Photography Travel

How to get a stranger to take a great travel photo – of you!

Travelling solo is absolutely fantastic, it’s so rewarding to challenge yourself and discover how much your actually capable of. There are so many solo travellers out there and more often than not – when travelling solo, I’m not alone at all. However, there are a few challenges with travelling by yourself, there’s no one to watch your luggage when you need to use the bathroom, no one to go out to dinner with, no one split a cab with, and no one to take that great travel photo of you. I have learned that often when approaching a stranger to take a photo of you, it rarely turns out the way I want it.

Maybe it’s a bit too much to expect a stranger to produce that travel photo I have in my mind. However, after a lot of travelling (and a lot of failed photographs) I’ve learned a few tricks to get the photo as close to what I want as possible!

Ask the right person

Probably one of my best tips. If I can, I look for a girl my own age (mostly because I find it a lot less awkward to ask), and preferably someone with a nice camera. Someone walking around with a DSLR camera usually has an understanding of the equipment, is interested in photography, and can usually take a pretty nice photo.

Ask someone you’d feel the least awkward with, for me, it’s women and preferably someone my own age. Most of the time they also have blogs or Instagram, and they get it!

Show how you want it

My number one tip for getting the photo they way you want it. I always take the picture I want first – without me in it. And then simply show the picture and explain where in the frame I want myself. Be as clear as possible with what you’re looking for, and ask them to take a few different once so you have some to choose from. The more direction you give, the less chance of error.

Prepare the right settings

I would never expect someone to know how to work the settings on my camera, sometimes they do, but most often that’s way too much effort to expect from a stranger. So make sure you already have the right settings on the camera before handing it over. You know how you want the lighting in your own photo, a stranger will not.

Bali, 2014

Bali, 2014

Say hello first

Ok, in all honesty, I don’t do this. But it’s a good tip. I usually just walk up to someone I see taking a lot of pictures, someone my own age, or someone with a DSLR camera, and simply ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a photo of me. Admittedly it would probably be a lot nicer to say a few words first, ask them where they’re from or how their travel is going, instead of just catching them off guard with a request.

Ask, and ask again

It’s always the most awkward the first time. At least I think so. At this point I’ve really got on shame when it comes to getting that great photo, but it’s not always easy walking up to someone and asking for a picture. Especially if you have something specific in mind, and not just that straight forward in front of something picture. It can be a bit awkward doing that pose you’re thinking of, or climbing up on that rock, or jumping, or doing whatever you think is fun for the picture. But ask once, and you’ll have no problems asking twice. And if you’re not happy with the first picture, simply ask someone else.

Set your camera to high-speed

A great way to make sure you have plenty of options, if you have the luck of asking someone who thinks “can you take a photo of me” means literally one photo, is to use the high-speed shooting setting on the camera. Ask the person to hold down the button and let the camera snap away, this way you’ll get plenty of options to choose from without having to ask for just one more, please.

10 000 Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong, 2014

10 000 Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong, 2014

Remember – you’re not the only one

I don’t know how many times people have come up to me and asked if I could take their picture. Asking for a photo is not an uncommon thing, and there’s no need to feel embarrassed asking. Never have someone been rude to me for asking, I don’t think anyone’s even said no. People have always been positive, though it was fun, or asked me to take a picture of them as well. Don’t feel awkward asking for a photo, everyone does it.

Repay the favor

If you feel a bit shy about asking someone to take a photo of you, offer to take one of them first! Maybe find a couple and ask if they want a picture together, and then ask them if they wouldn’t mind taking one of you. If you go straight for asking for a photo of you, make sure to ask if they wouldn’t want a picture as well.

Say thank you

Always say thank you. A pretty obvious one, and more about good mannersΒ than anything. But never forget to thank the person taking the time to help you get that great travel photo!

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  • Reply Michele August 13, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I love the topic of this post! I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to someone taking my photo. What are people thinking when they cut out the monument before you and focus on the ground in the foreground? haha

  • Reply Dana August 13, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    My husband and I have been super lucky on our travels in finding others willing to take photos for us. Usually other couples that we then take a snap of. These are excellent tips, especially with having all the camera settings ready to go so they just have to point and shoot. I like the idea of the shot without you in it to show them what you’re looking for, we’ll have to try that next time!

  • Reply lorrin sell | photographer of wild things August 14, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    this is the coolest post!! i blog about photographing your OWN children, and while i am completely obsessed with capturing the moment, the fact remains, those of us that do the picture taking are rarely in the images. this is a great post, and i am totally sharing it with my readers. πŸ™‚ thanks a bunch!

  • Reply Giana August 15, 2016 at 11:38 am

    This was a useful post! I’ll be travelling alone to Paris in 2 weeks so this will come in handy!

    G x

  • Reply Joanna February 14, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Great tips Michelle! Glad to find your blog. I’m starting to read the post, let’s connect on IG too? πŸ™‚

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