10 Quick Photography Tips For Solo Travelers – Capture Moments Like a Pro

Traveling solo is an acquired taste. Experiencing the world on your own is exhilarating, but if you’re a solo traveler (as I often have been), you’ve probably had that one moment of awkwardness.

You know. You find a new place, you want to take a picture of it to share with your friends later, but as a solo traveler, you can’t afford to actually get into the photo yourself.

How can you get a great picture of yourself on your Solo Trip?

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photography items and gear

TOP 10 Photography Tips For Solo Travelers

Get Inspired

Before you set out on your solo adventure, you need to brainstorm the answers to these questions:

  • What do I want to take pictures of on this trip? (e.g. food, culture, plants, buildings, scenery, etc.)
  • What kind of experiences do I want to photograph?
  • What is my budget for new photography gear and apps?

Once you know what you want, you can find travel portrait inspiration from websites like Pinterest and Instagram.

And if you have friends that travel, flip through their photos to identify what you like and dislike about specific photographic styles!

Speak Up

You will probably find other people in the places where you would like to spend your travel time. One super-easy way to take pictures of yourself without a tripod or selfie stick is by asking a stranger to take a picture of you.

Here’s what I have discovered: if you offer to photograph other travelers that are struggling to take selfies, 99.9% of the time they will also offer to take a picture of you!

This I-scratch-your-back-and-you-scratch-mine method can go a long way, and who knows – you may even make a new friend or two. And if you haven’t discovered it yet, click this link to find out more ways to make friends while traveling alone!

Experiment With New Poses

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that it’s easy to get uncomfortable in front of a camera -especially when a stranger is taking a photo of you because none of your friends are around to help out.

The best way to break out of the cliche, awkward smiles and poses is by trying new expressions and stances.

For example, if you find a landscape that you really like, don’t just stand with your arms at your sides and fake smile on your face when you want a photograph taken. Instead, maybe go for a “tiny human” approach.

Maybe set up your camera frame to take in the grandeur of the landscape while you distance yourself from the lens.

Maybe try turning your back to the camera. This will require you to set your tripod at different distances, depending on what you’re envisioning.

But what else could you do to change your expression and stance?

  • Think of something funny.
  • Use your hands by running them through your hair, holding on to your jacket, or putting a hand on your cheek.
  • Scrunch your nose.
  • Do a cartwheel.
  • Be creative.

action camera with tripod

Invest in a Camera Tripod + Remote

Tripods are friends of the solo traveler. Setting your camera on a tripod will ensure that your photographs come out level, steady, and set to the exact measurements you desire.

If you decide to invest in a camera tripod, I would advise that you also splurge a little on a camera remote!

After setting up the tripod, the remote button makes it super simple to snap a photo posing in front of the camera.

Here’s what I own for easy, hassle-free solo travel equipment:

I can also recommend any gorilla pod product line. The best thing with gorilla pods is that you can set it up on any kind of surface. It has flexible legs – wrap, grip or stand it anywhere!

But if you have a bigger camera, you may opt for a compact travel aluminum tripod. It has the capability of handling additional weights and won’t easily fall.

Choose the Self-Timer + Autofocus

All DSLR cameras have a self-timer function that allows you to easily take a photo of yourself when traveling solo.

If you haven’t done so already, read the manual for your camera!

Otherwise, you can probably Google how to utilize the self-timer function for your specific camera brand and model.

I would strongly advise you to use auto-focus when you use the self-timer function, especially if you set your camera on a tripod!

Unless you are an expert at using manual focus for self-portraits, auto-focus is the way to go.

Photograph Random Body Parts

Don’t like having your entire body in a photo? Just insert certain body parts in your traveling self-portraits!

For starters, get creative with…

  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Half of your face
  • Torso

Know Your Composition

You don’t have to be a photographer to know the basics of photography.

Here are some basic things to remember to get an awesome travel photo:

Always put a subject.

Differentiate the foreground, middle ground, and background.

Spot colors and contrast them together with lines, curves, and shapes.

You don’t have to put all of them in a single photo. Just pick one for your photo as a highlight in it.

And don’t worry if it doesn’t come out all perfect because sometimes it really is a good picture, it simply needs a bit more enhancement. Even professional photographers are guilty of this. Do you know what it is?


creative iphone photo with beach

Editing a Bit Wouldn’t Hurt

Editing your photos will make it more appealing to the eye.

Since there are a lot of editing tools…

If you are using your smartphone as your travel camera, I recommend Pics Art and Snapseed.

But most of the phones today come with a photo editing application already so you don’t have to download one unless you need more than the built-in app provides.

If you are using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you need to transfer your pictures first to your laptop. As many would, I too recommend Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

While you’re editing, keep in mind that you are trying to show how beautiful that place, thing, or person was in real life, not change it to a completely artificial picture (e.g., if you take a photo of a Labrador, it should not turn into a Chihuahua while you’re editing).

The aim is to show the real beauty of the place, food, person you’ve captured. So don’t overdo it!

Find Reflective Surfaces

Every day, people walk by numerous reflective surfaces. Reflective surfaces provide creative opportunities for self-portraits of solo travelers.

To capture yourself in a reflection, make sure that your camera is positioned along the horizontal reflective plane of your choosing.

This might mean asking another person to squat down on the ground or smoosh up against a shiny building so that your camera can capture the reflection. You can also try using a tripod to assist your creative endeavors!

Keep an eye out for some of the following reflective surfaces:

  • Sunglasses
  • Shiny buildings
  • Car mirrors
  • Puddles
  • Windows

Embrace The Selfie Stick

This has become an age-old solo photography idea, as most of us know. Yes, it can be embarrassing. Yes, it can seem cliche. But don’t write off the selfie stick just yet!

Here are some selfie-stick benefits:

  • They are easy to pack.
  • They allow you to move your camera to a variety of angles.
  • They allow solo travelers to photograph themselves in a simple, hassle-free way.
  • BONUS FOR INTROVERTS: You don’t have to follow the earlier suggestion of asking strangers for photography help.

Closing Thought

Embarking on a quest for good photography as a solo traveler is not as difficult as it may seem!

Hopefully, at least one of these tips encourages you to try something outside of your comfort zone.

Enjoy your self-portrait escapades!

Karlis Kikuts

Karlis Kikuts

Coffee addict. Digital nomad. Solo traveler and blogger. Camping and hammocking enthusiast. Tiny book worm. In other words, the guy behind independentwolf.com