Travel Essentials: Photography Tips for Solo Travel or Shoots

I travel alone more than 98% of the time, and I enjoy immortalizing everything in video and photography.

For those that fault my generation for its attachment to our phones and tech, it’s kept a large population of the world much saner than they would have otherwise been during the harsher lockdowns.

Anyway, with the combination of my devices, I have had plenty of visual fodder to bring a smile to my face, with memories of far-flung destinations I’ve traversed for fashion, food, and the sheer pleasure of living.

Here are a few amateur photography tips, to better make your memories – these from a solo traveller with a penchant for fashion shoots and reasonably polished self-portraiture:

TIP #1

My first recommendation – in the spirit of remembering – is to always ensure you have plenty of space on your phone as well as any camera you’re lugging about.

Memory cards get lost quite often and easily.

So, after each day of your trip or shoot, try and back up the shots to another device that stays behind somewhere while you travel or just shoot somewhere.

TIP #2

Trust in the power of a tripod.

My prime “intern”/companion, is my tripod.

Once you find one suited to your needs, and at the right height and size, you’ll wonder how you ever did without.

The lucky thing about tripods is that due to the boom in our narcissism and incessant need to document everything, the current price range for tripods has made it such that you can find a relatively inexpensive one from a street vendor even, or work your way up to a quality-but-pricey one in a reputable store.

Mine is a low-to-mid-range tripod from a department store, which I bought years ago for under R300.

It’s not the kind you can slip into a roomy handbag, but I’ve taken it with me on travels from South Africa to London, and beyond.

I have learned various ways to position the tripod around spaces – indoor and outdoor – by playing around during random fun shoots whenever I have the time and energy.

To start: the legs don’t always have to be extended and adjusted to be at equal heights.

You are usually able to balance the tripod around, or on, rocks or surfaces and to also adjust the height to also shoot you low, or from above.

It’s all possible.

I’ve done the leg work!

If you’re travelling solo:

  • Situate your tripod in an ideal spot
  • Double-check for who is around (in case you need to chase after someone trying to nab your setup),
  • and get to shooting.

TIP #3

Self-timers are your essential worker here!

I basically wouldn’t be able to shoot my usual self-portraiture, without a self-timer.

There’s still a bit of running around to get into the right position and pose, but self-timers are a great way to shoot alone.

It’s also pretty easy to set up self-timers on smartphones and cameras like a Canon or Nikon, just scroll to your Settings and set them up under the clock or timer logo, or under the “self-timer” tab.

Self-timer times tend to be between 3-15 seconds, I believe.

Be sure to also set your camera to take more than one shot too, so you have options and can try different poses in one timed set.

TIP #4

You don’t have to shoot your whole body in-frame – Did you know that?

Sometimes the right photo just needs parts of you glimpsed, and other times it just works out that the scene can only be perfectly captured with half of you in-frame.

Next time you shoot, snap glimpses of leg, an earring detail, you flicking your hair, or even fake candids of you picking something up.

*PRO TIP: To get comfortable with being in front of the camera, and also get a cool motion shot, repeat a gesture over and over (walking forward, turning your head, or drinking) for the duration of the self-timer taking a series of shots of you.

TIP #5

Know where your light is.

If your face isn’t warmed by natural or artificial light, then your form is shadowed there, which makes it hard for the camera to capture details.

Put the camera where the lens doesn’t face the light, but rather faces YOU facing the light.

(Left) is me facing away and down from natural light; (Right) is me facing upwards and towards good natural light comparatively.

TIP #6

Know your angles.

There’s a reason Victoria Beckham poses in the exact same way ever since she figured out her optimal angles. Models know them, Oprah does too, and a great example of someone who works their angles is actress Zendaya and Tracee Ellis Ross.

The point is to know which way to position your body and face, to ensure you like the photo outcome.

Figure out where your hands go before you’re in front of the lens, and which camera angle enhances a feature you don’t like so you can adjust your stance accordingly.

I’m still figuring this out, to be honest.

Did this help?

The tenets of your photos should always be “Me” and “easy”, with one item (a glass, mountain, chair etc.) becoming your focal point to work around, or play around with – that’s it!

Keep it simple.

Self-portraiture is pretty easy once you’ve worked your way through on-camera nerves, limb awkwardness, and once you’ve actually syked yourself up with a vision or theme to throw yourself at.

If you need any advice or tips about something specific, drop a comment!

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