How to Take Amazing Travel Photos as a Solo Traveler (2023)
As a professional photographer who travels solo all over the world, I’ve gathered these must-know solo travel photography tips with gear recommendations!
Traveling on your own is a fun way to have new experiences and expand your boundaries without worrying about synchronizing multiple people’s wants and needs. It can be a truly inspiring way to get to know your own limits — just not that great when you need an extra pair of hands to snap a quick picture for the memories.
Luckily, technology makes travel self-documentation much easier (and we all know everyone wants to display their best shots from their travels on sites like Instagram).
I travel solo on about eighty percent of my trips, so I’ve had to learn a few tricks along the way. Here are some of my top tips for taking great travel photos as a solo traveler.
How to Take Great Travel Photos as a Solo Traveler
Set Up a Tripod
Bringing a tripod is a tip for amazing photos even if you’re not traveling solo, but if you want steady photos, they’re a must. Tripods will help you avoid the blur and warp of out of focus or unsteady shots.
For smaller cameras, the Gorillapod line and similar flexible tripod products are great for keeping your camera steady even on the most unstable of terrain. Their ability to wrap around poles, skis, railings, and other surfaces means that you have the freedom of setting up shots even in tight urban settings too.
I personally use the Manfrotto line of tripods for my Sony a7II camera and I’ve been able to set it up in some precarious places. I also carry a digital timer remote and set it up to take photos every second so I don’t have to constantly run back and forth just to get a couple of different angles.
Use a Selfie Stick
Yes, using one may look silly, but selfie sticks are still incredibly useful for taking pictures on your own! By extending the range between the camera and the subject (likely yourself) further than a natural human arm span, it allows the frame of the photo to be expanded. This way you’ll be able to fit more of the background into your photo and you won’t come home with a million unflattering close-up photos of yourself.
I personally love this selfie stick because it’s all-weather and it extends just like a tripod would.
Attach a GoPro
If you’re looking for the perfect action shot or want your video and photos to come from a first-hand perspective, then attaching a GoPro to your gear while you surf, ski, bike, or even bungee jump can be a great way to capture the experience.
Furthermore, the wide range of mounts available mean that you can capture images with the GoPro in environments where other cameras may fear to tread — like underwater or tumbling through the air. We use the Hero7 Black because it has a LCD screen to frame and view your shots.
Read more: The Best Compact Cameras (A Detailed Buying Guide)
Ask a Stranger
Whether you have specialized gear or not, there’s always the option to reach out for help from someone new. After all, you’re not traveling just to look at a foreign place or culture, you’re there to experience it, to take part in a different world or way of life. Photos can be a great way to capture memories from your trip, but starting an interaction with another person, even if it’s just asking for help with your camera, is a great way to make them.
You won’t always get the best photos with this option, but my trick is to ask someone who is carrying their own DSLR camera. I like to give people an idea of how I would like the shot framed before I hand over my camera as well.
Install Photo Editing Software or Apps
Ok, so you’ve taken the perfect selfie: now what? What you do to the photo after you take it can be just as important to the character of the photo as how you set it up.
Most cell phones come with a built in image editor which allows you to do basic editing, such as slapping on a filter or cropping and rotating the image, but experimenting with other apps like ProCamera or Snapseed will give you further options such as color correction, noise reduction, and curve adjustment.
For photos not taken with your phone, I recommend Adobe Bridge and Photoshop for editing software. Plenty of photographers use Lightroom as well. It’s very similar to Adobe Bridge, but it’s a little easier to learn.
Consider Upgrading Your Gear
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer who takes good pictures.” While I agree that you don’t need $10,000 dollars worth of photography gear to take a great photo, megapixels do count for something. I regularly take the exact some photo with my iPhone as I do with my Sony a7II Mirrorless and the photo from my camera always wins.
A nice camera with more megapixels means your photo won’t look grainy after editing, you can crop the image and still have a decent quality photo, and you have more options — like taking the photo in RAW instead of JPG and bumping up the ISO for night shots.
The Sony a7ii can be a little overkill for the everyday photographer, so I usually recommend that travelers start out with the Sony a7 Mirrorless or the Canon Powershot G9 Point and Shoot camera. For more information about some of the photography gear we use, visit our travel resources page or our travel photographer’s camera kit post.
Love to Travel?
Want to know how to travel the world? I’ve put together a page full of useful travel resources with tips and tricks I’ve learned after consistently traveling for over ten years. Learn how I make a living while traveling, how to find the best prices on flights and accommodation, how to save money for travel, how to start a travel blog, and more.
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The link on your tripod goes to Page not found on Amazon. What is the name of the one you prefer?
Hi Katie. That’s odd; the link seems to be working for me. Do you mean the one that says “Manfrotto Line of Tripods”? Here’s the link to the tripod https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L6CBKAK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00L6CBKAK&linkCode=as2&tag=ordintrave-20&linkId=SPTSKGZRZIJGAPCH
So so SO many awesome suggestions in here. I’ve used many of them, but now that I have the Mark IV (so happy I upgraded my 7D!) I can do so much more with the Canon app to take photos of myself or me with my boys. Def checking out your gopro stick and preferred tripod too!
Love this! I always feel a bit shy asking strangers to take photos of me but i just need to get over it a little and learn how to be more confident when it comes to that!
If I see a couple or a group of friends taking photos of each other, I’ll often offer to take a photo of them first and then ask them to do the same. 😉 It’s a great ice breaker.
Perfect intro! I try to take photos of other people even if I don’t need the photo taken of me. 9 out of 10 times they if I want a photo taken of me too, which is so nice of them to do!
What if you want to take a picture where you are not exactly facing the camera (turned around) in a relatively crowded place (say near the eiffel tower) and you are travelling solo, how do you use a tripod without the fear of it getting stolen while you’re busy posing or something.?
I honestly don’t worry about it too much, but I personally don’t spend a lot of time in cities. You may just want to use a GoPro in that case, if there are too many people around.
nice tips. though i have never travelled alone, I am sure I can still use most of the tips 🙂
I always use the “ask a stranger” tip because I don’t have any gadgets aside from my phone and a borrowed underwater camera for my solo trips! So far, so good, all the strangers I asked to take my photo are great photographers hehe!