13 UNEXPECTED PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS
A lot of people often ask me who takes my photos when I travel. It's funny because they always assume I travel with someone - umm, I wish. The truth of taking photos on my travels is a whole let let glamorous. In fact, the reality looks more like this: 1. Set up camera and tripod 2. Choose settings and self timer 3. Press down the button on my camera to take the photo 4. In 10 second I literally sprint into position, adjust my outfit and try to look natural - like someone else is taking my photo and I am really happy about it
As the majority of my travels for Mister Weekender are solo, over time I've had to get creative with how I take photos with me in them. 99% of the time I feel super awkward but it has to be done, so I just get on with it. So when I tell people I usually take all of my own photos with me in, then they ask straight away how. So here are 13 photography tips for solo travellers.
TRIPOD Investing in a tripod is the smartest purchase I've made for my travels. There are many cheap and expensive varieties on the market. However the more expensive tripods tend to be quite heavy and therefore take up valuable weight in my suitcase. I use a sturdy, less expensive tripod by SLIK.
AUTO TIMER When I travel, auto timer is my best friend - we're really good travel buddies. My Canon DSLR 70D comes with a 10 second auto timer, which means I have 10 seconds to run into position before the camera takes a photo. As I shoot mostly landscapes, these 10 seconds go very quickly. Additionally, I am usually not running on a flat surface - I am running to get into position on sand, the side of a mountain, through thick grass and wheat fields. And after a while I can really work up a sweat and have found it's at least a great cardio session (lol). So for the spectator, it's quite an interesting scenario to watch.
PEOPLE WATCHING Ugh! This is the worst for me. I feel so awkward in front of a camera let alone people watching me as I take photo after photo after photo on self timer. To avoid this happening, I'll usually take photos of myself very early in the morning or that 30 minutes before sunset (otherwise known as magic hour) when there is no one else around. Luckily I mostly shoot in remote locations but if I need to shoot in a busy area, I just get on with it.
CAMERA PLACEMENT Sometimes I don't have my tripod on me, so I look to put my camera on other things when I take a self timed photo - backpack, tree, rock, table, ground. Anything goes! Plus shooting on different heights makes my photos look really interesting. And if the photo is not 100% straight, no worries. You can fix this in Photoshop and photo editing apps. Instagram also has a straightening tool.
SELFIE STICK Yup! I have one. Although I rarely use it as I don't take that many photos of myself close up. I prefer to take photos of me standing in the middle of a wide open landscape to show perspective of a location. However, I always carry it with me just in case.
STRANGERS Don't be shy! Actually who am I kidding? It takes me ages to pluck up the courage to ask a stranger to take a photo of me. And when I do, it's never what I had envisioned. So over time I have learned to look out for other photographers by seeing what cameras they carry and if I don't have that luxury, I'll set the camera up on auto, frame the shot, take an example photo, show the stranger and ask them to copy it exactly.
GUIDED TOURS I often go on trips with other media or holiday makers, so going on tour is a great way to get people to help me take photos. Also ask your guides. They have lots of experience and have time to help you.
NO FACE, NO WORRIES Yes, my face does not have to be in every photo I'm in. Examples include photos of my hand holding a map or a car steering wheel, and photos of my shoes as I hike up a mountain or have my legs in the ocean. Get creative!
REFLECTIONS Use reflections - car mirrors, art installations, windows.
TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS I take as many photos as I can. This ensures there will be at least one, maybe two photos I absolutely love.
DIFFERENT CAMERAS I don't just shoot with my Canon 70D. I also shoot with my iPhone 6 and recently bought an Olloclip. I find my iPhone takes an exceptional photo and if I can't get my Canon out quickly, I'll take a photo using my phone and edit it in Photoshop like I would with my raw files. The quality is really good!
REMOTE When I was in New Zealand, one of the photographers had a remote. Genius! I've got five overseas trips in the next few months and a remote will be perfect to use. Plus it will save me running back and forth to set up the timer. I just have to figure out how I can hind it in the palm of my hand. Note to self, clenched fists is not the answer.
BONUS TIP: If I don't have enough space or weight in my suitcase, I will take my compact tripod with me onto the plane as carry on. It has a small bag which I throw over my shoulder before I put my backpack on. I've never had any problems as flight staff tend to be more focused on actual bags.
Do you have any other suggestions or photography tips for solo travellers? I'd love you to share them so please feel free to comment below.