November 09, 2016

8 Tips for Taking Better Travel Self-Portraits

Words + Photos : Alison Turner

Traveling solo doesn’t mean choosing between bad selfies and not being in any of your photos. With a little planning and experimenting with different types of shots, you might find the opposite. Without a companion, you’ll find that you become more creative about capturing photos of your adventure.

When I quit my job in 2008 to wander the country, I didn’t take many photos at first. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and there’s this pressure with social media to get perfect self-portraits in the most epic locations. As you travel though, you’ll realize that a perfect shot doesn’t exist. The magic is in creating unique images that tell a story.

The first step to documenting your solo adventure is mastering your self-timer. If your phone doesn’t have this built-in capability, there are many timer apps you can use. However you decide to take a self-portrait, try and do something more exciting than holding your camera on a stick in front of you. Here are some ideas to get you away from typical selfies.




#1 – Put your phone inside of your camper/tent.

Sure, we’ve all seen the amazing shots of being alone in the middle of nowhere. Take a few for yourself, and make sure to shoot the reality of the situation. You want the image to tell the real story. Try to layer your shot by including items in your tent or camper as well as the landscape outside.






#2 – Use your selfie stick, but not in the traditional sense.

Put it in your backpack, put it on your shoulder, place it in a tree, stick it in the sand or hold it underwater. There are so many other uses for selfie sticks than holding them right in front of your face.





#3 – Use your window or mirror to frame the shot.

Don’t wait until you print your photo to put it in a frame… find frames on the road with empty signs, your car window, rear view mirror, tent window, etc.

#4 – Always have your phone on your dash and be ready to shoot!


#5 – Set the timer, and carry on with your routine.

Good candids are amazing! Tell a story in a scene…You never know what will happen during a time lapse.







#6 – Look and feel horrible? Great time for a self-portrait!

Don’t wait for the perfect time or only take photos when you look your best. I like to take self-portraits when I am feeling down, tired, and completely exhausted. Even if you don’t share it with other people, it’s important for you to remember the whole story. Think of your images as a photo diary for yourself.






#7 – Try a unique POV.

Put a camera on your dog, on a drone, by the campfire, a pool; throw your phone in the air, put it in the street, or hold it in your mouth… any unique perspective will result in a memorable photo. Please take caution and know that these shots can risk the safety of your equipment.




#8 – Turn it upside down.

 

Sometimes a photo looks better to me upside down. I do this often with reflections. It gives the viewer a bit of a puzzle to solve and forces you to look closer since you are not quite sure what you’re looking at.

The most important thing is to have fun and just keep shooting! Remember, your travel photos are for YOU. They don’t have to be perfect or follow any “rules.” Challenge yourself to be creative. Many of my best shots are mistakes and are only there because I just kept shooting.

Good luck!



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