I have people asking me for some best photography tips for solo travelers so I’m sharing the top tips in this post.
It’ll be nice to have a travel partner who has great photography skills, but given that I roam solo most of the time, I try to utilize everything I can.
If you want to take awesome photos, here’s some best photography tips for solo travelers:
Best Photography Tips
Know your objective
What are you trying to present?
What is your objective of the shoot?
What platform are you presenting your photos?
For example, a lot of lifestyle bloggers present their whereabouts and everyday life on Instagram.
From poses to apparel to the whole presentation, the whole photo shoot presents itself informally so it’s relatable to normal people and they sure can gain lots of followers.
In fashion magazine, you are looking at a team of people who created the clothes, style it with accessories, accompany with makeup, posed by the professional model, assisted by the crew for lighting & props, and captured by professional photographers.
They are combining all the work into one art piece for the audience. This type of fashion shooting sells name brands and high-end products, they are selling a very beautiful & luxurious dream.
Yoga apparel photo shoots are usually free-spirited with a Bohemian feel to present their spirituality.
Bodybuilder photo shoots have that athletic, tough feel to capture their strength.
Food-related photo shoots have strong saturation and high resolution to bring out the color & texture of the food. If there’s model, they are always happy and jolly with the food in front of them, even if the gravy is made from motor oil (True story. They shine great under photography lights).
Knowing what you are trying to do can make your message clear in your photos. With a clear message, you can attract the right audience.
It’s also highly recommended to adjust your image accordingly to the social media to prevent misalignment.
Instagram 1080px x 1080px
Social media 800px x 800px
Facebook cover 828px x 315px
Facebook post 940px x 788px
Twitter post 1024px x 512px
Pinterest 735px x 1102 px
Use everything around you
If you want some sexy beach pictures of yourself, you can apply baby oil or some glitter to the highlighted part on your body & face like legs, cheek bones, collar bones, etc.
Along with it, adjust the contrast on the photos. This way, it can greatly enhance your body and level up your photos.
Use flowers, use leaf, wear costumes, use the wind to make your hair or dress flow, use the sun light’s natural light beam. Get creative and use everything around you.
Confidence & body language
Confidence comes from knowing and accepting yourself. By knowing yourself, you know your biggest selling point and you’ll know how to use your asset as your body language.
We may not be Victoria’s Secret Angels, but we can develop our own style.
Is it the sexy legs? Beautiful chest? Slender waist? Toned arms? Ripped abs? Feminine curvy figure? Killer smile? Gorgeous eyes? Charming character? The don’t gave a sh*t attitude?
Knowing your values can give you confidence. And confidence is the biggest factor that impacts the success of your photo shoot or anything else in life, really.
Everyone has their own asset(s). Find it and own it.
For this photo shoot, I utilize my condo pool to capture that tropical feel of Chiang Mai. I include trees on the left and greens on the top left to balance audience’s eye movement as they look into the photo.
At the same time, I include the pool design, blue water, and lie there to create that summer-tropic look. I took about 20 photos with 4 that was acceptable.
(Canon camera + tripod + auto shutter + warm filter + curve + cropping)
Let there be (excellent) light(ing)
Lighting is one of the biggest factors that impact your photos.
If you have good lighting, almost everything will look beautiful and you can save yourself time & energy from having to adjust it manually.
Unless you have lighting equipment, it’s best to do photo shoots outdoors from 9am-3pm when it’s nice & sunny out.
If you have fair skin, it’s best not to have your photos shot directly under the sun or else you’ll blend into the light. Vice versa, if you have darker skin, you will be very visible.
Take your skin tone in consideration when shooting outdoors.
(Canon camera + tripod + auto shutter)
Pick your background wisely
If your shirt has complex prints, best to pick a simple background that can compliment your apparel.
If your skin is dark, pick a lighter background to bring out your features.
I picked leafy green palm tree background because I know my colorful swimsuit and tan skin can stand out.
(Canon camera + tripod + auto shutter)
If you want to capture yourself in a beautiful sunrise or sunset, don’t be afraid to become the shadow.
(Canon camera + human + auto tone + contrast + saturation)
Test out different angles
What makes a photo captive is usually the emotions it triggers or the unique perspective it captures. There’s something in the color, the style, the angle that can make the viewer pause and admire.
By testing out different angles, you can change the feel of the photo.
For example, if you hold the camera at a lower angle with lens tilting up, you can make the model look taller.
By holding it from high above, it makes the model’s legs look thinner, the face smaller, and the eyes bigger. (That’s why you see so many Asian girls love to take their photos looking up).
Use the flexible stand tripod. Hang it on trees, poles, dog, cats, and seek your unique perspective.
(Canon camera + tripod + auto shutter)
Gears & tools
Being a solo traveler, I don’t always run into friendly passerby with killer photography skills so I usually have my gears to shamelessly photo shoot myself.
Unless you are selling photos professionally or pitching National Geographics, you don’t have to buy the bulky professional $2,000 camera, a good point-and-shoot camera can do the work as well.
● Nice camera or phone – For cameras, I’ve owned Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Canon, and Samsung (←both phone and camera are horrible). For phone, I’ve used iPhone, HTC, Asus, Samsung…
For phones, I started out with HTC One because it has beats audio, it’s cost-effective and can provide great results. I’ve used it to record my online courses and the quality totally exceed my expectation. I’d upgrade techs for better quality later on.
Recording a course with my HTC One.
(I get pretty animated in front of camera sometimes)
Other professional lifestyle or travel bloggers here in Chiang Mai recommended Canon, Sony, and GoPro5.
GoPro5 is great for vlogging if you get one of those fluid rotation 3-Axis multi-angle selfie sticks. Those can make your camera very steady and clear.
If you have a phone with good resolution, it’s can be a good start. Look up camera reviews on Youtube to compare around before you buy.
Once you find your camera, play around the functions so you can maximize its ability. I especially utilize my Canon’s auto-shutter function at 30 seconds with 3+ shots so I have enough time to capture what I want.
● GorillaPod flexible tripod stand – Basic but very useful tool that can help you set your camera in cool angles to capture a nice shot.
● Selfie sticks with tripod stand – Not only it’s selfie stick, it can transform into a tripod. This nifty transformer help you take great photos because it has a remote shutter. When you shop for a selfie stick, make sure the stand can hold both the cell phone and the camera to meet the multi-purpose requirement.
● Photography drones – And another level up… The device is cool to capture lifestyle, travel, scenic, landscape, and nature photo shoots. You can do pretty cool angles with this device.
● Light reflector disk – This handy dish blocks unwanted light and is often used by professional photographers.
I’ve used them before in my fashion photo shoot sessions but I don’t use them in solo travel, it’ll look too odd and it’s too much hassle. If I photo shoot other people, I may use them to enhance the photos.
Have steady hands
To ensure the photos are clear, you must hold the device steadily.
I usually lightly press my camera button but not full shutter to let the camera lens zoom a bit before taking the shot. This way, the focal point inside the lens can focus first before you hit the shutter.
For smartphones, tap the finger on the screen to focus and adjust the lighting before you hit the shutter button.
You got that little wrist strap on your camera, right?
Hold that string straight towards you with one hand and click the shutter with another hand. Using this method can help you stabilize your camera better.
Some tools to help you maintain steady hands:
● AmazonBasics Lightweight Mini Tripod – Great for phone, camera, or video camera. This is great for travelers who is going extreme lightweight on their techs. It’s simple, easy to use, and very useful.
● Feiyu 3-axis handheld stabilizing device– Very useful among GoPro HERO3 users. It allows you to capture with 300 degree pan tilt in 90 degree roll rotation. Very useful if you are trying to film outdoors with movements or walking.
● Kamisafe multi-function handheld tripod stabilizer – A bit costly but it’s multi-functional purpose allows you to use as selfie stick, has tripod stand, video stabilizer, or a monopod on camera, phone, and video cam.
Killer apps to enhance photo
To level up your photos, you can enhance in saturation, contrast, shadows, and highlights as well as using cool filter functions in apps.
Some camera has functions that allow you to increase saturation, use the fish lens, monotone, and all sorts of stuff, but if you don’t have professional photo editing software, you can look into some apps to help you.
● PhotoDirector (Bundle Version) – You won’t even need photo editing software if you have this. This app allows you to adjust colors, enhance skin tone, magic object removal, overlay photo filters, photo effects, and tons more.
PlayStore | iTunes
● PicMonkey – A free online image editing platform that allows you to edit, touch up, design, and create collage. Very handy to do basic work to enhance your photos.
I’ve seen people who over-photoshop or use photo editing apps to adjust their height to be like super model or their body shape completely unrealistic…I usually won’t go for complete body distortion, instead, I try to find angles that make me look skinny or find the best lighting to do most of the work.
Learn from the best
The best way to take awesome photos is to learn from the pros.
You can learn some valuable photography tips by standing next to professional photographers and the view from their angle.
I also often follow Instagramers who have awesome photos and learn from their techniques.
Sometimes it’s the lighting they use, sometimes it’s their pose, or maybe it’s the angle. Learn and master your skills is one of the best way to take best photographs.
Have fun, don’t be ordinary
Let’s be honest, most of us won’t even go back to those family holiday photos or friends gathering.
Why? Because they are boring.
Everyone is looking at the camera and everyone fake that one type of smiling like they are doing some Crest toothpaste commercial or something.
Unless that’s what you are going for, then be creative and think outside the box.
Be obscene, be be obscene.
(Throwback on my location-dependent fashion designer days)
I have this thing with cliffs and Simba.
Take lots of photos
Want to guess how many photos I took to get all these?
Around 300 shots.
Practice makes perfection. The more photos you take, the more you know the angle, lighting, pose, and layout to make the best photo.
When I was a location-based fashion designer, I’d take numerous photo shoots by myself or working with models and constantly test the angle, techniques, and poses.
Now that I’m location-independent, the traveling trains me to be ready to capture those moments with the available lighting and props in the given environment.
The more photos you shoot, the better you will become.
Sometimes it’s best to share photography tips and ideas with a group to level up your skills. You can add yourself to local photography groups or collaborate with people to practice.
And of course, don’t forget to put the camera down and enjoy the moment with your own eyes after your shoot:)