Are you a solo traveller who loves to take pictures? It can be tricky enough to learn how to take a good picture, but on top of that figuring out how to take pictures of yourself to capture precious moments is an extra challenge when you’re galavanting the globe solo.
In this post, we are sharing photography tips for beginners as well as tips on how to take epic photos of yourself when you are travelling solo. By the end of this post, you’ll be armed with photography tips, advice on how to make yourself look amazing (with the help of no one else!) and also how to edit your photos like a pro.
Photography tips for beginners
In this section, we’ll cover a few basic photography tipsto help you start taking more professional and well-framed images on your travels.
These tips will help you to capture the essence of where you are, get creative and take images that will inspire others to travel too!
1. Clean your lens!
This super basic tip is also one that is easy to forget when you’re in the moment and finding epic frames to capture, but it is oh so important! Ever taken a photo to only look back and see how blurry and poor quality it is? It’s probably something you want to avoid, especially if you are at a once in a lifetime destination!
Whether you are using a professional camera or a camera phone, it is exceptionally easy for the lens to collect dust, lint and smudge marks from your fingers and face. Carry a microfibre cloth with you everywhere you go so you can clean your lens in a flash and always take the best quality photos you can with what you have!
2. Use your grid lines
There are a number of different grid lines and ratios you can use to make your image pop and be more appealing to the eye. By following these basic grid line tips, you can go from a boring image that doesn’t truly capture a place to an eye-catching and interesting picture, good enough to frame on the wall!
The first composition tip is the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio has been used across many art forms to create beautiful proportions which are appealing to the human eye. The Golden Ratio is a spiral, similar to a sea shell or the centre of a flower and is present all throughout nature and the universe such as our very own galaxy.
Using the Golden Ratio helps you to create organic and natural-looking images that are aesthetically pleasing. This is done by using grid lines on your camera. The Golden Ratio is activated via the rule of thirds. By utilising a 3x3 grid, you equally divide the image into 9 parts. You place the subject of the image in one of the thirds or in one of the horizontal grid lines. This gives the image structure and makes them more appealing.
You can utilise the rule of thirds when you are taking images or you can edit your images by cropping them to implement the rule of thirds if you weren’t able to do it while taking images.
This composition technique is one of the oldest and most classic tips for professional photography so it is amazing to be aware of it (even if you don’t always use it!
The second composition tip is to use leading lines. Leading lines move the viewer’s eye around the photo or towards the subject. Leading lines add depth and visual appeal to images. A classic way to use leading lines is to photograph a road or pathway with a person in the middle of a mountain range in the distance.
The third composition tip is to look for symmetry when taking photos. Humans love symmetry, it is pleasing to the eye as it creates harmony in an image through balanced proportions. This is a great tip for creating images that people will love to look at again and again.
3. The rule of odds
The rule of odds states that having an odd number of objects in a photo is more appealing to the eye than an even number This is particularly useful if you love taking images of food in restaurants when you are out travelling or if you are taking an image that has a number of props.
4. Experiment with the focus
Focus and depth of field, called aperture, can play a massive role in taking images from bland to exceptional. If you’d like to have just one object in an image in focus and the rest blurry, shortening the depth of field to only the subject and having the rest of the image blurry highlights the important and visual appeal of that subject, whether it is a person or a flower. Having a larger depth of field, where everything is in focus creates a sense of expanse and is perfect for taking images of impressive landscapes.
It is simple to experiment with the focus on our phones these days with things like portrait mode. On traditional DSLR cameras, manual settings such as shutter speed and aperture are used to control the light that enters the lens and the depth of focus.
5. Don’t forget about the foreground
The foreground is the space at the bottom of your photo, in front of the subject. Having too much of it can take away from the overall strength of the photo, particularly if it is the subject and the subject’s background that are the most important parts of the composition. You can always edit out the foreground if there is too much by cropping your images in the editing process.
6. Always edit your images!
Taking the time to learn how to edit your photos properly can help you correct any mistakes you may have made but can also help you create truly exceptional pictures that are unique to you and your style. Editing images can make the light more beautiful, colours pop and can help you portray more about how a place made you feel! By editing images you can not only help your photos do the destination justice but actually make something look even better! If you get really good at editing photos with photoshop you can even learn to edit people out or add elements in such as a flock of birds.
For beginners, the best place to start is by downloading Adobe Lightroom onto your phone. It is free and can be used to make your phone’s photos good enough for an Instagram influencer. Adobe Lightroom has a gazillion settings you can play with to adjust your image to perfection. The most amazing feature of Lightroom is that it allows you to save sets of settings as ‘presets’ which you can then use on other images without having to manually go through all the settings.
You can either experiment with creating your own presets to create a unique style and aesthetic just for you or you can use presets that other photographers have created for you. There is no shortage of preset bundles for sale which many Instagram influencers create and sell. This is a really easy and quick way to create images you know you are going to love!
You can download and try a free preset bundle here to get the hang of it!
7. Continuously collect inspiration
One of the best ways to come up with amazing photography ideas, find a bucket list-worthy shooting destination and discover the best presets on offer is to keep finding inspiration. The best platforms for this are Pinterest and Instagram as they are centred around images. Be inspired by what others are creating when they are on their travels and learn from them. You can save images to boards on Pinterest or collections on Instagram in different categories that you can keep coming back to when you are recreating their images or images that have been sintered by them.
8. Scout for an amazing location
Once you have all your basic photography skills in your brain, it is time to find an epic location to put those skills to the test. When travelling you can take the first day or half-day to wander around and scout the perfect locations to take images. Don’t forget to draw on the inspiration you have been searching for and also research top Instagram posts and Pinterest pins from the area you are visiting. Also research travel blogs for specific photography tips for your location.
When looking for locations, remember to keep the composition tips in mind mentioned above. Look out for straight lines such as paths, piers and roads. You can also look for interesting ways to frame your images and to play with the focus such as doorways, archways, raindrops on glass and flowers.
Play with your environment and pay attention to everything in your surroundings as you might find an unexpected but stunning subject to use. As you get better at this you will start creating unique and inspiring images and will find people sliding into your DMs for your advice!
9. Pay close attention to lighting
Good lighting is key to good photography. Natural light is always the best but it also needs to be at the right time of the day. On a beautiful stunning day when the sun is high in the sky, the sun will create shadows on the image which might actually ruin the image. This is why it is best to shoot on days that are overcast or during the golden hour as the sun is rising or setting. This way the lighting is soft, creates gorgeous hues and won’t create any weird shadows.
Sunrise can be a particularly powerful time to shoot since no one will be around to photobomb you. Plus if you are on your own you may be self-conscious about other people watching you take photos of yourself! This problem disappears when no one else is awake!
Tips for taking images of yourself
1. Get the right equipment
When travelling solo and you want to take photos of yourself it’s important to have a camera (obviously!) and a tripod. You can totally get away with having a quality phone camera and a tripod that can hold your phone for this purpose.
If you want to experiment with taking images with a professional camera so you can take better quality and more interesting images then a DSLR and tripod will be your new best friends. Canon and Nikon both have a great range of entry-level DSLR cameras for beginners.
Tripods are essential for keeping the camera steady and pointing in the desired direction. You can get away with sitting the camera on top of surfaces such as walls and tables but that comes with pretty big limitations! You can get basic tripods for a very cheap price on Amazon.
You may also want to consider getting a remote so you can release the shutter and take images without touching the camera. The alternative to this if you don’t have a remote or if you are using your phone is to use the timer to give yourself a few seconds to get into position.
2. Set your camera to continuous mode
Most cameras have the option to switch to continuous mode. This mode allows you to take multiple shots within a few seconds. This will help you get more images in less time and increase your chances of taking an image that you like.
Another option on a phone camera is to take a timelapse, allow it to run as you strike various poses and then take screenshots of your favourite frames to use. Using the live function on an iPhone is another great way to find a better frame!
3. Add Movement
One of the best ways to take an amazing image of yourself is to move! You may feel silly and even fake taking photos of yourself and moving around but the result will be worth it! You can add movement by walking away or to the camera, touching your hat/head, twirling or swinging your skirt dress, taking advantage of the wind or whipping your hair around. The options are limitless so get creative!
4. Play with your angles
Experiment with taking images from different angles to make the image more interesting, eye-catching and to give a different perspective. Images taken at eye level are natural and normal.
If you take an image from a low angle, you will become the most important subject and it may give an interesting perspective to the background. From an upper angle, it will make you seem smaller and highlight your surroundings.
5. Don’t always look into the camera
Taking flattering images may not always happen by looking straight into the lens like you are taking a passport photo. Experiment with tilting your head to the side or looking off the side or out into the distance. This can create images that look more natural and ‘candid’ instead of posed.
You can achieve this by taking a set of images in continuous mode and looking around and moving around as well.
6. Be brave & ask strangers to take photos of you
This can be the quickest and easiest option for getting photos of yourself when you are travelling. It is best to do this if you are just after a simple photo with a great background that you can edit to perfection. If you are after a specific aesthetic with an interesting depth of focus, specific objects in place or would like to take images at many different angles, it’s best to take your own images.
But that can also be difficult and time-consuming so plucking up the courage to ask a stranger to take an image can be a great alternative! Look out for someone who is carrying a camera themselves. This way you have a higher chance of them knowing how to take a better image and you can always offer to take pictures for them in exchange. It doesn’t hurt to spend a minute explaining how you’d like the photo to look!
7. Take pictures of your hands/ feet
If you don’t feel like going through the task of asking a stranger to take an image or setting up a tripod, you can always fall back on taking creative shots that include your hands and feet. We don’t recommend only taking images like this, as it’s important to include your face at least some of the time (or it didn’t happen!), but images with feet and hands can be really awesome.
In these images, it is all about the background! Our favourite is it take images of feet dangling off an epic cliff or waterfall to give a dramatic perspective. Another great one is a hand reaching into the view or holding onto something like a stunning flower.
8. Use mirrors and other reflective surfaces
Another option is to take images of yourself by using mirrors and other reflective surfaces such as windows. This is a great option if you are visiting places that have stunning architecture with interesting mirrors that you can capture yourself (and your amazing camera!) in.
9. Include no people at all!
Our last tip is a reminder that you don’t have to be in every single one of your images, in fact, you can have images where the main and only subject is a beautiful building or natural landscape. Try putting your new photography skills to the test and see how much beauty you can capture of the location that you are travelling to so it can speak for itself!