As many of you know, my boyfriend, Eric, and I love to travel the world together. We’re extremely adventurous and have major wanderlust vibes. I’ve made it a point to have professional images of us in every country we visit so we can have a collage of our travels. I started out hiring other photographers, such as the amazing Dan Cordero in Tulum, Mexico. As time goes on, and our trips get longer and more adventurous, it’s not always feasible to go where we want and schedule someone to tag along. I decided “hey, I do this for a living. I can totally take our own portraits”. Trial & error, frustrations, and trying new techniques and now I’m ready to share my favorite tips for taking self portraits for your travels!
First things first, gear is super important. It’s totally possible to use your phone on a tripod with timer mode, but I feel like I can never get the professional looking images that I want with just a cellphone (don’t come for me, to each their own!). For our travels, we tend to carry all of our stuff via backpack, so size and weight is a huge factor. Below you’ll find a list of my camera gear and accessories that I take traveling with me. Depending on location, it can vary, but usually not much.
I own two Sony A7III camera bodies. They’re mirrorless, so that means extremely lightweight. I originally was a Canon girl all the way, and don’t get me wrong they are phenomenal cameras, but once I tried Sony mirrorless for myself I never went back. I personally am a fan of the auto-focus capabilities, which comes in handy for both my elopements and my self portraits, as well as the low light capabilities. You never know when you’re going to have that epic shot and being able to shoot at any time of day without flash is a huge plus for me and my business. On my elopements I use two bodies on a harness; but, for my personal travel I typically bring one body and my Peak Design Leash Strap, it’s easily adjustable and so comfortable!
I have a wide variety of lenses but the two that I use the most are the Sigma 35mm F1.4 and the Sony 85mm F1.8. These lenses paired together on my adjustable camera harness are a dream for shooting adventurous couples like Halle & Kayden at their Mount Rainier elopement. I recently purchased the Sony 24mm F1.4 G-Master for those more dramatic and wide angle shots and it’s quickly becoming one of my new favorites. But, when it comes to my personal adventurous travels, I stick with the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 G-Master. While it’s not exactly lightweight, it’s extremely versatile and keeps me from having to bring multiple lenses on my trips.
I find that for memory cards, it’s best to just skip all the BS and go straight to the top dog. I use the SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro. Its got plenty of memory so I don’t usually have to stop in the middle of an elopement to switch out my cards. And it’s extremely fast at 170MB/S so I’m able to capture every moment, and make those badass gifs (I’m obsessed with those right now.)
I have a lot of random and miscellaneous accessories that I find necessary for my elopements & my personal adventures:
Now what you’ve all been waiting for:
SETTINGS FOR SELF PORTRAITS.
How the heck do you take your own self portraits without wanting to rip your hair out? Interval Timer Mode, baby! This is a setting that most professional DSLR or Mirrorless cameras have. For the Sony A7 series you can find it under Menu–First Camera Menu–Page 4 “Intv’l Shoot Func.” Click into that and you’ll see multiple settings-with this you’re able to adjust the shooting start time (so, how long you need to get over to your shooting spot without running like a maniac), shooting interval (how often the camera takes a photo), Number of shots (obviously, how many shots you want it to take), and AE Tracking Sensitivity (I leave that alone completely, it’s the auto-exposure adjustment which I don’t use because I shoot everything manual).
All of my settings vary depending on the type of shot I’m looking for and the location I’m in; for example, if I’m getting a wide angle landscape shot where I want the subject (me) to be very small, I’ll set the shooting time to 30+ seconds so I have time to safely get where I need to be without rushing to beat the timer. If I’m right in front of the camera for a more portrait style image, I’ll set it to 15-20 seconds so I have just enough time to get positioned. My shooting interval is typically 2-3 seconds and I do 10-20 shots a time so I can review, reposition, and try again.
Something people won’t tell you: it feels awkward. Unless you’re already a model or comfortable in front of the camera it will be a little weird at first but the more you do it the more comfortable you will get. And don’t freak out if half your pictures you look crazy, it’s not always easy to see what’s flattering on yourself without looking in a mirror. Try looking at the Unscripted Posing App to get the creative juices flowing. You’re beautiful and amazing and your photos will be perfect, just like anything practice practice practice.