I know I’m not the only one who wants to be in my own photos, even when I’m travelling alone, because it is the single most asked question I get. “How do you take your own travel photos?”. I answered this first back in 2015 in this post about how to take solo photos when travelling, but I’ve learned a lot more since then and while the principles are still similar, I’ve simplified and upped my travel photography game.
Why is it important to be able to take good photos while travelling? I do it for my job and of course, I’m on my own a lot. I need to show perspective in some photos, I’m not a landscape photographer, so I need to jump in to the shot to show scale. Sometimes I’m talking about packing for a trip and need to show outfits on Instagram or maybe I just want a picture of myself on a bloody amazing beach and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I’m not a photographer at all. I do take good photos though and since I’m self-taught, I think I should be able to explain the basics of how to take good pictures of yourself when travelling fairly well.
It doesn’t matter what make of camera you use, they all have a self timer and the functions vary between brands. Some cameras have screens that flip up so you can see yourself, some have facial recognition, some allow you to wink at the lens to take a photo (I didn’t make this up, Canon actually have cameras that do this!). So, whatever camera you have, look up the manual and get to grips with the self timer options.
The second thing you’ll want to do is download the remote app for your specific camera to your smartphone. Every camera I’ve used in the last three years (from Sony, Canon, Olympus and Panasonic) has had WiFi, most newer models have this function. If you’re using something older, you might be able to buy a physical remote control, but the first WiFi cameras started to emerge over ten years ago, so check first.
I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve come across who thought you need to be connected to a WiFi network for this to work, but you’re simply connecting your camera to your phone wirelessly. You can even do it on an airplane!
The WiFi function will not only allow you to transfer photos between your camera and phone wirelessly, but also to use the app as a remote control. This is the feature you’ll want to use to take good travel selfies!
In that picture above? My phone is in my hand and my camera was resting on a rubbish bin. Glam.
Don’t forget iPhones have a self-timer too, or we all know about the Bluetooth remotes made popular since the arrival of selfie sticks, so that’s an option too.
If you’re really serious about solo travel photography, you’re going to need a tripod (or two).
On the left, a Gorillapod that can be wrapped around railings, branches, propped up on uneven surfaces and manoeuvred to support your camera at any angle. On the right, a smartphone tripod with Bluetooth remote and connections for GoPro. Ideal for timelapses too and less than a tenner (click on images to shop via Amazon).
What if you simply can’t set up a tripod or self-timer though? Like for that all important plane photo on the runway? You’re just going to have to bite the bullet and ask someone to take the picture of you. But we’ve all been there, you ask a stranger, or even a friend, (sometimes even a photographer friend!) and you get your phone back like, er? “Thanks, yeah totally perfect, exactly what I wanted”, while looking at ONE out of focus, lopsided image of you mid-blink. Excellent.
Sometimes an outtake will work in your favour, I was posing awkwardly by this waterfall but had asked the tour guide to take “millions” of photos. The shot she got of me walking back towards her turned out to be much more flattering and natural than the posed images.
Follow one of these four easy options:
- As above: ask someone. But first, take a test shot, setting up the camera exactly how you want it. Don’t expect someone else to A- know how to use a camera or B- know what you want. Assume they’ve never held a camera in their lives. Be that basic. As in; hold the camera in the exact location to get the frame you want and hand it over to them without moving. Whether it’s a camera or phone, set up a continuous shot if you want options (trust me, you want options). It’s then as easy as pressing the shutter down and holding it do get a burst of images, enhancing your chances of getting something usable.
Works well in this kind of scenario when you don’t have a lot of time, this pilot patiently waited, but they’re not all that sound!
- Connect your phone via WiFi to your camera and use the app to see what the camera sees. Once you’re in shot, set a self timer and hide the phone once you’ve pressed go.
- Use self-timer without the use of any remote, but set it up to take multiple images. E.g. 5 second self timer, 5 photos. This will allow you to get into shot and move around for the most posed “candid” known to man.
- For a birds eye view, use a selfie stick (but PLEASE FOR THE LORD’S SAKE MAKE SURE YOUR ARM IS OUT OF SHOT OR CROP AFTER) with one of the above options. Like I did for this photo…
When you break it down, there’s no real mystery of how to take your own travel photos. It just requires a bit of patience, a hell of a lot of not giving AF when people start to stare, a couple of props and an excellent fake laugh. When in doubt, go for massive sunnies, or turn your back to the camera…you won’t even have to pretend to be having a good time that way 😉
Do you have any tips on how to take photos when travelling solo? Or maybe you have a question about how I took a certain photograph? Leave a comment below or follow on social @nadia_dailyself