How to take pictures while traveling solo?
When I was backpacking in Eastern and Western Europe for 6 weeks last year 2019, I wrote an Instagram post about how to take pictures while solo traveling. I had written this post with a simple idea to share my tips and tricks on how to take awesome pictures when traveling solo. I was overwhelmed by the responses. I was so happy when some of you reached out to me appreciating the post and acknowledging that that was the biggest challenge that you thought while solo traveling. Since many of my blog readers are not on Instagram, I decided to pen this post on my blog as well, so people can refer to it when they want to.
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Context about this post
Background for writing the tips was that while I was backpacking in Europe, some of the fellow travelers were curious to know how I was taking/who was taking my pictures as I was solo traveling. And honestly, this is a question that I often get asked. Everyone who follows me and my travel journeys want to know how I take pictures when most times I am traveling solo.
Tips for taking pictures
I am sure there are plenty of tips that are available on the internet. However, not all of those tips fit every one of them traveling solo. Some are introvert and others are extrovert. Some find it easy to ask for help while others don’t. I have listed the things that I follow to get good pictures, but I do understand that not all of these fit in at every situation and every country. For example, I would not hand over my phone or a camera to a random person where I know the place is famous for its notorious crimes.
Definitely trust your instinct and make a judgement call before asking a random stranger or giving your phone/camera to a random person.
I try to carry a light and a portable tripod for my phone. Earlier in my travels, I used to carry a bulky tripod for my camera. However, I have stopped this as I now believe in traveling light. By carrying a tripod, I take my own pictures the way I want. I don’t have to compromise depending on how the pictures are taken by others, which most times do not meet the expectations.
There is no particular model that I recommend as I just bought a tripod that was compatible with my iPhone XR when I was traveling in Brunei.
Use existing props
If I am being lazy and I do not want to assemble my tripod or if I am not carrying a tripod at that time, then I use existing props such as my bag, jacket, or even rocks/stones on the roads. I try to use any resource that is available to me at that moment. And if not taking pictures of a moving object, these pictures do come out well.
I am shameless for pictures and I do ask strangers. I ask anyone passing by and generally, people oblige to the requests. Yes, there are people who refuse and can be rude, but that’s fine, I ask the next person. I find refusal better than taking bad uninterested pictures. The best is to position the camera and explain to them where they need to stand. This way all they need to do is just click the shutter button. I basically use them as a tripod/stand. This is a hit and a miss. Most times (for me who do not like compromises) it is generally a miss. But that’s okay, all you need to do is calm down and ask another stranger to take a picture. And repeat till you get a good picture.
I have also found that sometimes bad pictures could be a result of bad lighting as opposed to the people taking the pictures. If this is the case, change the location or the point of view of the camera.
I do understand that this technique does not work for all, especially if you are a shy person or an introvert where you do not find it easy to ask or talk to random strangers. So that’s absolutely fine, try out the tripod which I have always had a 100% success rate.
Give and Take
I take the initiative and ask other strangers (mostly tourists) if they want a picture. It does not matter if they are traveling solo or as a couple or as a family. Everyone wants a group picture too! So offer to take a picture for solo travelers if traveling alone, a couple picture if there are two people and a family picture if there are more than two people. This way people are obligated to return the favour most times. And generally, people do return the favour without hesitation.
This mode of taking a picture is not my favourite. However if none of the above tips work, then I take a selfie. I do not like selfies much, but it is better than no picture at a place.
These are the things that I do to take pictures during my solo travels. And most of the time they have worked very well for me. I have come back home with lots of pictures and memories. I do believe it is important to take pictures as they are the ones where one can look back and cherish those wonderful memories.
Also, getting a good picture also depends on having and using good photo editing software. I use Snapseed app to process my pictures. Snapseed is a free photo editing tool that is available for iPhone and Android phones. I do not believe in too much processing and the only processing that I generally do is to enhance the brightness and colours on my pictures.
If you have tried any of the above and have loved it or if you have any other tips that are not included in the above list, do let me know. Drop a comment below or write to me on Solopassport@gmail.com.