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Travelling solo is not as easy as everyone first thinks especially if you want to take a photo of yourself. After our experience of travelling solo and as a couple, we wanted to share our best solo travel photography tips to help you on your next adventure.
If you’re travelling on your own for the first time then you must be thinking to yourself; how on earth can I get those Insta-crazy photos of myself when no one can take them for me?!
Don’t worry, we are here to help! Whether you’re using your smartphone or you own your own camera, we’ve shared tips below for each.
Below you will find some of the top tips for taking pictures on your own when you’re travelling and some equipment that we recommend for solo travellers too!
Table of Contents
How to Take Good Pictures of Yourself with a Camera Phone
Selfies became popular for a reason, they are easy to take if you’re on your own and you can get some great photos using this method.
When you hear the word ‘selfie’ you tend to think of a badly angled image with a huge head taking up the photo. It doesn’t need to be that way at all!
There are different ways that you can take a selfie when travelling other than the classic holding the phone away from your face.
When you’re taking your travel photos, it can take a lot of trial and error to find what is right for you. Keep shooting those shots and trying different methods until you find the perfect blend for you.
One of the best ways to take a ‘selfie’ is to use a remote shutter control. This is a great way to get a full body selfie but also capture the background too.
When you take a classic selfie with the phone in your hand, it is often really tricky to get in the amazing background. The last thing you want to do is to have a photo just of your face and miss out on the Chichen Itza, the Eiffel Tower or the leaning tower of Pisa behind you!
You can take these pictures by either placing your phone propped up against something that’s a good distance from you. You can then use your remote control to trigger when you want the photo to be taken.
This is a really good option if you’re taking a photo where people may walk in front of your shot frequently. With the remote control, you can choose when the photo is taken especially if it takes a while to get the right pose for the photo too.
They’re not too expensive to purchase and you can get them off of Amazon. It can cost around £4 – £8 depending on what type of remote that you are looking for.
All you will need to do to get it connected is to pair it up with your phone’s bluetooth, stand back and take your desired photos.
You can also get a phone stand which often comes with a remote shutter control too. If you have the baggage allowance to take a phone stand then this would be the best option to take much better photos!
We would recommend this National Geographic stand which doubles up as a camera tripod too. If you use both your camera and smartphone to take pictures then this is definitely the best option.
The tripod is very light-weight and does not take up much room in your baggage at all.
3. Burst Mode
Whether you have a phone stand or not, it is always worth considering shooting your photos in burst mode.
This is where when you choose for the photo to take, it will take quite a few pictures all at once.
If you’re taking photos in a particularly busy place then this can be a good option to try and capture an opportune moment.
It is also a really good way to take photos if your pose requires you to move. One popular trend is photos of people dancing in front of popular attractions. As this requires movement, the first photo may not be the best one. Using burst mode you will get multiple photos of this pose and then you can choose your favourite one.
The trusty selfie stick became a trend for quite awhile and whilst the buzz has died down, they are still so handy to have.
If you’re just starting out in photography or just wanting to take some photos for personal use then the selfie stick is still a great option.
The only downside of using the selfie stick is that often you may find that the photos include the stick in it as well. Due to this, it is still a very good option but not our favourite way for taking photos when solo travelling.
When you’re visiting popular tourist attractions, at times this can be the best way to take a photo whilst you’re travelling alone.
As we say, we travel solo and as a couple too so we have had to take photos not just on our own but also of the two of us as well. We tried to take a photo in front of the Pantheon but it was way too crowded so the classic selfie mode was the best option for us when we were in a rush!
5. Using Props
When we have taken photos, both solo and as a couple, whilst travelling, we have used all manner of props to take photos. From leaning our phone against walls, sticking them to surfaces and using backpacks to prop them up, we have tried it all.
Amy was travelling on her own to Howarth and walked up the moors during the snow. There was not a soul in sight and she desperately wanted a photo at the farmhouse she set to visit. Without even thinking, her phone got dunked into the snow and used the thickness of the snow to prop it up and take this very photo.
The thing is, it isn’t even the best photo but as she was exploring for herself as opposed to for the gram, this photo was originally just intended for personal purposes.
As we say, we have literally tried everything to get the best photo possible. Have a look at the area around you and see what you can use to prop up your phone to take the best photo.
If in doubt, a backpack or a half-full water bottle always does the job. Prop your phone up and get the position the way you want it and then set a timer or use your remote control shutter to get your shot.
6. Timer mode
As it says on the tin, you will be able to set a timer on your phone to be able to get a good photo of yourself when you’re travelling solo.
We would recommend either using a phone stand like we suggested in one of our earlier tips or alternatively, using items to prop up your phone instead.
Using the timer is a great way to get a shot of yourself when you don’t have a remote shutter control to hand.
We mentioned briefly in the selfie section that you can use a phone stand to capture your photos. This is one of the best ways to take pictures whilst travelling alone.
There are so many different choices for phone stands that it can be overwhelming to know what one to choose at first. We would recommend this National Geographic Tripod as it doubles up as a phone stand and a camera tripod.
Even if you don’t have a camera right now, it is still handy to have in case you decide to invest in one in the future!
Setting Up Your Phone Stand
Each phone stand is different but generally speaking you will be able to extend the legs to your desired height.
Check the area to see where it would be best to place the phone stand (and safe too) before getting this set up. Make sure that the ground is even so that your photo is straight.
Keep checking on your phone to see where would be the best place to take the photo. If this is in a public place, it is also worth remembering that you want to set up the phone stand so that it won’t be a nuisance to passersby.
When you’re travelling alone, it can be a little bit nerve-wracking taking photos like this in public. One thing to remember is that you will probably never see these people again. It’s such a common thing now that most people won’t even bat an eyelid. Those that are looking your way are most likely just curious to know what your photos are for.
Don’t be nervous when taking photos on your own in public. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Methods for Taking Phone Stand Photos
Whilst using a phone stand, you will also need to get it set up so that you can use it on the go. Most phone stands will come with a remote shutter control so that you can get your short organised and then choose when the photo is taken.
If your phone stand doesn’t come with a remote shutter control then they are cheap enough to purchase on Amazon.
Similar to the selfie method, you can use a self timer on the phone stand to get your photos timed right. It is much easier to use a remote shutter control but if you don’t have one to hand, this will be just as effective.
If you’re looking to take a few photos posing which requires movements then make sure you switch on boost mode so that multiple photos are taken at once.
You can then flick through the photos after and see which works best. Take your time and don’t let anyone rush you to get the photo that you’re happy with.
8. Using a Go Pro
One of the best ways to get both photos and videos of yourself whilst travelling is to use a GoPro.
We personally have a Go Pro Hero 11 which has a front facing camera making it much easier to take photos and videos when solo travelling.
Our GoPro also came with a selfie stick too with controls on the handle so it will be easier to take photos and videos.
If you don’t have a front facing camera on the GoPro then you can take a photo by blindly guessing how far away the GoPro needs to be from yourself. With practice, this will become much easier over time.
Another option with the GoPro is that you will be able to change the settings so that when you are videoing, it will take a photo every few seconds.
This really came in handy when Amy was snorkelling with whale sharks and was able to capture both images and videos of the experience and of herself.
With a GoPro, you can purchase lots of different attachments to make it easier for both photos and videos. If it is within your budget then it really is a good investment especially if you’re wanting to turn your photos into either a blog or a portfolio.
How to Take a Selfie with GoPro
We would recommend investing in a GoPro with a front facing camera if you’re travelling solo as it will make it much easier.
How to Take Good Photos Using a DSLR Camera
If you’re using a DSLR camera whilst travelling solo then you will want to make sure that you are able to capture the best photography with your camera.
It is true that you will just be able to take a standard selfie with a DSLR camera but this would depend on the background. As cameras are quite clunky, it can look great if you’re taking a photo in a mirror for more of a vintage feel.
Alternatively, depending on the type of camera that you have, some of them have an adjustable screen so that you can see the front facing shot you’re taking. Our mirrorless camera has this function and it is very handy if we’re trying to take a photo of either the both of us or when we’re solo travelling.
The best thing to do, if you’re new to using a camera is to keep practicing. A lot of it will be trial and error especially when practicing with different modes. Keep practicing and trying different angles to take photos of yourself whilst travelling. After a while, you will be able to see what works best for you and your style.
1. Using a tripod
To get photos of yourself with a DSLR camera, a tripod is pretty much a must buy before your travels. There are ways to get photos with your DSLR camera without a tripod but this is more about looking for the opportunity to do so.
A tripod is definitely the easiest way to be able to get full body photos of yourself whilst travelling alone. You will be able to set up the tripod where you want to capture the image that looks the best.
2. Alternative ideas
You can use reflections to be able to take a good photo of yourself whilst you’re travelling solo. Alternatively, you can use the camera to take photos of other parts of your body. A popular pose that you can use is by holding up a drink with a view in the background to make a great photo.
If you don’t want to lug around a tripod for your camera then you can look at a Gorillapod instead. These are a mini tripod but the legs are flexible so you can use it to wrap around objects to get your shot. The one thing you need to bear in mind is ensuring that your camera is stable so that the weight of it doesn’t make it fall.
4. Timers & Shutter Control
Just like with your phone, you will be able to set a timer for your DSLR so that the image will capture during a set period.
Alternatively, you can also invest in a remote shutter control if your budget allows and your camera has the functionality to do so.
Some camera, you will also be able to get set up to your phone through the bluetooth and you will be able to control the shutter timing with a touch of a button on your phone.
5. Ask a Stranger
If you don’t have the budget to purchase other equipment to help you take photos whilst travelling solo then you always have the option to ask a stranger.
This might make you feel anxious at first but the more you do it, the easier it gets. After a while, you will even know the right people to ask that will get an absolute popping photo of you too!
Sometimes when you’re taking a photo of certain attractions, there are not any places where you can prop your phone for a photo or people are walking past too frequently for a time. With this in mind, asking someone to take a photo for you is the best option.
How to ask a stranger to take a photo for me?
Always be polite when asking someone to take a photo for you, no one is going to want to help if you’re abrupt or rude with them.
When you’re asking someone to take a photo for you, it can be a little frustrating. If you’ve tried this before then you know as well as we do that you can’t always trust other people to take an amazing photo.
A pure example of this is Amy asked someone to take a photo of her at Chichen Itza and this was the result. The person had zoomed in so much that you couldn’t see the amazing wonder behind her and it was just poor at best.
To prevent this happening, when a stranger agrees to take a photo of you, tell them exactly what you want. Get the settings prepared for them and show them where to stand and what you want from the photo. People won’t mind as long as you don’t take up too much of their time.
How do I know who to trust to take a photo?
The best way to know who to ask to take a photo is to look for other people that have a DSLR camera around their neck. More often than not, if someone has a DSLR, they know how to take a good photo.
It sounds strange but if you’re a female, it can be intimidating to ask a stranger to take a photo in another country. If you’re travelling alone as a female then try to ask females where possible to ease your nerves.
Look at your surroundings and check out who is around you. You will have a gut feeling about certain people and if something doesn’t feel right then trust your gut.
Another option for taking a good photo whilst you’re travelling solo is to join a photography tour in the destination that you’re at.
This is a great opportunity to ask other people to take photos of you in some of the most beautiful spots of the destination you’re travelling.
Another amazing thing about joining a photography tour as a solo traveller is that you will learn some new tips along the way. Not only will you get some awesome travel photos but you’ll learn to take even better ones for your next trip.
As these tours are guided, you will find that you will be taken to the best spots to capture photos. The guides on the tours are experts and will know which places are best to stand, modes to use and time of day to get the best photos.
Trust your guides and take in your surroundings as you go. Another perk is that as you are often in a group, you won’t need to worry as much about the safety of your equipment as there will be a few of you keeping watch over your equipment.
We highly recommend trying a photography tour, at least once, as it is amazing how much you can get out of these tours.
Where Can I Find Photography Tours?
Photography tours are quite easy to find and they’re often not as expensive as you think they’re going to be, depending on the destination you’re travelling to of course.
You can find some great photography tours by entering your destination and dates on one of the sites below.
Collab with Other Travellers
Whilst you’re travelling solo, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend the whole time as a solo traveller. You can meet some amazing people whilst you’re off exploring and some of them even know a thing or two about taking a great photo.
Meeting new people whilst solo travelling can seem overwhelming but there are plenty of places to do this. Whether that is by meeting people on a photography tour like our last tip suggested, at your hostel or even just whilst you’re out and about exploring.
During Amy’s solo travels, she has found that she has made some wonderful friends on the free walking tours that some cities offer.
If in doubt, you can also use Instagram and Facebook Groups to connect with other travellers and arrange a meet up. Staying at hostels by using apps like Hostelworld also opens up a chat for others visiting the area you are and another one for the hostel you’re staying at. You can collab with other travellers this way.
If you’re a travel blogger like us then head to your blogging facebook groups and reach out to other bloggers to see if anyone is keen to meet up and take photos for each other whilst exploring.
Solo Photography Safety
1. Keep an eye on your equipment
When you’re taking photos of yourself whilst solo travelling, it can become too easy to get distracted. Make sure that you keep an eye on your equipment at all times to prevent thieves.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
This leads us nicely onto our next point of always being aware of your surroundings.
Keep an eye on people that are around you and your equipment. Photography equipment is not cheap so you want to protect it at all costs.
3. Research the Areas You’re Taking Photos
When you’re travelling, there are often areas that are known for pickpockets and just being a little rough around the edges.
Ensure that you do thorough research before you take all your camera equipment out and about. If necessary, you can purchase some safety equipment on Amazon to help deter thieves.
Just in case the worst does happen, ensure that you always have travel insurance when you’re travelling.
You know that the second you don’t purchase travel insurance will be the day when something goes wrong. Have it as a protection for you and your equipment whilst you’re travelling solo.
How to Not Look Awkward in Solo Photos
Take back of the head shots
These are some of our favourite photos as you don’t need to worry if your face isn’t looking how you want it to that particular day.
Often these photos also emphasise the background so if you’re taking a photo with a beautiful landscape then these often look really good.
Use your body
If getting a full body photo is too difficult, use other areas of your body instead. The typical shot that you can take is holding up a drink with a scenic background.
You might feel like an absolute maniac whilst taking the photo but laughing often really improves your photo no matter what pose you’re using.
Even though this may feel awkward, more often than not, the photos come out really well.
These can be great shots where your body is away from the camera and you’re looking onto something that is a point of focus.
This method can be quite similar to the back of the head shots, however, you capture the side of your face instead so that some of your features are still visible.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Posing takes a lot of practice, believe it or not! Don’t be hard on yourself when the photos don’t come out the way you originally wanted.
Keep practicing and researching different poses for different photo types. Another big part of this is to continue to learn more about photography so that you can make the best of your photos.
If you’re in doubt about what pose you should do, use Instagram for inspiration.
There are so many people that have absolutely mastered the art of both posing and photography. Learn from these people and adapt your photos to match.
When you’re trying to take photos to try and not look awkward, just play about in front of the camera.
Yes, you will look absolutely crazy but who cares?! You’re probably not going to see these people again anyway.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in public, practice at home or go someone local that is often quiet to see what works best.
Don’t forget, have fun! Photography doesn’t need to be all serious, it should be something you enjoy. Play around with your photography style and see what works for you.
Recommended Photography Equipment for Solo Travellers
What Tripod Should I use?
As we mentioned in some of our earlier tips, we actually use a combined tripod. This is so that we can use it for both our phones and the camera.
We find that this is really handy because sometimes we won’t take the camera out with us for various reasons so we can use our phones in this instance.
The tripod that we use for our photos is the National Geographic Tripod which we’ve linked.
It is quite cheap to purchase, really sturdy and has a very good extension. Another reason that we would recommend this tripod is because it is incredibly light and compact with it’s own case so it is great to travel with and go into any daypacks.
What Camera Should I Use?
We use a Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless camera and we absolutely love it. It’s really lightweight so perfect for taking travelling with you, especially when you have limited luggage allowance.
The camera has an option for Wi-Fi too so you can use your phone for shutter control and get your photos sent right to your phone ready for editing.
Other Phone Photography Accessories
Taking photos as a solo traveller is not always easy but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
You don’t need a load of equipment to start off but over time, these are things that you will want to invest in. These will help you to accelerate your photography and make capturing those amazing memories much easier.
How Can I Get Better at Travel Photography?
There is no easy answer to this question but one of the best things you can do is keep practicing. Don’t worry about how many photos you take just take as many as possible. Once you review the photos you’ve taken whilst travelling to see what worked and what didn’t. Reviewing your photos is one of the most important steps to improve your travel photography.