Travelling around the world solo has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life and I’m sure you will find the same kind of sentiment on your own solo travels. But as someone who has to take a photo of everything to remember it as clearly as my memory will allow, I have learned that often you will need to approach a stranger to take your photo and more often than not, that has not produced the best photographs.
But what can one expect!? You are kindly asking someone you do not know if they can please take your photo and really, you have no idea if they can take their own photo let alone yours! But I have quickly learned a few tricks to help you pick the right person and how to get them to take the exact shot you’re after… because if you’re anything like me, you will have a clear vision of how you’d like that photo to turn out!
1. Look For the Right Person
Usually the kind of situation you find yourself in when you’d like help with a quick snap is around a busy tourist attraction or monument, so you’ll find yourself with plenty of choice for the selection process! I have found that the best people to ask are usually of my same generation, as they have a sound understanding of how technology works, how to hold a camera steady for a good shot, and the kind of frames we young people take photos in! Better yet look for someone holding a DSLR camera (that is, a big ‘ol fancy camera) as 9/10 they’ll know how to use said camera and should have no trouble crossing over on to your camera to take a great shot.
2. Introduce Yourself
The next step is so much more important than you might initially give it credit for. Instead of walking over to someone and hurling the words at them: “Can you take a photo for me?”, take the time to throw just a few extra words in there and introduce yourself in the process. This will allow you to break the ice, find out where they are visiting from, tell them where you are visiting from, and not catch them off guard with a mere photo request. Plus, you never know, you might make a new friend!
3. Set the Lighting for them
With your camera on manual you can pre-select all the lighting preferences before you hand over the camera, thus ensuring you don’t end up with an under or over exposed picture. If you don’t know how to use your camera on manual settings, you could invest in a camera like mine (Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II) which allows you to select a setting such as: sunset, inside, harsh light, etc.
4. Take a photo for them FIRST
Over the years I have found that whenever you ask a stranger to take a photo for you, nine times out of ten they will then turn to you and ask you to do the same. Instead of taking their photo exactly how you would have liked them to take yours after the fact, offer to take a photo for them first so that you can show them the frame you are looking to capture. Otherwise you might just end up with a photo of you and the eiffel tower popping out from your head or no eiffel tower in the background at all – which isn’t quite as exciting and believe me it does happen!
5. Give as much direction as possible
Even if you have already shown them the photo you’re looking to capture, be sure to give as many simple instructions as possible. Asking them to take a few different angles is going to give you more options to choose from and result in less chance for error! If you want to be on the side of the frame with the background taking up most of the frame, be sure to ask and you will receive!
6. Set your Camera on High-Speed
Another great way to ensure you have plenty of options is to use the high-speed shooting setting on your camera and ask your new friend to hold down the button and let the camera click away as you jump around in as many poses as you wish! There’s nothing worse than getting one or two photos with your eyes closed in both.
7. Say Thank You!
Well this last point is really just good manners. Mumma always told me to say please and thank you and throughout the last 24 years of living I’ve learned these two words are the most powerful words in the English dictionary. Always, always, always say thank you in and if you’re really feeling like making a person’s day, throw in a “SO MUCH”.