a women holding a camera

How to Take Great Photos Solo

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Beautiful photos captured when you travel can last a lifetime. As a minimalist, I truly believe that the more “stuff” you buy when traveling, the more you get tied down. Thus, I rarely buy souvenirs or trinkets. Instead, I invest in the ability to capture great photos. Because I mostly travel solo, taking great photos, especially of myself, can become a challenge.

Here are my tips for getting great photos when you travel solo. You can use these tips as a total novice photographer, or a pro photographer.

Hire A Photographer For A Session

When I travel, I love taking photos. I have become obsessed with getting high-quality photos and the perfect shot. What I’ve noticed, however, is that while I get really amazing shots of other people and the landscapes, I do a poor job of remembering to get photos of myself. Setting up a tripod and getting pictures of myself can be extra work.

For this reason, I’ve started to hire professional photographers when I travel to do quick photoshoots. At first, I hired photographers directly through the hotel properties I was staying at. Then, I realized that there were websites available where you could book photographers for a photo session on a trip.

After using several websites, I really like Flyographer. What I really like about them is that their photographers are all top of the line professionals and the photo quality is outstanding. Their prices start at $250 per session, which is actually a reasonable price for the level of photography you are receiving.

Use A Tripod

But let’s be honest, you cannot have a photographer follow you around for your whole trip, so you need to get good at the ways you can get photos when you are on your own. If you are a solo traveler who wants to get yourself in the shot, you need to travel with a tripod.

Tripods are used to provide a firm base to attach your camera to. Once you attach your camera, you can use a self-timer or remote to take the photo.

Here are some examples of photos that I took using a tripod:

a women standing in front of a western style building

a women standing in joshua tree national park

Set Up The Shot In Your Mind

When you’re traveling with friends or family, you may have the luxury of giving your camera to one of them and doing a 30-minute photoshoot to capture the best angle and shot. When you’re traveling solo, you probably won’t have that luxury. You’ll be alone in a location, trying to set up your tripod or find somebody to take your picture. Here, time is of the essence.

Thus, the first thing I recommend when you’re taking photos solo is to take a minute and set up the photo you want in your mind. Keep in mind the lighting, what you want in the frame, the subject of the photo, etc. Once you have the shot planned out in your head, THEN you can set up your tripod or hand your camera to a stranger to get the photo.

Ask A Fellow Tourist

If you are in a busy touristy area, you can always ask a fellow tourist to take a picture of you. However, this takes some skill as well. You don’t know what a stranger’s level of photography is and you may be really disappointed by the photo they take. For these reasons, I recommend setting up your shot in your mind in advance, so if you ask somebody to take a photo of you, you know exactly how you want it to look and can tell them.

If the photo you want looks terrible, don’t stress. If I ask somebody to take a photo of me and they take a horrible shot, I generally will say “thank you” and hang around in the same spot and ask another person to take a picture of me in a couple of minutes.

How to pick a stranger? Look for somebody who is taking the shot that you want. In super touristy areas, people tend to take the same pictures. If you see somebody taking the picture that you want, you could easily ask them to take the same picture for you. Next, try to find people with professional cameras who are taking time to take their pictures. Finally, a great way to find a stranger to take a picture for you is to look for people who may want photos of themselves. For example, if you see a group or family who has one person taking a photo of them you can walk up to them and say, “Hey, do you want a photo with you in the group? I would be happy to take some group shots if you wouldn’t mind taking one of me.”

Example of a photo I got in Boston from a group of tourists taking photos and I took some photos for them:

a women standing on acorn street in Boston, MA

Lighting Is Key

Light is the driving force behind every photo. When you travel, sometimes you are on a schedule and cannot plan your day around good or bad lighting. However, if you can, I highly recommend avoiding photography in the middle of the day. Then, the lighting and shadows can be harsh and not complimentary.

If possible, try to do your photos when the colors come out in the sky, such as golden hour (the hour before sunset) and sunrise. The colors will add dimension to your photos and soften the appearance of your skin.

Be Confident!

Taking a photo of yourself alone can be a scary thing. Believe me, I do it all the time. I’ve gotten TONS of weird stares when I’ve set up my tripod and taken photos of myself. However, be CONFIDENT and be you! You may never get back to this place again and you want to capture some great memories.

a women sitting on stairs

What are your tips for getting great photos when you travel solo? Share in the comments.

Cover photo by Daniel in Palm Springs for Flytographer

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