There are pictures and then there are pictures as a solo-traveller. When posting my travel captures to social media, I often find myself on the receiving end of "Do you have a photographer? How are you able to have your pictures taken?" The answer: I ask people to take them.
That's right! I will not hesitate to turn to my neighbor, flag down a passer-by, or tap someone on the shoulder and ask, "Hey! Would you mind taking my picture?" That question alone has led to informative chats about sights that are on and off the beaten path, coffee invites, lunch invites, and ultimately, the start of amazing international friendships. For some, striking a conversation with a total stranger who may or may not look like you or speak your language may be daunting, and although I've never been shy, I understand. I really do, however, see the opportunity of engaging another as an opportunity to venture beyond your comfort zone! Engaging others in conversational exchange is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills in social graces, social engagement, and the art of communication. (Yes, Fam. Communication is an art)
I CHOOSE YOU!
A word of caution. I don't ask any and everybody to take my picture. Should my phone become overwhelmingly attractive to the photo-obliger, I need to know that I can outrun and tackle them. I'm kidding, sort of. Use wisdom concerning whether you should pursue anyone who has stolen your belongings; The items lost can be replaced. You and your life? Not so much. Generally, I only engage the following people when it comes to picture requests and handing my device to them:
Families with children -- Adults in this group usually have no interest in setting a bad example for their little ones by snatching phones and running off.
Older Adults, as in Grandparents -- I think the reasons are apparent. :)
Couples -- Unless they are admirers of Bonnie and Clyde, you'll be fine asking couples.
Others who appear to be solo -- Other solo individuals will happily oblige because they are all too familiar with the struggle and will usually ask you to return the favor.
Make no mistake. I love breaking a sweat during a run but prefer that it not be because I'm chasing a kid, and so, I NEVER ask teens or children.
NOT COMFORTABLE WITH OTHERS SHOOTING YOU? BUY A TRIPOD.
December 2017 found me visiting three countries, but before I left I talked to my brothers about which devices would be most efficient when it comes to capturing videos and images. One of these days, they'll be paid members of my PR committee but for now, I'll continue to pay them with my gratitude :) Per their suggestions which considered that I had no interest in hauling camera equipment around, I set off to upgrade from the Galaxy S7 to the Note 8.
Listen. I'll be honest in saying that on this particular trip I seldom asked anyone to take my pictures. With a value of $950, having just got the phone, and having ALL of what I needed in it, I didn't trust anyone but the $19.99 tripod I purchased from Best Buy to hold it. I've read plenty of stories about butter-fingered obligers dropping the unsuspecting petitioner's phone, and I had no interest in adding to the Travel Tales from the crypt, whatsoever. So, if you're like me and would much rather not risk someone dropping your phone, purchase a tripod and familiarize yourself with the different pro settings in your video and photo features. Not only does it afford you the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge in the mobile photography department, but it also spares you--well if you're a tech person--a heart attack and the headache that would come as a result of not having a phone in a foreign country should someone drop it. I would often set up my 61-inch collapsible tripod, mount the Note 8 to it, opt for video mode, and then work it in front of the camera. Afterwards, I'd save the video, re-open it, hit pause, and drag my stylus pen across the screen until I saw a still I liked. Simple! Try it and let me know how it works for you!
Happy Travels. Happy Smiles. Happy Pics!