4 Tips for solo travel photo’s

Lizet Wesselman - 11/04/2023

4 Tips for solo travel photo’s

Lizet Wesselman - 11/04/2023

One of the most frequently asked questions in all the travel Facebook groups I’m in is “how do you all have those great photos as solo travellers?” If you’re still walking around with your selfie stick or don’t even have one of those and constantly notice your arms are too short, this article is for you. I’ll explain to you how to make sure you’ll take great photo’s as a solo traveller.

1. Your tripod is your best friend

Not everyone agrees, but for me this is absolutely true. A tripod gives you the ability to take your picture exactly the way you want. You can position it in a way that you’ll capture exactly what you want to capture, at the angle you want. All you have to do is stand in the right spot and take the photos.

How? Different ways, just depending on what you use as a camera.

  • Do you have a modern camera? Then you probably have the option to control it remotely. This can be done with an app on your phone, but then you have that phone in your hand… It can also be done with a little clicker that you hold. You can then also set a timer of say 2 seconds, and then you can throw the clicker away if you’d like. 
  • You can also use the timer. Every camera and every phone has a timer option. Set it to 10 seconds and get into position. The disadvantage of this, however, is that you have to walk back for each photo to see if the picture was successful and if not, you have to do it again. The clicker is more convenient because then you can take multiple photos with multiple poses. You can also stand a little further away because you can’t walk very far and take a pose in 10 seconds.
  • Many cameras also have the option to take interval photos. This is a setting where you take a new picture every 3 seconds, for example, with 40 pictures in a row. So, you can activate your camera, stand in the right spot and take different poses. So, it’s similar to the timer, but with the big difference that you take several photos at once and then there are often some good options in between. Saves a lot of running back and forth.
  • Another option is to make a video and later take screenshots of poses you liked. This way you don’t have to walk back and forth all the time, and you also have a video. I, personally, find the quality of this a bit disappointing though, so I really only do this when I have no other option.

Note: although a tripod is really ideal, you have to be careful. This really only works when it’s quiet, so preferably around sunrise or for example in a quiet piece of nature. Placing a camera in a busy city in the middle of the day and then walking away from it is obviously a terrible idea. So, a tripod does take some planning and is not always possible.

2. Ask bystanders for help

Is it busy? Or are there multiple photographers, for example, and you don’t feel like setting up your tripod? Then ask for help. There are always people who will lovingly take a picture of you.

Disadvantage: not everyone is equally good at photography, and it’s often very uncomfortable to ask for a new photo if you’re unhappy with it. There are some tips for picking the right person. Gen Z is generally very good with the right angles, and they often take 20 photos from different angles, so there is usually a good one in between. Sometimes they give you tips on posture themselves, in case you don’t quite know how to pose. Ideal! So look for someone from Gen Z or at least someone as young as possible. Chances are a 12-year-old will take better photos than dear grandma. Photographers are also often a good option. But sometimes the photographer turns out not to be a particularly good photographer either… A camera doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing, I’ve unfortunately learned.

Another option is to ask someone who’s taking photos themselves. Either ask a couple or friends who are doing a whole photoshoot “could you take a picture of me too?”, or someone who is struggling with selfies themselves. Suggest that you take pictures of them if they then want to take a picture of you as well. That way you help each other, and you might also meet a very sociable solo traveller with whom you can have lunch.

How do you know if you can trust people? Well, you don’t. This is really a matter of following your gut. Families can often be trusted. Young people often have their own equipment, so they really don’t need to steal your phone or camera. That’s kind of what I rely on.

3. Find a photo buddy

Most people who travel solo run into the same obstacles as you. Despite sometimes feeling like you’re weird and probably exaggerating, probably the opposite is true. So, are you having a nice chat with someone in your hostel? Just throw it out there. “Hey, I would love to take pictures here tomorrow morning, but I’m alone. Do you happen to feel like doing a photoshoot together and having coffee somewhere afterwards?” Fat chance they’ll say yes. And if not, at least you tried.

Another option is to ask online if people feel like shooting. Use travel groups or local expat groups to meet people. Post that you would like to take photos and would like to do it with someone so you both have fun photos. Also, people who have lived in 1 place for a long time may have the idea to do it someday, but never really get around to it. This could be the perfect chance for them as well to finally explore that place.

4. Book a photoshoot

Do you really want to make sure you go home with beautiful photos but you’re not very good at photography yourself? Then book a photoshoot. These days there are all kinds of platforms where you can book a photoshoot with a local or expat and often they are not expensive at all. Especially in inexpensive locations. For example, look through GetYourGuide, Viator or Airbnb Experiences. You often also get some tips & tricks from someone who lives there, possibly even an entire tour of the city. Super fun and guaranteed success.

But how to actually make sure it’s a good photo?

Not everyone is a photographer or a model. So I also completely understand if you have trouble figuring out how to set up your tripod or what pose to strike. Practice makes perfect, anyway. What’s a nice trick is to look for examples in advance. For example, search Pinterest for posing inspiration or check out your favourite influencers. On Instagram, you can also look up the destination’s top locations and see how others take photos. What angle did they take their photo from? What pose do they strike? How visible are they on camera? Etc etc etc. This way you will naturally get inspiration and once you’ve done it a few times you’ll also know what poses suit you. Not everyone feels equally comfortable in every pose, so just try it out and you’ll figure it out.

It can be super uncomfortable when people are around, so you might fall back on basic poses. But keep in mind that we live in a social media age. You’re never going to run into those people again, and they probably aren’t bothered with you at all. And probably they all think “oh another social media person” and then they go on with their own lives. Really try to ignore that and just do your thing. It’s your trip that you want to have a fun memory of. That they have boring pictures is their problem.