Travelling solo is a great way to gain new insights, experiences, and discoveries about the world you live in – and about yourself. When you’re on your own, you have the freedom to roam wherever and whenever you want and do whatever you please. You’re alone, and it’s one of the best feelings ever – unless you want to take home a good photo of yourself.
Since no one’s available to take a photo of you, chances are that you end up stretching your arms the farthest they can get, only to get a selfie that captures 20% scenery and 80% face.
But for some savvy travellers and photography enthusiasts, who always take their IG feed, blog or vlog, and personal album to the next level, solo travel photos are never an issue. You can snap a photo of yourself, in a picturesque location, even if you’re out on your own.
You just need to remember three great Cs: Camera, Creativity, and Confidence.
Camera and Gear
- Your tripod is your BFF
A tripod is every solo traveller’s best friend.
You can have a long shot of the beautiful place with you in it without the help of another human. There are three ways:
- Set the timer for 10 to 20 seconds, run in front of the camera/phone, and strike a pose.
- Set your camera to burst mode, a setting that lets you take lots of photos in a short time.
- Purchase a remote controller for easier access.
Next to holding your camera in place as you pose, using a tripod is also recommended for photographers who want to capture photos using long exposure, like shots of northern lights, night sky, fireworks display, and other dark scenes. Perfecting these shots is impossible with shaky hands.
Pick a tripod that’s sturdy enough to hold the camera and withstand the winds. For a more travel-friendly option, go for a lightweight and versatile gorilla pod or a mini tripod that fits easily in your pocket. Lastly, be mindful of your belongings, especially when shooting in public places. One can easily steal your beloved equipment while you’re striking a pose.
2. Bring a monopod or selfie stick
A monopod or selfie stick is a more convenient option. Just pull it out at every opportunity, strike a pose, and click – just like when you’re ziplining. It’s easy to use, carry around, and store inside your bag.
Selfie sticks, however, can only do so little if you want to capture more of the destination. You have a closer shot of yourself and a more limited shot of the space since the stick can be extended only up to 75cm long.
But hey, it’s enough to get more of a landscape into your photo than with a standard way of taking selfies. I mean, just look at the featured photo above. You can even use special effects to up your selfie game, like using fisheye lenses.
3. Use an action camera
Love outdoor adventures? An action camera is a must-have. It can capture images in environments where other cameras may fear to tread.
They come in a waterproof protective case, so you can get extraordinary shots, like when you’re playing with the school of fishes underwater or you’re tumbling through the air. Since it’s small and lightweight, you can place it anywhere – even on your head.
4. Take videos and freeze your favourite frame
Just capture a moving picture and freeze it – that’s one amazing way to get a shot that looks alive. The technique works to give you that “candid-looking” shot of you walking along the beach or a jaw-dropping shot of you floating in the air (jump shot).
5. Snap random parts of your body
Sick of seeing your face in every picture? Take a break and just snap random parts of your body. You can take a shot of your feet on the white sand, with the turquoise sea in front of you, or a shot of your hand, holding a vivid cocktail glass in a busy bar.
6. Make the most of the reflective surfaces
We’re not just talking about cringy hotel bathroom selfies – we’re talking about making the most of different reflective surfaces you can encounter. One example is using the glass windows of restaurants and cars and taking a photo of your sunglasses that reflects the picturesque view.
7. Play with different viewpoints and angles
A close-up shot, medium shot, long shot, extreme long shot, low angle, high angle, bird’s eye view, worm’s eye view – your pictures will shine if you have a variety of angles and viewpoints. Use silhouettes too.
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8. Ask a stranger
Don’t have the skill and set of gears to take photos of yourself? You can always seek help from other people – like friendly strangers.
Ask a stranger to take a photo of you. It can be a hotel staff in the hotel you’re staying in, or a waiter at a restaurant, or a tourist like you. Find someone holding a camera, which may imply that they know how to shoot.
And besides, you’re not only travelling to see a foreign place or culture. You’re there to take part in a whole different world or way of life. Interacting with a new person is a great way to make memories.
9. Work it!
By taking a photo of yourself, especially if you’re carrying attention-grabbing gear, you might get that “look at that self-centred tourist right there” kind of glare from people.
The key is to stop caring: The less you care, the better the photos will turn out. You won’t even notice if anyone’s looking at you because you’re too busy framing the shot. It’s better to feel slightly uncomfortable for a little while than leave the place with regret because you weren’t able to document your journey through photographs.
Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Hotel, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional hotel accommodation and location, which appeals to travellers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementoes from different places.