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How to take photos of yourself as a solo traveller

[This post about how to take photos of yourself as a solo traveller contains affiliate links. This means that if you chose to make a purchase via one of the links I’ve provided, I may earn as small commission at no additional cost to you.] 

Updated: 18 December 2023

Back in 2017, when I went on my first solo adventure, I had to figure out how I was going to take photos of myself as a lone traveller. It’s not a surprise that as a solo traveller, you learn to do a lot of things confidently by yourself – and capturing travel memories can be no different!

In this blog post, I’ll be covering the below:

  • How to take photos of yourself as a solo traveller
  • Best equipment & settings for taking photos
  • How to overcome feeling self-conscious about taking photos of yourself
  • Poses for solo travellers
  • Safety tips for taking photos while solo travelling
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with a camera of my hand holding berries with Pocitelj in the background

 

How to take photos of yourself as a solo traveller

There are quite a few different ways that you can take photos of yourself when travelling solo, depending on your equipment. I have tried and tested quite a few on my own travels that I’m going to run you through here.

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken by a stranger with my camera

Ask someone to take your photo

This one’s pretty straightforward but asking someone can be a great way to capture shots that you just can’t manage yourself. And, as awkward as it might seem at first, I feel like this is one of the most universally accepted favours we can ask of a stranger.

Tips for asking someone to take your picture:

  • Look for someone with a camera or *looks* tech savvy: If I want a photo taken with my DSLR, I always try to ask someone who not only has a camera, but appears to look like the know what they are doing with it (i.e. not some who just points and shoots). If I can’t see anyone with a camera or I’m after a photo on my phone, I look for someone who looks fairly tech savvy (this would be someone who looks like their putting a bit of effort into framing and angling their own photos).
  • Get your camera ready: I always have my camera settings ready to go (autofocus, zoom, etc) so that the person can simply frame the shot and snap the photo. Also, make sure to advise if you’d like it landscape or portrait.
  • Ask them to take a few shots: I suggest mentioning this because there’s nothing worse than getting your camera or phone back to see only one photo was taken. Especially, if you’re a chronic blinker like me!
  • Explain what you’d like in the picture: Everyone has different ideas when taking photos so unless you’re prepared to tell them exactly how you’d like the photo (and, let’s be real, even if you do) you might not always get the picture you imagined. I’ve had plenty of photos taken by others where the top of the monument might get cut off or your hands, feet or the top of your head are missing from the frame. Keep the instructions simple, i.e. do say: “please try to get my full body in the frame as well at the top of the cathedral”.
  • Offer to take someone else’s photo first: If you feel uncomfortable asking someone to take your picture, you can always offer to take their picture first. More often than not, when you’re done taking their photo (or even if they don’t want a photo) people will offer to do the same in return. Also, if they can see the effort you put in to taking their photo, it may help to set expectations (i.e. taking more than one photo, etc).
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Selfie with a Quokka taken with my iPhone

Take a Selfie (and use a selfie stick)

Selfie shots can be taken with an outstretched arm or with a selfie stick and are great for any traveller armed with a mobile phone or action camera. I personally don’t use a selfie stick often, unless I’m using my GoPro and Insta360, but some people swear by them and get some incredible shots on their phones too.

Things to note:

  • It’s important to keep in mind that there are some places where selfie sticks are banned. Always double-check an official website or contact the place you’re visiting to avoid any unnecessary confiscations or fines.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken by me using my camera and my phone as the remote. In this one, the camera was placed on an elevated rocky surface

Utilise flat and elevated surfaces

Sometimes, you just need to get resourceful. There’s been numerous times where I’ve forgotten my tripod or couldn’t be bothered bringing it with me and I’ve ended up wanting to snap a picture. With a little improvisation and luck, finding a spot to place your device in a position that captures you and the scenery or monument behind you can be a simple solution. Any secure surface, such as a wall, window ledge, fence, rubbish bin (kinda gross, but if you’re desperate), bag or rock, can be great to prop your camera atop to snap a picture of yourself.

Just be mindful of your surroundings when doing so. Make sure you don’t leave your device in a place where onlookers can easily snatch it while you’re taking the picture or where the wind will catch it and send it flying.

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken by me using my camera and my phone as the remote. In this one, the camera was mounted on my Joby GorillaPod.

Use a Tripod

Using a tripod is one of my favourite methods because you can set up the picture exactly as you wish. It’s basically like having someone take your picture for you, but perhaps even better because you can frame the image exactly as you wish.

The are a number of different tripods for cameras, smartphones and action cameras in different sizes, height-ranges and weight. I currently use the Joby GorillaPod because it’s compact, light and very versatile. However, it’s slightly different to a traditional tripod as it doesn’t extend in height, and I honestly do miss having the height of a standard tripod (like I used for the Eiffel Tower shots in this post).

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with a camera of my feet with a Bourbon Street sign

Incorporate other parts of your body

Sometimes, you might just want to make the picture your own. When you’re taking photos of a delicious pastry in France, you might want to be holding it in your hand versus the pastry just sitting on a plate; or, if you see a sign on a path, framing the photo with your feet in the shot can turn a picture of a sign on the ground into a memory of you standing on that particular street. Whatever type of device you’re using, taking a picture of your hand or feet adds a little more you into a picture that may have otherwise been taken by someone else.

I find hand or feet photos really easy to snap when I’ve already got my camera or iPhone out while exploring a new city. For those that might not love being in front of the camera, it’s a much more subtle way of capturing yourself in places around the world!

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with an iPhone of my hand and wrist wearing a Hawaiian Lei

Buy a photo tour or go on a private tour

Photo tours are increasing in popularity and availability in many cities around the world, where you purchase a tour that someone (usually a photographer who knows that they’re doing) will take photos of you in a variety of locations. While I haven’t done this myself and they can be a little pricey, they are an option available for anyone that doesn’t want to take their chances with their own solo travel photography skills.

Alternatively, there are also options to take private tours. These could be more affordable or relatively similar in pricing to the photography tours. It’s important to keep in mind that standard private tours are not photo-driven tours so while I’m sure the tour guide will gladly snap some photos of you, they aren’t professional photographers.

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken by me using my camera (which was sat on the jetty) on self-timer mode.

 

Best equipment & settings for taking great photos as a solo traveller

Smartphone (iPhone or similar)

If you’re armed with a smartphone the best methods for you are taking a selfie or using a selfie stick to widen the frame of your photo, which will allow more of the background into the shot. Since almost everyone owns some sort of smartphone nowadays, asking a stranger to take a photo with yours should be relatively straight-forward.

Best ways to get the shot:

  • Burst mode: This is where instead of taking just one photo, the camera takes multiple shots within a few seconds, thus giving you a selection of photos to choose from rather than just the one picture.. This is a great option when asking a stranger to take your photo. Burst mode is an option on most smartphones but how you activate it differs between models and brands. (If you’re unsure, a quick Google will tell you how to utilise the function on your phone).
  • Use a Tripod and/ or selfie stick: Using one of these accessories will help you get more of yourself in the shot, as well as help you achieve a more desirable angle of what’s behind you.
  • Use a wireless remote: Wireless remotes connect to your phone and allow you to activate the shutter button from a distance. Here are some options:
    • A general wireless remote: Usually a small device, that connects to your device through bluetooth, with a button that activates the shutter on your camera, phone or action camera.
    • Smart watch: If you have a smart watch, some of these can connect to your phone and act as a shutter button and remote viewfinder, as well as adjust other settings while you stay in position.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Still taken from a video clip made with a GoPro and a floating pole

Go Pro (or similar)

GoPros are a versatile device because they are super small and compact. They are great for taking selfies, and you can change the settings so that it shoots with a wide field of view, which means you can capture a lot more of what’s behind you. There’s a variety of selfie sticks or handles that can assist you with getting that perfect shot, or you can attach the device to a tripod. There are even selfie stick/ tripod combination tools that you can buy. GoPros are generally pretty easy to use in terms of capturing a shot, so asking a stranger to take your picture won’t be too difficult to explain either.

Best ways to get the shot:

  •  Video + photo mode: While in the video mode, you can also set an interval to take a still photo. If the photo captured isn’t what you were shooting for, you’ll also have the opportunity to use any of the stills from the video. To do this, you’ll need to pause the video at the exact time you want to extract the still and take a screenshot.
  • Using the wifi connection and the “Capture” app on your phone: Most of the newer GoPros have an inbuilt in WiFi function, which means you can easily connect your GoPro to your phone through GoPro’s official app. This will allow you to operate the GoPro remotely and take your picture from a distance. The app will also show you a live preview, which helps ensure you’ve got the composition of your photo how you want it.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with my DSLR camera and Joby Tripod, as well as my iPhone (which is in my hand hidden behind my left thigh) to take the shot remotely.

Insta360

The Insta360 is another versatile device, that, similar to the GoPro, are super small and compact. What makes the Insta360 such a great companion for solo travellers is that they have 360-degree image and video function, making it even easier to take selfies and get all your surroundings in the one shot. Through editing, you can even reframe your photo or video from the 360 view. With the Insta360, you can utilise on of their invisible selfie sticks, which are exactly as the name suggests invisible in your image. There are even invisible selfie stick/ tripod combination options for the Insta360.

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken on my camera mounted on a full-sized tripod using a wireless remote (This is the photo I reference in my introduction!)

Digital or DSLR camera

My go-to device for taking my solo travel photos is my DSLR. I prefer the image quality over my other devices, and while it’s a bulkier to carry around that some of the other options, you can also make the most of flat and elevated surfaces because a camera, such as a bulky DSLR, can easily stand up by itself (unlike a smartphone or Insta360).

Best ways to get the shot:

  • Self-timer: This one’s been around for awhile, but basically you’ll change your camera’s settings so that it will have a delay between the time you press the button to the time the camera’s shutter fires. This allows you to swiftly move into position and capture yourself in the picture.
  • Self-timer with multiple shots: This method is the same as above except it will take more than one photo giving you a selection of photos to choose from rather than just the one picture.
  • Multiple shots: Similarly to how it works with the self-timer, it can also be a good idea when you’re having a stranger take your photo to place the setting on multiple shots. This means that you’ll again have a selection of photos to choose from, which I find really useful because, like I mentioned earlier, I usually have my eyes shut more than they’re open.
  • Wireless remote: Remotes can be bought specifically for certain devices, which are basically a portable substitute for the shooting button on your camera. The allows you to step away from the camera and avoid racing against the self-timer. All you have to do is get in position, simply click a remote shutter release!
    Tip: You can also use the multiple shots setting with your remote. 
  • Enable WiFi connection and app on your phone: Some cameras have a built-in WiFi connection, which means you can easily connect your camera to your phone, using an app, and operate the shutter remotely. Some apps also shows you a live viewer on your phone, which means you can ensure you standing in the right spot, etc. (And you won’t have to worry about cutting off your own head or completely blocking the monument you’re trying to stand next to in the picture.
    Tips:

    • You can also use the multiple shots setting through the app. 
    • Keep in mind that using the WiFi remote can be draining on the batteries of both devices so I often bring a spare camera battery and portable charger for my phone.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with my camera perched up on a small wall. In this photo, I am using my phone to take the photo remotely.

 

How to overcome feeling self-conscious about taking photos of yourself as a solo traveller

I won’t lie, even after all these years, I still feel a bit uncomfortable taking photos of myself in public (especially when I whip out my tripod).

Some people have no issue taking selfies or setting up their tripods; and I would love that confidence. Back in 2017, I was really stepping outside my comfort zone trying to snap my first solo travel photo at the Eiffel Tower. I had my huge tripod all set up and it caught a lot of harmless attention. It was mostly just people curious about what I was doing, but I didn’t like the eyes on me. Now, I just get used to being uncomfortable and incorporate the tips you’re about to read below into my game plan.

Here are some of the things I put into play that you can too:

  • Get an early start: Not only will there be fewer people around, but seeing certain monuments and landmarks early in the morning means that you can enjoy it without the busy crowds.
  • Practice patience: In certain places, people will come in waves. If you have patience, wait for people to walk by or finish taking their photos and then you’ll likely have the area to yourself for short bursts of time. This won’t necessarily be an option for all places you visit, especially popular attractions.
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable: If all else fails, learn to embrace the discomfort. Having that photo for a lifetime outweighs the momentary discomfort of any stranger’s stares or judgement. Sometimes it’s good to remember that these are people who you’ll likely never see again and what they think of a stranger taking a photo of themselves really doesn’t matter.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken on my camera sitting up on a ledge using a timer setting.

 

Poses for solo travellers

Now that you have ideas for ways to take photos of yourself while travelling solo, here are some pose ideas if, like me, you feel awkward being in front of the camera. I’ve also noted what equipment was used and how each photo was taken for reference. I’d also like to note that any photos taken by another person, likely could have also been achieved with a standard tripod.

Walking poses

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Left to right: Taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote; taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; another taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote.

Standing poses

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Left to right: Taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; also taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote; also taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote.

Sitting poses

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Top, left to right: Taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; also taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote; also taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote. Bottom, left to right: Taken by another person with my GoPro; taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; also taken by a person on my group tour with my DSLR; taken with my DSLR on the Joby Tripod using my phone as a remote.

Back of the head poses

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Left to right: Taken with my DSLR balanced on a column using my handbag to keep it in position (really had to get resourceful on this one); taken with my DSLR using a standard tripod; taken by someone else using my DSLR.

Poses that match the locations

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Left to right: taken by someone on my group tour using my DSLR; taken by someone else using my DSLR.

But regardless of how good your poses, equipment, accessories or confidence might be, you’ll probably end up with some photos like these…

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller

 

Safety tips for taking photos while solo travelling

  • When you ask someone to take your picture, always pick that person with care – I usually go for someone who looks similar to me (another tourist who, as I mentioned above, looks like they know what they’re doing with a camera, not only because they’ll likely know how to take a photo using my camera but they might be less likely to run away with it.)
  • Be mindful of where you set up your tripod and be aware of who is around you.
  • Keep any other other valuables on you.
  • I always try to be within arms reach of my tripod if I’m in a crowded or busy area, such as the Eiffel Tower (hence why most of my shots are close ups of the back of my head).
  • Trust. Your. Gut. Always. Just like in any other situation when travelling solo, if something doesn’t feel right – don’t risk it.
how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken with my DSLR camera and Joby Tripod, as well as my iPhone (which is in my hand hidden on the table in front of me). I’ve set the camera on a time and used my phone to activate the timer remotely.

 

A short, sharp summary on how to take photos yourself as a solo traveller:

Ways to take photos of yourself as a solo traveller:

  • Ask someone to take your photo
  • Utilise a tripod
  • Utilise a selfie stick
  • Take a outreached-arm selfie
  • Utilise surfaces available around you
  • Take photos of your hand and foot in the image
  • Go on a photoshoot tour or private tour

Accessories that’ll help you get the photos you want:

  • A tripod will help you frame your shots and achieve angles just like you could with another person taking your photo
  • Selfie sticks will help you to get more of the background in your photos and they won’t be such close-ups of your face
  • Wireless remotes will help you activate the shutter button from a distance to avoid having to use the dreaded self-timer
  • Utilise your camera or action camera’s apps on your smart phone as a remote viewfinder and shutter button, which allows you to frame and take your photo from a distance.
  • Utilise your smartwatch to connect with your smart phone as a remote viewfinder and shutter button, which allows you to frame and take your photo from a distance.

Settings to use on your devices to make snapping the photo easier:

  • On devices that offer it, utilise burst mode, which takes multiple shots instead of one.
  • Alternatively, you can use the self-timer mode on your devices.

 

how-to-take-photos-of-yourself-as-a-solo-traveller
Taken by me using my camera and my phone as the remote. This is another time that I’ve pace the camera on an elevated rocky surface.

How do you take photos of yourself as a solo traveller? 

 

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18 Comments

  1. Great ideas! We get the coolest pics from using random objects to prop our phones up for pics on hikes!

  2. These tips would be pretty helpful for solo travelers. I totally agree that the universally accepted favor we can ask a stranger is to take our pic. Wonderful read!

  3. As a solo traveller, this is a problem I have all the time. Some of these methods I use but it was good to be reminded of other ways of getting that pic in fabulous locations.

  4. Those are really great tips! I personally use a Bluetooth remote connected to my phone; so glad I discovered this!

  5. What a helpful and insightful article! I always love taking photos and it’s always so fulfilling when you can do it yourself! I agree that having a tripod is a life-saver when taking photos of yourself!

  6. As a fellow solo traveller, this is so helpful! Love the pose suggestions.

  7. Very useful post. Gave me some great ideas for the future, including the hand and feet selfie and burst mode.

  8. This is such a helpful post, I’m heading off on my first solo trip and I’m just thinking I’ll end up with a ton of selfies haha! I’ll definitely be taking a tripod with me! xo

  9. Love this! I’ve always had to get creative before I used a tripod. I remember trying to take a selfie in San Francisco and having to put my phone on timer mode, while resting it on my bag. Straight-up MacGuyver!

  10. I hate those selfies with the squeezed lips. 😃😆😆I always having problem shooting my own photos! Thank you!! Great tips.

  11. Thanks for all tips! I just started vlogging and can relate to the feeling of taking selfies. Walking around with a camera talking to it feels so weird but Im getting there.

  12. I always struggle with this too – great advice! and I take a LOT of shots of myself with a tripod and always feel soooo awkward but I’m slowly learning to not care and just roll sighot!

  13. I’ve always wondered how solo travellers take such epic shots! I’m quite lucky that I can travel with my husband but I tend to set the shot up for him and he just presses the button 🙂

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