A lot of people know that most of the time I travel solo for whatever reasons, such as not having friends to go on the trip with me due to schedule, or just in the middle of finding myself, or just, no reason at all. Bless you, that have partner or friends to always go with you, but for me, I will go on a trip that I want whether there is a companion or not
But besides traveling as a hobby, my other hobby is photography, and luckily those hobbies can be used for a part of my job as a blogger. Despite heavy cameras and all of the preparation stuff for the shoot, I still want to capture my travel because the essence for most of my trips is to take good pictures! :D
And I like to put myself on the picture as a proof that I have been there, and for me, it's much more appealing than just a street picture
So, when I am alone, who took my pictures?
There are 2 answers to that, and the answers are in fact pretty simple
Tripod-Timer and Random People
It's my most useful combo but also the heaviest among them all. My camera itself is already pretty big, with a massive lens (sometimes 2), and let alone to bring a strong tripod that can withstand wind and hold the camera. I brought it inside my backpack and seriously it's pretty tiring. However with this combo, I can take pictures as many as I want without considering the other person's, and I can take pictures with the best pose
So basically for any compact, mirrorless, or DSLR camera these days, they come with a smartphone remote control application. I used to use Fujifilm, they use Fujifilm Cam Remote. I keep it on my app in case I would like to transfer any picture from any friend who uses Fujifilm in the future. At the moment I use Sony Play Memories a lot because I am using a Sony A7II. However, I also keep my Canon Camera Connect for my Canon G7X
Basically, you can google how to sync the camera and your mobile phone, and practice how to keep using the smart remote control. You can also check the screen of your camera directly on your phone, so you'll know precisely how you want your hair to flow, or where to put your hand. I like to use 2 secs timer so I can have time to hide my phone and pose
With Tripod-Timer combi, I usually take around 50-100 pics at each spot until I think I 'got it right'
Especially, for the preparation, it requires a lot of time. Like setting up the tripod, putting the camera and making sure that it's steady, find the spot, trying to let people know that you're taking pictures with your body language so they won't be in front of the camera, trying to make sure that no one is going to bump into your set up (that's why it's not recommended for city shot like Tokyo, but more like landscape sceneries), etc etc
Even though, I like how it allows me to see myself on the screen and give me guidance on what to do. It also gives me a freedom to take pictures as many as I want!
This is, in fact, the handiest helper you could ever have. However, the minus point is, that you can't bother them too much, and the picture will most of the time rely on the level of photography skill the person that's helping you
Let's talk about how to get someone to take your pictures?
Frame Your Pictures
Before asking someone to take your pictures, it's really wise to already frame and imagine how you want your pictures to be. I usually use manual setting, so I set it by myself first, find a certain spot that I want, take pictures of that spot and imagine where I should stand and what pose I should have. Once you're done, ask the person to exactly take the picture like you do. Hold the camera in the angle that you want, and just simply ask them to press the button. It would make it easier as well for them!
It's a little embarrassing to have that 'instagenic' pose but you're unlikely to see these people again so just YOLO
Find your target
I usually target people who bring a professional camera because they'll be much more used to handling my pro camera. Second, I also target other tourists, even better if you hear someone is talking in your own language. The tourists usually want to have their pictures taken too so it's a mutual benefit, you can help to take each other pictures!
You can also see any family or couple that wants to have their pictures taken
Lastly if you can't find anyone like that, anyone will do, for real. Most of the people are more than willing to help you, I only got rejected 1 out of 100
How to Ask?
In Japan, I ask them by politely saying
'sumimasen, watashi no sashin wo totte kuremasenka?'
You can also say, 'sumisasen, sashin kudasai', it's kinda rude for me, but it's pretty easy to remember and they'll think your afterall foreigner who cant speak Japanese so they'll let you go
In English that would be easy, just saying, 'excuse me can you help to take my pictures?'
And a thank you would be necessary in this case!
Most of the time, people would be offering to take your picture if you've done so for them
There might be other tourists ask you to help to take for their pictures, and so just let them!
After that, they might ask 'do you want?' as well, or you can just casually ask for a return favor
However, it's unlikely since most tourists travel with partner/friends/family, so they already have a human tripod. Though, once in a while they want the whole group in the picture. But with the rise of selfie photography or selfie stick, it's not much necessary anymore. So your best bet is, to OFFER FIRST. If you find that someone might need the help, just offer to help to take their pictures first, and they will not not return the favor
Usually, I only ask for 2 shots per person. Because the person is already nice to spare their few minutes to help me, so I don't have the heart to take longer than that. With that 2 pose, usually I have 1 picture with front/side view of me, and another one is my back view. Sometimes I am not ready and not that pretty enough on the front/side view, so the back view is the safe bet to upload it on Instagram. Don't forget to say thank you, and just compliment them that they're good instead of rambling that 'ah it's so bad'
Sometimes, the results will not be like what you wanted even though you only ask them to press the button in an exact camera position. BUT, there's nothing that a good editing can't do these days. Forget it if it's just not straight, or maybe something a little bit cropped. If your head is not cropped, and if the focus is right. It's more than enough
If you still want to get another shot, repeat the process again from step no 2
So that's all my secret for taking pictures of myself. There's not much secret going on behind the kitchen, it's just that simple. All you need is a little courage to ask someone nicely. And you'll be surprised how many people are in fact pretty helpful and nice toward each other when you're traveling alone. So next time you're traveling alone, there's no more reason to not have good pictures of yourself
Good luck traveling, and I cant wait to see your pictures! ;)