The art of taking photos of oneself by oneself, like a PRO.
Or in other words, upgrading your selfie game.
I am often confronted with the question: "Who takes your photos?"
And the answer is always not easy to explain, as I cannot simply say "I took my own photo"
as that would likely confuse people at first.
So here is a glimpse of how my process of taking photos look like,
the result is what you see at the top.
(More examples and explanations later on.)
Hopefully this helps you guys understand how it is done!
First thing to take note of is that I use a Sony QX1 which is a lens style camera with a DSLR sized sensor.
It is capable of using interchangeable lenses which is very ideal for me because I prefer using prime lenses. (Lens that don't zoom-in or out)
This camera has limited physical controls and NO SCREEN. hence you need to use your phone to WIRELESSLY connect, which is a crucial feature.
Indeed technology has innovated the way I travel and take photographs, as I can CONTROL this camera with my smartphone through an app.
Meaning I can be far from the camera and still take spontaneous shots! AWESOOOME!
You can discover more about this camera here, Sony has new cameras now with similar wireless features too like the a6500, but the QX1 is currently the last of its kind.
So first, here are samples of photos I took myself in various challenging scenarios
to demonstrate how versatile this technique can be:
(Notice that sometimes I am holding the phone and sometimes hiding it.)
While flying a kite in Bali.
While crossing The Sea of Sand...
While running at Mt. Bromo...
While at the summit of Mt. Batur in Bali...
During a rainy afternoon in Hamburg...
While wading in the waves of Boracay...
While on a boat...
With some sunshine in Berlin
While at the crater of Ijen Volcano surrounded by sulphuric gas...
The long beaches of Gold Coast Australia...
While chilling on a long boat at Phi Phi, Thailand...
I'm basically my own photographer and it works!
Now how exactly did I do it?
1. You'll need to find the frame that you want to shoot and know where you will be, this makes your wireless camera very valuable.
2. Try to experiment with some poses and angles.
3. When you are happy with what you see, set the timer and take a shot.
First thing to do is frame a photo of a landscape
and then add yourself in the composition:
(Osaka Castle, Japan)
The 50mm 1.8 Lens
It gives a tight and zoomed in frame for photography thats why it can be tricky to use with scenery.
But to me, I find it very versatile actually and here are reasons why my main choice is a 50mm.
1. Minimal distortion unlike wide angles.
2. Focusing power.
3. Artistic potential as it creates a bokeh effect.
Some samples of using my 50mm lens in various scenarios:
Traditional Portrait Style:
(Sydney Harbour Bridge)
Cinematic Photography Style:
(Bintan Island, Indonesia)
(Lotus fields of Cambodia)
The 20mm 2.8 Lens
I also have a spare wide angle/macro 20mm 2.8 lens for whenever the conditions are less suitable for the 50mm:
1. You can capture a wider frame with shorter distance.
2. Easier to focus.
3. Great for landscapes.
Some samples of using my 20mm lens in various scenarios:
At Dreamland Beach, Bali:
The castle walls of Annecy, France:
The ginormous Jet D'Eau, Geneva:
Don't waste too much time & effort for each & every photo,
a few good ones are better than many mediocre ones.
As a traveler I streamlined my technique to be as practical as possible. For now, these are my only tools (I don't like carrying heavy gear) and lenses and I encourage people to explore different creative ways to photograph as there are many combinations of tools and usage.
Also don't be shy to ask for help, sometimes I do ask my friends and fellow travellers to help me take photos as this process is much faster.
I find an angle and normally take a photo of someone first to test the shot, when everything is good we exchange places.
This technique is good when you are in crowded places with very little window of opportunity to take photos with no people in the background.
Always be practical and don't take too long in taking photos, also enjoy the experience itself. If you are travelling alone and have the luxury of time to spend then it wont be a problem. It took me half an hour to be able to take this shot in Berlin as there were people climbing up and down the stairs, I have learned not do that again but sometimes some shots are worth the patience.
It took forever to take a clear solo shot of Berlin's Victory Column, for example.
But I was travelling alone so I didn't have to keep people waiting for me, other tourists were passing by naturally, I did not cause any sort of traffic by blocking their way.
No matter how badly we want to take photos, we need to respect others first.
(BTW, I have two tripods if you've noticed, the smaller one is named Trisha,
and this one above is Tristan.)
Remember that it takes practice and the right tools to master every skill.
So why do I put in effort in being in the photos?
It's not really about vanity for me, it's the authenticity of capturing an image that will not end up the same as other tourists.
(maybe a bit of vanity and if you are still reading this then you know what I mean.)
I immerse myself that place and time to capture a fragment of that experience, like how you see a character in a story book.
Preserving that moment is my kind of poetry which somewhat means:
"In photographs, I can stay in that wonderful place forever."