One of my favorite ways to document my trips is by taking photos! Not only do they make the ultimate souvenir, but I absolutely love wandering around a new place photographing my findings. It can certainly be tricky to take photos of yourself as a solo traveler, but these are my top tips help you to get the ultimate shot!
An absolute necessity! If you’re just starting out, there is no need to invest in anything super fancy. I have one with adjustable legs and maneuverable feet. It’s also key to have the ability to raise the camera as high as possible, so look for one with an adjustable center post (that goes to about 60″ or so). Shorter tripods will force you to be always looking down at the camera, and let’s face it, that’s nobody’s best angle.
If you’re going to invest in equipment, make sure it is durable. Tripods like this are lightweight and easy to carry around, but are also weak and flimsy. I have a permanent ding on the side of my camera from it tipping over in the slightest breeze. Saving a few dollars is not worth the risk of damaging your equipment!
I used to be so nervous and embarrassed to ask strangers to take photos of me! Now that I have become more comfortable with it, I realize that people very rarely (if ever) say no! So, why not ask?!
Before reaching out, make sure you set your camera to the exact settings you want. You’ll want to make it as easy as you can for them. Unless I’m looking for a very specific shot, I’ll usually hand them my camera with auto mode turned on. The best advice is to try and find someone who has a camera themselves. They will probably be more fluent with terminology and will understand when you describe the shot you’re looking for.
However, when in doubt, teenage girls are the best! They tend to understand what you’re going for without you having to give much explanation! There have been many times I’ve simply handed one my phone and asked if they could take a photo of me. They’ll automatically snap a ton of pictures from every angle. They just get it.
If you’re looking for photos without others in them (or want some time to play around to get the right shot), getting out the door early is essential. Arriving at places slightly before sunrise gives you the solitude and freedom to get the shot you want. As a bonus, the lighting that time of day is much softer and the colors of a rising sun will only add to your photos!
Tip: If you’re looking to shoot at a location that has specific opening hours, do a quick Google search to find the most “popular” times. Searching a place on Google Maps will usually show the graph in the bottom left when places tend to be the most and least busy. A great tool to help you plan!
Doing a little bit of homework beforehand can help give you “the” shot you’re looking for! Pin your exact location on a map and play around with street view. Check for obstacles that may impact your shot and make plan for how to overcome them. Knowing what you have in mind can also help if the location starts to become busy. Rather than wasting other’s time while you fiddle around with angles, come prepared and ready to get the shot you want. If the situation allows, that would be the time to experiment with other shots. Being courteous of others is so important!
Tip: Search your location on Instagram to get inspiration for your shot!
If you plan on taking photos on your phone, invest in a shutter remote for your shots! They are inexpensive (generally ranging from $5 – $20) and you can find them many places, including Amazon. Set your phone’s self timer, push the shutter, and you can have enough time to stash the remote in your pocket or bag and get into position.
Many cameras nowadays also have built in wifi, so you can connect to your phone as a shutter. I shoot on the Fujifilm X-T100 and I connect to the Fuji app. This allows me to see the shot and release the shutter from my phone. Honestly a lifesaver, and a huge key to successfully taking great travel photos!
Easier said than done for sure, but checking your shame at the door is critical! There definitely are times when I am embarrassed of setting my tripod, timer, and posing in front of it all by myself. However, I then realize that I am literally never going to see any of these people again. What do I care? I’m only traveling to this place for so long, and so what if I want to take photos of myself!
However, if you do find yourself being self-conscious about being watched or judged, wait a few minutes until they leave or do a lap around the block and come back. Step into a cafe and grab a cup of coffee while you “wait it out.”