How to Take Awesome Photos When Travelling Solo

April shares her travel photography tips for solo travellers.

There are so many great things about solo travel, so it is not surprising that more and more people are choosing to head off into the unknown alone. However, one of the struggles of solo travel is photographing yourself when you have no one else with you! Do not worry, as a fellow solo traveller, I compiled some tips and tricks I have learned along the way for you to try on your next trip.

Before you travel

Do your research and find inspiration online. Plan out which locations to use, the best times to get there, and have a general idea what kind of photos you would like to take. That said, also allow some flexibility in your trip. Spontaneity can also result to pretty amazing shots. Also remember that amazing gear does not automatically equal to amazing photos, so do not feel like you need to invest in expensive cameras. Either way, make sure your devices are insured and backed up. You do not want to be taking awesome photos only to lose them!

When you are there

So you have reached your destination. What now? Ask someone else!

This seems quite obvious but it does not always go right, trust me. You might be too shy to ask or pose in front of people or even if you do ask, the photos are not to your liking (e.g. I have had diagonal photos, or buildings cut off). Here are a few tips to try:

  • Ask someone with a fancy camera. If they have a camera dangling around their neck, they would know how to use it and will probably get the right shots you want. Also, they will less likely run away with your camera!
  • Offer your help. Observe other tourists who seem like they are struggling with their photos and offer your help. You can then ask them to take yours in return if they have not offered already! This is also a fantastic way to make friends while travelling solo.
  • Go on a tour. You can ask your guide or meet like-minded travellers who can help you with your photos. See if you can find photo walk tours or if your budget is low, free walking tours have become popular in cities around the world.
  • Plan ahead. Make sure you know what kind of composition, angle, or pose you want before you ask. Learning some basic photography will not hurt. Position your device the way you want and instruct your victim-I mean, the stranger you have asked-on how exactly you want your photo taken.

Do it yourself.

If it is not working out or you really do not feel comfortable asking people then worry not because you can still achieve amazing photos alone. Try the following:

  • Get familiar with your self-timer. Using selfie sticks may be useful, but playing around with the self-timer on your device can allow for more creative shots that looks as if someone else actually took it for you. You can also invest on a remote for more time and flexibility.
  • Invest in a tripod. I have left my camera on staircases, ledges, and bushes before I finally got myself a tripod! Start with smaller tripods as they are inconspicuous and light and there are plenty of affordable choices on the market.
  • Video screenshots. Another tip is to simply hit the record button, run to the position you want to be, do a few poses, and then screenshot the ones you like later. The downside is that videos take more space and depending on the device, the quality of the screenshots might not be as great but it is still a useful way to produce a variety of shots particularly candid ones. If not, at least you now have potential vlog content!

Sunrises and Sunsets

Another tip is to rise early for sunrise or wait patiently for sunset.  Not only will you get fantastic lighting (golden hour!), these times will be less crowded and you will not need to worry about people photobombing your photos!

Just roll with it

Sometimes, things might not work out and you just cannot get that personalised epic photo you dreamed of. It happens and you just have to move on. After all, you are still in a different place, so take this time to observe the things around you and take photos of them instead. Why not go to places less travelled? Interact with the locals and take photos of or with them (with their permission). It is a great way to make deeper and long-lasting connections with the places you are visiting.

After you travel

  • Learn to edit. I used to think that editing made photos less authentic but almost all ‘amazing’ travel photos out there are edited one way or another since most cameras are still not able to capture the things we see perfectly. Learning how to apply some basic photo editing can bring back colour and life to your photos and truly make them your own. Apps like Lightroom are beginner-friendly and totally free!
  • Share your photos consciously. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Think about the kind of stories your photos will be projecting to others before you hit ‘post’. You want to make sure that you can look back at these photos in the future with a smile and know that they are influencing others in a positive way.

Aprilyn Umel

Featured Image and Main Images courtesy of Aprilyn Umel.

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