Written by Photo Geeky
Taking good images of yourself while traveling alone may seem complicated, but with a bit of foresight and planning, it’s possible to take great self-portraits without them looking like a selfie snapshot. You don’t need a fancy DSLR (although it’s great if you have it!). You can use a camera phone or a compact camera and still get a good shot which will be a great reminder of your solo traveling experience. Hopefully, this short guide will give you a few tips and guidelines to inspire you.
Set Your Camera on a Tripod
Tripod is irreplaceable when it comes to photographing yourself. Set your camera or phone on a tripod, set your settings and get into the shot and nobody could guess that you’ve taken this photo all by yourself!
A sturdy but lightweight tripod will give you a better chance of taking sharp images in low light conditions, and make it easier to get the camera at the right height for taking selfies. Choose one that folds down as small as possible for traveling, and check how heavy it is before you buy.
With flexible tripod you can attach your device to practically anything
Some tripods have bendy legs, so you can place your gear on a stable surface at just about any angle. There are also flexible holders (for phones mostly) that you can wrap around a tree branch or anywhere you can find to attach them.
If you decided to bring a tripod on your travel, there are a few ways to take that shot.
Set your camera from single shot to the 2 or 10 second timer mode once you have found your location and set everything up. 10 seconds is probably best if you are pressing the shutter button yourself, as it will give you time to get back to your spot and pose. Smartphones also have a timer on the camera, often for 3 or 10 seconds.
- Use continuous shooting mode
Set your camera or phone to continuous shooting or “burst” mode. This means the camera will constantly take a rapid series of images, and you can move around during this for some interesting images.
- Remote control shutter release
If you have a DSLR, you can buy a remote controller that will electronically press the shutter for you once you are ready. Most have a 2 and 10 second timer on them – the 10-second one is very handy if you need extra time to perfect your pose. Also, sometimes it is possible to use your phone as DSLR Remote with an app (this one, example) – check out if there any app that suits you.
Don’t forget to try different angles: move your stick aside or even set it on your shoulder
Use a selfie stick – or a belfie stick! These extendable sticks to hold your phone are handy bits of kit. A big plus is their small size and ease of packing to travel with. They are also far easier to carry around all day than a DSLR and tripod.
If you haven’t heard of a belfie stick, it’s like a selfie stick but it’s flexible. This bendy quality allows you to take photos from various angles, including behind you, if you wish. Belfie sticks also allow you to take images without having the stick visible in the image.
Use reflective surfaces
You can use windows, mirrors and still water to make some fun and creative shots. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your surroundings!
Most people are happy to take your photo for you, and you may have been asked to do the same yourself. If you ask someone with a camera, chances are they will take a better-framed and composed shot than someone who doesn’t know much about photography.
Just because they have a camera doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll know how to work yours, though. Put your settings into the phone or camera before you give it to them, so all they have to do is compose the image and press the button. Take an image beforehand of the scene you want to capture, and show it to them. Explain that you would like the same image, but with yourself in it.
How to Get Better Self-Portraits
- Don’t just take shots from straight ahead and dead center. Adjust your camera height and angle for different shots of the same scene.
- Take lots of shots, not just one. This will give you more choice when it comes to choosing the very best shots. Every time you click the shutter, move slightly – turn a little or change your hand or head position.
- The best way to stand for a portrait is to have one foot slightly back from your other, and put your weight on the back foot. Slightly turn your upper body so that you are not facing the camera square on, and keep your shoulders up and back.
- Change position often, so you’re not just standing the same way in every photo. Even just turning your head or body will make a difference.
- If you don’t know what to do with your hands, try clasping them loosely in front of you, holding something like your sunglasses, a flower or a scarf. Try putting one hand on your hip. If you are next to a wall, rest one arm against it. It’s better than just having your arms hanging straight down at your sides.
- When you have picked the best photos to edit, crop your images to tidy up your framing. Boost the contrast if the image needs it, and perhaps brighten and add a little more color. Lightroom and Luminar have image presets that give a certain ‘look’, and you can add these to your photos in one click.
The most important thing – be yourself! If you try to be someone you’re not for the camera, it won’t look convincing.
Practice taking self-portraits before you go traveling, and that experience will pay off when you do it at your destination. I hope these tips have helped inspire you to try taking images of yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and enjoy your solo trip!