Solo Photography: How to take Photos of Yourself While Traveling Solo
As a solo traveler and solo travel blogger, one of my main issues (though a rather first world prob) is solo photography: how to get good photos of myself that don’t involve double chins.
Anyone who has travelled solo will totally get this dilemma. You’re either stuck with the age-old selfie (and the horror when you open up that front camera before you’re ready) or you are forced to ask a random person to take your photo.
So, have you ever wondered how solo travellers get professional level photos of themselves?
After nearly 50 countries, I think I’ve finally managed to master it and have spilled all the details below.
But first…the obvious questions.
Why don’t you just ask someone else to take your photo?
I don’t do this for various reasons. First of all, they usually turn out terrible. Not everyone is familiar with my style of camera or has an eye for photography, so it’s honestly just easier to do it myself and be certain that I will get the shot I envisioned. This is particularly important in settings where you may otherwise miss the moment if you need to re-take a photo (e.g. like on an African safari where the animal might move, or in crowded environments where someone might stand in front of you).
Don’t you have a professional photographer follow you?
No, I take probably 95% of my own shots because I enjoy solo photography. I did hire a photographer once and it was super fun, but not something that I would do regularly.
Will I need an expensive camera or equipment for solo photography?
Though I take most of my own photos with a GoPro Hero, you can totally do it with any type of point-and-shoot camera or smartphone.
SOLO PHOTOGRAPHY: HOW TO TAKE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS OF YOURSELF WHILE TRAVELING
Meet your new travel buddy…the tripod.
My tripod is my solo photography bestie. Tripods range in size and price, but I recommend something lightweight and fairly small, yet durable for maximum versatility. You can get traditional stye ones that extend, tripods that double as a selfie-stick, or even flexible tripods that bend and move.
I use the GoPro 3-way arm which is like a selfie-stick/ tripod combo and attaches to my Hero5. I prefer this option because there are times and situations where it is easier to use the stick for shots than to set up a tripod so I find it the most versatile (e.g. if it is super windy, if there is nowhere flat to set the tripod, if I’m doing some sort of activity).
Disclaimer: It is worth saying that if you are going to use a tripod, you should consider the safety of your surroundings. No one wants to set up a shot, walk into the frame and have some random person run off with the camera. I’ve personally never had issues, but I also prefer to take photos with landscape backdrops that tend to be less populated.
HERE’S HOW I DO SOLO PHOTOGRAPHY:
1) Check if your camera has integrated wifi or bluetooth
If you have a fairly new camera, chances are that it has wifi or bluetooth! This is great news for you because you can synch it to your smart phone and use your phone as a remote to take the photo!
Set your camera up on the tripod, connect your camera to your phone via bluetooth or wifi, open your camera’s designated app (I use the GoPro app which literally shows a preview on my phone of what the camera sees) and take the photo — voila!
2) Set a self-timer on burst mode
This will work best for smart phones or older cameras without wifi or blue tooth. Most self-timers run on 10 seconds, so you will have to really move-it in order to get yourself into the frame.
Some cameras have a burst mode option, which I would recommend using if you have it. This means the camera will take a ‘burst’ of photos (e.g. 1 photo every second for 10 seconds) so you can do different poses, move your positioning slightly, or even casually walk into the frame if you want an action shot.
3) Use time-lapse photo
If your camera has a time-lapse option, use it! My GoPro has the option to take one photo every 2 seconds or 5 seconds. I can set it up on the tripod for every 2 seconds, click start and move into the frame knowing it will take a bunch and I’m almost guaranteed that at least one of them will turn out! Also, it makes for really funny bloopers. This is a great option if you are taking photos with other people.
4) Use a selfie-stick if you have a wide-angled lens
Sometimes it is simply not possible to set up a tripod during activities (such as with the photos below). If you have a wide-angled lens on your camera, use it so your head won’t take up the entire frame.
If you don’t have a tripod, use your environment to help you. I actually don’t have a tripod for my DSLR because it’s so heavy and I don’t want to buy a big monster one, so I get creative. I’ve used rocks, my backpack, a rolled up jacket, stacks of bricks and probably way more than I can remember to position my camera. You definitely don’t need to invest in expensive equipment.
The point of this article
other than to show off my photos is to highlight that anyone can take awesome self-portraits while traveling. All you need is a camera and a little practice!
(FYI: I also use Adobe Lightroom Classic CC for my editing needs, which works out to just over $10/ month for the subscription)
How do you take photos of yourself while traveling solo? Is a selfie-stick lame or acceptable?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Photography Gear I Use:
Editing Software I Use:
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