When I travel alone and post an introspective photo of myself gazing into a magnificent horizon beyond, I often get asked if a photographer is shadowing me. The answer is no, but thanks for the compliment!
Those dreamy pictures rarely do justice to the overwhelming feeling of solitude, in a place of raw beauty. Indeed, some of my earliest travels, like to pristine Bunaken in Indonesia and remote north-western Vietnam went completely uncaptured. I eventually decided to start taking photographs on my travels in the hope that it will lure others to kick their comfort zone and go exploring. I now use my beloved iPhone 6 and handy Sony Cybershot RX II on the road, and here are my tips:
Remotely control your camera with a smartphone
This is my favorite way to get an introspective shot. I connect my camera using its internal wifi to my iPhone, so I can see exactly how I look in the frame and have no time limit. It works brilliantly, so much so that I prefer getting my own photos even when I’m traveling with a friend.
Use the good old self timer
Thanks to my iPhone 6, I rarely use my camera these days. But the good old self timer function is hard to replace – I set up my Sony Cybershot on an even surface or on the ground, hit the ten second timer, and walk into the frame as best as I can. It takes a few tries to get a good shot, but hey, it’s always worth the exercise!
Get a bluetooth remote
I’ve just ordered one, and that should probably eliminate the need for using my camera completely! They say it’s as small as a keychain, comes with a stand for uneven surfaces and works for both photos and videos up to 90 feet away. Connect with me on Instagram @shivya to see for yourself how well it works.
Take a creative selfie
I hate conventional selfies. But over the years, I’ve found creative ways to insert myself into a picture to capture the essence of a moment or feeling, without actually having my face in it. Those itchy feet play the part well, as do the scribbling of thoughts that flow along.
Find better angles with a selfie stick
I dismissed selfie sticks as the pinnacle of narcissism, until I saw some bloggers use them rather interestingly! You can creatively angle them to take dreamy shots from the back or the top, and end up with some pretty awesome results. Check out my friend Kristin’s inspiring Instagram gallery for ideas, and read her recently released book – How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly!
Ask someone you meet along the way
Although my favorite solo travel moments are of complete solitude, with not a soul in sight, I’m always meeting people along the way – locals, hosts, fellow travellers. I hand over my phone and tell them the angle I want; I’ve found that people are not only happy to oblige, but it’s also a great way to get a conversation going. Once in Madrid, I shyly asked an old gentleman in broken Spanish if he could take a photo of me. We got talking, swapped stories about our lives, he showed me some of his favorite spots by the lake, and even invited me home to try his wife’s cooking! All in a photo’s worth.
Thinking of traveling solo? Start here.