When traveling alone, capturing awesome “Look, I’m in the photo” shots can be tricky. Of course, there’s the selfie stick and the traditional arm-extended selfie. But here are a few solo travel photo hacks I use all the time:
- FAUX TRIPOD: No tripod? No problem. Binder clips to the rescue…
2. MOUNT: Got a smooth surface? Use a car phone mount as your tripod. I stick this bad boy to anything that will invite suction. Cups or mugs also make great phone-holders. Then you can employ…
3. SELF-TIMER: Obviously, the self-timer is a solo photo taker’s best friend. But the timer is even handy when you’re just holding the phone in a traditional selfie. Set it to the lowest time (3 seconds for iPhones) and then you can extend your arm fully and get the best, sturdy angles without having to awkwardly use a thumb or some other weirder finger to press the shutter button.
4. VIDEO & SCREENSHOT: My favorite photo hack EVER. I use this for selfies, action shots, whatever. Don’t waste time with trying to capture the perfect still photo. Set your phone to video, take a short video of whatever you’re trying to capture, then pause the playback and take screenshots from the playback. It’s actually pretty simple to do. On iPhones, while playback is paused, you can drag the video along and see frame by frames of the whole video, making it uber easy to find the perfect screenshot.
5. ASSISTANTS: Ask for help. Ok, yeah I know this may be strange and not even plausible for the super introverted, but sometimes it’s just easier to ask someone nearby if they wouldn’t mind taking your photo. I’ve never had anyone tell me no, especially tourists in tourist areas. Even if they don’t speak English, everyone knows gesture-language for “This is my camera, please take a picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower”. If you’re super distrusting or cynical, this practice may give you a panic attack. Personally, I try to assess if I can catch and then beat up whoever I’m giving my camera to and then choose accordingly. Or if someone has asked me to take their photo, I turn around and request the same of them. Could still be a tactic used by thieves but I like to think if they’ve just trusted me with their camera, I can trust them with mine. Thankfully, no one has run off with my camera yet.
thanks for the help, people-who-happened-to-be-in-the-same-place-as-me-at-the-time.
6. COMBINATION: In Santorini this year I had a particular shot in mind that I wanted and I wasn’t gonna get it on my own. I wanted me walking off through the serene and color-saturated streets of Oia and I wanted no one else in my shot. So I snagged help from a [probably alarmed] small, Chinese (important because we had zero verbal communication except that I can say hello and thank you in Mandarin) tourist lady and just had her stand in one place, holding my camera which was set to video mode. I positioned her hand at the right height and angle, checking my screen to make sure my vision would be in frame. Then I gestured for her not to move. She kinda giggled like WTH is this girl doing? Then took a brisk stride off down the alleyway away from her. Yeah, I glanced back quite a few times to make sure she was still standing there, basically recording this weird American girl hurriedly catwalk down the cobblestone. I figured I could take her if she tried anything crazy. When I was done with my runway, I ran back to her, thanked her and she scurried off with her friends. Leaving me with plenty of footage from which to grab the perfect still: me, the only person on the whole island in Oia, just happening to be mysteriously caught in photo on a whimsical stroll. Who me?
So no matter if you look silly, if you have a shot in mind, get it. With patience. Get your shot. Go ahead and ask a stranger for help or record yourself doing crazy jumps and poses. Who cares. You’ll probably never see those people ever again anyway.