One of the hardest things when taking photos whilst travelling solo is finding the right spot and getting a good angle for taking photos of yourself. It comes easier with practise of course, but at first it can be difficult if you’re not 100% comfortable and feel a little self-conscious. Just look at it this way though, would you rather risk looking a little odd taking self-portraits, or going home with no photos of yourself? Missing out on all those photo opportunities you would definitely take if you had someone else there to do it for you. I think you can guess my stance on this!
Setting Up the Shot
So with that, the first step is finding the shot. Finding a point of interest, having space and personally I also try to do it in less crowded areas. Simply because sometimes the camera is left out of reach. Location is definitely important!
– Regular Sized Tripods
Tripods are good because you can plant them, frame the photo and snap away. In my opinion this option is best for properly planned out photographs where you are specifically going to a location to take these shots. Tripods can be heavy, they’re bulky and they’re not the easiest thing to carry around when travelling. You’ll get tired of lugging it around real fast. Travelling hand luggage only? You can probably forget about this option.
– Always Carry a Small Tripod
Which is why I always take a mini tripod with me. This I feel is the easiest option as whilst you do have to think a little more about placement (can’t just plant it on the ground if you want anything other than a low angled shot) it still gives you a lot more freedom when travelling.
I like ones with bendy legs because then you can attach them to almost anything. It gives you the option for more interesting angles that you probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and as a bonus the tripod will fit in your backpack. These kinds of tripods can hold DSLRs too, as long as you get a good quality one designed for heavier cameras. I generally use my GoPro or Phone on these though.
– Or Just Find Something Solid to Balance the Camera On
If you don’t have any kind of tripod, taking photos of yourself is still doable. So many times I’ve used my backpack to balance my phone on for a photo. I’ve rested my phone/camera against rocks, or a pole, or just anything solid within reach. It’s more difficult to get the framing that you’re picturing sometimes, but it’s doable. And you can always crop…
– Or Just Grab a Selfie Stick
I feel like these are possibly a love it or hate it kind of thing, but personally I love the angles you can get from a selfie stick, and especially a really long one. You can get your whole body and so much of the landscape around you whilst giving a cool angle and framing too. Jorden Tually is my absolute favourite for these kinds of shots. They definitely add a certain kind of vibe to a travel photo.
Taking the Shot
Now you’ve thought about the framing, how are you taking the shot? There are a few different ways of doing this, dependent on what kind of camera you are using.
– Self Timer
Most cameras/phones have a self timer feature, and often you’ll get to choose between something like 2 seconds or 10 seconds. It’s not the best option, but it’s not a bad option either. I’ve used self-timer many times and gotten the photos I wanted. The downside of course is that you’ve got to keep running back to your camera to set it off again. My phone actually has an option where I can set the self-timer and tell it to take 3 photos. It takes these with a couple of seconds in between each so that’s enough time to move positions slightly.
– Using a Remote
Similar to self timer, except less running back and forth…
You can get remotes that work through infrared (good for DSLRs) or bluetooth (for your phone). They save so much time because you can frame a shot, get in it and snap away for however long you like. Check the photos, see if any changes need making and then go again. This is how I get all my self-portrait DSLR photos – it will even do the autofocus which is something that is a lot harder to do when just using self-timer.
– Using a Timelapse Feature
Probably my most used feature ever on my GoPro. It’s useful because you can set it to start taking photos and then just move the camera around wherever or leave it in one spot and move yourself. You never know exactly what you’re going to get (unless you use the GoPro app where you can actually see it live on your phone!) but that just makes the photos more interesting to look through right?
The more you do it, the more you get used to positioning it right, but this is why the timelapse feature is useful. You can just leave it running whilst you move about. I set mine to every 5 seconds usually, which can be a bit of a pain because that is actually quite a long time, but necessary to get the RAW files on my GoPro Hero 5. I could also set it to 1 or 2 seconds but I wouldn’t get RAW files. Those obviously give you way more photos though and one is bound to be okay!
My least favourite one, and something I just don’t do myself. It never looks the way I imagine, and I can see my discomfort in the photos. This only ever happens for me if someone asks me to take their photo (which I really don’t mind doing!) and then they offer to take mine in return. Always feel like I should say yes, and so I do.
Photo on the right, case in point. It just screams awkward to me! I hated this photo to begin with. I don’t hate it as much now, but I still don’t love it.
If you’re less awkward this option may be fine… My top tips would be to:
- Look for someone using a camera (odds are they won’t struggle with yours)
- Ask them to take a few shots so you have choice (younger people are good at this…)
- Tell them what you want in the photo. Do you want your full body, just shoulders upwards, do you want something particular in the background in shot?
If you’re going to ask someone, you might as well try to get the best photo you can!