One of the things about solo travel that can be a drag is not having any photos of your travel destination with you in them. I know I’ve been really shy in the past about asking other people to take my picture for me, and even worse about using the arm-stretch method to take my own picture. I just feel so self-conscious taking a picture of myself in a busy tourist spot. But you can apparently get comfortable doing it: Just ask today’s guest blogger, Cailin O’Neil, who not only travels solo regularly, but creates videos of her travels (with her in them!). I figured if anyone could offer my readers advice on how to take their own picture (well) or shoot video of themselves on the road, it would be Cailin.
I travel by myself a lot, and I am always taking photos and filming myself. Often people make comments to me about my photos and videos and want to know how I am able to get them just right. The secret is practice makes perfect, and I always take more than one photo and film more than one take. If you do that and follow some of my tips listed below you will never have a problem again!
Tip #1 Don’t be afraid to do it or worry about looking silly to other people!
- You don’t. You look just like any other person who wants a photo of themselves. Would you rather not get that great shot of yourself in front of the coolest thing in the world just to know that no one looked at you funny? Not me.
Tip #2 Be spatially aware.
- Make sure the camera isn’t zoomed in too close or too far out. Try to avoid having your arm in the shot. That way it looks more natural.
Tip #3 Framing
- Unless the photo is of you and only you, try to frame it so that you are on either side of the photo so the subject of the photo (when not yourself) is featured and can be seen.
Tip #4 Take more than one photo
- Or take more than one take of your video. In the age of digital cameras you always have a quick reference guide right in your hand to see if you have captured the image or video exactly as you like it.
Tip #5 Don’t rush it.
- You may never visit this place again. Stop and take your time (“smell the roses”). Give yourself the time to get the exact shot that you would like.
Tip #6 Don’t forget to smile!
Tip #7 Tools of the trade
- If you want to photograph or film yourself in front of large landscapes or objects, you may want to consider buying an Xshot camera extender. (You can find a link to them on my site.) This allows you to have the camera much further away from you so you can get more scenery and/or more people in the photo with you without needing someone else to snap the shot for you.
Tip #8 Let strangers help you.
- If you are struggling, let the nice stranger who offers take your picture for you. I often hate the pictures the random stranger takes of me, but you never know when they might get a good one of you and it’s all about good karma right? At least you can make them feel good about helping you. (Obviously make sure you feel safe with the stranger taking your camera to do this and are in a safe place.)
Tip #9 Try to keep the camera in your left hand.
- For photos, hold the camera in your left hand, even if you’re right-handed. When the camera is facing you, the button is on the left side. If you use your left hand, your arm won’t be in the photo. Also make sure the landscape or subject of the photo is over your right shoulder, otherwise you will have that arm-in-the-photo problem again. It also looks more natural to have it to your right, as that is the way your body will be turned because your left arm is jutting out to hold the camera.
If you follow all of these tips you should have great photos to remember your solo travels and moments.
Thanks so much for the tips, Cailin! So, readers, do you have any other self-photography or self-video-related questions for Cailin? Feel free to post them in the comments below.
Cailin O’Neil is first a traveler, then a filmmaker. She has traveled mostly solo for the past 3 years to 23 different countries blogging and filming along the way. In 2009 she fulfilled her biggest dream by producing and funding the filming of the first episode of her travel TV show “Travel Yourself”. Currently in post production, Cailin now balances editing the show with freelance work in film and TV in her home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia while fitting in more travels every chance she gets.