Who Takes your Photos if you Travel Solo?

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Its about time I addressed one of the most popular questions: Who takes my photos if I travel the world solo?

It’s okay if you’re a non-believer. It’s even okay if you think I have a full time elf trailing behind me taking my photos (and as such I am not in fact travelling the world solo). It’s funny – hilarious even – wrong entirely, but it is still okay.

Yes, I do travel the world solo.

Yes, I do take my own solo travel photos. But not all of the time anymore.

Solo travel photos and how to take them

I’ve previously written elsewhere on my blog and social media sites that I take my own travel photos. I even made a video explaining how I do it. Since then however, much has changed. These days I don’t take all of my own travel photos, but I still do travel the world solo. No elf.

The Different Ways: Who Takes Your Photos if you Travel Solo?

walking brooke

Camera, Tripod, Timer

This is how it all began. I started my blog in December 2012 and my first trip was to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Yosemite solo. I don’t have many photos from this trip, because I hadn’t yet figured out how to take my photos while I was travelling alone. I needed a corporate headshot for my LinkedIn profile and I was inside my hotel room in Las Vegas thinking “how is this gonna work?”. I places my camera on the bed and soon realised only my legs were in the frame. I failed and failed again after again, until I finally got a shot with the framing and lighting right… or at least it was good enough.

I continued to experiment with taking photos this way – placing my camera on a ledge, propping it up with a stick underneath, hitting timer mode and running into frame within the allocated 10-second window. Time after time I failed… but in the end persistence always won out and I would walk away with a photo (usually just the one) I was happy with. I then bought a (hefty) tripod to travel with as my +1. I took all my solo photos (like the one above) this way until one day my tripod broke and we parted ways. I then realised my tripod was taking up 3 kilograms of valuable luggage space, so I refused to buy another. I went back to placing my camera on random ledges and running into frame. It still to this day works a treat.

brooke saward

Asking a Stranger

Another way I take my solo travel photos is to ask strangers. Nine times out of ten the photo doesn’t come up even remotely the way I had envisioned in my mind. Almost 10 times out of 10 I don’t ever use these photos – but I still give it a shot and ask a stranger if there’s no way I can get the photo by my previous method. This is a better option in busy tourist hotspots where you run the risk of someone stealing your camera. I’ve never met a person who has said “no I will not take your photo” – so don’t be afraid to ask!

Brooke Universal Singapore

Meeting up with Readers/Photographers in their city

Probably one of the more successful methods to taking better solo travel photos is to meetup with likeminded bloggers or photographers in their city. Lots of people tweet me or inbox me when I announce I’m going to their city, so it has become quite a frequent occurrence to meetup with people overseas. Not only do they offer to take some of my “WOW photos” (turned away from the camera), but they also show me their city and sometimes treat me to ice cream. I like ice cream.

China Town Singapore

Tour Guides or Hosts

Recently I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to travel to new countries or cities as a guest of a tourism board, tour operator, airline, etc. etc. When I first started blogging I was almost certain these opportunities would never arrive, as I not-so-slowly watched my savings dwindle with the high cost of constant travel. I had saved enough money to travel the world for one year and my savings reached about half way by the time I started receiving emails offering to visit different places as a guest to help promote that particular destination or experience. As such, I have many great hosts and tour guides who know the best places to take photos in their city. They always offer to take my photos and this has been a great way to travel more in-depth and learn so much more on my travels!

Epl7 Olympus

The Ultimate Selfie Camera

Sometime last year I saw one of my blogger friends (who I met on a bloggers trip to Spain) post about ‘the ultimate selfie camera’. It sounded like a novelty at first, but when I looked into it I was pretty impressed. Shortly thereafter I got my hands on the Olympus PEN E-PL7 and have been using this camera ever since. Mainly I use it for vlogging as it is suuuuper handy having the flip down interface – but I also use it for my happy snaps as well.


If you have any further questions related to my travels, feel free to ask in the comments below! I do my best to answer popular questions and queries in full blog posts. Thanks in advance!

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    January 20, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Solo Photo travelling must be creative opportunity and so I agree to your perfect theme and approaching famous device.

    November 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the great tips Brooke!I just started my own travel blog after moving to Madrid 2 months ago! I definitely plan on doing a lot of solo travel and will use some of these tips!

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    August 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I’m curious, how are you when you want to take a photo of yourself around other people? (When you don’t want to ask them I mean)

    Holly 🙂

    July 16, 2015 at 2:16 am

    This is really good to keep in mind! I am soon traveling to Europe to study abroad and most likely will be traveling around solo. Tips like this will be really helpful, since I am kicking off a travel section in my blog and I need to know these things to get a great photo. I love idea of putting it like on a ledge or even better as stranger because it is true, the worst they could say is no!

    Belle Mara
    June 17, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Brooke! I’ve been following your blog for months now and I stumbled upon this interesting topic. Taking your own photos while travelling alone is a common difficulty but nobody really talk about it on travel blogs! Great job on this article!
    I’m not sure if you’ve heard about a start up website that connects solo backpackers around the world. It’s called Penroads. It’s like Facebook /LinkedIn for travellers.

    June 15, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Hi! I love your blog. I always wondered how people who travel alone take their pictures, as the danger of leaving your camera alone for a moment had occurred to me.
    If you ever find yourself in Belgium, I’d be glad to show you around!

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    May 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Great post, really helpful! 🙂
    I was just wondering, how do you make videos? I was checking your vlog on youtube and obviously it´s not possible to do it by yourself. You would help me a lot! Good luck on ur travels 🙂

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    Nicola Easterby
    April 15, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I can definitely relate to these… Escpecially the fact the photo never turns out how you want it when you ask a stranger 😛 I just wrote a blog post about it myself!

    Michelle Kenneth
    April 11, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Hi. I just noticed you started following me on BlogLovin so I thought I’d stop by your site. I’m glad you made the connection.

    I’ve been doing the timer thing myself, but then gave up and was content with being behind the camera rather than in front of it when I traveled. I may try getting back in front of the camera after reading this.

    Thanks for connecting. I’m really loving your site!


    Aiman Halim
    March 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Hi there! Had just found your website. Very nice post and sharing of experience here. Thank you for sharing with us. I have an ambition to travel the world, too. But I am starting by exploring every corner of my country, Malaysia. 🙂

    March 16, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Hi, I love your blog and everything you do with it. I want to leave my country and move to somewhere when I get the money and I wanted to know, how old are you? You look so young! And also…where should I visit when I have the chance? xoxo

    March 9, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Hey! Thanks for the post – I agree, photos on a travel blog are probably the most important feature. Mostly they depend on a good camera, though, and it helps if the photographer knows what (s)he is doing. I’ll definitely check “The Ultimate Selfie Camera” out. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

    The Wandering Mum
    March 6, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I often travel solo with a 5 year old and its tough to get decent shots with of both of us in, he is rarely still enough for a timer shot on a tripod or other surface so we rely on the kindness of strangers and selfies.
    Your photos are amazing and I am really enjoying your blog. Thanks for posting.

    Jennifer @ This Off Script Life
    March 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for these great tips, Brooke! I also don’t get the picture I envisioned when I ask a stranger to take my photo, but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. I travel with my husband or a girlfriend (my version of a magical photo-taking elf), and even then it’s hard to get that perfect shot. Perhaps with a little more creativity on my part, I can get there.

    • Brooke Saward
      March 6, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Another great idea when getting other people to take them is to take a photo of them first and show them EXACTLY how you want the photo to be framed, angles, and where you want to be positioned – hope this helps! 🙂

    March 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm

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    March 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks For Your valuable posting,this is for wonderful sharing,I would like to see more information from your side.I am working in web design company in chennai

    Jennifer Stevens
    March 3, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I always wondered about this. Thanks for the camera tips!

    Marie @ Marie Away
    March 3, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I find the same problem when asking strangers for photos–I hate not having the control to create my own vision in the photo. As a result, I’m usually the one taking photos of others. Lately, I’ve been getting into using my tripod a lot more.

    I can’t afford it now, but I will definitely have keep that camera in mind!

    March 3, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Wow! I can’t believe you take most of these shots by yourself! You really do have the knack for selfies, they look incredible! I’m taking a gorilla pod (a small bendy tripod) and my DSLR solo travelling with me, but I know there are some limitations with it! I’m going to have to practice in my garden before I go, me thinks!

    March 2, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Glad to hear that you encountered some of your readers. I was surprised that it was all a tripod and camera. I thought there was really someone there.

    Kayla-Paige Willsher
    March 2, 2015 at 4:14 am

    Thanks for posting this! As a fellow travel blogger, I was wondering how to take photos when I travel solo. At the moment, asking people to take my photos is a little daunting, but I guess it’s something that becomes easier after time! Kayla 🙂

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    March 1, 2015 at 4:01 am

    I’m always too embarrassed to ask other people haha in funchal recently we had the worst pic ever taken by a generous stranger, it as so cringe hahahaha

    February 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    When I started reading peoples travel blogs, I always wondered how they took all these pictures
    all the time if they were travelling solo. It’s only recently that I’ve realised the thing about the tripod. I’m so getting one for my travels! 🙂

    February 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Yes, that’s how I take my photos, too! Tripod, self-timer and strangers. Sometimes pictures taken by strangers are disasters, but sometimes there are people who are smart and patient enough to take the kind of picture that I expect them to.

    February 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    This can be so tough! I’m always slightly embarrassed when I set up my trip for self photos around other people, it’s also pretty tough to find a location that doesn’t have at least some people. I guess I just need to get over that because your pictures are awesome!

    Silly Medley: Lifestyle and Travel

    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    February 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Great post! It’s always tricky to take photo when traveling solo indeed. That’s nice to read your ideas 🙂

    Nicole Vertommen
    February 28, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I like this post & your tips! Recently decided to visit more places solo – as I’m living abroad – and taking pictures of me on my trips seems like a struggle. Selfies can be cool, but most of the time they don’t really cover the surroundings, right? So thanks for the useful tips!

    February 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

    It has been a problem for a long time.
    I’m going to join a festival in March and I definitely want a photo of myself as a proof.
    Thank you very much for your post!!

    Mijn kleine geheimpjes
    February 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Great tips! I really hate it when a stranger takes a picture and it turns out that there’s only a foot or toe on those 100 pics that person had made! Such a bummer! A tripod sounds perfect!

    February 28, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I am lucky enough to have my husband as my photographer but we do the same thing to occasionally get both of us in the photo!

    February 28, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Always with amazing tips 🙂

    Kiss, Carla.

    February 28, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Next blog would be “How I afford traveling the world non stop?”.

    Answer questions like…
    What are your sources of income while traveling aside from blogging?
    How did you saved money prior to travel?

    February 28, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Can totally relate to this post, It was about three months into my travelling trip that I realised there were hardly any photos of me actually experiencing it! Ahhh the good old out of frame self-timer. The joys!

    February 28, 2015 at 7:33 am

    The asking people part is so true! They always come out blurry or childish not artistic haha

    February 28, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Can totally relate! I think by asking people to take your photo, thereby interacting with locals and others, allows you to engage. Some of my best friends were made as a result of a simple question, “Can you take a photo?” which transcribed into a conversation. Great post!

    Stephanie Rogers
    February 28, 2015 at 5:43 am

    Aaaah I love the mad dash into the frame after starting that 10 second count down! I’m normally mid laughing in the photos because a couple of people will be giggling at my tactics! Great post, love the idea of meeting fellow bloggers in different countries!

    February 28, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Thanks for the insider tips! I always still feel it’s a challenge to take photos with me in them, and definitely don’t get them if I don’t make them a priority. It’s great that you get to work with different photographers in each city. I’m sure you get great native tips and cultural knowledge from them!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    Lisa @ Strum Simmer Sip
    February 28, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I’m new to blogging and as important as photos are, it’s so difficult to take them of yourself without turning up with an awkward selfie. I like the recommendation of a remote control – does anyone know if the Panasonic Lumix zs30 has that capability? <3 L

      February 28, 2015 at 3:53 am

      I just found this link when I searched the camera name + remote: Apparently you can even get remote viewing and access to camera settings on this camera if you use a smartphone or tablet. So the answer is yes, and then some!

    February 28, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Hi Brooke! I love your website and find it so inspiring. I’m trying to make changes to be able to travel more. I just read this post and I think since your camera has wifi that you should look into a remote or even a smartphone app. I have a remote for my Sony and it works wonders so you don’t have to worry about that 10 second time frame every time! And it’s small enough that it fits in your hand out of sight. The other thought I had was that you should look into a JOBY Gorillapod – it’s a small portable tripod that you can wrap around just about anything – the Hybrid version is for compact systems camera and is what I use for travel. These things might give you more options! Thanks for the great posts!

    February 28, 2015 at 2:30 am

    I thought about this a lot and the way you do it is exactly how I would do it if I would travel alone. 🙂 And your photos look great!

    February 28, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I’ve always wondered how you got your amazing shots! thank you for sharing 🙂

    February 28, 2015 at 12:56 am

    I was actually wondering how you do this 😀

    February 28, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Omg I always ask myself this question!! Great post <3

    February 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Hi Brooke! I love your blog and this was again a very lovely post. I was just wondering, don’t you ever feel awkward if you set up your tripod or place your camera somewhere and take pictures of yourself? Because I do, and that’s why I don’t do it as much as I would like to.. Especially since it’ll take me a couple of times to get the photo right! xxxx Romy.

    Kasey LK
    February 27, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Im thinking whether I want to pick up this camera or the canon g7x

    • Brooke Saward
      February 28, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Hey Romy! I definitely used to once upon a time – but I lost my inhibitions long ago!!! GO FOR IT 😀 xx

    February 27, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    My new favorite method is a remote and tripod! They sell them for cell phones so you don’t have to stare at the flashing light before the photo snaps!

    Angie Silver (@SilverSpoonLDN)
    February 27, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I’ve heard so many good things about the Olympus Pen, I must try it one day. Thank you for the tips.
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

    February 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Good tips! I just started to travel solo for the first time in my life (it’s pretty exciting and scary and the same time), so I was actually wondering how to take pictures of myself other than asking strangers… I’m not a good model, haha, so it’s difficult for them to take good pic – and I can’t expect them to try again and again! haha

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    February 27, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    This is my favourite post of yours for a while! It’s nice to see you candidly talk about your mistakes and learning curves! Makes me feel a bit better that you do actually take tons and tons of photos before getting the right one sometimes! Your pictures are just stunning. You got my attention on instagram 🙂

    • Brooke Saward
      February 27, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      Aww thanks Michelle! Great to have the feedback and know what readers like / don’t like 🙂 thanks so much!

    February 27, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I used to place my camera in any stable place (rocks, a table, a car or a low wall) and secure with my shirt. And start the timer and RUN!
    It was with my 35mm analog Praktica camera when you had to save the photographic film.
    Now with digital photos you can make thousands of pics and don’t have to worry about the costs.
    I also have Olympus PEN E-PL5 which is a great camera – not too big to be handy.
    Bartek from Gdansk , Poland

    Izza Atirah
    February 27, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Great post, Brooke ! I’d be more than happy to be taking your photos (and treat you to ice cream *wink*) when you swing by Malaysia ! Looking forward to your visit here. Much love. xo

    Jake Ryan
    February 27, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    All these are good ideas, and I’m glad to see selfie sticks are not your one of your options. I hate selfie sticks haha


    Adam Highfill
    February 27, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I am an american living abroad in Spain.
    This is the first time i’ve seen your blog, not sure how i’ve missed it.
    Good stuff all around. Thanks for sharing.

    Alexandra Chirila
    February 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    you know…I didn’t like you in the beginning and now I read all your posts and WOW is my only subscription on youtube. I was annoyed because I didn’t understand how you had the time and energy to do it all: the blog, the photos, the vlog. But after I watched one of your vlogs, when you traveled from Berlin to Zurich and then to another city in Switzerland and in the evening said that you are going to do a bit of work and only after go to bed, I realised I am too much of a procrastinator. So thank you!

    February 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I always feel awkward posing when a stranger takes my photo. I can’t get my smile to seem normal at all!!

    February 27, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    haha I thought I was the only one that props up my camera somewhere and then runs into the frame.

    Samantha Elisabeth
    February 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    You know… I don’t know if it’s because I follow you on ALL your social media accounts, but I have come to the conclusion that you may have a severe ice cream addiction.

    However, I don’t necessarily think this addiction needs rehabilitation.

    Anyway, love this post! I’m trying to get better at capturing pictures of myself (particularly the WOW style because I don’t have to worry about weird faces!), and it’s mostly been asking strangers or friends and getting them to position themselves accordingly.

    February 27, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Brooke,

    Nice post and I can totally relate especially with placing the camera on a ledge and running into the 10-sec timer frame lol, but asking a stranger works good too. Like you, sometimes I’m being asked by friends too, “who took these photos?”, and I humbly reply, “oh just a random tourist I bumped in”.

    Keep inspiring people and enjoy your current and upcoming journeys!

    And yes, I hope to meet you soon, one day who knows?


    Susan the farm quilter
    February 27, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Brooke, no matter what the topic of your blog, I always enjoy reading it. Just seeing the email sitting in my inbox makes me smile as I immediately click on over to read your blog. My biggest problem with selfies is all my wrinkles!! I guess I can wish them away in the mirror, but in a picture, they are quite visible to me!!! Oh to be 40 years younger!!! Got any clues on how to make wrinkles disappear for pictures???

    • Brooke Saward
      February 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Wow, thank you so much Susan!! You know what, I do have a quick fix for that! 😉 try – great free website for editing photos that has a ‘wrinkle remover’ feature 😀 !! Thanks again for following my blog – totally appreciate the lovely comment!!!

    Mohammad Anam
    February 27, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Might have helped if you also linked to the video (less people asking again). 🙂

    • Brooke Saward
      February 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Wow, thank you so much Susan!! You know what, I do have a quick fix for that! 😉 try – great free website for editing photos that has a ‘wrinkle remover’ feature 😀 !! Thanks again for following my blog – totally appreciate the lovely comment!!!

        Mohammad Anam
        February 28, 2015 at 4:22 am

        Pretty sure I’m not Susan :p

    Ellie Quinn
    February 27, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Good post! I’ve seen your videos and other posts you’ve written which explain how you take the photos and it annoys me when people ask you again and again how you do it or if you are even alone so it must annoy you even more lol.
    The majority of us believe you though 😉

    • Brooke Saward
      February 27, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Hahaha thank you Ellie!!!! I’m glad some people have faith 😉 😀 xx

    Anna @AnnaEverywhere
    February 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    HAHA, I know exactly what you mean when people tell you that you probably don’t travel solo just because your photos aren’t only selfies. I tend to ask strangers too, but recently my tripod photos are better than those taken by strangers 🙂

    • Brooke Saward
      February 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Oh Anna I know what you mean! I totally agree that you can get a better photo (aka the one you WANT) if you take it yourself!! Practice makes perfect! 🙂 x