I wrote this blog post and then realised I’m not really giving an answer to the question in the title. The reason behind this whole article is that I don’t have that answer. But don’t stop reading yet! Let me elaborate on the problem of how to get pictures of yourself when there’s no one travelling with you, and then maybe we can come up with a solution together!
Not having someone to take your picture is one decided disadvantage of travelling solo. Yes, you can ask strangers. Although, if on top of your introversion you also suffer from social anxiety, like me, this seemingly simple task can already pose a challenge. Then, of course, you can take selfies. While I do feel I’m getting better at that – now I only find most of them terrible, rather than all – there may be situations when it calls for more than that. I often see other solo travel bloggers post beautiful pictures of themselves, but somehow, I have not yet discovered how they actually get those.
So, what’s the problem anyway?
Even assuming I’m overcoming my social anxiety, or I’m travelling with someone I’ve known for a bit and thus don’t consider a stranger anymore, then what? He/she’ll take a picture, for sure, but if you are anything like me, you will have no idea what to do in that picture. Or worse, you don’t dare do anything too out of the ordinary for fear of it looking silly. The result is another boring photograph with you just standing there not knowing what to do.
Maybe I am the only one with this problem, but I strongly suspect I can’t be. There must be others struggling not only with coming up with creative poses for their pics but also with having the confidence of doing them, especially when photographed by a stranger or in a place where many people can potentially see you do it.
It’s a lot easier when travelling with good friends. We know each other well enough that I’m not quite that embarrassed about doing silly poses for pictures. Well, maybe a little bit. But if we all do it, I’m cool with it. Many of this pictures are certainly not meant for publication, but at least they are never boring.
But most of the time I travel solo, and I don’t have the luxury of messing around and taking silly photos with my best friends. So what is an introverted girl to do?
Trying to get comfortable with being photographed
I’m never comfortable with striking a pose in front of strangers. This may not be understandable to everyone, but I find it embarrassing. Sometimes, though, you get to know people a bit better. You spend some time with them because they’re in your hostel or your travel group. That obviously makes it easier.
On my four-day tour through Southern Bolivia, I’ve got lots of pics from the first couple of days where I just stand there, not doing anything. As I got to know my three travel companions better, the photos slowly become more outgoing. Most of the poses might still be rather conventional, like jumping in the air, but at least they are less boring. I don’t look quite so unsure about what to do with myself.
I’m not even generally uncomfortable with being in photos. There are some people who don’t like their picture taken at all or seeing themselves in photographs. I don’t mind that. In fact, I want to have photos of myself besides all those landscape pictures. I only need to know what I’m supposed to do in the photo and/or be photographed by someone I trust and feel comfortable with. Which, unfortunately, is hard when you’re going solo.
Trying to make the picture stand out
Besides finding a suitable photographer, there is the problem of coming up with a good pose in the first place. The moment someone offers to take my photo, my mind goes blank and I have no idea what to do. It’s a bit like being put in the spotlight by a question and having a complete blackout – until ten minutes later when I suddenly remember the perfect comeback! Honestly, why can’t my brain just be a bit more spontaneous?
Basically, every time it comes to taking pictures, I have the choice between overcoming my embarrassment and risking making a fool of myself or living with only getting a mediocre photo. While my brain says the second option really is the better one – because the result is far superior – at the moment in question my fears tend to get the better of me and stop me from doing anything too outgoing. I have yet to find a way to efficiently deal with it.
By the way, if you’re thinking now: I don’t know what she’s talking about, there’s nothing wrong with these pics – that’s because they are the few I’m happy with, as opposed to the very many I’m not. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting better at this whole taking-pictures-of-myself stuff. Like with the ones in this post. But then again, I get completely horrible ones, or none at all, because my courage left me in the deciding moment.
It might just need a lot more time to get used to it, step by slow step.
How do you manage to take pictures of yourself and not be uncomfortable doing it? Honestly, any tips you might have will be highly appreciated!
I don’t have an answer to your question, but you’ve taken some great pictures.
Yeah I always photograph the landscape and after the trip I regret not taking any more photos of people (including me). Tripod is great to have out in the nature, when no one is around otherwise I do not feel comfortable. Someone might steel the camera, that is also my worry and I do not want to be annoying to other people. No idea 😀 Hopefully someone else comes up with one 🙂
That happens to me, too! If there’s no one else around I can set up my camera and take pics without a problem, but it’s not often the case… Yeah, let’s hope someone will turn up to share the secret with us (or that we just all get a bit more confident about this 😉 )
The pictures of you on the train tracks are awesome! It looks like you’re doing just fine
Thank you! By that point I’d already known my photographers (aka co-travellers on the tour) for a few days and we constantly took pics of each other, so it wasn’t uncomfortable anymore 😉