If I had a dollar for every time someone pointed out that a travel picture I posted was a “selfie”, I’d look like I just ended a very successful night of stripping. Selfies, and more recently, selfie-stick-selfies, get a lot of hate sometimes on social media, but how else are you supposed to be in a picture when you solo travel? Especially if there’s no one else around to take it?!
Although pictures of scenery are great and all, they don’t exactly show that you were actually there. Not that people wouldn’t believe that you actually went to the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu, but wouldn’t you rather have your face in front of some of the most epic scenery you’ve ever seen than settle for something that could get lost in Google images? There are ten bazillion pictures of long tail boats in Thailand, but there’s only one of YOU in a long tail boat in Thailand!
Sure, it can be awkward and/or embarrassing taking a selfie in front of people, or asking someone to do it for you, but you just have to remember, not only are you never going to see those people again, but you might not see that place ever again as well! And don’t worry about the selfie comments either…anyone who just sees a “selfie” and not the awesome country you’re traveling in, is looking into the wrong end of the kaleidoscope!
So go ahead, get in there, and get your solo travel selfie on! Oh and PS, the FaceTune app works wonders on those extreme close-ups!
By now, you’ve probably had plenty of practice taking selfies with your smartphone, so you should know the basics behind talking a good selfie. If you’re trying to get a lot of landscape in the picture, hold your phone far out and sideways, it also makes it much easier to get a good grip on your phone so you don’t drop it or get a blurry picture. Holding it up at a higher angle also gets a lot more scenery and perspective, and typically gives you a more flattering angle as well.
If you decide to make the photo mostly about your face as I’ve so obnoxiously exemplified above, try to add a touch of interesting focal points…like a strange, yet provocative fruit, or exotic background.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like getting immediately labeled as a tourist or vain person, you might want to opt for the incognito selfie. It’s very easy to appear as though you’re taking a photo of something in front of you, while secretly taking a selfie with something behind you. This works best if you hold your phone out like you normally would to take a picture, except instead of adjusting the zoom and lighting for the scenery, you’re doing it for your face and whatever is behind you.
You can also sneakily put an object in front of you and pretend like you’re taking a really artistic photo of it while you’re really taking a picture of yourself. Although I’m pretty sure the photo above of the Cuba Libre turned out better than my incognito selfie…
Most smartphones now have a timer option which is absolutely amazing for solo travel pics that you want your entire body to be in. Even if you don’t have it on your phone, there’s a ton of iPhone and Android apps you can download that will do it for you.
The only thing you’ll have to do is find something to prop your phone up against, but you’ll be able to see the shot you’re going to be in before you run to get in it. Once you set the timer, all you have to do is run away from the camera to get in the picture and then, voila! You have a selfie of yourself that looks like a normal picture…hopefully.
GoPros and most cameras have this option too. I use a GoPro HERO 3+ Silver and it’s great because they keep taking pictures every 2 to 10 seconds, so you can move around or surprise attack someone, and then check to see if you got any good shots out of like, a hundred. This method works well on a highly fashionable and trendy selfie stick, or if you just place the GoPro down on something, or use the sticky mounts they come with, that no one is ever able to find or keep track of.
Selfie sticks get a lot of heat from people, or rather, the people who use them do. Somehow, I’m the world’s biggest oxymoron because I hate selfie sticks, but continue to use them, because I really do love the photos they (sometimes) take when I solo travel…or my friends won’t jump with me off a cliff.
Selfie sticks were originally intended (according to me) for solo travel adventurers who wanted to get extreme action shots or movies without actually having to have another person hold the camera.
Now the selfie stick is heavily abused by tourists or people in general who insist on having a picture of themselves everywhere and anywhere they go. In fact, selfie sticks have become so annoying and obnoxious that they are banned from certain places like Disney and Coachella.
BUT, regardless, they still take pretty epic GoPro pictures and videos, especially if you’re jumping off a cliff and want some awesome footage of the fall! If you don’t want to stick out with the long silver stick, opt for one of the less obnoxious options like the black Gooseneck by GoPro that can also be used as a mount (and by ‘mount’ I mean sticking it upright in your purse or backpack). If you do use one, make sure to hold it up at an angle so you don’t get an embarrassingly large panoramic of your face. Just saying.
This is one of my favorite solo travel picture taking secrets because it’s both inconspicuous and not as obnoxious. Instead of hitting the shutter button or using the timer, put it on video instead and start moving around. Or…zooming around.
You can hold your phone out and turn it in a circle, or you can prop it up on something and then run to get in the picture. You can also hold it out in front of you while you’re driving or riding in something fast, since you obviously won’t be thinking about taking photos while gravity is slapping you in the face!
Then, you can view the video and pause it when you see something that would make for a cool picture, and screenshot it to use for a still shot.
The burst option on your phone is kind of like what the result of screen-shot-ing (that’s apparently not an actual word so I had to hyphenate it) multiple consecutive images of a video would look like. In a split second it takes about eleven or so photos, so that you can tediously scroll back and forth to figure out which ones are best.
This is pretty useful (and amusing) for action shots that include, but are not limited to; jumping, spinning, diving, flipping, dancing, handstand-ing, and scaring the shit out of people.
Taking a panoramic selfie might require a little bit of practice and skill. You’ll have to be able to steadily hold your phone as you slowly move it along the nerve-wrecking red line that your camera demands you follow in order to create the panoramic.
There’s a good chance you’ll end up looking like you have a three sided face, or a face that’s un-naturally spherical the first few times you attempt it, but once you figure out the angles, you’ll have a pretty cool looking panoramic selfie…or at least a good idea of what you’d look like as an alien.
SloMo is Sloooo fun! Nothing is more amusing than a SloMo video, plus it gives you the chance to get an even better screenshot for a still pic than an actual video does! Test it out with things that move too fast for you to normally see in a video… like water splashing, or your insane cat-like reflexes. Soon you will find a lot of things that look reeeaallllyyy cool in slow motion!
You technically could hold your phone out to SloMo yourself in typical selfie-form…but since it’s in slow motion anyway, you might as well mount and angle your phone so you can can jump in front of it…or perhaps off of a cliff.
Perhaps my most favorite kind of selfie to take is the one that I don’t actually have to be in. I hate seeing a full-on photo of my face just as much as my mother loves it, so I’m all for the “back of head”, “side of face”, or “half of face” selfies that actually tend to make pretty great angles.
While still semi-embarrassing to take in public, the Alternate Angle Selfie is the most favorable (for me at least) because you; A) Don’t look like you’re trying to take a selfie, B) Can take it really fast and inconspicuously, and C) Can get some really awesome and artistic angles.
If you can pose in front of a camera on cue without having to see yourself or look at multiple takes, you might be better off just asking someone to do it for you (assuming that there’s actually someone there to take it).
In this case, there’s a good chance you’ll either end up with a really great picture of you with a cool background, or a really terrible picture that you said, “Looks great! Thanks!” anyway to and proceeded to just take your own selfie.
Whichever way you choose to take your solo travel selfie or just photo in general, remember, take your pics, then put your phone away! You don’t want to miss out on the actual experience because you were too busy capturing it!