Travelling solo means getting used to the idea of taking selfies and timer set photos. At first I couldn’t take decent travel photos of myself along the way I improved my skills through trial and error. With a bit of luck and these tips your travel photos will be way better than mine.
Don’t be self conscious
Being solo means you are going to have to take photos of yourself. You might get stares. Ignore people who judge you for taking selfies. I’m not much of a selfie taker. However on a solo travel trip it’s the only way you will have pictures of yourself on your trip. You have to be willing to take photos of yourself.
Find out from other solo travellers how they took great images. Head over to Instagram and follow the #solo travellers ask people directly. Alternatively read other bloggers articles. Do Google image searches of your destination and look at the photos. I did this when I went to Hallstatt and got my iconic Hallstatt village picture by looking at photos online and keeping an eye out for the place where I could take my recreation photo. I found out where to take the photo online.
Take note of lighting
The sun should be behind you in photos. Light matters tons. If you find that your previous images are too dark use a simple app like Snapseed to correct the light. It is free and you can download it from the Google play store. Avoid standing in shadows and don’t overuse your flash.
Get the tools you need
A tripod, selfie stick and timers are your friend if you are a solo traveller. I didn’t invest in these and simply used my phones selfie feature. Being a student meant I needed to cost cut. For memorable photos I recommend getting these tools. I got a reliable power bank to charge my phone and camera after I had my camera die on me in Amsterdam. Lesson learnt, don’t skip the power bank even if you are forced to cost cut invest in a quality power bank.
No tools no problem
Use the selfie feature of your phone. Learn how to take a selfie with your camera. It’s totally doable. Play around with your camera and phone beforehand so that you know the features. Stretch your arm out far to get a good selfie pic. Don’t keep the phone or camera too close to your face. Try different angles and find out what works for you.
Your camera equipment can get stolen if you aren’t observant. And take note of your surroundings. Don’t be so absorbed in taking a photo as you can end up failing off a bridge, cliff into a volcano… If you do drop your phone or camera on a perilous ledge it’s perhaps best to leave it there. There have been reports of travellers dying because they tried to get a shot at dangerous locations or dropping cameras and trying to get them back and failing. Be safe and back up your photos regularly.
Think of something funny when you smile or someone you love from home. This will allow you to show off your genuine smile. Smiles which touch your eyes come from within. I took the selfish below with my friend and it’s a funny memorable shot despite the glare of the lights.
Jump, or point at the statue you are standing next to. Cross your legs. Raise up your arms. Doing different things will give your images life. This will be easier to accomplish if you use a tripod and a timer.
Change your expression
Smile, look serious do a side smile or a full one. Raise your eyebrows. Do things to make your facial expressions different.
Your hands and feet
Your hand reaching for a slice of cake can make for a memorable photo. Your sand covered toes with the beach waves lapping around them are also another over done but, fun photo. You can take photos of your footprints in the sand. Remember your face isn’t the only part of yourself that can be featured in your travel photos. Just don’t over expose yourself unless you are at a nudist beach and you don’t mind nude images of yourself floating around the internet.
Use reflective surfaces
Gleaming, reflective surfaces are cool. You get to take a photo of yourself in an unusual way. I accidently took a photo like this of myself and my friend Maria as I wanted to remember the information on a metal plaque. The photo is different from all my other shots.
Find photo booths and green screens
In Amsterdam I stumbled across a green screen at the Marijuana and Hash Museum. The screen digitally imposes a field of weed behind you when you take a photo. This green screen was free and the photo was sent to my email address. Photo booths and green screens like the one in Amsterdam are simple ways to take photos whilst you are on your trip. Look for photo booths which turn your photos into a sketch. There’s a booth like this at the Grandwest Casino in Cape Town. If you happen to be a terrible selfie taker like I was this is a way to have a few photos of yourself which were taken at your travel destination.
Take many photos
More photos means you have more to work with. Don’t hog the space if you are snapping away at a crowded place. Try to get to your destination earlier to beat the crowds. Remember you can’t pick the best shots if you only took one photo.
Check your photos
After you’ve taken them go to a nearby coffee shop or other safe area and check your photos. You can just have coffee. And look through your pictures if you have time. If everything looks bad you can retake your photos.
Don’t over edit
Don’t add extreme filters which change your images unless that’s the look you want. Over edited images look tacky. Rather use filters which don’t change everything about your photos. Apps like Snapseed and Pics Art have easy to apply filters which are subtle.
Don’t stick to the beaten path
Take some photos at lesser known spots. Take a selfie in the bus, train etc. If a restaurant is pretty don’t feel weird about taking a photo of it whilst you are inside. You can always ask your waiter to take a photo of you sitting at your table.
After hiking or other strenuous activities this isn’t always possible. Try to stand amongst the natural scenery to give the photo a glorious backdrop. If you aren’t hiking, dress comfy and dress up. Look good in your photos. If you look jetlagged your photos will be of a tired jetlagged you.
Wear props a cap, scarves, a beautiful dress or shirt. Make your photos cool by adding your style to them. Every man and women has his or her own style bring that out in your photos. On the other hand a quirky trip related prop will also make your images fun. Raising your beer mug at Oktoberfest, letting a sarong float in the breeze on the beach whilst you hold it, Minnie or Mickey ears at Disney land, a pretzel in your hand with the city backdrop in the background. These are a few examples of photo props. The photo below was taken in Salzburg where I pretended to be a princess.
Cheat and ask others to take a photo. Remember to check the photo afterwards so that you know it’s good. If the image was bad ask someone else to take it. Be approachable, smile ask nicely. Ask people who also have cameras and are taking photos it reduces the chance of the person running off with your camera.
I hope your travel photos will all be stunning. Thank you so much for reading my blog. If you would like to comment, chat or collaborate online let me know. If you’d like to add me to Instagram I follow most people back. I’m also slowly building up my Pinterest and will return the favour if you follow me.
Wishing you many happy travels!
xxx Nikki xxx