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How to take awesome photos of yourself for Instagram while traveling

Many people ask me “Who takes all your travel photos on Instagram?”. The short answer is “my friends”, but if i’m on a solo adventure, I have to be my own paparazzi.

Imagine this – You’re on an adventure, whether it be a hike up a mountain, walking down the street, or even traveling in another country. You see this awesome backdrop and you take a landscape photo of it. Then you realize something is missing. You’re not in it! So you do the same old boring “Selfie”, but the camera is too close to your face, covering the whole backdrop. It’s not epic enough! What do you do??

 See my Instagram @ventureninja for some examples.
Cyprus Shipwreck
I framed the shot how I wanted it, and simply asked someone to take the photo and I ran into position. // Paphos, Cyprus

1) Simply ask a stranger to take it for you

Don’t have that anxiety of approaching someone. Just do it! It’s so worth the cool Instagram post! Usually the people with the cameras are the best. Chances are they know how to work your expensive camera and they’ll likely not be too rough with it. But either way, be their creative director and guide them how you want your shot framed. Once you found the shot you want, tell them to hold the camera in that spot, and run into position.

2) Travel and go on adventures with like-minded people

Travel with people that won’t think it’s weird or awkward to take photos of each other when you see something cool. The best is traveling with people that when you tell them your idea, they will respond with “Awesome! Let me know if I can help with it!”. Whether it be for photography, videos, or even vlogging. The worst is going on a trip and all you have is landscape shots without you in them.


Rustic Door in CyprusMy cousin is an expert at taking ancient door photos for me // Limassol, Cyprus

3) Use a camera timer/remote

You can lean your phone against an inanimate object, or place your DSLR on top of a flat object and position it to frame your shot. Set the 10 second timer (or if you can run fast enough, a 3 second timer) and get into position! BAM! You got your shot!

You can even place it on the ground or on a rock and place your wallet under the lens so the camera angles up. You can get some interesting perspectives this way.

Remotes for DSLR cameras and GoPros are great! Some DSLR and GoPro cameras that are compatible will allow you to view your shot right from your phone.

If you really think about it, it may sound ridiculous that you set a 10 second timer and ran in position when you’re by yourself to take a photo, but realistically…It’s worth the amazing photo.

HoustonSet that camera to video, and screenshot ….wait for it….NOW!  // Spring, Texas

4) Set your camera to video

A great way to capture the PERFECT moment is by setting your camera to video. You’d never think it, but it works! All you have to do is switch to video, frame your shot, then pose your heart out! Skip all the frames where you have lazy eyes, and once you get to a frame you like, take a screenshot and you have a perfectly timed photo! You’ll definitely lose some pixels with this method, but if you’re posting to Instagram, it won’t look too bad. If you’re using a cellphone camera, use the back camera. You’ll get higher resolution images.

5) Use a tripod

Tripods are great. They will obviously hold your camera into position when taking a photo of yourself during the day, but they are a MUST HAVE at night. You can set long exposures to allow maximum amounts of light in and will keep the shot steady so you have a crisp photo. If you’re traveling, get a cheap, light tripod to carry around.


Sunsets in NOTLShot with a tripod at night for a memorable sunset.

6) Use an “anti gravity” phone case

This is one of my favourite phone cases I own. On the back of the phone case are thousands of tiny suction cups that stick to any smooth surface. If you’re on the street with a cool backdrop, throw it on a storefront window. Yah, the people on the other side of the glass will look at you weird, but hey, you’ll never see them again, so go for it. I got mine from Amazon. You can get it here.

7) Use a drone

Drones are an amazing tool to get the most interesting aerial “Dronie” shots (Drone Selfie). Yes, very expensive, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. I recently purchased the DJI Mavic Pro so that will be my new go-to for travel footage and photos. This drone is foldable, so it is extremely compact for travel and you can throw it in a small backpack or bag. You can fly it in the air and wave at it to start tracking you, then make a photo gesture to take a photo of you without holding the controller. See below of a dronie shot from my Instagram @ventureninja.

Gorge AerialExample Dronie Photo from my Instagram @ventureninja

8) Okay, I won’t leave the “Selfie/Selfie Stick” out

  1. Simple Selfie
    The Selfie is not my favourite for taking photos of myself, mostly because it’s uninteresting and everyone does it. But if you must, the key to the Selfie is ‘Selfie with confidence’. Everyone will look at you and you know they’re thinking “oh no, a selfie”, but who cares what they think. They are strangers, and this will be the only time you will ever see them again, so just go for it with confidence.
  2. Selfie Stick
    Selfie sticks are annoying and they look ridiculous, but if you use it with proper etiquette, you’ll be alright.First, some BAD examples of pulling out a selfie stick. Family functions – Do NOT pull a selfie stick out at family functions. There are physical humans that you know there that can take a photo of you. Large Crowds – Do NOT pull a selfie stick out in large crowds. You will get in people’s way and annoy them.Some GOOD examples for a selfie stick. Hikes – On adventures when no one is around, you’ll be isolated enough that no one will get in your way. Technique – You can get some pretty interesting shots when using a selfie stick. Don’t just hold it out in front of you and take a selfie. Try throwing it over your shoulder to get a third person view of what you’re looking at from behind you. If you’re in a safe area, you can even have a friend stick it out the car window when you’re going off-road where no one is around. Obviously do this with seat belts on (or not, but you didn’t hear it from me) and be aware of your surroundings.
Bean MirrorBiggest mirror I’ve ever seen. The Bean // Chicago, IL

9) Find a cool reflection

Try finding an interesting reflection. You can get some pretty cool effects, depending on how warped the mirror is. Regular bathroom mirrors are boring, go find a parking lot mirror that is half sphere, or even a puddle. The Bean in Chicago was a good reason to take a mirror selfie.

Aphrodites Rock CyprusRisky climb, but Get that view! // Paphos, Cyprus

* Don’t be afraid to take risks, it’s what being adventurous is about. Just be cautious first and make sure you’re 100% in the clear before climbing anything. *

This is how I personally like to take adventure photos of myself for Instagram when I travel, so I hope you take this in and try it yourself! Leave a comment and share your ideas, I love learning creative ways to take photos.

If you enjoyed this post, follow my adventures on Instagram – @ventureninja and Youtube



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