One of the great benefits of travelling with someone is you always have someone to act as your personal photographer. But it doesn’t make it any easier when you want to get a picture of the two of you together. So whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, or a group, this guide will reveal my secrets in managing self-portrait travel photos.
Ask Someone to Take Your Picture…But Use These Tips for the Ask
The easiest way to get a picture with you in it is to ask someone else to take it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out. Some people barely know how to work a camera and you end up with a finger in your picture or your head is cut off. The truth is to capture a really good travel photo, it often takes multiple poses and angles to get it just right. You don’t want to hassle a stranger into your personal photographer but with just a few cues, you can turn just about anyone into an amateur photographer.
Ask the right person
Asking the person taking photos on their iPad is probably not going to result in a satisfying picture. Instead, look for someone who has a nice camera. There’s a better chance they know how to take a decent photo.
Offer to take someone else’s photo
If you see someone trying to take a selfie of themselves or struggling to get their perfect shot, offer to do it for them. Take the time to take multiple angles, poses and distances. Once they’ve seen how much effort you put into your photo, they are more likely to put similar effort into capturing your shot.
Frame the shot
When you hand over your camera, frame the shot and show the person what you are looking for. Tell them which way to hold the camera. Tell them if you want them to take a few photos or multiple poses.
Once that person is done thank them and check out the pictures. If you’re unhappy, try asking someone else. You may feel silly but really, you will never see these people again and you will have the picture forever.
The person who took this photo totally used these tips on us. They asked to take our picture first, patiently waited until no one else was in the photo and took multiple angles. In return, we spent time getting a great photo for them.
Use a Tripod…or Get Creative with Props
A tripod is how Tom and I get the majority of our photos that are together. Although asking other people does work, a tripod allows you the time to take as many pictures as you want until you’re satisfied.
We have two different tripods with us currently:
Gekkopod – This was our first tripod. I like it because it’s small and portable. It’s versatile and can be attached to most anywhere like trees, railings, posts, etc to set up a shot. It came with an attachment to hold your iPhone and also has a universal attachment for cameras. The only downside is that if there’s nothing around to attach it to, you’re stuck with shots from the ground. Since it’s not tall, you’re looking at unflattering, up the nose kind of angles. Not cute. And so we invested in a second tripod.
Taken using our GekkoPod at the side of the pool
Traditional tripod – I’m not certain what type ours is since we bought it at a market in Cambodia, but its similar to this one. With this style of tripod, you can set up a shot at eye level as if someone else was taking the photo. You can also set the camera portrait style which is difficult to accomplish with the gekko pod. The tripod is fairly light and comes with a carrying case but is a bit bulky and takes up space.
Taken using traditional tripod
If I had to choose one tripod it would definitely be the traditional tripod. It’s bulkier to carry around but it’s way more versatile for getting the exact picture you want.
If you don’t have a tripod or you aren’t carrying it at the time that you want to take pictures you can still capture great shots. You just have to get creative with how to set up your camera. We use park benches, tree stumps or even our sandals to hold the phone or camera up at the right angle.
Taken by wedging my cell phone between our flip flops
Interval Timer App
When using my phone for taking pictures I always use the Camera Awesome app. This app takes a picture at whatever interval you set, I usually do 1 second. That means you can stand and take multiple poses, facial expressions, etc. all in one set up without having to run back and forth to set a self-timer. Then just sort through the photos that you like to download to your camera roll.
A side note, the Camera Awesome app is no longer being updated and isn’t going to be supported by newer Apple upgrades. It makes me so sad because I’ve been using it forever. So I am looking for a new timer app if anyone has suggestions for one that does the same thing.
Remote or Wifi Enabled Camera
Almost all cameras have a self-timer but a remote or wifi-enabled camera can make self-portraits way easier. Instead of running back and forth to set the timer, you can click your remote to take the picture when you’re ready. Because I have a wifi enabled camera, my phone works as a wireless remote. I am also able to view the shot on my phone screen so I can ensure we are standing in the right position.
Get up Earlier
I used this tip in my post on how to get pictures without anyone in them. The one thing about using a tripod or setting up a camera is that it can be challenging with a lot of people around. People may knock down your camera or worse steal it. And it’s more difficult to set up with people around. Therefore my tips for getting up earlier or finding the times where there are less tourists around make taking self-portraits a lot easier.
Selfie stick when all else fails
I really hate selfie sticks and avoid them at all costs. Personally, I don’t think they take as good of photos as you can usually see the stick or see that it’s angled in a way to avoid the stick. And I’m still usually too embarrassed to pull one out. Tom and I managed all of our photos without pulling out our selfie stick once (score!). However, they can be useful in situations when you’re in a busy place and can’t set up a tripod. No surprise, but we found Southeast Asia filled with people’s selfie sticks and some areas where they were even banned because they really can become a hazard.