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Mastering the Art of the (Travel) Selfie

This is a selfie.


So is this.

And this.


I love traveling and once I learned how to travel solo, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.  I know I get a bunch of critiques on taking selfies (I've heard it all - so narcissistic, so basic, so Millennial...please find something original to say) but I really love taking my own travel "selfie" images because:

1) I can capture the moment as I'm experiencing it in my head much better than someone else could. Take a look at this image versus this image. One of them is taken by someone else and the other is a much-critiqued "selfie". In my eyes, one of looks much better because there was a lot more care and effort taken into the photo versus a quick snap done by a stranger.

A "Selfie"
Taken by someone else


2) You will always find better photos of places and things on the internet. But only YOU can get a photo of YOU in that place, in that moment. That fact alone makes it worthwhile for me to try to get an image of myself in each place, capturing the moment in a photograph as I see it in my head.

3) There are a lot of places where I don't trust giving my phone/cameras to strangers. Please don't give your phone/camera to someone random in Paris, Rome, Barcelona or other touristy places with lots of pick pockets. You may not get it back.

4) As a solo traveler, taking your own photo gives you a challenge and a reason to explore more closely the area you're visiting. I've been in places where I traveled solo and didn't take my own photo and I find I'm much more self conscious about being along and I tend to rush through places.

Ok, enough on the what. What does one need to take a travel selfie? I've bought a bunch of photo gear over the years and these are the items I use now to take my photos:

1) Sony A5000 with this selfie stick/tripod
This is my "bigger" camera setup when I want higher quality photos. This tripod goes up pretty high, so I can set it on the ground and the camera gets up to my mid-section, which is pretty good for this lightweight tripod.

Tip: Put your purse/water at the base of the tripod to steady it. Having that extra weight prevents the tripod from tipping over with your camera on it. Be careful - I've had my camera drop more than a few times from my tripod tipping over.

2) GoPro Hero 5 with this selfie stick/tripod
This is the lightweight/waterproof version of my other setup. Same setup as the other one, but both the tripod and the camera are significantly smaller.

Taken with my GoPro

3) GorillaPod with both my iPhone and Sony A5100
I have one of these but I rarely use it. The idea is that you can stick it onto your camera and this grips anywhere to make anything into a tripod, but I found I spent too much time fumbling with the tripod and trying to get it to stick in a steady manner. I prefer my other two setups instead but I do like having this one as a backup or for places where selfie sticks aren't allowed.

4) iPhone
My iPhone is my remote for both my Sony and GoPro and it lets me frame and preview the shot before taking it. It also puts the image directly on my phone immediately, so I can go straight to editing and posting the photo instead of getting home and transferring from my camera to my phone, etc.


So how to take a selfie?

1) Find a steady spot for your tripod, stick your camera on and frame the shot

2) Open the app on your phone and connect it to your camera. Make sure you can preview the frame

3) Run in front of the camera with your phone in your hand

4) Preview your shot with your phone, hover your finger over the remote button and then hide your hand with your phone from the camera's view (you'll notice in most of the shots on this page my hand is hidden. I'm hiding my phone!)

5) Run back to your tripod setup before the wind knocks it over or someone steals it!

6) Repeat as needed

And that's it! You're now a selfie-pro.