You see those photos every few seconds on instagram: someone standing still in front of Trevi’s Fountain, Taj Mahal or the Blue Domes in Santorini with no one else around. 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 and today I’m sharing 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
Patience is key
#1 advice in photography: pack a bag of patience, and wait.
Photography is not meant to be an easy task. I actually love those moments of magic when you get to capture a unique scene that eventually happens.
I’m a very patient and instinctive person so for me it’s not hard to wait for the perfect 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 won’t be ideal but I personally prefer to enjoy every place without the hustle, and I love it when I finally get the dream photo I imagined.
As an example, when I first visited Casa Batlló in Barcelona, it was already busy even early in the morning. The perfect shot in the big windows seemed impossible. We waited for a little while, but we moved on and continued with the visit to the house. We went back to this spot right before leaving the building to try our luck and within 5 minutes, the miracle happened: this photo was taken during the only 3 seconds it was possible.
Always let yourself be guided by your intuition and patiently wait and try again.
Ready, set, go!
At touristy places you need to be really quick and always ready to take the photo: it may be possible just for a few seconds!
Key tip: shoot in burst mode.
Set up your camera to shoot in burst mode to make the most of your time. 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 many times we take it for granted and think that space will remain like that forever. It won’t.
While sometimes it’s necessary to wait, some other times the most important thing is not wasting your time and go straight to the point.
This 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 remember: that moment won’t last forever, so take that photo!
Be the last one
Sometimes, like in guided tours as the one at Palau de la Música Catalana, instead of being the first, it’s actually better to 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 reached Lake Bled’s viewpoint: the view from up there is so beautiful that seems unreal! It really is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to. 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 and only after we started with our own photos. Then, the rest of the people up there decided to do the same. Because it’s the best picture that can be taken at Lake Bled, like ever.
To sum up, 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 for sunrise
In most touristy cities like Paris or Rome, you better get up early for the best photos. Otherwise, you’re screwed.
I use my early mornings for photos and relax for the rest of the day. Early mornings are the best for photography with better light, fewer tourists, and magical colors: sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Sunrises are the best. They have a magical light, and sometimes even a dreamy mist. You can play with clouds, reflections, and architecture. In places like Fontana di Trevi, Eiffel Tower, or Duomo di Milano it’s the only way to take photos avoiding the crowds. In Mykonos, sunrise is the only time of the day to capture the empty streets without the stalls and mannequins from the shops.
Instagram has incredible power when it comes to influencing the travel decisions of its users, but the dark side of it is that you end up seeing the same photo over and over again, recreated by different people.
I’m also guilty of this. I have also taken those typical photos (because let’s be honest, it’s really tempting) but I always try to look for new angles at famous Instagram spots.
There are always creative angles, perspectives, hidden gems, and entire destinations yet to discover. Find them, because those photos will be your most beloved treasure: 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!).
Traveling to Ibiza in May or October will always be better than summer, with still good weather and fewer tourists. The same happens in famous cities, 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 traveling 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.
If everything fails… edit!
I admit it, 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 on the subject, you won’t pay attention to the background. That way no one will never know that you stamped 2 people from 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!
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Such a good post and you have lovely pictures. Thanks for the tips!
Thank you Hugo! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it 🙂
I love this post! Patience is definitely a big part of like you say!
Thank you for these tips, very handy 🙂
Your photos are amazing, I love all of the amazing colours!
Absolutely! Thanks so much 🙂