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How to Take Great Travel Photos (Even If You Travel Solo)

unnamedIf you’re like me, you do most of your traveling by yourself and that means you have a lot of beautiful photographs, but are mysteriously missing from the bulk of them. I used to think that I didn’t like myself in photos, but in time, I came to wish I had consented to be in at least a few of them. Photos are the best souvenirs, after all.

It sure is nice to have a bunch of photos of beautiful sunsets, breathtaking vistas, plants, and animals, but there’s no denying that there’s a certain level of intrigue when a person is in the photo, too.

Photos with people tend to be more thought-provoking. They help us remember how it felt to be in that very spot during our travels, makes it more interesting to look back on the memories, especially decades from now, and see how fabulous our lives were in those magical moments, allows others to picture themselves in that place, and, let’s call a spade a spade, they get more likes on Facebook!

So how, when traveling on your own, can you get those lovely, pensive, interesting, and memorable photos of your travels? Give these tips a try:

If there are passers by who could possibly take that photo for you, don’t be afraid to ask. Approaching a perfect stranger can be a bit daunting, I know, but after a few successful approaches, the discomfort will fade.

Of course, be careful who you ask and make sure you’re not putting your expensive gear in harm’s (or a thief’s) way, but in general other travelers who are also carrying cameras can be trusted with this task.

unnamed-2 Just Offer 
If the thought of approaching a stranger and asking for a photo makes you a bit uncomfortable, offer to take someone’s picture first. If there’s a couple nearby taking photos of each other, perhaps they’d like a photo together. If there’s someone taking a selfie, offering to take a photo for him/her is a great segue into asking for the same in return.

You may not even have to ask. The person you help out may offer to take your photo in return. Besides, someone carrying a camera around is more likely to know how to take a good photo than someone who has less or no photography experience. It’s a potential win-win situation!

Tripods Are Your Friend 
What if you’re out hiking or are in an area devoid of other people? Grab a lightweight tripod and take your own picture. Most cameras these days have a timer setting which makes it possible to set up the perfect photo, click the timer, and get in position for the perfect shot.

Moreover, if there’s no one around to embarrass yourself in front of, you can take multiple angles until you get the right shot. Nobody has to know it was a selfie all along or that it took you 5 shots to get the right one.

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Get a Remote
I never knew that some of my favorite instagrammers and photographers were actually taking photos of themselves all along. I thought they were traveling with a friend or had a photographer taking all of their photos.

It turns out that many of them shoot with a remote, or in the case of a GoPro camera, use a smartphone app to get the perfect shot, then shoot their own photo, laughing at someone who isn’t there, twirling around, or walking off into the distance, all on their own!

At first it feels a bit uncomfortable, but once you come out of it with beautiful photos, it starts to matter less and less and actually turns into a fun activity.

Don’t Fear the Selfie 
It may feel weird at first to take a selfie. Those around you may look at you oddly, but really, who cares? Anyone passing by is likely never to see you again, so snap away. As a solo traveler, sometimes taking your own photo is your only option.

It’s also quite helpful to have a selfie stick. Though selfie sticks are a subject of much debate, they really do turn out some great photographs. They provide the ability to get an aerial shot that just isn’t possible otherwise. They often double as a tripod, and are a more secure option when you don’t want to leave your camera in the hands of a stranger or a few meters away for of theft.

In conclusion, though it may feel odd at first to take your own photo, in time the benefits outweigh the momentary discomfort. Don’t fear the selfie, talking to strangers, and carrying around a tripod if you’re a solo traveler. You never know, you may just get a new friend out of offering to take someone’s photo, or your new favorite photo thanks to your remote and tripod.

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