How to Take Good Photos of Yourself When Traveling Solo

‘Who takes your photos?’ is the most common question I get on my social media channels and a lot of people get confused when I said that it’s often my best friend Tripod. While not all my shots are taken the same way I wanted to share with you my little tutorial on how to take good photos of yourself when traveling solo, with or without a tripod.

Usually, solo travelers rarely show up in their own photos unless they have an Instagram husband. There’s even a saying (that actually makes me mad), that behind every pretty girly Instagram account there’s a boyfriend or husband behind it. While quite often it’s true, it doesn’t have to be the case.

You CAN have pretty photos of yourself when you’re a solo female traveler. 

While I do have a husband, he rarely travels with me and when he does, he prefers to take his on photos than photos of me. Since I prefer to be in my own photos, especially after I decided to start a travel blog.

How to Take Good Photos of Yourself? (updated for 2018)


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What Do You Need in Order to Take Your Own Photos?

Lots of patience and not worrying about looking silly. Also, the ability to disregard other people’s stares. Once you master the smize technique you’ll be fine and take your own photos quicker 😉

By taking my own photo I don’t mean to say ‘I’m beautiful and everyone just loves looking at me’. If I take a great shot of something anyone else can have the same one. By adding myself in the photo I’m going to have a photo that only I’ll have. Does this make sense?Ways to Take Selfies


First, let me tell you that by taking photos of yourself I don’t mean these bathroom mirror shots that almost every celebrity decided to put on their social media channels recently. Unless your bathroom looks like this one below I’d never recommend you doing this 😉

Sketch London

Sketch restaurant in London


Photos I Took and Edited by Myself AKA Social Proof


Ways to Take Beautiful Travel Pictures of Yourself

Option 1:

Ask People to Take a Photo of You

While it might seem like the most obvious option, it’s not always the best one. In my case, photos taken by other people turn out to be bad, with either my head or legs chopped off. Unless you explain to a person what exactly do you want and tell them to hold the camera in an exact position, your photo will probably be useless.

My Tip: Find people with a tripod, they usually know how to take a decent photo. Hold the camera the way you want it and show them a point of interest.

DSC01521

I wanted a photo with a fish…

Reality check: photos like this one below can probably only happen when they’re taken by a professional photographer. Sorry guys!


Option 2: 

Use a Tripod

Tripods are my best friends when traveling solo. I currently use a Manfrotto Tripod, as it’s sturdy enough to hold my camera and doesn’t get blown by the wind. I don’t recommend the cheapest tripods out there for expensive cameras, as once the tripod falls you might break your fancy camera and lenses.

I previously used a gorilla pod and a mini tripod that fit in my pocket and could be used whenever I needed a random shot. Both of these tripods were as cheap as below $50 on Amazon and they don’t take much space in a suitcase.

A tripod is also recommendable for more advanced photographers willing to take photos with long exposure (eg. photograph the northern lights or dark places). No matter how steady you might think you can hold your camera it’s never going to be steady enough to make your shot not blurry. Trust me, I thought my hands were still too 😉

Checking my remote shutter


How to Take Photos Using a Tripod if You Want to Be in Your Shot?

You basically have three options: either set the timer for 10 or 20 seconds and run in front of the camera, or purchase a remote controller for your camera or phone. You could also set your camera to burst mode.Burst mode is a camera setting that allows it to take lots of photos in a short time. How many depends on your device, but even an iPhone can take 10 frames per second! You’ll have more photos to go through when choosing the right one, but I think it’s worth it!

burst mode
If you’re taking pictures with your smartphone, I recommend this wireless remote because you can actually go quite far away from the camera. I tried the most popular one on Amazon (this one) and it doesn’t properly work unless you care only about your head in the shot.Alternatively, install an app called PlayMemories on your phone that connects via Bluetooth. Here are some other examples of my remote shutter photos:





Option 3:

Use GoPro with Accessories

As a new owner of GoPro Hero 6, I love trying all the accessories. While I’m not a big fan of selfie sticks, they can be very useful when it comes to taking shots of yourself. The trick is to hide the stick somehow, so don’t make a mistake I did in this shot below 😉

GoPro selfie

For extreme activities, I use my GoPro wrist strap that became very handy when I went sledding in Tromso.

Huasteca Potosina rafting

You can also use a GoPro flex clamp mount which allows you to have two hands visible in the shot. I personally love this one!

DCIM100GOPROG0028755.

Road tripping to Chichen Itza!


Option 4:

Use a Long Arm Selfie for Close-Up Shots Taken with Wide-Angle Lens

If you simply refuse to be that selfie stick person (like myself), just stretch your arm out as far as you can, strike a pose and snap a selfie. This technique works perfectly if you need a close-up shot like this one with a kangaroo, or if you use your a wide angle lens on your camera.

Selfie of the day with a kangaroo! Thanks to @nurturedbynatureotters for an amazing experience 🙂 #nurturedbynature #kangarooselfie

A photo posted by Anna L ✈ AnnaEverywhere (@anna.everywhere) on


Option 5:

Put Random Parts of Your Body in a Shot

Your full body doesn’t always have to be in the shot, but if you still want to make a photo more ‘yours’ why don’t you put a hand in the shot? You might laugh at my advice, but take a look at this food photo and tell me if it doesn’t look awesome!


Option 6: 

Get a Drone

The newest took to get awesome photos of yourself is a drone. I currently own the smallest one on the market – DJI Spark, and it’s doing a pretty good job. Drone laws are quite strict, so it’s not always the best option, but keep it in mind.

drone selfie


Remember!

Taking a good picture is only 40% of a successful photo. Learning how to edit your photos properly will make you a successful photographer. If you’re still learning how to edit your photos, you can take a look at my Lightroom Presets.


As you can see it’s possible to have nice photos of yourself even if you’re traveling solo. Do you use any of my techniques? Share them below!

31 Comments

  1. Mar 25, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    Have you ever had any bad experiences using your tripod? I would be nervous, especially with the mini one, that someone would just grab it and run. In some of your shots, you have your back to the camera…has this ever made you uncomfortable that some would try to steal your camera?

    • Mar 26, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      Nope. My camera doesn’t look super expensive tho! 🙂

    • RONNIE L TAYLOR
      Jun 21, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. 🙂 But I probably look super tense with my tourist death grip on all my belongings.

  2. Jun 21, 2016 / 2:01 am

    LOL. Thank you for answering my Twitter question about how you took those awesome photos. You looks really awesome. I bet you are even awesomer in person.

    I mostly took photos with my Canon 7D. Carrying a heavy tripod isn’t feasible to me. I find mobile phone a much easier option for shooting.

    Have fun traveling while you can!

    • Jun 21, 2016 / 11:02 pm

      Mobile phone can also take great photos, especially nowadays when we have cool editing app. Just remember that the quality isn’t going to be the same when you put the photos on a big screen.

  3. Jul 26, 2016 / 4:23 pm

    Oh man, I made the mistake of trying to set my camera in a tripod over a rock in NY to take a group picture with my friends and the camera fell on the floor and the back glass got shattered. I was soooo upset for the rest of the day lol. I guess I will just stick to big tripods or asking for favors. I love how you suggest that we look for people with the nicer cameras to snap our pics though, great tip!

    • Jul 26, 2016 / 5:08 pm

      Oh noes! It’s useful to put something heavy at the bottom of the tripod when it’s windy (that’s what this little hook is for), but to be fair I’m always afraid slightly 😉

  4. Aug 29, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    I need to work on being more comfortable in front of the camera- model lessons next time I see you please:)

    • Aug 30, 2016 / 6:46 pm

      For sure hehe 🙂

  5. Taylor
    Sep 12, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    What kind of camera do you have? I am in need of investing in a good one for my travel shots. Love all your content. Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Sep 13, 2016 / 11:47 am

      Thank you Taylor! I currently use Sony a5000 for simple shots and Sony a7rII for more specific shots. Apart from the GoPro of course. If you’re looking for just one camera I’d recommend Sony a6000 -> http://amzn.to/2csEdLT

  6. Shelley
    May 8, 2017 / 11:44 am

    Really enjoyed reading this .. Thank you for all those tips..ie tripod, burst and putting different body parts in pics.

  7. Jul 25, 2017 / 5:57 am

    Really these ideas are useful. As a traveler, maximum time I need to go for solo traveling and then I have to face many problems to take selfies and photos. Many times, the pictures I clicked are not as I want and I feel upset. Your methods of taking pictures using tripod and timer is a nice idea. I hope following your methods I will be able to take beautiful pictures. Thank you for the suggestions.

  8. Michelle
    Feb 18, 2018 / 1:33 pm

    Hello I have the Nikon DSLR 5200 and my daughter and I are going to Disney where selfie sticks are banned.
    Is there any tripod or device that would assist in taking great pictures of us (without always having to ask folks in a crowded park)?
    Any tips and advice would be most appreciated. I’m not an expert on cameras just an amateur single mom that enjoys a good photo 🙂

    • Anna
      Author
      Feb 18, 2018 / 6:32 pm

      Yeah, take the gorilla pod I recommend in the article. It’s small so easy to carry around on attractions 🙂

  9. Mar 21, 2018 / 9:35 pm

    Thanks so much for this post Anna! I’m very new to blogging and one of the things that’s holding me back is that I don’t have anyone to take pictures for me. I have invested in a tripod but haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. Thanks so much for your tips and advice – mahoosively helpful!

  10. Mar 22, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    I think I need to get myself a tripod and timer!

  11. melissa
    Mar 24, 2018 / 4:55 pm

    i’m debating between buying a gorillapod or one of the travel tripods you suggested, but im curious – which do you find yourself using more?

    i worry that there might not always be something to hang the gorrillapod on & that it might not be able to provide the best angles. for example, i’m going to visit chichen itza & i want to take photos of my friends & i similar to the one you posted, & for some reason i don’t think a gorillapod would work for that lol or like, for beach shots where they may not be a suitable palm tree available! on the other hand – i don’t really like the idea of having to carry a bigger tripod.

    • Anna
      Author
      Mar 25, 2018 / 10:26 am

      Exactly. To be perfectly honest I use both, depending on the situation. I always prefer to carry as little as possible with me, but recently started bringing the big one with me all the time.

  12. Ernestine Whitman
    May 14, 2018 / 5:33 am

    A good tripod will help steady your camera and ensure sharp pictures. When using a shutter speed slower than this simple rule of thumb suggest, a tripod is in order. If your camera screws directly onto the tripod, then the camera plate should have matching screw.

  13. Jul 22, 2018 / 3:51 pm

    I have always loved solo travelling and yes it brings the challenge of photography. But I do manage to click on my own. Nice post.
    BTW which camera are you holding there?

  14. Jul 23, 2018 / 2:55 am

    This was a fantastic post. Thank you for writing it. I studied photography for several years but life got in the way of continuing it as a hobby. I’ve been getting into it, recently, but travel photography hasn’t ever been a strong point of mine.
    Thanks for the great pointers, I’m looking forward to learning the skill of travel+photography!

    • Anna
      Author
      Jul 23, 2018 / 4:34 am

      Thank you!
      P.S. I love the name of your website 🙂

      • Jul 23, 2018 / 4:37 am

        You’re very welcome! and thanks! ☺️

  15. Anderson Clayton
    Sep 9, 2018 / 7:10 pm

    Hi! I loved your blog! I also love traveling and photography!
    I wanted to know if you have a tripod and use a remote control, it’s going to appear in the picture. How can I have my picture taken without appearing that I’m holding a remote control? Just using a timer app then without buying one or do you have some techniques?

  16. Patsy J. Penn
    Oct 8, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    Getting a drone could be the much better idea. Thanks for other ideas also

  17. Stella
    Oct 9, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    Thanks so much for your post! I’m going dor my first solo travel, so excited yet anxious too. Just a quick question, how do you carry your tripod around? Do you bring a large backpack or carry separate tripod bag?

    • Anna
      Author
      Oct 9, 2018 / 5:30 pm

      I hate backpacks hehe, so I never have any. I either put it on top of my handbag, or bring a tote bag. It sticks out but it doesn’t matter really 🙂

  18. DAVID JONES
    Nov 7, 2018 / 5:08 am

    I want to know how do you carry your tripod around?

    • Anna
      Author
      Nov 8, 2018 / 2:54 pm

      Sometimes I put it on top of my regular bag, sometimes I put it in an extra tote bag.

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