For those of you who read our interview with Social Media Intern Johnny Martinez, you’ve seen that media plays a huge part in our LeadAbroad trips. We love to capture these moments and memories and share them with our extended LeadAbroad family — and we couldn’t do that without the help of our awesome students who also have a passion for media.

Community Leader Olivia Gotwald, a senior middle grades education major at College of Charleston served as a Media Leader this summer on LEAD Cape Town. This role allows our LeadAbroad team to connect with students that have a passion for media and work with them to capture pictures and videos throughout the trip to make a final video at our last program dinner! Olivia is pretty much the GoPro queen…and excelled in the role. We couldn’t select a more perfect Community Leader to write a guest post for the blog about GoPro tips! Check out Olivia’s guest post below to make sure you’re documenting your travels in the coolest way possible.


1. Mounts

I use a pole just about every time I use a GoPro. Poles allow you to take awesome selfies, but they are so much more than that. Poles help balance out your shot and let you get a different point of view than you would just by holding your camera. A fun angle to try with a pole is to extend it all the way and hold it over one shoulder. This will give you a wide frame of what you are doing while also getting you in the frame.

It may seem dorky, but wearing a chest mount gets a really cool point of view. My favorite time to use it was when playing with kids during service week in Cape Town. This way my arms where in the frame and it was right about eye level with the kids so you could really see their reactions and smiling faces.

Another must have is a tri-pod. This mount is by far my favorite and most versatile. A great way to use this is to run down the road or path a little bit, set it down on the ground, and then have your group walk past. This is a great way to get some extra footage to fill your video. Another great way to use a tripod is for time lapses. Set your camera on time-lapse mode and place it on a tripod for about 10 minutes. Wherever you are and whatever you may be doing, this will give you a great clip to use.

2. Hold the shot to get the shot

Using your GoPro for pictures is really great. It may not have the same HD quality as an SLR, but for a lightweight travel camera, it is AMAZING! The main thing to remember when taking pictures with a GoPro is to hold the shot longer than you think you need to. I cant count the number of pictures I have missed because I moved my camera before the shot was taken. This is because the GoPro has a slow shutter speed for pictures, and if you move away, the image will appear blurry.

3. Settings for…

Sunset Pictures
Any landscape you come across, like the sunrise from the top of Lion’s Head or the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, is begging to be captured on camera. Don’t miss the shot because your camera was on the wrong setting. A good rule of thumb for snapping pictures of scenery is to use a high-resolution setting on a wide angle. If the light is a little low, for instance, at sunset or sunrise, make sure you’re low light setting is turned on and that you use a tri-pod to get the best picture possible.

Bungee jumping
A fast-paced adventure like bungee jumping or skydiving is great to capture on a GoPro. This is what GoPros are made for. To make sure you get the perfect video or picture, use a low frame rate like 720p at 60 frames per second to make sure you get all the action. If you want to get pictures during your jump, set up your burst mode. This will take a series of pictures from 5-30 in 1-3 seconds. This way, you wont miss the really embracing look on your face.

4. Other

If you are like me and really like capturing what you do while wondering around a market, taking a boat cruise, hiking a mountain, or just exploring a cool city like Cape Town, then here are some more tips for you. The best way to capture day-to-day activities is by setting your GoPro to video mode and filming in 1080p at 48 frames per second. This wont give you the highest rate of filming, but the 1080p will give you a crisp HD image of your daily adventures.

5. Audio

If you are trying to record a video with which you want audio, try taking off your case. The microphone on the GoPro is very good, but it works best when out of the case. If you are nervous about dropping your camera, keep the case on, but switch out the waterproof back door for the skeleton back door. This way the microphone can pick up more audio than it would with the full waterproof case.

6. Pretend you are an extreme sport athlete

Get into it! The best shots you are going to get are the ones you really have fun with. My friends and I pretended we were adventure reporters and ran around filming everything. It may have seemed crazy to everyone else, but those videos ended up being some of the best I took.

7. Shaky video?

Try a pole or hold it close to your body. GoPros do not have a self balancing effect, so the video may come out rather shaky. IF this is happening to you, try using a pole for extension or hold it to your chest when you walk for more stability.

8. Batteries and storage

This is probably the most important thing but also the most overlooked. You can never have enough batteries when using a GoPro, especially because the battery life is pretty short. Personally, I have 4 charged batteries whenever I am going to be out all day without access to a charger. This might be overkill, but it is really good to have a CHARGED back up battery. The other important thing is storage. If you can, spend the extra money for a bigger SD card. This will really be helpful because it is a big pain when your card fills up and you are in the middle of an adventure.

So, are you ready to document your adventure with the hottest travel camera out there? Play around with it using Olivia’s advice, and show us your best shots!

-The LeadAbroad Team