I can’t tell you how many times people ask me who takes my pictures for me while I’m traveling. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at taking beautiful pictures while trekking across the globe solo. From trekking the Fira Trail in Greece to Relaxing on the beaches of Turks & Caicos, I’ve been able to capture amazing photos, with minimal effort, and still be able to dedicate majority of my trip to relaxation and adventure.
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So, let’s talk photography. If you’re not one for packing along tools to take your pictures, or you would feel too awkward to pose in the middle of the Parisian square while onlookers gaze as you have a mini photo shoot, then I would suggest being open to making new friends. What I mean by this is, don’t be too afraid or embarrassed to ask another tourist or local to snap a photo of you. Offer to take one of them in exchange. I have found this super easy and a fun way to make friends while I trek solo. Doing this has made me find my own private local tour guide or even a lunch date with other solo backpackers. Can you say, “Exciting”?!
But, if you don’t do so well with strangers or are feel you won’t pose the best if someone is looking directly at you – then my 5 Tips for Solo Photography is really going to rock your world.
But what camera do I need?!
To be honest, an iPhone can do wonders. In fact, most of my pictures from my adventures in Thailand and Greece are shot on an iPhone. And this was before I even had experience taking travel photos. Now, I mainly use my Fujifilm x-t20 or my drone. My drone works great for aerial shots as well as for when I want a landscape shot and my tripod won’t stand steady on the ground I’m shooting in, ie. The sand or in the water. An alternative to this would be asking an onlooker. Not everyone has a drone – or wants to pay upwards of $1000 for one.
I LOVE my Fujifilm, it has to be the best investment I ever made. Most travel photographers or instafamous travelers will recommend this camera along with 1 or 2 others. The Fujifilm has Bluetooth and wireless capabilities, along with hundreds of other helpful settings that I have not mastered or dared touch yet (still waiting on that right YouTube video or in-person class), but the ability for me to take shots from my phone is probably my favorite part about this camera.
By being able to take and receive images from my camera onto my phone, I’m able to make sure I can see everything in the background and foreground that I want in the picture before I actually take it. What does this mean? It means, in the photo below, I set my camera on a tripod and then whipped out my phone. Then, I made sure the lighting and focus was perfect (yes, all from my phone screen). Once my setup was the way I wanted it, I simply started my 3second timer, and boom! Perfect shot, every time. This is such a lifesaver! No more hoping someone can take the professional shot I want. No more “okay, just one more.”. Now, I set up my shot, start the timer and pose.
So, what type of equipment should I consider?
Good question, I’ll give you some tips on the most affordable travel tools to pack for the best pictures while traveling solo:
1. Tripod Type-A – this is the main tool I always bring when I travel. The reason this is my favorite tool, is because it can expand to over 3ft and get those full-body shots we all want AND collapse down into under 1ft – meaning it fits perfectly in a satchel or backpack.
Even better part? It’s super light! No need for any other tool – just my camera, call phone and tripod. You can get your own here.
2. Tripod Type-B – the perfect tool for my active/adventurist travelers. This tripod can twist and bend to fit on almost every surface; bike, pole, backpack etc. It was perfect for my island-hopping cruise in Thailand. I simply twisted on my GoPro or camera and tightly bent the legs around the bar on the side of the boat. I was able to capture some pretty sweet video footage with this. You can snag your own here.
3. Drone – okay, so this is not a TOP tool to use, but since I’ve had my Drone 4K I’ve truly enjoyed my results. It has this really cool “follow me” mode that allows me to continue to walk/hike or swim and the drone will follow me until I land it. The only issue I have found with my drone is the battery life and sound. It does come packed with two batteries – I should’ve known why. The battery life only seems to last 30min of flight time, after that it just dies. So, I only get 1hr of flight time when I travel, which is kind of a waste since I still have to carry it around everywhere. Not cool. And the sound! I recorded so much awesome footage of my time in Thailand, but you couldn’t hear the monkeys, waves or me! Yes, I know, I usually just play music over my travel footage, but still! I may end up using this in a giveaway for my blog and stick with my camera. Who knows, maybe my next drone will be the GoPro drone.
4. Selfie Stick – I honestly don’t care too much for these. I feel like it’s so…touristy. Says the girl with the tripod, right? Well, when I see other people taking pictures with a professional camera, I see them as “professional photographers/travelers” rather than “tourists” even though they can be one in the same. But in my experience, I’ve been to over 20 countries and there is just something that seems to kill the vibe or whatever setting I’m in when someone whips out this long selfie stick.
5. DIY mount – this is my most favorite tool to use while traveling. You don’t have to pack it, it’s free and easy to use. In the picture below, I used a DIY mount to snap this awesome picture of me fooling’ around the temples of Ayutthaya. Simply mount your phone or camera on a rock, bush, tree branch or your bag and set a timer. Yes, you have to scurry over and get into position (which I find hilariously embarrassing when I see people watching me lol) but you may find these are the best pictures, and you didn’t even have to pack a huge bag full of tools or spend $20+ on a tripod.
Personally, I find the tripod a necessity when it comes to travel. I always get stabilized, professional shots and don’t have to worry about hoping there’s a wall or tree I can prop my camera on (and risk falling and getting damaged). So, when it comes to solo travel you no longer need to let photography be a reason not to go it alone. Be your own photographer and muse. Get out there and get traveling!
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