There’s nothing like the sinking feeling of looking through an album of old travel photos and realizing you’re not in any of them. In the moment, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the camera and justify only take pictures of gorgeous landscapes and other people.
But while you may treasure the experience of hiking up to an uninterrupted landscape view, that view is not what will make you smile looking back at the photos. Photos of you there will; photos of people will.
So how exactly do you go about stepping in front of the lens and taking amazing solo-travel photos of yourself? Well, the first step is to stop feeling silly about posing.
Who cares if you hilariously start posing for yourself? And better yet, who cares if someone catches you posing for yourself? If they point and laugh then you probably don’t want to be their bff anyway.
Here are 11 tips for taking stunning travel photos of yourself:
Before you take off on your journey, do a little research as to what the landscapes look like. See what kind of unique photos other people have taken in your destination and get your own creative juices flowing. By all means though, don’t copy everyone else – unless you really need that photo of you pushing over the Eiffel Tower, of course (we won’t judge).
Research the best camera options for you
It’s true, Smartphones are easy to take photos with, but if you want any diversity, quality, or range in editing, opt for a real camera.
Now, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not about the camera, it’s about the photographer;” which is totally true, but a photographer is nothing if they can’t use their machine. So when you’re looking to purchase a camera, buy the best you can in your price range, and thoroughly learn how it works.
Invest in some equipment
Before you set off on your trip, get some equipment that will help you with your photography. Some things to never leave home without are: a tripod, a remote, and if you’re into underwater shots, a GoPro or similar.
Set your camera to burst mode
With your camera on your tripod and your remote in your hand, set your camera to burst mode so that when you click the remote, your camera takes a whole whack of photos in one go.
This is great if you plan on say, jumping, in your pictures. You’ll have a bunch of shots to choose from!
Wanting to get some action shots but worried you’ll miss out snapping some prime poses? Well, then take a video.
Then, when you’re back at your computer editing your photos, go through your video and pick your favorite screenshots. Easy peasy.
The rule of thirds
If you’re not a photographer, then you may never have heard about the cardinal photography rule – ‘the rule of thirds’.
The rule of thirds is a composition guideline in which you divide your photo with two evenly spaced horizontal lines, and two vertical lines to make a grid. Then, you align your subject with those lines or their intersection points.
For example, if you are shooting a sunset, place the horizon on either the top or bottom line. Or, if you are the subject of your photo, place yourself directly on either the right or left line.
Using the rule of thirds will more often than not give your photos a more natural feel when viewing them.
Angle your camera
If you’re somewhere crowded and feel you’ll inevitably get tons of other people in your photos, then simply angle your camera.
Grab a tripod or something to rest your camera on, slip your tripod on down low to the ground, and then angle it upwards. Doing this will get rid of far-off people in your photos.
It’s no accident that popular Instagrammers often wear red or yellow in landscape photos. They do this because the human eye is naturally drawn to the bright color, and the color provides a contrast to the natural hues of the landscape.
Show off your personality
Don’t stand in front of your camera like an unhappy lump, give your photos some personality! A helpful tip for happy photos is to laugh in them; like full-on giggles.
Opposed to simply smiling for the camera, laughter will help you look more natural, and the smile that comes after laughing by yourself for thirty seconds will be more genuine as well.
Embrace the selfie
Who cares if you’re holding your camera out in front of you or using a selfie-stick? Both options can give you some really interesting photos and they’re surely better than not getting any photos of yourself at all.
And if you’re somewhere with other people, don’t feel bad asking for help! However, don’t just ask anyone to take your photo, as you don’t want to find yourself without a camera at all. A good tip is to ask people who are also obviously tourists, or if you are asked to take a photo for someone else, ask them to reciprocate.
Some more tips for getting others to take your photo:
- Ask people already holding nice cameras – Because these people will know how to use yours. This will save you the “wear the wrist-strap, here’s the shoot button, swivel this to zoom.. and so on” conversation.
- Don’t hand over your DSLR – If you can’t find someone else with a nice camera nearby, don’t even think about handing over your DSLR. Not only will you have to have the aforementioned conversation, but they probably won’t know how to correctly frame the photo or make sure it’s not blurry. In this case, just give them you smartphone or an easy point-and-shoot to use.
- Get them to take your picture from far away – People sometimes do weird things like crop your feet out of photos. To avoid this, stand far back from where they’re taking the picture. You can always crop it yourself later.
- Tell them how you would like the picture to look – Don’t be afraid to give strangers directions on how you want your photo to look. Want them to take it at an angle? Tell them that. Want them to focus on one subject in particular? Tell them that too.