How to take photos of yourself when travelling alone!

how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone

So the most frequently asked question I get is: “Who takes your photos for you if you’re travelling alone?”. Sorry to break it to you guys, but I don’t have an Instagram boyfriend or a photographer following me around and snapping shots for me every two seconds (although at times I WISH I did!!)!

I travel solo most of the time and so getting photos with me actually in them can prove somewhat difficult at times. However, I’ve learnt a trick or two over the years and I want to share them with you as I do actually take the majority of my pictures myself!! Read on to find out my best tips for how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone!

how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone

How to take pictures of yourself when travelling alone

As I mentioned above, many of the pictures on my website are photos I have infact taken myself. Since I started solo travelling 5 years ago I’ve been taking pictures of myself on a regular basis. Sorry but I don’t just want pictures of places, I want me in the photo too! Like they say; if you’re not if the photo were you even there?! (Click here to read more about my photography journey).

When I first started out travelling I would always just take a selfie or ask someone to take a photo of me. But let’s face it, asking a stranger isn’t always possible (and sorry but sometimes they actually suck at taking photos!), sometimes I just feel downright awkward posing infront of a stranger, and well selfies just make me look hideous! I soon realised I needed to up my game and get better travel pictures of myself.

How to take photos of yourself when travelling alone
Whilst you can see how much fun I’m having tobogganing down The Great Wall of China in this picture, a website and Instagram full of dodgy overexposed selfies just ain’t gonna cut it!

But how to take a photo of yourself??

There are a few different methods I use to take photos of myself, the most common one being with a tripod and a self timer. You can buy a tripod for your camera (or even your phone if you don’t have a camera), set up the tripod and the camera/phone in the position you want, switch on the timer and start shooting! Buying a tripod doesn’t have to be expensive, I picked up this one to use with my phone and go-pro for less than £25 and it’s amazing!

Timer mode:

First make sure you know how to work the timer on your phone/camera! If using a camera or go-pro, put it in a continuous shooting mode so it will keep taking photos of you at intervals (say for example every 2 seconds) and you can pose until your heart’s content for as long as you want. With smartphones the timer can be set to start after a few seconds so you have enough time to get in place for your photo. Usually the phone timers will only take a handful of photos of you within a couple of seconds, so you may have to have a couple of goes if you’re not happy with the shot.

 

photography

Bluetooth shutter:

Using a bluetooth shutter is another way of taking a photo of yourself without actually touching the camera/phone. It means you don’t always have to use a timer, as you press the wireless remote button when you want to take the shot and it triggers the camera/phone to take the photo instantly.

For phone:

Most selfie sticks these days have bluetooth shutters on them and it’s very easy to connect your phone to the bluetooth, however I don’t really recommend a selfie stick as you pretty much always have to hold it so it limits how creative you can be with your shots. What I do recommend though is a tripod with a bluetooth remote shutter on it.

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For camera:

Many cameras have the bluetooth option built in and so you can just use your phone as the remote (you’ll just need to download an app first to make them sync but it’s very easy). Or alternatively just make sure the camera is set in the burst mode (where it takes lots of photos of you in a very short amount of time) AND on the continuous shooting mode (so it will keep repeating the burst mode) so it will keep taking shots of you!

Tripods:

Let’s be honest, the easiest way to take pictures of yourself when you’re alone is with a tripod.

For phone and go-pro:

For taking photos on your smartphone, I really recommend the Benro MK 10 on the go. This mini tripod is so versatile and compatible for go-pro and smartphones. The bluetooth remote is super handy as you can walk away from the tripod, get into position, then click the discrete remote in your hand and it takes pictures on your phone for you! It is also super compact and lightweight – perfect for keeping in my handbag! Click on the image below to shop!

For camera:

Alternatively, if you are looking for a good tripod for your camera, I recommend the brand Manfrotto. I have the compact light tripod as it folds up easily and isn’t too heavy. It can hold medium-weight cameras both in the landscape and portrait mode (perfect for Instagram!). Click on the image below to purchase!

how to get photos of yourself when travelling alone

My camera equipment:

I use the Canon G7x mark II camera for taking my pictures. I didn’t want a big camera as it would be too heavy to carry around. Plus it’s a lot of money to invest in a manual camera (some cost over £2000)! So far I’m happy with the quality of my images! Click on the image below to shop!

how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone

Go-pros:

Go-pros are great as they are so durable. You can use them in the water and in other places where a normal camera would get damaged. They also have a wide lens so they are great for getting pictures of yourself. Just make sure you have a go-pro selfie stick so you can get more in the picture and you’re not so close to the camera! The Benro MK10 on the go tripod that I mentioned earlier is great as is doubles up as a go-pro selfie stick. Floatable go-pro sticks are definitely a great investment if you’ll be doing a lot of photography in the water, so your go-pro doesn’t sink and disappear forever.

When a tripod isn’t allowed:

In some tourist places tripods are strictly not allowed and so you need to get creative. Or say you forgot your tripod one day (which has happened to me many times!), what will you do? You need props my friend. Prop your phone/camera up on your bag/ coat/ on a step/ against a wall. Anything you can find that will help you get your photo from the right angle!

how to get photos of yourself when travelling alone

When you need someone to help you out:

Whilst it’s not ideal as I’m pretty particular and like to set up my photos myself, sometimes the tripod just won’t cut it and you need someone to take your picture for you.

In which case:

  • explain to the person what you want included in the shot. For example: how much of the building/roof/sky etc you want included. Often I’ll take a picture from the angle that I want, without me in it, and show it to them first. This gives them a clearer idea of the picture I want.
  • place your phone/camera in their hand, setup your camera/phone in the correct position – exactly how you want the picture to be framed and tell them not to move. Yes I know I’m extreme!
  • it’s also good to explain what you’ll be doing in the shot. For example if you want to be looking away, so they’re not stood there for ages waiting for you to turn around and smile!
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how to get photos of yourself when travelling alone

Does asking someone always work?

Now whilst most of the time this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Whilst you would think this was an idiot proof way to get the shot you want, trust me often people don’t listen to you. They will move the camera/phone and frame the shot all wrong: they’ll miss off the important landmark you actually wanted in your picture and half of the photo will just be of the pavement. This has happened to me SO many times!!

I understand not everyone is as into photography as me, so I always just check the photo afterwards so I know whether to ask them (politely!) to take it again, or ask someone else if I know they still won’t get it the second time around. I always find when I’m explaining how I want the shot taken that I can tell there and then if they’ll be good at taking the photos. If they just don’t look like they understand exactly what I want, I tell them politely thankyou and not to worry. I then just ask someone else afterwards to ask.

how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone

In my experience, it’s not too hard to scout out someone who will be good at taking photos:
  • You can spot an Instagrammer a mile off. If you see someone who is having lots of shots of themselves, wait till they are finished and politely ask them to take your photo. Usually they’ll be so happy to help you and will take several shots for you until you’re happy.
  • Alternatively ask someone who has a DSLR. Chances are they’ll know a bit about photography.
  • Another type of person I ask is someone who is travelling alone. They’ll usually be eager to help you so that you can help return the favour for them! Sometimes they’ll even be so cool and friendly that you’ll end up going round together for the rest of the day taking awesome pictures of each other. I’m still friends with some of the people I have met this way! Just don’t ask someone who has children with them as they will be pretty distracted and in a rush to take your photo for you!

beach Langkawi

Motion shots:

If I want to do a motion shot on my phone where I am twirling or running or want the wind through my hair/dress for example, I will get the person to shoot using the burst mode. This is where you just press and hold the button. It takes several photos per second so you’ll have many pictures all very slightly different as your movement is changing. This means you’ll have a good chance of capturing at least one photo you should like! This is a much better option than just asking someone to take a couple of photos of you, as you probably won’t get the shot you had in mind if you only have a couple of photos to work with. But when you use burst mode you have a lot more photos to choose from. This means a higher chance of getting the exact shot you want!

Other ways of getting photos of yourself:

  • take a photo in a mirror if you have a cool background.
  • use a drone (a flying camera) to get great pictures of yourself and your background from above. Ones lying on a beach, on a lilo in an awesome pool, walking through lavender fields etc are always popular on Instagram. However be careful as they are very expensive (£1000+). They can also easily disappear if the weather isn’t great or if you haven’t mastered how to control it properly. Many places also prohibit the use of drones, ESPECIALLY near airports. So make sure you check before as the penalty is huge or can even come with a prison sentence.
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nagoya japan

When you have an audience:

Now I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself – do you not get self conscious posing infront of the camera when people are just watching you? Well, yeh sometimes! Especially if they’re stood there just full on staring at me. But one great piece of advice I was given by an old friend was that: if you feel weird, then you’ll look weird! And it’s so true! If you’re feeling awkward with people watching you – then you can see it in the photos! Your body language and your face just don’t look natural and the photo just makes you cringe.

So you just gotta forget about these people and act natural with no cares in the world. I’d rather go through two minutes of that and have my picture forever, as opposed to not getting the picture at all and having big regrets later!! If people laugh at you, who cares! Their Instagrams most likely suck anyway. I’ll never see these people again so what does it matter what they think! Plus so often once you’ve finished they will go and copy you and have their photo taken there anyway!!

beach Vietnam

When is best to take photos?

I usually like to shoot early in the morning so places are less busy and I don’t get people in my pictures. It also means less people staring at you plus less chance of getting your things stolen! Because of course it’s always a possibility, even though so far I’ve never had any unpleasant experiences. Just exercise caution when you set up your tripod. Don’t put it up in a dodgy area or where there is the chance someone could steal your things! Often when people are looking at you it’s because they’re so confused or intrigued by what you’re doing, not because they want to steal your things! But of course don’t let your guard down or walk toooooo far away from the tripod!

 

So there we go, there’s all my secrets about how to take photos of yourself when travelling alone! Hope you enjoyed reading and learnt a thing or two!

 

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How to take photos of yourself when travelling alone

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