You see those photos every few seconds on instagram: someone standing still, alone in front of Trevi’s Fountain, Taj Mahal or the Blue Domes in Santorini and once you get to these places, those shots are impossible to recreate because some other hundreds of tourists are in the same exact location.
How to get a picture alone in a very touristy place? Is it possible? Or is it photoshop at its finest all the time?
You have asked me million times on instagram how I make it, because let’s be honest, pictures come out way more spectacular when you’re the only one in that amazing place, right?
Today I share with you all the tips and tricks I use to get travel photos without other people: you can’t go wrong if you follow them all!
Tips and tricks to get travel photos without people in them
#1 advice in photography: pack a bag of patience, and wait.
Photography is not meant to be an easy task all the time. Actually, I love those moments of magic, those moments when you capture a unique scene that eventually happens.
I’m a very patient and instinctive person so for me it’s not difficult to wait for this magic moment to happen, but I understand that there are different travel styles. If you want to visit as many places as possible in one day this may not be applicable. In my case, I prefer to enjoy every place without the hustle, and I love it when I finally get the dream photo I imagined.
As in the case of Casa Batlló in Barcelona, we visited it early in the morning but it was already busy: once there, this photo seemed impossible to take. We waited a while, but decided to continue with the visit to the house and come back a bit later to try again. We took our time following every room with the audio guide and once we finished, just before leaving the building, we went back to this window to try one more time. Around 5 minutes later, the miracle happened: this photo was taken, the only 3 seconds in which this frame was completely empty.
Next time you visit a touristy place where your dream photo seems impossible, let yourself be guided by your intuition and patiently wait and try again.
Note: you can buy a ticket before Casa Batlló opens to the general public, making it easier for photo aficionados.
You must be really quick and always ready to take that picture: it may be possible just for a few seconds!
Set up your camera to shoot in burst mode to make the most of those moments. If you are the one who is posing, remember to move gracefully and continuously during the shots so that each photo is different. If you still feel awkward while posing, here there are some poses to look good on instagram.
Be the first one
If you get to a touristy place and there’s no one in the perfect location… don’t wait any longer! Go ahead and shoot.
It may sound silly, but sometimes we take for granted that the space will remain like that forever. It won’t.
Sometimes it’s necessary to wait but other times the most important thing is not wasting your time and go straight to the point.
This advice is also useful when visiting certain buildings: if you are the first to enter in the early morning you will have the whole place for yourself but that moment won’t last forever: take that photo!
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Be the last one
Sometimes, like in guided tours as the one at Palau de la Música Catalana, instead of being the first, be the last one.
Wait, why? Easy answer. In these guided tours you will visit different spaces. What most people do is taking pictures while the tour guide is trying to tell the story of the place. The best thing you can do is listen and start taking photos in burst mode once the tour guide has finished, while everyone else is on their way to the next stop.
Again, take your photographs in burst mode because you need to be quick: be a nice person and don’t delay the rest of the group!
Be a nice person
Now, I’ll tell you a story.
After a tiring climb we got to Lake Bled’s viewpoint: the view from up there is so beautiful that seems unreal. Really, it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. We were totally hypnotized by the scenery while we were trying to catch our breath. We didn’t mind waiting for photos with that amazing view – we were also busy playing with a playful puppy!
Once we decided to start taking photos, I went to that rock. A couple was sitting close by but I didn’t want to tell them to move (I never do that) but when they saw me wearing that red dress they asked me if they should move. As a thank you we asked them for their camera to take pictures of them, after that we started with our photos. Then, the rest of the people in the viewpoint decided to do the same. Because there you get the best picture that can be taken at Lake Bled. Ever.
In conclusion, always be a nice person. This is something that I apply a lot when I travel alone and I need some help: I always offer myself to take pictures of others and karma ends up paying you back.
Wake up early
In most touristy cities like Paris or Rome, you better get up early for the best photos. Otherwise, you’re screwed.
This is how I see it: I use my early mornings for photos and relax for the rest of the day. Early mornings are blessed with better light, less tourists and magical colors: sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Sunrises are the best for playing with clouds, reflections and architecture in places like Fontana di Trevi, Eiffel Tower or Duomo di Milano. In places like Mykonos, sunrise are the only way to capture the empty streets without the little stalls and mannequins from the shops.
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Instagram has an incredible power when it comes to influence the travel decisions of its users, but the dark side is that it somehow promotes “the typical postcard photo”.
I’m guilty. I have also taken those typical photos (because let’s be honest, they’re such a pretty temptation) but I always try to look for new angles, even at famous instagram spots.
There are always creative angles and perspectives to discover in places that have been photographed a million times in the same way. Find them, because those photos will be your most beloved treasure because they’re unique.
Avoid high season, holidays and weekends
This one is the hardest, but also the best way to travel. Escape from the dates when everyone else is traveling (think of August and Christmas!).
Travelling to the Greek islands or Ibiza in May or October will always be better than summer, with still good weather and less tourists. The same happens with cities like Paris or Barcelona, easier to visit in less busy months like January. That way you’ll enjoy your holidays avoiding the crowds and in the meantime, getting better photos.
If you can’t avoid travelling in high season, try at least to avoid Sundays or national holidays in most touristy areas. We were in Santorini the first week of June and we could take our photos in Oia easily on Thursday, but on Sunday it was nearly impossible to walk its narrow cobblestoned streets because of the guided tours from the cruises.
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If everything fails… edit!
These are good advice, but I admit that it’s not always possible to take pictures with absolutely no one around.
If it’s just a couple of people in the background – and if your style of photography is not professional – you can always remove the intruders from your photo using software like Photoshop or the app Touch Retouch.
It’s like a magic trick… if the focus of the photo is in one side, you won’t pay attention to the background. That way you’ll never know that I stamped 2 people that appeared in the background in the original photo.
Looking for inspiration for your travel photos? In this blog you will find guides with the most famous Instagram spots and you can follow me on Instagram to be aware of all the places I travel. I’ll wait for you there!