5 Photography Tips for Solo Travelers

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Milford Sound, New Zealand - Check out my 5 photography tips for solo travelers

When it comes to solo travel, I think I’ve been asked every question over the years, and then some.

What are your travel photography tips for solo travelers? is one that pops up more frequently than you might expect. How am I in so many of my travel photos? How do I deal with travel photography on the road?

I don’t market myself as a professional travel photographer by any means, Instagrammer maybe, but that being said, I do try and improve my photos where I can and I like to try new things.

And I like putting myself in my shots occasionally: selfie, portrait, or just point of reference, it varies. So without a partner to help me, how do I manage to take travel photos as a solo traveler?

I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my travel photography tips and secrets over the years about getting shots on the road. Enjoy!

1. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers

Personally, I’ve found that as a solo female traveler, people find me non-threatening and approachable, which is so awesome and works both ways.

If there are people around, usually I just go up to someone and ask if they wouldn’t mind taking my picture.

I do it in the friendliest, nicest way possible, and sometimes if they are a couple or with someone else, or solo too, I first offer to take their photo for them before asking for reciprocation. And, obviously, I give them the sneaky once-over and mentally weigh out the chances that they will run away with my camera and/or if I can outrun them to get it back.

Also, the majority of people might not know how to operate your camera, so I carefully explain to them how to use it and personally fling the strap over their neck so they won’t drop it.

I use a big SLR camera which can be intimidating, so I make sure I have the settings right and the zoom in the right place before handing it over.

Depending on how friendly and open they are, I might tell them how I would like the shot composed, but I don’t like to push my luck.

2. Use a Tripod for epic travel photos

Because I live in New Zealand and do quite a lot of hiking and trekking out in the mountains alone, now I mostly rely on my travel tripod.

I also like to compose some artful, complicated shots, imagine me staring off in the distance standing on a rock or something, which is just easier to do with a tripod and maybe even a remote timer.

For point and shoots or smaller cameras, you definitely don’t need to invest in a big fancy tripod for these, you can use a small, tough Gorilla Pod that you can set anywhere or hang on anything. Super handy to have.

Wanaka, New Zealand - Photography tips for solo travelers
In Wanaka, New Zealand

3. Use a Selfie stick for your solo travel photos

I feel like I risk internet banishment by publicly admitting to owning a selfie stick, but I live by a 100% honesty policy and I would hate to let you down.

Selfie sticks are an excellent investment for solo travelers if you want easy travel pictures of yourself. You can get one that has an attachment for your iphone, which full disclosure, you risk looking ridiculous if you use in front of other people, but are great for when no one else is around.

I use my selfie stick mostly with my GoPro, which is great for any sort of adventure activity, underwater selfies, animal photobombs and cool fisheye selfies while traveling.

Use a selfie stick - 5 Photography tips for solo travelers
Fox Glacier, New Zealand

 

4. Group activities

Even though I mostly travel by myself, it doesn’t mean I am usually alone. I tend to sign up for group day trips and tours, pub crawls, cooking classes and activities as a way to meet people on the road.

Solo travelers tend to congregate on these kinds of trips and it becomes super easy to ask people to take travel photos for you, or even with you.

In fact, many adventure activities usually have a guide taking travel photos for you as well, which is another great way to get shots you might want.

5. Be careful with your travel camera gear

And finally, I thought I would go ahead and give a little mention of how I manage to travel around the world with all my camera gear without having problems.

Many people will have more valuable camera equipment than me while many don’t. It varies.

For me, the most important factor is not flaunting the fact that I carry expensive travel gear.

This means I use camera bags that don’t look like camera bags, and I don’t generally walk around with my camera slung around my neck unless I am actually shooting at that moment. And just in case I have really good property insurance.

Read more: 5o fo the best travel gifts for travelers

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Do you travel solo? Check out these 5 travel photography tips for taking photos on your travels

30 thoughts on “5 Photography Tips for Solo Travelers”

  1. The part of the Selfie stick cracked me up. I don’t have one but I don’t dare laughing who uses them. I know the pain of not having someone to take your picture! I’m working on my shyness and I have at least one picture of me in the city where I have been! Baby steps!

  2. Except for the selfie-stick part I can relate to everything that Liz has mentioned here. I also travel solo most of the time and I do the same things when it comes to clicking my own pictures. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a stranger how to compose a shot, though!

  3. I recently got a selfie stick for my GoPro and it’s awesome. I don’t mind asking someone to take my picture, but sometimes it’s awkward/there’s no one around/they mess up the shot. It’s definitely embarrassing to use it in public but I just tell myself I don’t know these people and will likely never see them again 🙂

  4. Pretty great tips that I always forget to do. Well, my main one is bring a trippod, which holds me back from creating awesome timelapses or recording myself while traveling. I need to invest before my trip to India in a lightweight one. And a new selfie-stick because I use them for really unique shots. Thanks Liz!

  5. The selfie stick, thats a no no for me. How hard is it to ask someone else to take a picture like the good old times. Having a photo of your self is better then not having a photo at all.

    I take more photos of my surroundings then my self, but if I do I just ask a someone else. I do bought a tripod a while ago but it’s to weak/small to carry my camera 😛

    1. It can be hard for someone like myself who- although not as shy as I once was- still get the crazy shyness attacks sometimes. I am really wanting to get myself a selfie-stick for this reason, and also because I will more than likely be travelling solo from now on (recently separated).

  6. One more tip which I see you follow: Carry a red jacket or shirt. Sometimes it’s the only bit of color found in an otherwise monochromatic landscape.
    Great article, and safe travels.

  7. I agree… usually I ask strangers too and they ask me. Also a tripod might not be feasible of it;s a crowded place.
    but then traveling and finding new places is exciting enough 😉

  8. Your message is not optimized for mobile phones. Big gray blocks cover the text, as do some of your headers making it impossible to read…thought you would want to know. I was trying to read 5 photography tips for solo female travelers…it was just to difficult, I gave up.

    1. What device are you using? Our site is mobile responsive so shouldn’t be doing this. I’d like to follow this up with our designer so if you can let me know what device you are using that would be helpful

  9. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for taking time to share your tips for getting photos of yourself in your travels when you’re solo.

    I’ve been traveling solo since 1998. Like you, I simply ask people around me if they’ll take my photo. Almost everyone is happy to help out. But, I do find that a lot of people do not know how to compose a photo well. lol. So sometimes I end up with pretty crappy pics of myself in famous places. Not good if you want to use them in a pro. blog. :)0

    So I’d add to your tip that, whenever possible, try to find someone who looks like they know how to take pictures. Perhaps they have a flash camera, they are taking time to compose their shots, or other indications that they have some basic expertise. People who are flashing away quickly with phone cameras might not take the best pics. :0

    Another thing I’ve found works really well is to use the 10-second timer on my camera. It takes some careful placement of the camera in most cases. I might have to place it on a pole, a rock, a pile of clothes, and then twist & wiggle the camera into the best position. But it’s a lot of fun as it’s a mini project to do while on my own.

    I agree with you about using tripods and selfie sticks, too.

    Great list of tips!

    cheers, Lash

  10. I understand the purpose of the selfie stick and I don’t hate it, I just personally don’t like the end result when it appears on the photos. I’d rather ask someone to take a picture or put the camera somewhere and use the timer 😀

  11. Great post Liz! Offering to take other peoples photo first is something I hadn’t thought about. I’m also quite shy and would probably resort to a tripod most of the time. Maybe I’ll even consider carrying a selfie-stick 🙂

  12. While I don’t is selfie stick myself, I can see how useful they could be. I was considering getting one, but a lot of places I’ve been to recently seemed to have banned them, so I’m not sure now.

  13. Tips you have shared for solo travelers are indeed very effective and practical in nature. Yes hesitation is one of the main problem for solo travelers. Group travelling is a very good option if you are planning for fitness holidays.

  14. Hi Liz,
    Thanks so much posting this! I am about to begin a solo traveling experience myself (I’m going to New Zealand for a year). I know you said you’re not a professional photographer, but I was wondering if you had any recommendations on specific cameras or brands that you like? I’m doing research trying to find the best option for me and would appreciate any suggestions you might have.

    Thanks!

  15. Nice Post!!

    You would be surprised how shy people are to ask others to take a photo of them. I know that I am.

    Funny enough, I think I have automatically used the tactic you mentioned on this post. I look around for anyone struggling to take a photo and then offer to take it for them…..it does open up the perfect opportunity in asking to return the favour.

    Someone I know specifically looks for anyone who looks Japanese (because the Japanese are all great at taking photos, right? 🙂 )….. bear in mind, this does not always result in amazing photos, although in general the come out great!

    On that note Liz. I know of this website that has a section on how to take photos on your travels. It is somewhat different to your article, but still have some relevance….let me know what you thing.
    http://www.geofflawrence.com/photography_tips_travel_holiday.html

  16. Before you travel, our everyone wanner record what we experience. Therefore the camera seems to be more important. Gopro is a nice choice. And more accessories make the pictures amazing! I like Gopro Camera. And I has been using smatree accessories for a long time. You can have a try. http://www.smatree.com

  17. I love Liz by the way …. great blog. My question is about focusing the camera on you when you are standing in the middle of no where. What settings, or how do you get the camera to focus on you and not something else?

  18. I love solo travelling and I click myself on my own. I have a camera with tilting screen and I control it via app on my smartphone.
    You have listed some very important tips..

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