How to Take Travel Selfies

how to take travel selfies

One of the first questions that people ask when they’re traveling solo, is how to take the perfect travel selfie. When there’s nobody around to snap a shot of you, how do you capture that moment in a way that you’ll be able to look back on for years to come?

Thanks to the huge array of camera equipment now available on the market, your selfie possibilities are endless, and combined with a few tips and tricks, you can create some beautifully dynamic shots by yourself.

Here are Sophie Bellamies top tips for the ultimate travel selfie!

Get back to basics

A simple selfie with your camera in your hand really can be beautiful; you just need to get a little creative to elevate your shot.

Using your camera at arm’s length isn’t going to allow you to get a lot of background in your shot, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Make the most of filling your digital frame with your face and a brightly colored mural behind you, for example. Or, if you’re wanting to show the world what you’re eating, a handheld selfie is the perfect way to get a tasty close up on your gelato (or whatever local delicacy you’re indulging in).

Hand held is the perfect way to go if you want to be subtle and not ‘look like a tourist’ with your selfie stick. But, saying that…

…Selfie sticks aren’t evil

We all get a little self-conscious when using selfie sticks, as so many people seem to be annoyed by them. But, there’s a reason that they’re so popular, and that reason is that they’re super useful for taking photos when you’re traveling alone.

Selfie sticks give you the chance to show more of your background in your images, as they give you a wider view. Using one with a wide angle camera lens or with a GoPro will show off even more of your surroundings.

You can even get creative and throw your selfie stick over your shoulder to get the back-shot that travelers love to create.

Invest in a travel tripod

Travel tripods don’t have to be bulky and heavy, and there are plenty of models out there that won’t take up your entire luggage allowance. A tripod will allow you to capture so much more of your surroundings and gives you more control over your framing.

You can also play around with long-exposure shots if you have a tripod to hand, which can deliver some beautiful effects in your photography.

take a tripod with you

Pocket tripods are perfect for compact cameras or camera phones, but be aware that they might not be strong enough to support you full-frame DSLR so check the specification of your chosen model before buying it.

Alternatively, Gorillapod tripods are amazing for travel. There are lots of versions available to suit different types of cameras, and they give you the flexibility to grip onto objects like trees and benches to achieve more creative angles.

Go wireless

Going wireless with your camera will give you more control than simply using the self-timer, as you can take all the time you need getting your pose just right. If your camera can be connected to your smartphone, you can use that as your remote, but if not it’s worth investing in an external remote.

If your camera isn’t set up for remote operation, don’t worry: using the timer might be tricky at first but you’ll soon master getting in position and nailing your pose within your time limit.

GoPro is a hero

GoPros (or similar action cameras) are perfect for solo travel selfies as they’re so flexible and they have the handy wireless connectivity that we’ve just talked about.

This type of camera is well known for the vast array of accessories available, and the selfie possibilities are endless if you invest in a few.

selfie

The wrist strap is great for getting shots during extreme sports such as paragliding or rafting, and the flex clamp mount is cool if you want both of your hands in shot (so your photo doesn’t actually look like a selfie). The float is also a great thing to have if you spend a lot of time in the water, as you can let your GoPro bob around to capture awesome and natural action shots.

With an action camera, you really can get super creative with your selfies.

Consider a drone

Unless you’re seriously into photography, this might seem like too much on an investment. But, if you want to get incredible dynamic selfies, a drone is the way to go; there really is no other way to get the angles and wide perspective that one will allow you to create.
If you’re worried about luggage allowance, some models weigh less than 500 grams which makes them ideal for solo travelers that don’t want to be overloaded with bulky camera equipment.

Avoid clichés

Do you really want a shot of you pinching the top of a pyramid, or holding up the leaning tower of Pisa? Probably not. Unless you’re purposefully going for silly cheesy shots, try to think a little more ‘out of the box’ when composing your selfies. If in doubt, keep it classic and simple.

avoid cliches

Experiment with burst mode

Burst mode will take multiple pictures so you have a few shots to choose from. This is handy when you’re giving your phone or camera to a stranger and want better odds of them getting a good shot of you, but it’s also handy for selfies.

After all, it’ll save you posing ten different times, as you’ll get ten chances in one to achieve a beautiful shot.

A selfie doesn’t have to be of your face

Getting your entire face and body in shot isn’t always necessary when you’re trying to take a great selfie, and you can create much more interesting shots if you have fun with what to show in your image. 

Show your shoes on cool tiled flooring or your toes in the sand, or shoot your hand holding a perfect cappuccino.

take pictures of food

Capturing just your legs as you lounge by a pool is often more effective than showing your face, and showing the back of your head as you gaze out onto a view is a classic travel shot for a reason. So, think about your options before going for the standard ‘top down’ selfie angle.

Reflective surfaces are your friend

…and we don’t just mean mirrors! Sunglasses are also a great prop and you can easily show your surroundings by snapping a shot using reflective lenses, and a large window or glass door is another handy tool for getting wider shots of you and the place that you’re in.

reflection of sunglasses

While you’re out and about you’re sure to see lots more possibilities, so keep your eyes open for that next selfie opportunity.

Add movement to your image

Go a step further than the standard static selfie pose and get moving in your shot. Strike a yoga pose, leap in the air, or perfect your poolside hair flick: these simple poses will make your images more interesting and will be much more emotive when you look back on them and remember that moment in years to come.

Don’t worry about looking silly

This is usually the main thing that gets in the way of creating selfies to be proud of, so our final tip is to shake off that concern. Forget about the people around you, and take your time setting up and taking your shot.

If you’re not immediately happy with it just keep going until you are, and don’t settle for a mediocre shot simply because people are looking at you.

don't be afraid to look silly

You’re never going to see those people again, so don’t let concerns about their opinions get in the way of a killer selfie that you can enjoy looking at for years to come.

Conclusion

You might feel self-conscious at first, but it’s worth the temporary awkwardness for a shot that you’ll want to share and enjoy. By taking your time and using your camera gear to its full potential, you can create beautiful and dynamic images of you on your travels: no help necessary.

Do you have any other travel selfie tips? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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