How to Capture the Best Travel Selfies

by Alicia Taggio
Selfie on a mountain overlooking a lake

In 2013, the word “selfie” entered the Oxford Dictionaries and quickly become the word of the year. Often captured on holiday, the selfie is of course a photographic self-portait. Despite it’s recent popularity, selfies have actually been in existence for years, but technology has changed the game. Love it or hate it, you’ll most likely see tourists pulling out the selfie stick at the next major attraction you visit.

Since it’s part of my job to monitor Instagram for a living, I can confidently say that the ‘travel selfie’ bar has officially been raised, and I’ve got some helpful tips on how to capture the best ones.

Selfie Etiquette 101

group selfie

Let’s start with the basics. Selfies have basically become the ‘wish you were here’ postcard of today, but modern manners leave a lot to be desired. If you dare to dabble in the world of selfie-dom, there are a few things to remember:

  • Get your shot, and move on. The whole process shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds
  • Selfie stick with modesty – don’t shove it in people’s faces and don’t crowd the sidewalk with your ego
  • Keep it respectful – there are some places you should just never take a selfie – this includes holocaust memorials, accidents sites (ie- World Trade Centre memorial), or anything that represents a sombre past.

Show More of the Scenery

Despite the great hair day you may be having, the reality is people are more interested in the scenery around you. If you’re going to take a selfie, do your best to show the epic backdrop behind you. I recommend using a self-timer app so that you can put your camera/smartphone on a tripod or rock, take a few steps back, and capture more of the scenery with you. GoPro’s are also great for this since they allow you to set-up your camera, connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth and live preview what the shot will look like.

Some of the most popular Travel Instagrammers are well-known for capturing these type of shots. What makes them so engaging? People envision themselves standing in the same spot, and it immediately creates a sense of wanderlust.

A photo posted by Will Patino (@william_patino) on

POV for the Win

POV (also known as ‘Point of View’) photos are a great way to capture both yourself and the scenery you are looking at. These shots work especially well in tents, on top of mountains, and in hammocks.

Hide the Selfie-Stick

If you’re going to use a selfie- stick, try and find an angle that hides it. There’s nothing worse than a giant pole in your shot to take away from the beauty you are trying to capture. This might take a couple of times to master, so remember to move on if capturing the shot is taking you longer than 30 seconds.

Smile with a Local

Rather than making the photo all about you, befriend a local and capture the moment together. Not only will it be a great memory to look back on, but you may learn something new about them in the process. Take the time to get to know them; they are not just a model for you to snap a photo with to say ‘you were there’. They are a real human being, with a beating heart and a lot of insight to share about the destination you are visiting. And always make sure you ask their permission first (or the parents/guardians of the children you are with).