I will say that some landscapes and scenes are perfectly pretty without any subject inside the frame. These landscape makes enough of an impact to stand alone. I’ve come to realize that many destinations are more interesting if you can place someone inside of said destination. The addition of an emotional element makes a capture more inspirational, personable and engaging. Ahhh. But how do you capture yourself in a destination if you’re alone?!
Tip #1: Always bring a tripod
Yes, it takes up precious carry-on or checked space. But has it aided in snapping some of my best photos? Sure has! I never leave for a trip without my tripod, a MeFOTO Travel Tripod. Of course this requires a quality camera first, such as the Nikon D7100 or may I suggest the Nikon D3200 for beginners! Just make sure to meet the tripod half way. It’s doing half the work, so at least get your hair out of your face…
Tip #2: Use your surroundings and a self-timer or remote
No tripod? No problem. Well, only sometimes is this true. If you’re alone and want to capture the moment (with you inside it), secure your camera on a hard surface and adjust the setting to self-timer mode. Get creative! Set it on the ground for a unique perspective. Rest it on a higher ledge for a makeshift aerial view. I have mine set for 9 different shots with 3 seconds in between for plenty of variety. I also have the Phottix Stratos II remotes for Nikon. Plenty of free apps are available for self-timers on your smartphone as well!
Tip #3: Just freaking ask a stranger already
After many years of travel, I have never ever been turned down by a stranger when asking them to take my photo. They may hand the camera over to their better equipped significant other or family member standing near by, but fellow travelers and tourists are generally happy to always help. Unless you hit the jackpot and asked a photographer, there’s a good chance that a random stranger won’t really know how to compose or frame a shot. I typically take an example photo, show them, and ask them to do the exact same thing with me inside the frame. It still may not turn out perfectly, but it’ll probably be good enough. You can’t really take a bad photo of the Great Wall, either…
Tip #4: Meet up with a photographer or readers in their city
Recently, this has been one of my favorite ways to engage with like-minded people. I worked with a great Paris-based photographer on a recent trip and learned a lot about photography that day while also having a private tour guide. Win-win. I also hosted a few meet-ups this past summer which have helped me connect with some of the most important people in my life – my readers! Thanks to Suzy from San Francisco for capturing this gem!
Tip #5: Tour Guides are always your friend
Tour guides are fantastic because they’ll never say no to a “Do you mind taking a photo?” They can’t – it’s basically their job. Good reviews and better tips matter! Plus, I’ve come to realize that tour guides know their way around a camera. This is typically due to the fact that they’ve either taken advantage of their own beautiful surroundings or they’ve been asked so frequently, they’ve just learned on the job. Many thanks to my hiking guide, Mark from Hike Victoria, for the below photo!
Tip #6: If all else fails, there’s always the selfie. Or worse. The selfie stick.
Need I elaborate here? Didn’t think so. But I will. It’s important to note that where tripods can’t sit, a selfie stick (or even better: a GoPro w/ GoPole) may be able to, such as in an overhead shot that looks down on the subject matter or an underwater shot. They aren’t all touristy and vain 🙂 Also, throw judgement to the wind. Who cares if someone sees you running to get in place for a timed selfie. The less you care, the better the photo will be. I promise. When are you ever going to see that stranger again, anyhow? The more I say that to myself, the higher the probability that I actually will run into said stranger again. Oh well. Maybe they’ll remember me and come take my photo the second time around!