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If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I’m super awkward especially when it comes to taking photos. When looking at photos from my first few solo trips, the majority of them were of random objects, buildings, and selfies. I started writing more about my travels sharing the experience on my blog and social media accounts and I knew that needed to change. When sharing photos of my solo trips, I usually get questions like “Who takes pictures and videos of you when you are traveling alone?” or general questions on how to take pictures when you travel alone. Well, I finally put a blog post together. If you’re looking to get into solo travel photography or just want to learn how to take pictures when you travel alone, here are some ways to get it done.
Ask Fellow Travelers or Locals
When I first started to get solo travel photos, I just asked someone. On some occasions, it has been a local, while others were fellow travelers. Most of the time, fellow tourists will help with taking pictures. If someone looks like they’re in a hurry, it is best to let them keep going. I usually do this while on group walking tours. I also offer to take another solo traveler, couple, family, or group of friends’ photos in exchange for taking mine.
Tips on Asking Tourists or Locals for Travel Pictures
Asking a fellow traveler or even a local to take your photos as a solo traveler can honestly be a hit or miss. If you want that perfect shot for your blog or Instagram, let them know EXACTLY what you want beforehand. Here are some more tips for asking fellow tourists or locals to take your photos.
- Look for Someone with a Good Camera: Whether you’re getting solo travel pictures on your smartphone or another camera, look for someone with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. Chances are they may know about photography, you may not have to explain the type of shot you want so hard, and they can take good pictures.
- Explain What You Want in the Shot: If you ask a fellow traveler or local to take your photos, let them know what you want! Explain the type of pose you’ll be pulling off so you can get the type of photo you want. If your pose calls for you to look away or be serious, they may be waiting for you to smile or turn around.
- Take (or show) them a Photo: If you have a specific vision for the shot you want, you can take a picture without you in it and explain how they can frame the photo. You can also take a photo of them so they can get an idea of the type of picture you want. If you save travel photos or poses from Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration, you can also show them.
- Take More than one Photo: Take more than one photo to have options. You can explain this to the person beforehand or wait until they leave to ask someone else if you’re unhappy with the results.
- Know Your Angles: Candid poses work well, but when asking other people to take your travel pictures, it is not the time to experiment with different poses and angles. Practice looking in the mirror to get an idea of your good side first. When you know what angles and poses work, you can get the shot quicker.
Use a Tripod and Set a Timer or Use a Remote Shutter Release
Learning how to take photos of yourself takes practice. When I became serious about taking solo travel pictures, I invested in a tripod and used the 10-second timer. My previous camera did not have a front-facing flip screen so it took much longer to frame shots and I used a lot of trial and error. With my current camera, I can connect to my iPhone to the device via WiFi and see the photo before using the shutter release.
Use Your Smartphone with a Timer or Bluetooth Shutter Remote
If you’re a smartphone photographer, the same concept of using a tripod with a timer and a shutter remote can be used. Smartphones these days already have a built-in timer and you can switch to selfie mode to see yourself before the shot is taken. A Bluetooth shutter remote allows you to take your photos without using a timer. Just connect the Bluetooth shutter remote to your Android or iOS device and press the respective button to take your photo.
Tips for Traveling with a Tripod
When you’re not used to traveling with a tripod, it may be annoying figuring how to pack it your luggage or carry around when exploring. If you’re traveling with a tripod and checking luggage, put it in your checked luggage. Traveling carry-on only? Pack your tripod in your carry-on luggage or bag. Another important tip is to check the weight and dimensions before purchasing. Sometimes tripods can be too heavy or too big. Checking the weight and dimensions ensures the tripod doesn’t take up too much weight in your checked luggage and/or fits properly in your carry-on. Below are both of the tripods that I use for taking every day blogging and travel pictures.
Continuous Shooting aka Burst Mode
Instead of taking one photo, putting your camera in continuous shooting or burst mode allows it to takes multiple photos on one click. Burst mode is great for taking action shots of you walking, running, laughing, spinning or even dancing. Your expressions and movements are captured in multiple frames per second than just one so burst mode gives you a better chance of getting the shot.
Take a Video & Screenshot
Taking a video and screenshot is another great way to get solo pictures when traveling. I only have done this when forgetting to take a thumbnail photo for Youtube, but it works. The quality isn’t the best, but it still provides content for some social media platforms.
Get Creative with Your Body and Angles
One of the fun things about solo travel photography or photography, in general, is being able to play around with different angles and being creative. Photography is just another form of storytelling so, in addition to shooting your full body, you can share parts of your body that add to the story. My favorites usually include holding food or drinks, showing my feet or legs while sunbathing, or cooling my feet off in the pool or beach. There are many other ways to be creative with different angles and your body to get amazing photos as a solo traveler so have fun trying them.
Meetup with other Bloggers or Friends from Travel Groups
Believe it or not, not everyone is an existing or aspiring travel blogger or Influencer. Some people just love traveling for their own pleasure. If you’re visiting a destination solo, you can meet up with someone from a travel group. This is a great way to see a destination from a local or exploring a destination together. If you’re using this option, make sure it is in a public place to ensure your safety. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t go. There are many niched travel groups targeting my demographic of black travelers, solo female travel, millennial travel, and more. If you can think about a niche that describes your travel lifestyle, it probably exists. If not, or there is one that doesn’t fit your needs, it can be an opportunity to build a community of like-minded travelers.
On a Tour
In addition to selfies, some of my first solo traveling pictures were via tours. You can purchase your travel pictures via the tour itself or ask the tour guide. I’ve done both options for the Aquafari Tour in Curacao, CNN Studio Tour in Atlanta as well as on my solo trip to Cartagena.
Hire a Photographer
Want dope shots without all the work or equipment? Hire a photographer! There are TONS of aspiring and professional photographers available online. My personal favorite is via Airbnb Experiences. I’ve hired photographers via Airbnb for solo and even some girl’s trips since my Paris photoshoot and will continue to do so when needed. Sometimes you DO get what you pay for with photographers, but I’ve been lucky enough to have more than a great experience for the amount I’ve paid. Every photographer I’ve worked with, I would personally use again WITHOUT the third party because their work and personalities were up to par. If you use Airbnb, I highly recommend reading the reviews, asking the photographer questions about your photo usage, being professional, and BEING ON TIME. I still prefer taking my own photos.
How To Take Photos of Yourself Without a Tripod
Tripods can be cheap, but not everyone wants to invest in one for solo travel photography. Here are some tips on how to take pictures of yourself without a tripod.
Take a Selfie
If you’re starting to travel solo, selfies are a good option. Traveling alone can be scary and selfies allow you to have control of your devices. To help catch great pictures, you can invest in a selfie stick. In Barcelona, my selfie stick had an attachment accessory for my phone and mirrorless camera. It is a plus if you can get a selfie stick that can also convert to a tripod and includes a Bluetooth shutter release. Here are some tips for taking a good selfie.
- Clean the Camera Lens – You’d be surprised how much cleaning your front camera lens improves your photos.
- Choose a good angle – Instead of holding the camera in front of you, angle it to the side, higher, or lower.
- Find the right lighting – Lighting is EVERYTHING. If you’re not sure which angle has the best light, it may be behind you.
Set Your Camera on Sturdy Surface
Sometimes selfie sticks and tripods are banned in specific destinations and tourist sites for safety reasons. This may be upsetting for some people practicing solo travel photography, or a great way to be creative. You can rest your camera on a sturdy surface like the floor, table, stairs or wall and set the timer. To gain some height, use your bag or coat. Just make sure it doesn’t fall off before shooting.
Other Tips for Taking Photos of Yourself while Traveling
As mentioned, learning how to take photos of yourself takes practice. Posing in front of a tripod for the first few times can feel weird too. Here are some tips for taking photos of yourself while traveling that most people don’t really mention.
Get there Early
To avoid crowds of other tourists or uncomfortable stares, get to the destination early. It also gives you the ability to get your travel pictures out the way to enjoy the rest of the day.
Learn to Ignore the Stares
When I first started taking solo travel pictures, I used to shy away or feel awkward because of the stares. Doing this made me miss photo opportunities. To avoid this, I had to intentionally stop worrying about the stares from locals or other travelers. The more you do it, the less you tend to care. You most likely will never see these people again. Who knows, someone may offer to take the photo for you or cheer you on while you pose or shoot.
Don’t Take Forever to Get the Shot
I understand wanting to get the best shot, but taking 20-30 minutes in one location to get one good photo is entirely too long. If it is a popular destination, there may be others waiting to take photos too. Taking too long is pretty selfish and you don’t want to be THAT kind of solo traveler. If you practice your solo photography skills beforehand, each location should really take 5-10 minutes or less.
How To Take Photos Without Ruining Your Trip
I love taking travel pictures, but I also love to experience being in the moment. Learning how to take photos without ruining your trip may be tricky for some, but it isn’t impossible. To get the best of your time, scout out locations and think of poses for photos in advance. You can also set a specific amount of time or a specific day to take your solo travel photos. I usually take my travel pictures on the first or last full day that I’m in a destination. I also try not to spend more than an hour shooting. Within that time frame, I can do 2-3 looks in at least 5-7 locations.
Use These Tips When Traveling with Friends
My friends know my angles and how to coach me on poses for great pictures, but I also use these travel photography tips for our girls’ vacations. I have used my camera and remote shutter for a group and solo photos as well as hired a photographer. If you’re at a restaurant or hotel you can also ask one of the employees for a group shot.
Recommended Travel Photography Gear
If you want to make solo travel photography a serious hobby, you need to have the right gear. I’ve already shared some favorites earlier in this post, but here are some other travel photography gear recommendations.
Joby Gorilla Pod
The Gorilla pod is flexible so you can use it to grip, wrap or stand on any object. The wrappable legs allow you to keep your camera or phone from falling.
The Sony a6000 is a great starter camera. It is lightweight, compact and great for photos and videos. To save money on equipment, you can purchase a bundle. Since this model is a few years old, you may want a newer model.
For portrait photography, I love fixed lenses. I use these models below
The best part is that some of these solo travel photography tips can be used on any type of camera. The cameras on smartphones take photos that have as much quality as a professional camera. I hope this post sharing how to get pictures of yourself traveling solo inspired you to do more solo travel photography and capture beautiful travel pictures. If you found this post helpful, pin it for future reference.