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As someone who often solo travels and has a social media presence, people are always asking me how I manage to take my own photos if I’m traveling alone. Lucky for you, I’ve got lots of easy tips to help you snap your next Instagram photo on your own. This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to take your own photos as a solo traveler. These solo photography tips and tricks will help you capture Instagram-worthy shots, and photos that include your whole body and not just an awkward face selfie.
However, this guide isn’t just for solo travelers! Maybe you want to snap some photos in your own city, but don’t have any friends or family to take photos for you – at least not good photos! And, of course, hiring a professional photographer isn’t the most budget friendly option. Plus, shooting your own photos means that you don’t need to rely on anyone else’s schedule, which is definitely a priority for me!
How to Take Your Own Photos while Traveling
Solo Photography Equipment
My tripod is my best friend when I’m solo traveling, and actually trying to capture quality content. I remember my early days of blogging when I used to create makeshift tripods with whatever I could find. I’ve hung my camera from a ceiling fan, propped it on a stack of piled up rocks, and even hung it from a tree branch. Anything to get the shot, right?
Let me tell you, traveling with a tripod will make things a whole lot easier for you if you’re trying to take your own photos. However, not all tripods are made the same. There are tripods that are made for phones and tripods that are strong enough to hold the weight of your camera. If you’re only taking photos with your phone, then you can probably get away with shooting with a pretty small tripod.
When I am shooting locally, my go-to tripod is the Polaroid 72. It is 72 inches tall and super sturdy, which gives me tons of flexibility to capture my shot exactly as I want to. Plus, it costs less than $40 USD. However, it is not the easiest tripod to travel with, as it is a bit too big for my carry-on backpack.
If you’re looking for a sturdy tripod to travel with, you may want to consider the: JOBY RangePod Smart. It’s definitely pricier than my at-home tripod, but it’s also much better for traveling.
If you’re serious about upping your solo photography game, you’re going to want to invest in a camera rather than only shooting with your photo. It’s obviously a personal preference, but shooting on a camera will give you a ton more flexibility and control over your shots, especially if you’re shooting your content as RAW image files. You’re also going to want to make sure that you are using a camera with Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities. Here are a few of my favorite cameras to shoot with:
- Sony a6000 – small, compact camera for on-to-go travel photos
- Sony a7ii – I just purchased this camera as an upgrade from my Nikon, which lacked both WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities
- Using my Nikon just meant that I was using a self-timer rather than a Bluetooth remote. This is totally fine if that’s what your current camera is capable of!
- Lumix LX 100ii – another easy, lightweight option that won’t completely break the bank
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t actually use a selfie stick myself, and never have, but I do understand the appeal if you’re trying to capture some solo shots. However, selfie shots aren’t going to be as good as capturing the full body shots! The nice thing about selfie sticks is that they’re cheap, easy to use, and easy to pack!
Another option for taking your own photos is to shoot with a drone. This is a more expensive option that takes more skill than a simple tripod, but it definitely helps you take some incredible solo shots. I’ll be the first to admit that I have little experience flying a drone and I find it absolutely terrifying. I did manage to successfully snap some shots of myself in Bali, using @solarpoweredblonde’s drone, but I made her take off and land for me, haha. If you couldn’t guess, I don’t personally own a drone, but a lot of my friend’s rave about the DJI Mavic Pro.
Ask a Stranger
When I first started taking photos for my blog and social pages, this was definitely my go-to method for getting photos of myself when traveling alone. I would typically offer to take a photo of a passing stranger, and have them take them for me in exchange. This method is totally hit or miss. I have some beautiful photos from passing photographers, and I have even more photos with half of my head chopped off or the famous monument completely out of focus.
If you’re traveling solo, having friends that you meet along your journey it often easier, as you can provide a bit more feedback. For example, while traveling in Tulum I met up with a fellow blogger after connecting via DM, who happily shot tons of fun content with me.
Self-timer versus Bluetooth Remote
Most cameras and phones can be set to self-timer mode. This allows you to set up your shot, and then delay the camera for a set period of time so you can get into place. I typically delay my camera by ten seconds, and then I have it take nine photos, one photo every second.
If you have a bluetooth remote, you can get into place first, and then set the camera to start shooting.
Tips for Taking Your Own Photos
Ignore the Stare
Taking your own photos in public can be incredibly uncomfortable, I get it. Trust me when I say that it took a long time for me to embrace shooting with a tripod in public. People are going to stare, not because they are necessarily judging you, but simply because you are doing something different. Ignore the stares and just do the damn thing, and don’t let anyone’s opinion stop you!
If you’ve never used a tripod before, you may want to consider first practicing at home or in less public places. This will help you to master your technique, and snap your photos quickly and efficiently.
Focus the Shot
One of the biggest learning curves when you first start taking your own photos on a self-timer or tripod is making sure that all of your photos are in focus. I recommend placing an item where you will be standing, even if it’s just a hat or your bag. Focus on your camera on that spot before starting the timer and hoping into place. This will ensure that when you step into that spot, you’ll be in focus.
Trial and Error
Unlike having a person take your photos, when you’re taking your own pictures, there is no one to tell you when you look awkward, or your poses just aren’t quite working. I recommend practicing some poses in the mirror beforehand, so you have a couple of go-to pose options.
Be Mindful of your Surroundings
Make sure that you keep an eye on your camera, especially if you’re in a busy, public place. I often like to take photos with my back turned away from the camera, but I make sure to glance back every few seconds, just in case.
Shoot at Off-Peak Hours
If you’re still feeling super uncomfortable taking your own photos in public, go at off-hours so less people will be around. This means that it will be easier to get your shot, and there are less people around to watch you! I personally love to shoot at sunrise. Oftentimes it means that I have a spot to myself, or with significantly less people. It’s also a great opportunity to capture sunrise colors and the natural morning light.
Basic Photography Tips
If possible, I always recommend taking photos in good, natural light. You’ll want to make sure that as the photo subject, you are looking into the light source or sunlight. The camera, on the other hand, should not be pointed directly into the sun.
Adding movement to your shot is a great way to take them to the next level. Try swishing your hair or flowing your dress to create that extra bit of movement. Here is an example of playing with the water around me, to create that extra movement.
Adding small props to your photos helps to make them more interesting, while also making posing easier at the same time. For example, I like to wear a hat, as it gives me something to hold on to, or play around with.
Other good photo props or accessories include:
- A maxi dress for twirling and swishing
- Flowers for a pop of color
- Seasonal accessories (gift box, pumpkin, etc)
Interested in travel blogging? Make sure to check out these articles:
- How to Start a Travel Blog
- 7 Tips for Basic SEO for Travel Bloggers
- How Use Pinterest to Grow Your Blog
Interested in solo travel? Here are some must-reads:
- 7 Smart Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips
- Solo Hiking: 9 Hiking Tips for Female Travelers
- Backpackers Hostel: How to Choose the Best Hostel
- How to Make Friends When Traveling Solo
- How to Become a Solo Traveler
- Why Everyone Should Experience Solo Travel
- Top Tips for Solo Traveling as a Female