-honored tradition. It allows you to capture the solemn beauty of your environment while leaving the viewer to ponder what captured your attention in the direction of your gaze. The key to perfecting the Thoughtful Gaze photo is to smile mysteriously and focus your attention away from the camera. Practice makes perfect.
Swimsuits should be legendary
There are swimsuits and then there are swimsuits. As a rule of thumb, I travel with one regular bikini for actual swimming and a score of bikinis for the purpose of slaying (swimming optional). A slaycation to a tropical destination means that you will be provided with ample opportunities to practice the poses seen in the Victoria Secret Swimsuit catalog. Choose a location for your photo that highlights the natural beauty of the beach rather than rely on the typical awkward beach poses (Yes, we get it. You can draw your name in the sand. Kudos). When my cousins and I went to Islas Zapatillas in Bocas del Toro, the national park with it's lush wilderness enveloped in clear blue skies above and crystalline waters below, became the backdrop for our photos.
A tips for the best Swimsuit Slay: Rather than sitting, which can create unflattering bulges, make your body appear lean and angular in photos by standing and pointing your toes.
I'm also obligated to warn you that there is a huge downside to being photographed in the type of swimsuit that makes heads turn: you'll constantly have to outdo yourself with the next swimsuit and the next! It's a lot of pressure to live up to...
Make it look effortless
The most important aspect of a slaycation is that it should not only appear effortlessly glamorous to the casual observer, it should also be fun. My cousin, Jessica, fell out of a palm tree twice trying to perfect her pose at Zapatilla. At Panama Viejo, other tourists excitedly joined in to take selfies with us for their Instagram accounts. My other cousin, Niva, wore her blue bathing suit on the wrong day and completely threw off our photos at Starfish Beach. I had a wardrobe malfunction re-entering the boat and ended up showing some boob to unsuspecting passengers after snorkeling at Crawl Cay. The world kept spinning and our photos were fabulous nonetheless. We were able to encapsulate the joy, beauty, and absurdity of being young and free in this day and age.
A family that slays together, stays together.