If you know you want to document your adventures, but travel selfies cause you stress or you struggle with creativity in the moment, make yourself a cheat sheet to guide you. Look online for inspiration and create a folder on your phone (just in case connectivity ends up an issue) so you can look at that inspo and help snap that perfect pic. I’d prioritize poses you really love, places you want to take selfies in front of on your trip, as well as outfits you appreciate. Keep it comprehensive but don’t grab so much inspo that it becomes overwhelming. By having a cheat sheet, or a “selfie checklist”, you’ll ensure you get the content you want without being as overwhelmed by it all.
Invest in the Best… For You!
Know what your goals are before you get to your destination. If you want some great pics for memory’s sake? The average cell phone is pretty amazing, honestly. You’ll be able to get beautiful selfies that will make really great memories. The quality of most cell phone cameras is also good enough for the average social media content. If you really want stunning selfies and are planning to use these as part of your website or growing your social media presence, invest in the best equipment that makes sense for your budget. A DSLR or mirrorless camera and tripod are a game changer for professional selfie content for the solo traveler. There are a number of excellent point-and-shoot compact digital cameras on the market, too, that can offer you a step up from most cell phones, as well.
Know Your Angles
Everyone has that angle they love. If you have to snap a quick pic and don’t have a lot of time to get that “perfect shot”, lean into the angles you know you love. If you aren’t sure about what your “good side” is, check out your selfies and the content you share on social. You’ll likely notice a pattern. Not only is the right angle important so you feel you look best in the photo, but it’s also important for the background, too. Depending on the features of your destinations, you might need to get creative with your angles, too. Play with your angles and perspective because it might create a more impactful and memorable selfie. And remember, a selfie doesn’t need to be of just your face.
Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
You can do a lot to a photo in “post” (meaning editing it after the fact) thanks to so many fairly easy to use editing tools on your phone. Heck, IG can slap a brightening filter on your photo and call it a day. That being said, focusing on great lighting will give you the best possible results. And the best lighting? Natural lighting. Flash can help in a pinch, but can create harsh shadows or dilute important details you want in your pic. Obviously, golden hour is my favorite time to grab those buttery skin photos, but if that’s just not possible, lean into other poses. Harsh lighting on your face is a big no, but instead, why don’t you turn around and let that same bright light illuminate your outfit and the scenery and take a photo from behind?
Few things irk me more than a perfectly posed and lit photo ruined by it being just a smidge blurry or out of focus. Know your equipment and how best to use it. If you’re snapping selfies with your camera, make sure you have a few ways to click for that pic. This way, you can use an external button or another area on the touch screen to get the perfect selfie. Selfie sticks are a good option, as well, especially since they allow you to play with angles and depth perception, but just make sure you’re being respectful to your surroundings, those around you and the rules. A tripod is also a great option for the best selfies, honestly.
Use a Timer and Snap a Bunch
Using a timer for your selfies will allow you to make sure you’re on point with your pose before the camera snaps that photo. Even if you’re using your cell phone selfie camera, use the timer. That extra time is helpful to hopefully make the most of each of those photos. Using a tripod and camera or cell phone and the self-timer or a remote will give you the ability to take beautiful photos that look like someone took them for you. Even if you’re having someone help you with photos, a timer will give you extra time to get the best shot. And always select Burst Mode so you can try different poses and angles and work the camera the best you can while also netting the best possible opportunity for a usable selfie.
Frame Your Photo
Don’t forget to pay attention to your background. We’re talking travel selfies, which generally means you want to share this moment you’re experiencing with your friends and/or followers. That means they need to quickly understand the where of it all while still matching your preferred mood and aesthetic. Also keep in mind everything else we’ve talked about: Know your inspiration, know your angles, be mindful of lighting, and how you want to stage this photo. And really, if you’re going to a touristy location, people are going to be a factor. Keep an open mind about how you capture this shot, because people are a variable that can be challenging to control. I tend to look for a side angle or different vantage point that gives me the inspo I want but isn’t as crowded.
That perfect selfie can be intoxicating. Never let the perfect selfie become more important than your safety. Always check your surroundings and make sure you’re cognizant of any potential risks. This includes being mindful of following the rules of wherever you’re visiting, such as local customs and laws. Especially if you’re solo traveling, it’s even more important to be aware of your surroundings and who else is in your space, as well as the terrain of your surroundings. Doing it for the ‘gram is fun but make sure you’re being smart about it, too.
Ask for Help
If you feel safe and comfortable in your surroundings, you can always ask a fellow traveler for help with your travel selfie. Obviously, try to assess if you think they are trustworthy before handing a phone or camera to a stranger. Prioritize someone who has a camera on them or is also taking selfies for the best potential outcome. You can offer to help them out in exchange, too. Make sure to ask them to take a few photos so you have a better percentage chance of getting something usable. Change poses a couple times, as well.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Listen, you’re taking selfies while traveling the globe. Don’t let the stress of finding the perfect selfie ruin the moment. That travel selfie is about capturing a memory, a moment in time, and sharing that with your friends, family, followers, future self. Make sure that your actual memories match that selfie you’ve snapped. Be in the moment and really enjoy yourself and the sights. Embracing that energy will also help you create an even better selfie.