When I say no people that obviously excludes your fabulous self! A question I often get asked is how on this beautiful – but crowded, earth do I so often get photos alone at popular locations. I feel like this days unless you are taking photos in your own backyard there always seems to be someone milling about making that dreamy shot pretty impossible.
Some people mind you don’t care at all if they have the entire cast of Bali beach babes in their shot. Sometimes though it just feels a bit special ( personal preference ) to be a solo star if you know what I mean.
This is why I will now be bestowing on you my years of lonely travel photos wisdom. This is my ultimate guide to taking travel photos without people:
Patience is definitely a wonderful quality to have. Most of the time it escapes me but when it comes to the perfect shot I am willing to stand my ground and wait it out. I have gone to places where there were seemingly endless amounts of people only for most of them to almost disappear into thin air an hour later.
I know it gets frustrating but guess what, the world does not revolve around you and your photo and those people have every right to be exactly where they are. It might not always be possible due to time constraints and then you have to either deal with it or get creative. That’s the magic of travel photography, you need to be ready for anything.
I have been in the situation where there were people in the exact spot I really wanted to take a photo at and I patiently waited and waited and waited…. When you are really in a hurry and you are desperate for a shot it doesn’t hurt to ask. Give your biggest smile and ask as nicely as possible if you could by any chance snap a quick photo and if they mind just moving for a minute.
10 out of 10 times people have been totally fine with this and usually even start up a chat with us. The key is to say you will be quick and then actually get the shot done in record time. A little respect goes a long way, you don’t own the area but sharing is caring 😛
If you want a photo at a really popular spot chances are other people might want one there as well. As much as it annoys me that some people will literally camp out right where you get the best view there isn’t much you can do about it. That’s why you need to jump in when you see an opening and then be on your merry way before you make a pest of yourself.
It really helps when you have shot or pose ideas worked out already ( I always get my shizz together before shooting ) as it saves time and nerves! If you usually set up solo with your tripod it might take a bit longer but I have also found that people are a bit more lenient in that situation They probably feel sorry for you but if it works to your advantage then take it! In either of these situations set your camera to burst mode if possible because you are bound to get one perfect shot out of the probably 200 that you took in the space of 5 minutes!
Fake it till you make it
This is not everyones up of tea and some people might just get down right angry when you mention photoshop but I have no issues with cleaning up images. If there is one random person standing behind you eating a burger in an otherwise perfect shot then why not just take him out. I am pretty sure they didn’t purposefully want to be in your photo and they would probably be thankful if they magically disappeared. You can use photoshop but there are also a number of apps you can use on your phone to do this with that are pretty easy to use!
No one wants to get up at sunrise right? That’s why its the perfect time to go get your epic shot. A bonus is the light is usually pretty damn beautiful and you also start your day bright and early. If you get your shot done in the morning you have the rest of the day to explore or relax with no stress about how you will get the shot you want with a million people around! Always remember t check opening times of places like temples and even hiking trails as nothing is more frustrating than waking up early only to have to wait an hour!
Work those angles
Sometimes just changing up your angle will eliminate any people that could potentially be in a shot. We have done everything from hiding them behind me to using some plants in the foreground to erase unwanted randoms in a shot. I have even weirdly enough created some of my favorite photos like that! Don’t be shy to try out different things! As long as you are not doing something crazy, illegal or just plain stupid it is fun to challenge yourself!
Avoid tourist season
While not always possible it is usually best to book trips a bit out of season. We have gone on so many trips at the end of the high season and it always works in our favour. Not only is accommodation less expensive and lines shorter but there are also plenty more opportunities for photos at popular spots. Mostly people will google best time to go to … and although it might give you a certain month there is almost always another time when it’s just as lovely but quieter. I also tend to check school and university holidays or times where big festivals happen!
Go the extra mile to take travel photos without people
And i mean this literally! So many times we have just walked as far away from crowds as we could to find a unique empty view that is just as beautiful or even more so. This works a bit better out in nature than it does in big cities but where there is a will there is a way!
Use a lens with a low f-stop
The lower your f-stop the blurrier your background will be meaning those people spoiling your vibe will essentially turn into unrecognisable background mush. This is not as easy when you take photos on a smart phone ( unless you are giving portrait mode a bash ) and low f-stop lenses are usually more expensive but it is just so worth it!