Asia Europe FAQ Photography Travel Tips

10 Tips for Taking Stunning Travel Photos of Yourself

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

chiang mai, thailand
Self-timed myself frolicking down a path to get this shot. #LifeOfASoloTraveler // Chiang Mai, Thailand

While I’d love to say there’s a hot European or a private photographer on the other side of my photos, the truth is, a majority of my pictures are taken on a self-timer or with specific instructions given to a nearby stranger (bless their hearts).

So I’m going to break down how to take those stunning, Instagram-worthy photos if you travel by yourself, as well as ways to go about asking a stranger, who to look for, and what you can do to ensure someone you just met can take a quality photo for you.

Bangkok, Thailand
Self-timer game on fleek or nah? Lol // Bangkok, Thailand

Pictures tell a thousand words of stories that we hardly do justice for without graphic evidence.

In a perfect world, I’d be married to Channing Tatum we’d all be able to hire private photographers to follow us everywhere on trips, snapping every staged candid moment, and making us look like the supermodels we all could be if fast food chains and Nutella didn’t exist.

But alas, ’tis not the case, so listen up my unphotogenic lovely lilies, a mind-blown you awaits on the other side of this post 😉


Paris, France
Just me and invisible bae // Paris, France

When near a popular monument, make sure you tell the person to place the camera just a few feet above the ground and angle it upwards.

If by yourself, place your camera on the ground against a rock, or anything that can prop it.

By angling it upwards, you can cut the heads off of all the people around you, making it seem like it’s just you and the Eiffel Tower chillin’ in Paris 😉

When you think of a scenery, think of the thousands, maybe millions who’ve been on those exact grounds you’re standing on, taking the exact same photo, with the exact same, standard angle.

It’s amazing what perspective does to enhancing a photo. Using an angle apart from the “holding my camera directly in front of my face while standing straight” does wonders to the eye.


Chiang Mai, Thailand
Risking my camera falling into the pool if the wind was too strong? Absolutely. But this photo, #worthit // Chiang Mai, Thailand

Self-timers work great when you’ve got a place to yourself, or you’ve got a lot of time to kill. This usually involves placing your camera a few feet in front of you, allowing you 10 seconds to get in position, and if your camera is in burst mode, I recommend dancing or doing a few fluid movements to give you some variety in your shot selection.


Koh Phangan, Thailand
#WhenPeopleMatchPlaces is an actual hashtag with a gallery of great photos on Instagram of people who blend well with their backgrounds (Photo Credit: Leah from // Koh Phangan, Thailand

Maybe this is just for my ladies, but when your outfit coordinates with a monument, lake, or wall, the photo will pop even more.

Tie dye with crystal clear pool water really brings out my eyes and credit score dontcha think? 😂


Gjirokastra, Albania
Looking for my 5-year plan. Oh, wait… it doesn’t exist. Whoops. // Gjirokastra, Albania

First off, no one is immune to theft while traveling, and if you travel solo, you run the risk of placing your camera into the hands of a thief (I’ve seen it happen, ugh).

But there’s a foolproof way to make sure the person you’re about to approach isn’t going to run off with your hundred to thousand-dollar DSLR.

If a person has kids with them, specifically a toddler in a stroller, you know for sure they aren’t running off with anything.

You take my camera sir, and I’ll take your baby and put a ransom on that @$#. But don’t worry, I don’t discriminate. This applies to kids, spouses, and pets as well.

So now that you’ve found your photographer and you’ve made eye contact with his toddler in case they want to crawl off as an accomplice to this potential thievery when you’re ready to strike a pose, now what?

Kindly ask them to take 3 separate photos. WHY?

The first picture will be blurry, the second you won’t be ready, and the third will be just perfect. You’re welcome 😉


Budapest, Hungary
Thought they were taking pictures of the hilltop view like I was. Turns out, they were taking pictures of me. #StrugglesOfBeingBlackAbroad // Budapest, Hungary

In most cases, if a person has a DSLR around their neck, chances are they will respect a fellow expensive-camera-buyer photographer and treat it with the same care as they would their own.

Not only that, but there’s a good chance they already know how to work your camera and you don’t have to spend 10 minutes explaining how to push a button (it’s okay grandpas of the world, we still love you).


Barcelona, Spain
Showing some study abroad students around, catching them in the middle of selfies, laughing at the situation, and of course, their cuteness. // Barcelona, Spain

LAUGH instead of smile. Smiling is weird. And awkward. And weird.

Save the smiles for things that matter in life (looking at you, Nutella). Laugh out loud towards the camera to produce the most genuine smile your face is capable of.

Your face muscles will look relaxed and the “smile” in the end that’s generated from the laugh will end up looking more natural.

But sometimes, like my photo under this point, you just look obnoxiously happy, and sometimes, that’s perfect.


Isle of Skye, Scotland
“Yeah, go ahead and take the picture as I look out in the distance and when you see me take a deep breath, croak twice like a frog, and blink my eye, THEN you snap, k? Cool.” // Isle of Skye, Scotland

Use this method when you know exactly what kind of picture you want. Because when you offer to take their picture, you’re going to frame it and arch your back in a manner that shows you know what you’re doing.

When they see their photo and are amazed by the vision you had for it, kindly ask if they can mimic your movements and take that exact same shot.

With them having an example to look at, and remembering how you positioned your body to get that perfect angle, you’ll have a better chance of getting exactly what you want!

And they’ll definitely take the time to produce a photo you’re happy with, since you went out of your way to do that for them.

People are usually so cute about imitating my squats and angles when I ask, and the results are always great!


Salzburg, Austria
Facing away from the camera, just like the model I never became. // Salzburg, Austria

Am I deep in thought?

Am I lost in the moment?

Am I holding in a fart?

All very accurate assumptions and the beauty of the photo is that the interpretation of it is left to the eye of the beholder.

Switch up your style from the normal hand on the hip and angled shoulders, and show people what an enigma you truly are.

Patterned backgrounds, bodies of water, and large monuments all make great backdrops and are iconic for “look at me, I traveled”!

It also helps to use accessories to keep your hands occupied. The reason I love fedoras is because it hides a percentage of my alien-shaped head and gives me something to place my hands on because I suffer from Awkward As Hell Syndrome.


Nha Trang, Vietnam
Want to catch your skirt or hair blowing in the wind? Take a video of it! // Nha Trang, Vietnam

While this might be a longer and more complicated method to capturing a quick photo, it’s a great way to get a variety to choose from.

Much like the burst method where your phone can take up to 10 shots in one second, this is also a great alternative, because when you upload the video to your computer, pause the frame you like, then take a screenshot of the screen, crop and edit accordingly, and upload it as a photo!


Holi Festival of Colors
One of my better hair days at the Holi Festival of Colors. Jesus be a shampoo and a conditioner. #LAWDHAMMERCY // Barcelona, Spain

It baffles me that there are some people who go on these amazing trips and don’t have ONE picture of themselves from the trip! Okay, taking pictures of yourself is awkward, I get it.

But anybody can grab a picture from Google and say they went somewhere. Being in the picture is not only undeniable proof that you were there, but it conveys so much more.

Your mood, your expression, and your body all change daily, and you get a chance to see how all of that looked while on a trip, to laugh or gawk at later.

So embrace the moment! Be silly! Have fun!

You’re in gorgeous, foreign territory, even if it was the crappiest time of your life (which, uhhm… impossible), so make that picture hold thousands of memories you won’t be able to adequately retell with words.


Travel Blogger Camera
My Canon 60D is the powerhouse of my photography. It goes with me on all major trips!

For taking sharper images with a nice Bokeh effect, I shoot with a Canon 60D and a 50mm f1/8 lens.

If you’ve held or used this lens before, you can vouch for how easy and lightweight it is. It’s the only lens I’ve shot with in my last two years of travel, and it has an amazingly sharp focus on its subjects.

Note: It’s not a zoom lens, so if you’re used to stock lenses, this will be a bit of an adjustment, and sometimes a challenge to explain to strangers.

Below, I’ve posted the Amazon [clickable] photos of all the camera and equipment I travel with! Each camera serves its purpose, and feel free to ask any questions about any of the products in the comments!






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How to Take Stunning Travel Photos
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  • JustGoPlaces

    great tips! it never occurred to me to ask a fellow DSLR user to take my photo. of course, it would make sense they would know what they were doing!!

    • Haha, thank you! And yeah, you might even get lucky enough to where they start posing you and give you a selection of like 30 photos! Lol

  • Bethaney

    I love this post Gloria!!!! I don’t travel solo but I only ever end up with photos of my husband and kids when travel, never myself. Why? Because my husband is THE worst photographer ever. Seriously. He can’t take a straight pic. They’re always blurry. I give up! I’m going to start playing around with the timer and see if I can’t come up with a decent photo of me travelling some day! Love your photos!

    • Hahahaha, oh those pesky good-for-nothing hubbies 😉 I hear ya! It’s definitely a common struggle.

      I always look for families to take their photos because I know one person will always be left out.

      Look for a kind and friendly face in the crowd to take those family photos. Or if you have some privacy, definitely play around with that timer! Best function ever!

  • Stephanie Rose

    This was such a great article. Just one tip…only ask that parent with a toddler to snap your photo if the child is on lock down in the stroller. I feel bad when people ask me to take their photo when I’m with my 3yo, but I just can’t trust that he won’t get away or find trouble in the few seconds it takes to make a photo!

    • Oooh Steph, great point! I never even thought about that, and yeah in practically every case, the stroller is right beside their leg and the baby is usually sound asleep. People should definitely use their better judgement!

  • Anuradha Goyal

    Can definitely use some of those tips. I am absolutely terrible at taking pictures. There are many trips where I came back without a single picture of mine.

    • It’s never too late to start! A good friend of mine was the same way, and I finally encouraged her to start sticking herself im front of the camera, and not only did she love the results, but her pictures were getting twice as many likes!

      When people see you in these places, it almost makes the experience more of a possibility for them. It’s inspiring!

  • Roma

    I’m always lugging my big camera around and I get asked ALL THE TIME. Maybe they think a fat girl isn’t going to run off with their camera at a lightning fast pace, but honestly it drives me mental. Lumiere London I got asked no less than a dozen times to take pictures for people while I was busy working on my tripod and adjusting settings. It’s not like I was standing around watching grass grow.

    • Hahaha, omg, I feel your pain Roma and especially if you’re out there shooting a time-lapse or the sunset, that gets annoying.

      Perhaps putting in your headphones will help close you off from requests 😛

  • Christine Cognieux

    love this post! great tips and great humor!!!!

    • Thanks Christine! I had a ton of fun writing it too 😉

  • I love this so much! I’m only just now starting to realize my options with my camera’s self timer, but it’s already served me well. I also have a camera remote control that has been SUPER useful!

    • That’s awesome! I use my phone as a remote as well. There are apps that allow for bluetooth connection from your phone to camera to serve as a remote. GoPro’s app does it, and perhaps newer Canon ones too!

  • Aaah! This year I found myself stuck with just the 50mm 1.8 (on a Canon 6D) while traveling… and I LOVED IT! I was freaking out before starting my journey only with it and then I officially declared it my go-to travel lens ♥ it’s just perfect in every way and fully serves my purpose. Plus, I can snap pretty portraits along the way too!
    Great, useful article!

    • YES, YES, YES! It’s my favorite and only travel lens because it’s so versatile! The non-zoom part gets tricky, but you learn to work around it! 😉

  • Loving this. I have been with people aka have had people to take photos of me, for a few months now but to finish my travels here I will be 12 days on my own… aka having to ask people for photos. Oh the joy! x

    • Haha, get ready for the awkwardness overload!! Lol. Always best to find other solo travelers that look your age, because they’ll definitely need you to return the favor. Good luck, Naomi! 🙂

  • Diana Negma Gren

    I just got linked to this post today (love it btw) and I cannot stop clicking through and just keep reading more and more of your content. So great! I’m a fellow traveler, so I hope we meet on the road someday! 🙂

    • Hahahaha, thank you so much Diana! Would love to link up somewhere! Love meeting fellow travelers on the road. Stay awesome! 😉

  • Great tips! I must learn how to use the self-timer, immediately. So glad I discovered your blog!

    • Yes, Tasha! The self-timer tool is GENIUS! Truly a game-changer for loners like me 😛

      Glad you enjoyed this post!

  • I’m so self conscious when it comes to selfies! I see a million things wrong with it so I rarely put a pic of myself smiling nonetheless laughing! But I do love to see pictures of other people enjoying themselves.

    • Haha, we’re all self-conscious to a certain degree! I definitely hear where you’re coming from. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect, so keep pushing yourself to capture some fun moments and before you know it, it’ll feel like second nature 😉

  • Ana

    Absolutely loved your post! You’re not only hilarious and entertaining, but I love your advice. And of course your photos! Thanks for the tips!

    • Aww, Ana!!! Way too many compliments in one comment! Going to break down all this sweetness and read 4 words at a time every morning. Can’t handle so much kindness at once! Haha, thanks for reading! <3

  • I LOVE the festival of colors pic!

  • Omolayo Nkem

    It’s so funny! We actually have really similar equipment. I have a Canon EOS and a Canon Powershot. But I felt weird taking both on a trip so I usually left the Powershot behind. I recently just sent it back to the states with my little brother. How do you decide which one to whip out?

    • Haha, hilarious! And if I’m going hiking or to crowded places, or maybe where I just want to be discreet about my photos, I take the powershot. It really does the job!

      I’m finding I bring my DLSR less and less, but if I’m specifically out to take photos of myself or the city, the sharpness with the 50mm is unmatched, so I’ll bring it!

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  • These are fantastic tips! You have taken some amazing shots and I’ll be trying to replicate your success now 😉

    • Aww, thanks Sarah! Takes a bit of practice, but you’ll find it’ll come natural after a while! 🙂

  • Oh my! I travel solo a lot, and I practically do everything you highlighted here. Great post.

  • Awesome post! I love all of your photos and the idea of taking a video for those action shots!!

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  • Lindsey Nicole

    I love this article and the way your personality shines through. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  • Emilie JK

    Your so gorgeous I wish I had your confidence!