There aren’t that many downsides to solo travel, in fact, quite the opposite! The open road, the unforgettable adventures and empowering sense of freedom are just some of the reasons that make the life appealing to so many. However, there’s one superficial problem that can be quite a headache; if you’re travelling alone, who’s going to take your picture?
That may seem like a pretty shallow and nit-picky concern, but if you’ve travelled all the way to the pyramids of Giza or the Great Wall of China, surely you’d want to commemorate the moment with a decent photo or two! So how can you do that if you’re all alone?!
Don’t panic, you’re not the first traveller to face this problem, and you certainly won’t be the last! So let’s look at some of the ways you can capture those perfect shots while living the nomadic life!
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Master the Long Armed Photo
There’s no easier solution than just to stick your arm out and take the picture itself! Gone are the days of disposable Kodak cameras, now you’re able to see exactly what you’re taking a photo of! This method is also great for finding that perfect angle to enhance your best features, which is hugely important for those self-proclaimed Instagram models!
Most importantly, it’s one of the most convenient and quickest ways of taking pictures. This way you won’t have to carry enormous backpacks full of equipment as everything you need is right there on your phone!
That being said, what you gain in convenience, you usually lose in quality. Though you may have an awesome camera, your wobbly arm isn’t stable, resulting in blurry photos. It’s also very limiting with what you can capture in your shot, meaning the entire world will have to be seen in a selfie format.
Needs no equipment
Great for short distance photos
Can only take selfie shots
Less captured in the camera frame
The rage of 10 years ago is still going pretty strong today, and for good reason! Selfie sticks can be bought everywhere, can be used with pretty much any lightweight device and really add some extra depth to your photo by providing a much wider view. Another great feature is that they’re incredibly lightweight and take up little space in your pack.
Yet, as a selfie stick is just an extension of your arm, it can be even more unstable and result in blurrier shots than before! They’re also limited to using lighter devices e.g. phones and GoPros. You’re not really going to find one that can hack the weight of a DSLR!
Gives a wider view of the landscape
Shots keep to selfie format
Need attachments specific to your device
Nothing worse than getting home and realizing every shot you took is blurry and unusable! So the best way to avoid that is by investing in a stable base, and that’s where the tripods come in!
For decades these have been the favourites of photographers and filmmakers alike due to their superb stability! But don’t worry, you won’t need a Hollywood sized behemoth, these days it’s easy to find miniature tripods that even fit in your pocket! They’re great for holding up lightweight devices and can be carried with you at all times!
Yet, unlike what your girlfriend told you, size does matter! These mini-tripod have to be placed above ground level for a decent enough shot, unless you want it to capture your double chin! And like the selfie sticks, you’ll have to be wary of how heavy your device is, as it can only hold so much!
Small and lightweight
Useful for all types of devices
Needs to be placed carefully
Can only hold certain weights
A Full-Sized Tripod
Nothing beats the cool steady hand of a decent tripod! They provide the most stability by far, and really allow you to take your time and find the perfect shot! They’re also the best choice for any filmmaker looking for some rock steady video footage or even a few timelapse clips!
Though it may be a great choice, the huge drawback is the monstrously large frame itself! It’s already bad enough having to lug around an enormous backpack let alone a clunky tripod! Sure, you can find some that slot away to a manageable level, but the heavier frames are usually the steadiest.
Can take shots anywhere
Can be used for all devices
Difficult to pack
Now you’ve mastered taking photos while you travel solo, how about a way of travelling for longer?!
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Can you believe there was a time before selfie sticks and automated timers? It wasn’t that long ago that all you had to rely on for your photos were the kindness of strangers! As alien of an idea that may be today, it’s still a very viable option!
Not only is it one of the simplest methods, but it’s one of the most effective. Why waste your time, money and energy in picking out and setting up all this equipment when you could just ask someone to do the job for you?
Well, there is one good reason, because the average person takes terrible photos! They won’t capture what you want or they’ll choose a terrible angle, and you can’t exactly ask them to do it again. You have to put all your faith in one individual to take a lifelong memory for you, and that’s more of a gamble than most people are willing to take!
Needs no equipment
Need to rely on others
Quality of photos can be terrible
Take Advantage of Your Surroundings
If you don’t want to invest in heavy, clumpy equipment, then you can just take advantage of the environment you’re in! Whether you’re placing a camera atop a flattened boulder or leaning your iPhone up against a tree, there are plenty of ways you can use your surroundings to help you take a decent shot!
Granted, you’re going to have to be in the perfect place, as there often isn’t a decent place to put your devices! However, if the opportunity is there, then take it with both hands!
Needs no equipment
Difficult to find the right angle
Can damage your devices
Need to have the right surroundings
Not exactly the newest feature when it comes to taking pictures, but a great one nonetheless! By using self-timers, you can set up the perfect shot and have enough time to pose before it’s taken! More importantly, this feature can also be used across all devices, from arm-stretched selfies to cameras perched on tripods.
The problem with this method is the amount of trial and error. It would be an absolute miracle if you took a perfect shot your first time round! Be prepared for a decent couple of minutes running back-and-forth and the inevitable building of frustration as the right shot refuses to be taken!
You can set-up the shot
Used across all devices
Need to readjust your position once the timer is started
Need several attempts
Many travellers face a tough decision; should you travel as a group or travel solo?
It’s a big decision, so here are the pros and cons!
Sick of running to-and-fro from your camera, then invest in a remote shutter! They come in many different forms and can range a lot between price and convenience. The simplest ones are the button-operated selfie sticks and can get as sophisticated as voice-activated GoPros or even a separate handheld remote. These act as a real step up from the self-timers as you can set up your shot and take a photo right then and there without the need to adjust.
If there’s a downside, it would be the price. Devices that have this sort of technology isn’t usually the cheapest. Plus your chosen device may not have that option available, so tough luck.
No need to adjust position
Need to buy extra equipment
May not apply to every device
The Real Solution
When it comes to solo travel, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to taking photos, neither is there just one solution. Instead, you just use a combination of techniques whenever you see fit! You can always stick your arm out for a quick selfie and it’s always worth getting at least one extra tool for other shots! And if all else fails then you always have a breadth of passers-by to take the photo for you!
Regardless, there’s no need to worry! Even if you travel solo, there are plenty of solutions to taking your photos! When there’s a will, there’s a way. Happy snapping!
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Thank you so much for reading How to Take Photos While You Travel Solo! Check out these other helpful articles!
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.