10 Ways to Be in Your Travel Photos When You Hate Having Your Photo Taken

by Lisa Bundesen 4 months ago in how to

Take Better Travel Photos

10 Ways to Be in Your Travel Photos When You Hate Having Your Photo Taken

If you are like me, you arrive home from an adventure somewhere to find that you have very few, if any travel photos of you on those adventures. While I really do not like having my photo taken, it is nice to be in some photos to show you actually did go to those amazing places.

So, as a person who hates being in photos, here are my ten ways to include yourself in your travel photos.

1 – Be a Small Part of the Overall Photo

By being a small part of overall travel photos, you do not become the main focus of the photos. In the photo below, while I am in the bottom right corner, the path leads your eyes up to the beautiful Cradle Mountain (Tasmania) in the background.

2 – Hide Your Face

Hide part of your face with something such as food or a drink. In this example, we had just purchased some waffles from a vendor in Paris so I had my husband take a photo of me pretending to start to eat them. That way the focus of the photo goes from me to the crepes.

3 – Be Literal

This one can be difficult to be able to get a photo but it can also be fun if you can. In this example, we had just finished hiking the first major peak on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I had spent the six months before the trip working hard on my fitness to make sure I would survive the hike. So when I made it to the top of the first peak, which is named “Dead Woman’s Pass”, I had to have a photo of a “dead woman” at Dead Woman’s Pass!

You need to be aware of sensitivities with these photos and make sure you are not doing something that may be considered rude or insensitive in these types of travel photos.

4 – Embrace the Terrible

There will always be times when it simply is not possible to take a good photo. In these times, I say, “embrace the terrible!" Let me show you some examples from our trip to Iceland.

In this photo we were about to go snorkeling at Silfra in Iceland. You are snorkeling between two tectonic plates in glacial water that has filtered down through lava fields. The water is freezing cold, so you need to wear a dry suit to keep warm. There is no way you can look good in one of these things, but the experience was amazing.

In this next example, I felt like the Michelin Man in this outfit. Again, there is not a way to be glamorous in an outfit like this. But the adventure made up for it. We were about to head out on a Zodiac boat trip on Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

These were two of the most amazing things we have done while traveling and being able to capture being there was important. So what else is there to do but embrace the fact that we were not going to have glamour photos? Rather, it's fun to have real life photo of the adventures we went on.

5 – Only Include Your Feet or Hands

Feet first. This method can be a lot of fun. Think about the things we walk over every day that we usually ignore. For example, are you in an old building in Italy that has beautiful old tiles on the floor? Or are you walking through a field of spring flowers? These can make great photos, and you can easily incorporate yourself.

In this first example, I found this cover while walking up to the snow monkeys in Japan. I loved the design on it, so I decided a great way to be in the photo was to include my feet.

Or are you on an adventure where you are doing something different? We were doing a glacier hike in Iceland and needed to wear crampons on our shoes. To add to the photo, I included the ice pick for a bit more drama.

Now our hands. There are so many fun ways to include your hands in your travel photos. You could be holding a ticket or an ice cream or an autumn colour leaf. The possibilities are endless.

6 – Embrace the Inner Diva

Find opportunities to embrace your inner diva. It’s so much fun and can be so unexpected for our friends and family to see photos like this. For me, every time I see a set of wings on a wall, I have to get a photo with them.

7 – Don’t Face the Camera

This technique is used so often in Instagram photos, especially those where the person’s arm is reaching back to the photographer (no I don’t have any of these as examples). But you can simply turn from about 90 degrees away from the camera.

By looking away from the camera, the person looking at the photo is drawn away from you to the scenery you are looking at.

In this photo, I am looking out at the sun setting over the glaciers around Hofn in Iceland. Having on a large jacket and my hands in my pockets gives the sense of the cold temperature. Also, the orange jacket provides impact, as a dark coloured jacket would have disappeared amongst the rocks and water.

In this photo, we had stopped by the road side in the Westfjords in Iceland to have a snack while taking in the spectacular scenery. It was so cold, hence the big coat, beanie and gloves. But again, I’m looking at the scenery and not the camera.

8 – Start a Travel Photo Tradition

I think the easiest way to explain this one is to tell you about our tradition. I love photography, and for me, capturing where we travel to is really important. So, on each of our adventures, my husband gets at least one photo of me taking a photo.

In this photo, I am photographing the amazing Dynjandi Waterfall in the Westfjords of Iceland.

So to start a travel photos tradition, think about some of the things you love doing while travelling to create your travel photo tradition. To get you started, here are some ideas:

  • Enjoying your first coffee of the morning overlooking the amazing view
  • Enjoying a glass of wine at sunset
  • Blowing a kiss to the camera
  • Holding an ice cream
  • Trying a local delicacy

When choosing an idea, remember that doing things like cartwheels or jumping may be fun, but they may also be considered rude/inappropriate in some places such as religious sites.

9 – Be Part of a Crowd

In many places we visit, there are lots of other people, either locals or tourists or both. By blending into those crowds, you do not become the focal point of the photo.

Another way is to be part of a photo of a new group of friends you meet. In this photo, we had stopped on the side of the road in the Westfjords of Iceland (actually on the way to visit Dynjandi Waterfall above). We were taking drone footage of the amazing landscape. As we were bringing the drone back to us, two cars arrived and our new friends were more excited about the drone than the amazing scenery. So this is a photo from our drone of us with our new friends taking a photo of the drone!

Other examples include being part of the crowd sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome. Or you could be part of the crowd in Times Square in New York.

10 – The Obligatory Selfie

I am not a huge fan of selfies, not because I don’t like the photos, but because some people can be really annoying when they are trying to get that “perfect” selfie. I also find people walking around with their mobile phones attached to a selfie stick to be annoying (okay rant over haha). But a quick selfie can be a great photo if it’s taken respectfully.

In this photo, we had just hiked to the top of Cradle Mountain and grabbed a selfie as we started the trip back down.

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Lisa Bundesen
Lisa Bundesen
Read next: What Makes Us Photographers?
Lisa Bundesen

Great places, great food, great wine, great company and keeping active to be able to do all the things (well most of them) that we could when we were 20.

See all posts by Lisa Bundesen