For me, one of the few downsides of solo travel is the part where you have to take pictures of yourself. Ok, maybe some of y’all might say that it’s not that important to take pictures of yourself. Maybe you solo travel for the experience and it doesn’t matter if there isn’t any picture of yourself while doing that. That’s fine. But then this post is not for you because I’m going to write my foolproof ways of taking solo travel pictures in this post.
I’m not always great at taking solo travel pictures. In fact, on my very first foray into solo traveling, I didn’t even take any picture of myself at all. I know. Such a wasted opportunity. The thing is, I was too lazy. I was too lazy to ask for strangers’ help. I was too lazy to use my tripod and selfie sticks. But why was I like that? Because even if I weren’t so lazy to do all that, I know that the resulting pictures would be disappointing. So I saved myself from the disappointment and just enjoy my time alone, wandering.
Fortunately, over time I got better. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity no more. I like taking pictures of the scenery but I also love to have pictures of myself as well. So, I braved myself and have now learned the foolproof ways to take solo travel pictures.
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How I Take My Solo Travel Pictures
1 // Ask For Help
I know this might be the most obvious of all. I just have to mention it since it’s might be one of the easiest methods. But what about its downside I mentioned before? Let’s just face it that you can’t always expect the strangers to take great pictures of you. I can’t even begin to tell you how many failed vacation photos I have because I asked the wrong strangers.
The key is to carefully choose the one you’re asking for help. The easiest way is to look for signs of a professional camera or DSLR. If I see a stranger lugging around a professional camera I would be more confident that they would take at least a decent pictures of me.
To make it less of a cumbersome, I usually offer to take their pictures for them first. And when taking their pictures I make sure to be as dedicated as possible. I would take several shots, from slightly different angles, to ensure they have the best photos, hoping they would return the favor with the same dedication as I did 😀
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2 // Use Equipment
Unfortunately, despite my best effort to pick the right strangers and went out of a limb to take great pictures of them first, it doesn’t always pay off. Even the ones with professional cameras could take the most unflattering photos with unflattering backgrounds (usually it’s because they’re only good at taking scenery photos and such).
In that kind of situation, we only have ourselves to resort to. And that’s when helping equipments such as a tripod, a remote, or a selfie stick come to rescue. Good thing we’re living in an era with such advanced technology, huh? It’s our duty to utilize it for our assistance. Who needs shaky blurry pictures taken by strangers when you could take great ones by yourself with the help of some equipments. They’re affordable too!
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Tripod is my absolute must-bring equipment when I travel, solo or with companions. I don’t think I need to explain why. But I know, some people would feel lugging around tripod while traveling is not convenient. It could be if you don’t pick the right tripod. There are plenty of types of tripods in the market nowadays and they are making it more and more compact. My trustee tripod is very lightweight and compact that sometimes I almost forget that I’m carrying it.
If you’re really adamant about carrying a tripod, there are more compact choices like gorilla pod or selfie stick. For me personally, after trying those alternatives, prefer to stay with my tripod. I feel like it’s more effective in carrying out the job.
It would be even better if you could have a wireless remote so you don’t have to go back and forth between shot to press the shutter.
3 // Take Lots of Pictures
Now, even though we use the equipments mentioned above, we’re still not guaranteed great pictures. It’s because we don’t have full control over the taking pictures process. You can set your camera on a certain angle, set the timer right, but it’s not always easy to get the sense of where should we run up to once we press the shutter. Sometimes you stand a little (or too much) to the left or right. Maybe you stand and pose too far or too close to the camera. Or you don’t even get the background that you want.
Well, what can we do then?
Some cameras now have the technology to connect with your phone so it makes your phone acts as the viewfinder. Which is really great, you could fully control your pictures. Unfortunately, I don’t have that. And most of the time I take the pictures on my phone because I’m too lazy to bring my camera with me (despite it’s being mirrorless! I prioritize tripod to my camera, actually.)
If you’re like me, then the only thing we could do is have faith in ourselves and take a whole lot of pictures. Try out different angles and different distance from the camera to see which result in the best solo travel pictures. This is where the wireless remote we were talking about plays an important part. So you can take a whole lot of pictures without going back and forth and risking losing sight of where the best spot is.
4 // Record It!
What if we don’t have any wireless remote or the remote run out of batteries (as it always does, in my case)? We record it.
This is actually the one tip that I’m most excited about. Ever since I discovered it from Ashley of Best Dressed youtube video, I can’t stop obsessing over how brilliant it is. It’s game-changing and actually works wonder! I don’t know about you guys, but I had never thought about recording myself to take pictures before.
If you’re as clueless as I was, here’s how it works. Instead of using the snapshot mode, use the video mode and start recording. All you need to do then is to walk to the spot where you want to take pictures, move slowly and let the camera record your poses. This way you could try out different poses, angles, and directions by only pressing the shutter once.
What happens next is, from that video you find the scene where you think you look best, with the best proportion, angles, and direction. Then you pause there and take a screenshot. Voila, now you have the perfect picture.
This method always works for me. This way I don’t have to go back and forth to press the shutter if I forgot my remote or when it’s low on battery.
And that’s my friend, how I nail the whole solo travel pictures taking game.
Some Additional Tips on Taking Solo Travel Pictures
I can’t stress this enough. The initial reason why I didn’t like taking pictures of myself when I travel alone is because I was embarrassed. I’m afraid people will judge me. I mean, I’m this silly looking woman wandering around alone with her tripod and keep going back and forth to take pictures with different poses. It takes a lot of confidence to do that! And I’m not a naturally confident woman, I get embarrassed easily. What’s worse is, I felt more conscious about myself. With a lot of people around and me doing that stuff, I couldn’t manage to pose.
What I do is, I just get over it. Most of those people I’m concerned about might not even notice me. And it’s tourist spots, lots of people are taking pictures as well. What I’m doing is understandable. Especially since I’m not disturbing anybody else. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t even see those people again, they’re just strangers so why bother with their opinion of me and deprived myself of great holiday pictures. So I just turn around and carry on.
I think the most challenging thing when you’re taking holiday pictures is the crowd. Especially if it’s a highly touristy place. Your pictures always end up having strangers in the background. Although obviously there’s this thing called photo editing. But I’m not that tech-savvy. My attempt to erase strangers from my picture would make the picture itself ruined.
It is even more challenging when I travel alone, in my experience. Because there’s nobody taking my picture and people seems oblivious to my tripod setup. They didn’t know that I was taking pictures, so they stand in my way. When you have other people taking your picture, they could politely ask people if they’re in our way. But when we’re alone that’s not the case.
So, just be patient.
Either you show up early before the place is swarmed or you be patient. Wait for the crowd to pass. Set up your tripod and camera while doing that and just wait…
Taking pictures when you’re traveling alone doesn’t have to be a cumbersome task. If you’re not really feeling like doing too much effort then you could always ask for a stranger’s help. But if you’re really determined to take great pictures of yourself, equipments such as a tripod, remote, and selfie stick really come in handy. Just make sure you take a lot of pictures so you could choose the best ones. And if you’re feeling extra you could try out my method of recording yourself. Great solo travel pictures guaranteed!
Remember to be confident and be patient while doing that. Because what matters most is that you’re happy and enjoying your own little adventure. Just do whatever that makes you feeling content. So long as it doesn’t come in anybody’s expense 😉
Hopefully, these tips would be useful for those who are planning a solo trip. If you have other tips on taking solo travel pictures, please please please let me know. I’d really love it if you’d share <3