Solo photography, or how to get nice pictures on your own

I haven’t post anything about photography for a while (except for my starting series of photojournals), so I thought about doing a new round of tips. In this case, I focused on photography while traveling solo, or in short ” solo photography “. In my opinion, traveling solo and loving photography can present some challenges, here are some tips on how overcome them.

Safety and solo photography

One of my main concerns while traveling solo was how to take care of my belongings. Usually, four eyes are better than two, but it can also get you a little distracted. When I travel alone I usually carry on me a lot of cameras and lenses. And let me tell you, those are very juicy for the local pickpocketers. If it is winter and you are wearing a few layers, it is easy for them to open your bag and you don’t feel it. If it is summer, it is likely that you will go to a beach, or a river, and don’t pay attention to your belongings all the time.

Solo photography, or how to get nice pictures on your own | The Solivagant Soul

Being alone always makes you an easier target to petty thiefs. Paranoid as I am, my cameras are always with me independently of where I am. If I am going to the bathroom, they come along. If I am going to the pool, they come with me. Absolutely everywhere. If I am going to the beach, or to the sea, I have some waterproof bags to bring them along that don’t take up any space when folded. They are great assets and fantastic to swim a little without worrying about your belongings all the time.

Do your want to know how to take the perfect travel photography? – Check out this post: Tips to get your best travel photography

Moreover, if you are going to be in an extremely crowded place, even though it can look like extreme, you can always take a lock and put it in any “tempting” place in your camera bad. Finally, regarding your camera, do not hang it from your neck. First, it will hurt your neck, and second, it will be safer with the leash wrapped around your wrist.

The main problem with traveling solo and photography

So let’s accept it. The main problem of solo photography is how to be in any of your pics. I take an average of 300 to 500 shots per day between normal pics and panoramic shots. I can be in maybe one or two of them. Even though frontal cameras in phones are a real possibility, the angle (in terms of background) is so poor, and the quality of the image so bad that is not something I consider often. In any case, there are some creative ways to get yourself in some great shots too, even when doing solo photography.

Solo photography, or how to get nice pictures on your own | The Solivagant Soul

The cheap and moraly questionable choice: The selfie

Ok, I am half joking about the “moral” part. I know that in the past years selfies have become more and more popular. Front cameras make it all easier and the phones have so many buttons that you can use to shoot that the task is quite easy. That said, I find it quite ridiculous. Not the result, but the taking. C’mon, I am sure you have been to an iconic place, looked around and you have seen a few dozens of people taking selfies with a duck face. And I am not talking about groups of teenagers, no. Even grampas do it. There’s been even some people dying while doing it… I know, this is all personal preferences. I know you can get a nice picture this way (minus the duck), but the background is often underrepresented. The solution? The selfie stick.

I know that the selfie stick is for many people the holy grail of solo photography. You only need to buy something that is often less than 10€ and voilà! the perfect arm extension! Do you know how many pieces of art have been ruined by it, or in how many places it has been banned? The perspective is better, but again, I really just can’t. Instead, my alternative is a wide angle camera. Or an ultra-wide angle or action camera. A real and nice possibility is a GoPro. Even though the quality of their pictures is not as good as for the videos, you still can get some decent shots with a very wide portion of the background on it. Moreover, you can film some great videos with them too!

Solo photography, or how to get nice pictures on your own | The Solivagant Soul

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The professional option

In the ideal world in which you don’t care about the weight you carry, a tripod is your best option. If you do that in a combination with a remote control for your camera, you got the golden ticket! A good tripod is a heavy and stable tripod, which has the inconvenient of being, you know, heavy. With a tripod you can find the perfect frame, get yourself in the perfect situation and get exactly the shot that you want. It is ideally the perfect choice. Moreover, if you have a modern camera with WiFi connection you can even check in real time how does your picture look, and even shoot from your phone. With by the way, that os something you can also do with your GoPro (4 and up).

The main problem with the tripod is of course the weight, but also how easy it is for someone to grab it an run. I personally only use it in isolated or natural areas where I am mostly alone. Finally, a possible solution to this would be buying a Gorillapod. These little things can get attached to almost everything and are quite useful while on the road. The only problem they have in my opinion is that they cannot hold much weight.

The trusting possibility

Finally, there is another option for people who trust other people: asking someone to take a picture of you. I am a fan of this when you are somewhere where they cannot run with your camera, let’s say a boat, for example. In other situations, I am not too fond of this technique. If you are, my advice is that you ask someone with a good camera around their neck or hand. Even though is not the case 100% of the times, in most of the occasions, you will get at least, a decent shot! And if you see them trying to do something weird while they are taking the picture, just ask them to not to do it. Politely!

What are your tips for “solo photography” ? Do you think I am missing anything? Tell me about in the comments!

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4 Comments

  1. I love solo travel but yes, the most awkward part is taling pics. And to be honest, I hate lugging around a tripod. I also hate selfies because I feel so vain and self-involved. Leggit, i feel like a moron wielding a selfie stick. Guess i may have to depend on the kindess of strangers!!

  2. Hahaah! This is such a common problem even when you travel with friends or family and want a picture with everyone in it. I usually end up asking a stranger and offer to click one for them too as you will almost always end up finding a tourist.

  3. Luckily I usually don’t care for photos of myself (usually looking unglamorous), but what you’ve mentioned are exactly the concerns I’d have for such an endeavor! I find it too troublesome to have to set up tripod, camera remote, etc. etc. just for that. Heh.

  4. All valid points! Getting pics of yourself when you travel solo is always a struggle haha

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