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How To Take Great Photos Of Yourself While Traveling


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Corabelle Wojciechowski



Traveling is an incredible experience that allows us to explore new places, immerse ourselves in different cultures, and create lasting memories. And what better way to document those memories than through stunning photographs? While capturing the scenic landscapes and iconic landmarks is important, it’s equally crucial to include yourself in those travel photos. Self-portraits not only add a personal touch to your travel album but also help create a visual narrative of your adventures.


Taking great pictures of yourself while traveling is not just about capturing a quick selfie; it’s about telling a story, showcasing your emotions, and capturing the essence of the destination. In this article, we will explore the best tips and techniques for capturing outstanding self-portraits during your travels.


Whether you’re an avid photographer or just starting out, these tips will help you elevate your self-portraits and ensure you return from your journey with memorable photographs that reflect your unique travel experiences. So grab your camera, put on your best smile, and get ready to capture some amazing self-portraits that will transport you back to those magical moments for years to come.


Importance of Taking Great Pictures of Yourself While Traveling

When we think about travel photography, we often envision picturesque landscapes, famous monuments, and vibrant street scenes. While these are undoubtedly important aspects of travel photography, capturing great pictures of yourself in those destinations holds a distinct significance. Here’s why:


Memories and Storytelling: Your travel experiences are unique and personal. Including yourself in the photographs allows you to become a part of the story you are telling through photography. When you look back at these images, you’ll not only remember the places you visited but also the emotions, experiences, and the adventure you had on your journey.


Self-Expression: Traveling opens up a world of opportunities for self-expression. Each destination has its own vibe and energy, and by capturing self-portraits in those locations, you can convey your personal connection to the place. Whether it’s a candid shot of you interacting with locals or a contemplative moment captured against a breathtaking backdrop, self-portraits allow you to express your individuality and perspective.


Showcasing Scale and Context: Including yourself in the frame can provide a sense of scale and context to your travel photographs. It helps to convey the size and grandeur of the landscapes or landmarks you are capturing. By including yourself, you give the viewer a reference point, allowing them to better appreciate and understand the magnitude of the place you are experiencing.


Personal Branding and Social Media: In today’s digital age, social media plays a significant role in sharing our travel experiences. Great self-portraits not only add a personal touch to your social media posts but also help to build your personal brand as a traveler. By showcasing your adventures and unique perspective through self-portraits, you can inspire others to explore and embrace their own travel experiences.


Connection with Others: Self-portraits can help foster a connection with fellow travelers and locals. By capturing candid moments or being the subject of your photographs, you may invite people to approach you, leading to meaningful interactions and opportunities for cultural exchange. Self-portraits can break down barriers and create memorable connections with the people you encounter on your journey.


Now that we understand the importance of taking great pictures of ourselves while traveling, let’s dive into the practical aspects of capturing remarkable self-portraits.


Choosing the Right Equipment for Self-Portraits

Before you embark on your photography journey, it’s essential to ensure you have the right equipment to capture high-quality self-portraits. While smartphones have made photography accessible to everyone, investing in a dedicated camera can significantly enhance the quality of your self-portraits. Here are a few options to consider:


1. DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras: These cameras offer excellent image quality, interchangeable lenses, and manual controls, allowing you to have full creative control over your self-portraits. DSLRs are known for their robust build and optical viewfinders, while mirrorless cameras are more compact and offer advanced features like electronic viewfinders and in-body image stabilization.


2. Point-and-Shoot Cameras: If you prefer a more compact and lightweight option, point-and-shoot cameras are a great choice. They offer automatic settings and easy-to-use features, making them ideal for beginners or for travel situations where convenience is key. Some point-and-shoot cameras also have flipped screens that make it easier to frame your self-portraits.


3. Smartphone Cameras: Smartphones today are equipped with impressive built-in cameras that can capture stunning self-portraits. Look for smartphones with high megapixel count, optical image stabilization, and advanced shooting modes. Additionally, investing in clip-on lenses or smartphone tripod mounts can further enhance your smartphone photography capabilities.


4. Tripods and Selfie Sticks: To ensure stability and reduce camera shake, using a tripod or selfie stick can be advantageous. Tripods provide a firm and steady base for your camera, allowing you to take sharp and well-composed self-portraits. Selfie sticks, on the other hand, enable you to extend your reach or capture wider angles, especially in crowded places or when including more elements in the background.


When choosing your equipment, consider factors such as portability, image quality, and your level of expertise. Ultimately, the right equipment is the one that suits your needs and allows you to capture the self-portraits you envision. Remember, it’s not just about the gear but about your creative vision and how you use it to tell your unique travel story.


Finding the Perfect Settings for Selfie Photography

Once you have your camera or smartphone ready, it’s time to explore the settings that will help you capture the perfect self-portraits while traveling. Understanding and utilizing the right settings can significantly enhance the quality of your images. Here are some key settings to consider:


1. Use the Right Shooting Mode: Most cameras and smartphones offer various shooting modes specifically designed for self-portraits, such as a self-timer or a remote shutter. These modes give you time to compose the shot, position yourself, and capture the image without rushing. Explore the shooting modes available in your device and experiment with different options to find the most suitable one for your needs.


2. Adjust Exposure Settings: Proper exposure is crucial in photography to achieve well-balanced and correctly lit self-portraits. For cameras, you can take advantage of the manual mode and adjust settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to control the exposure. For smartphones, tapping on the screen to set the exposure manually or using the exposure compensation feature can help you capture well-exposed self-portraits.


3. Consider Depth of Field: Controlling the depth of field can add a professional touch to your self-portraits. A shallow depth of field, achieved by using a wider aperture (lower f-stop number), can beautifully blur the background, keeping the focus on yourself. Experimenting with depth of field can help you create different moods and emphasize your presence in the frame.


4. White Balance Adjustment: The correct white balance ensures that colors in your self-portraits appear natural and accurate. Different lighting conditions can affect the color temperature, so adjusting the white balance setting is crucial. It’s recommended to use the auto white balance feature or manually set it according to the surrounding lighting conditions to avoid unnatural color casts in your self-portraits.


5. Focus and Composition: Pay attention to where the focus point is set to ensure that you are in sharp focus. Many cameras and smartphones allow you to manually select the focus point or use face-detection autofocus for self-portraits. Additionally, don’t forget about composition. Consider the rule of thirds, leading lines, and other compositional techniques to create visually appealing self-portraits.


Remember, these settings are just a starting point, and the best way to improve your self-portrait photography is through experimentation and practice. Familiarize yourself with your camera or smartphone settings, and don’t be afraid to try new things. With time, you’ll develop a better understanding of how different settings can impact your self-portraits and be able to capture stunning images that truly reflect your travel experiences.


Utilizing Natural Light for Flattering Selfie Shots

Lighting is a key element in photography, and when it comes to capturing flattering self-portraits, there’s nothing better than utilizing natural light. Natural light enhances the overall look of your self-portraits, adds warmth and depth, and brings out the natural beauty of the subject. Here are some tips to help you make the most of natural light for stunning selfie shots:


1. Golden Hour: The golden hour, also known as the magic hour, refers to the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft, warm, and flattering. This is the ideal time to capture self-portraits as the gentle, diffused light creates a beautiful glow on your face and the surroundings. Plan your photo sessions during this time for stunning results.


2. Avoid Harsh Midday Sunlight: Direct overhead sunlight during the midday can cast unflattering shadows, create harsh contrasts, and lead to squinting. If you must take self-portraits during this time, look for shaded areas or use a diffuser to soften the light. Alternatively, make use of your camera’s fill flash or smartphone’s selfie screen to fill in the shadows on your face.


3. Position Yourself Facing the Light: Positioning yourself so that the natural light source is in front of you, such as the sun or a large window, can create a soft, even light that evenly illuminates your face. This helps to reduce harsh shadows and brings out the details, resulting in more flattering self-portraits.


4. Experiment with Backlighting: Backlighting, where the light source is behind you, can create a beautiful halo effect or a silhouette. This technique can add depth and drama to your self-portraits. However, be mindful of exposing for the highlights to avoid your face being underexposed. Use the exposure compensation or fill flash feature to balance the exposure in these situations.


5. Beware of Mixed Lighting: When taking self-portraits indoors, be cautious of mixed lighting sources, such as artificial and natural light combined. This can create color casts and uneven lighting. Try to position yourself closer to natural light sources, such as windows, or block out artificial lighting to achieve consistent and flattering lighting for your self-portraits.


6. Reflectors and Diffusers: Reflectors and diffusers are useful tools to manipulate natural light for your self-portraits. Reflectors bounce light back onto your face, reducing harsh shadows and filling in areas of darkness. Diffusers soften the light by scattering it, resulting in a more evenly distributed and flattering illumination. Consider using portable reflectors or even a white sheet as a makeshift diffuser during your self-portrait sessions.


By taking advantage of natural light and understanding how it affects your self-portraits, you can capture images that are beautifully lit, flattering, and visually appealing. So, be mindful of the light around you, experiment with different techniques, and let the natural light enhance the beauty of your self-portraits while traveling.


Composing Your Self-Portraits in Stunning Locations

When it comes to self-portraits, the location you choose plays a vital role in creating visually captivating images. The backdrop sets the scene and helps to tell the story of your travel experiences. Here are some tips for composing your self-portraits in stunning locations:


1. Research and Scout Locations: Before you travel, research the destinations you plan to visit to discover iconic landmarks, scenic spots, or hidden gems that would make stunning backdrops for your self-portraits. Take note of the best times to visit these locations for optimal lighting conditions and fewer crowds.


2. Use Leading Lines: Leading lines are elements like roads, pathways, or architectural lines that naturally guide the viewer’s eye through the image. Incorporate these lines into your composition to add depth and draw attention to yourself as the main subject. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to find the most engaging compositions.


3. Frame Within Frames: Look for natural frames within the environment to add depth and visual interest to your self-portraits. This could be an archway, a window, or even foliage. By framing yourself within these structures, you create a layered composition that draws the viewer’s attention to you and creates a sense of depth in the image.


4. Show Scale and Context: Including elements in the frame that showcase the scale and context of the location can make your self-portraits more compelling. If you’re in a breathtaking mountain range, consider positioning yourself closer to the camera with the mountains in the background. This emphasizes the vastness of the landscape and adds a sense of awe to your self-portraits.


5. Embrace Symmetry and Patterns: Symmetry and patterns can create striking visual impact in your self-portraits. Look for symmetric elements or repeating patterns in the surroundings, such as reflections in water or a line of palm trees. Position yourself strategically within the frame to enhance the symmetry or highlight the patterns, resulting in visually stunning self-portraits.


6. Include Local Elements: When visiting a new destination, incorporating local elements into your self-portraits can add a sense of place and cultural context. It could be street art, traditional architecture, or even the local cuisine. By including these elements, you create a connection between yourself and the location, making the self-portraits more meaningful and memorable.


Remember, the location you choose is just as important as your presence in the frame. So, take the time to explore and seek out stunning locations that resonate with you, and use your creativity to compose self-portraits that tell a story and captivate viewers with the beauty of your surroundings.


Experimenting with Different Angles and Perspectives

When it comes to capturing unique and eye-catching self-portraits, experimenting with different angles and perspectives can make all the difference. By exploring unconventional viewpoints, you can add interest, depth, and a fresh perspective to your images. Here are some tips for experimenting with angles and perspectives in your self-portraits:


1. Try High and Low Angles: Instead of always taking self-portraits at eye level, try shooting from high or low angles. Shooting from above can create a flattering and empowering effect, making you appear more dominant or showcasing the surroundings. On the other hand, shooting from a low angle can give a sense of grandeur and make the subject appear more imposing against the backdrop.


2. Incorporate Reflections: Reflections can add an artistic and surreal feel to your self-portraits. Look for reflective surfaces like mirrors, water bodies, or even shiny objects. Experiment with different angles and positions to capture your reflection alongside the scene, creating a captivating visual composition.


3. Get Close and Fill the Frame: Don’t be afraid to fill the frame with your face or a particular feature. Close-up or macro shots can reveal intricate details and emotions, allowing you to tell a story through the small nuances of your expressions. This style of self-portrait can create an intimate and impactful connection with the viewer.


4. Use Wide-Angle Perspective: Wide-angle lenses or smartphone modes can help capture expansive views and unique perspectives. This can be especially effective when taking self-portraits against majestic landscapes or in crowded urban settings. Wide-angle shots can add a sense of scale and depth, making your self-portraits more immersive and visually compelling.


5. Employ Unconventional Framing: Break the traditional rules of composition and experiment with different framing techniques. Place objects or architectural elements in the foreground to frame yourself in the background. This adds visual interest, depth, and directs the viewer’s attention to you as the main subject.


6. Go Candid and Capture Movement: Not all self-portraits need to be posed or static. Experiment with capturing candid moments and incorporating movement in your self-portraits. This could be walking along a path, laughing spontaneously, or capturing your reflection while in motion. Candid and dynamic self-portraits can portray a sense of energy and authenticity, adding a storytelling element to your images.


Remember, the world of self-portrait photography is a playground for experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try new things, step outside your comfort zone, and push the boundaries of traditional compositions. By exploring different angles and perspectives, you can create visually intriguing self-portraits that stand out and reflect your unique vision as a traveler and photographer.


Using Tripods and Selfie Sticks for Stability

When it comes to capturing self-portraits with stability and ease, using tripods and selfie sticks can be invaluable tools. They provide the necessary support, flexibility, and control to elevate the quality of your self-portraits. Here’s how you can make the most of these accessories:


1. Tripods for Stability: Tripods are essential for achieving sharp and well-composed self-portraits, particularly in low-light situations or when you want to take long-exposure shots. Look for lightweight, portable tripods that are easy to carry during your travels. Set up the tripod in a stable position and utilize the timer or remote shutter function to capture shake-free self-portraits.


2. Selfie Sticks for Extended Reach: Selfie sticks come in handy when you want to capture self-portraits with a wider perspective or include more of the surroundings. Extendable selfie sticks allow you to position the camera or smartphone at a distance, providing a broader view of the scene. This can be especially useful when taking group self-portraits or capturing self-portraits in crowded locations.


3. Flexibility with Tripod Mounts: Tripod mounts designed for smartphones offer even more flexibility and convenience. They allow you to securely attach your smartphone to the tripod, giving you stability while composing and capturing self-portraits. Look for tripod mounts that offer adjustable angles and rotation capabilities, enabling you to find the perfect position for your self-portraits.


4. Stability on Uneven Surfaces: When you’re in outdoor settings with uneven surfaces, tripods with adjustable legs come in handy. You can adjust the height or angle of each leg to ensure stability and balance, even on rocky terrains or sandy beaches. This allows you to have peace of mind while capturing your self-portraits without worrying about your camera or smartphone toppling over.


5. Remote Shutter or Timer: Most tripods and selfie sticks come with a remote shutter or timer function, which allows you to trigger the camera or smartphone without touching it. This eliminates the risk of camera shake and allows you to focus solely on your pose and expression. Familiarize yourself with the remote control features of your device and use them to your advantage when capturing self-portraits.


6. Practice and Experiment: With tripods and selfie sticks, practice is key. Experiment with different angles, heights, and camera positions to find the most flattering and visually appealing compositions. Don’t be afraid to try various setups and adjust the tripod or selfie stick accordingly until you achieve the desired results.


Using tripods and selfie sticks enhances the stability and versatility of your self-portrait photography. They provide you with the freedom to explore creative compositions, capture sharper images, and take advantage of longer exposure times. So, make sure to pack these accessories in your travel gear and embrace the added stability and flexibility they offer for your self-portraits.


Posing and Expressing Yourself in Self-Portraits

Posing and expressing yourself effectively plays a significant role in creating captivating and meaningful self-portraits. Your pose and expression can convey your emotions, personality, and connection with the surroundings. Here are some tips to help you pose and express yourself in your self-portraits:


1. Be Natural and Authentic: The key to creating impactful self-portraits is to be yourself. Avoid forced or contrived poses and instead focus on being natural and authentic. Relax your body, smile genuinely, and let your true self shine through the photograph. This will create a sense of connection and authenticity that resonates with viewers.


2. Show Movement and Energy: Don’t be afraid to incorporate movement or dynamic poses into your self-portraits. Experiment with different actions like walking, twirling, or jumping. Movement adds a sense of energy and vitality to your images, making them more engaging and visually appealing. Make use of burst mode or continuous shooting on your camera or smartphone to capture a series of shots and choose the best one.


3. Interact with the Environment: To create visually interesting self-portraits, interact with the environment around you. Lean against a wall, sit on a staircase, or touch the leaves of a plant. Engaging with your surroundings not only adds depth and context to your self-portraits but also creates a narrative that connects you to the location.


4. Experiment with Facial Expressions: Your facial expressions can convey a range of emotions and add depth to your self-portraits. Experiment with different expressions, from a soft smile to a contemplative gaze or a look of wonder. Think about the feelings and emotions you want to convey and let your face tell the story in your self-portraits.


5. Find Flattering Angles for Your Features: Explore different angles that highlight your best features. Experiment with tilting your head, turning your body, or angling the camera. By finding the most flattering angles for your face and body, you can enhance your self-portraits and emphasize your unique qualities.


6. Incorporate Props or Accessories: Props or accessories can add personality and interest to your self-portraits. Consider incorporating items that reflect your hobbies, interests, or the local culture. This can be a hat, a musical instrument, a book, or even a piece of traditional attire. The props or accessories not only make your self-portraits more visually engaging but also tell a story about you and your travel experiences.


Remember, posing and expressing yourself in self-portraits is about capturing your individuality, emotions, and connection to the moment. Embrace your unique qualities, experiment with different poses and expressions, and let your self-portraits reflect the essence of who you are as a traveler and as a person.


Editing and Enhancing Your Selfie Shots

Editing is an essential step in the process of creating stunning self-portraits. It allows you to enhance the visual appeal of your images, bring out the details, and add your own artistic touch. Here are some tips for editing and enhancing your selfie shots:


1. Choose the Right Editing Software: There are several editing software options available, ranging from beginner-friendly apps to professional editing programs. Choose a software that suits your skill level and desired editing capabilities. Some popular options include Adobe Lightroom, Snapseed, VSCO, and Adobe Photoshop.


2. Adjust Exposure and Contrast: Start by adjusting the exposure and contrast of your selfie shots. These adjustments can help balance the highlights and shadows, enhance the overall tonal range, and make your self-portraits pop. Be careful not to overdo it; aim for a natural and pleasing look.


3. Enhance Colors: Use the color editing tools to enhance the vibrancy, saturation, and hue of the colors in your self-portraits. You can make specific adjustments to individual colors or experiment with preset filters to achieve a desired mood or aesthetic. Find a balance that enhances the colors without making them appear artificial.


4. Sharpen and Reduce Noise: Apply sharpening to enhance details and make your self-portraits appear crisp and clear. However, be cautious not to over-sharpen, as it can introduce artifacts and make the image look unnatural. Additionally, if you notice noise in your self-portraits, use noise reduction tools to reduce graininess, particularly in low-light or high ISO situations.


5. Crop and Straighten: Crop your self-portraits to improve composition or achieve a desired aspect ratio. Consider removing any distractions or unnecessary elements from the frame to draw the viewer’s attention to the main subject – you. Additionally, use the straightening tool to correct any tilted or skewed horizons in the background, ensuring a balanced and visually pleasing image.


6. Experiment with Filters and Presets: Filters and presets can instantly transform the look and feel of your self-portraits. They offer a wide range of artistic styles, from vintage vibes to bold and vibrant tones. Play around with different filters and presets to find the ones that best suit your self-portraits and align with your desired aesthetic.


7. Maintain a Consistent Editing Style: To create a cohesive look across your self-portraits, consider developing a consistent editing style. This can be achieved by applying similar adjustments, color settings, or using specific presets. A consistent editing style will give your self-portraits a unified and visually appealing appearance.


8. Don’t Forget About Retouching: If desired, you can also retouch your self-portraits to remove minor blemishes, smooth skin texture, or enhance specific features. Use retouching tools sparingly and with attention to detail, ensuring that your self-portraits still appear natural and authentic.


Remember, editing should enhance the beauty and story of your self-portraits, not completely alter them. Be mindful of preserving the authenticity of the moment and staying true to your vision as a photographer. With practice and experimentation, you’ll develop your own editing style that helps bring out the best in your self-portraits while maintaining their natural essence.



Capturing great pictures of yourself while traveling is an art that combines technical skills, creativity, and a personal touch. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can take your self-portrait photography to the next level and create stunning and memorable images that reflect your unique travel experiences.


From choosing the right equipment to finding the perfect settings, utilizing natural light, and experimenting with angles and perspectives, each aspect plays a crucial role in capturing captivating self-portraits. Posing and expressing yourself authentically allows you to convey your emotions and personality, while editing and enhancing your self-portraits gives you the opportunity to add your own artistic touch and bring out the best in your images.


Remember that self-portrait photography is not just about capturing your face in front of famous landmarks; it’s about capturing moments, stories, and connections. It’s about immersing yourself in the destination, expressing your individuality, and leaving a piece of yourself in every frame.


So, next time you embark on a travel adventure, don’t forget to include yourself in the frame. Take the time to set up your composition, find the right lighting, and express yourself with authenticity. Capture the beauty of the landscapes, the joy of the new experiences, and the essence of the destination through self-portraits that will transport you back to those moments for years to come.


Now, armed with the knowledge and techniques shared in this article, go out and embrace the art of self-portrait photography during your travels. Let your creativity soar, tell your unique story, and create a remarkable collection of self-portraits that will not only be cherished memories but also inspire others to embark on their own photographic journeys.