Since moving to England, my most asked question is how to use a tripod for Instagram photos. So I thought I’d share my best tips for getting the perfect photo without a cameraman.
1. Buy a tripod
I know there are a million tripods for sale ranging from really cheap to break the bank expensive, but I got mine off Amazon and it works perfectly. It isn’t heavy, breaks down easily and comes with a carrying case that makes traveling with it a breeze. My camera is aggressively heavy and I don’t ever feel like it’s going to fall over, even with a lightweight tripod. Shop it HERE
2. Set up your camera
If you don’t know how to set up your camera correctly, don’t worry! I didn’t either. Just google “how to interval shoot on a ____” and fill in what camera you’re working with. I found a super easy video that taught me exactly how to set it up to take a photo every 5 seconds. As for other settings, I tend to keep my camera in Auto, unless I want specific lighting. Manuel mode can feel daunting, but again google will be your lifesaver.
3. Scope out a location
I always walk around for a bit before deciding on a location, unless I already have one in my head. For most of my photos, I walked around near my accommodation and chose a spot with the fewest people walking by. That being said, in a big city there will always be people, so just choose a location where you feel safe setting up a camera and stepping away from it. At first, I was a bit nervous about leaving my camera set up and walking away, in case someone ran by and grabbed it. Honestly, my worst nightmare. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet, and I always pick a spot where I have easy access to the camera and people won’t be getting too close to it.
4. Get over the awkward feeling
Now if you know me, you know how awkward I get. I even get second-hand embarrassment when someone else is doing something awkward. haha, I’m not sure why but that’s me! So as you can imagine, setting up a tripod in the street, posing a hundred different ways and fake laughing to a camera can be VERY awkward, especially when someone sees you doing it. The first time I took photos alone, I would stop when someone walked past. But the more I’ve done it the more I realize that people are just curious and think you’re a professional when you have all that gear set up. Some people event comment as they walk past which can be funny! One older man said to me once “wow that’s a new take on a selfie!” Another told me how the building I was in front of used to be a fashion exhibit, and it was nice to see someone taking advantage of the beautiful building. Yes, there have also been the creepy guys that comment about my appearance, but hey! that happens to most women when we are just walking down the street, ignore them, and keep doing you.
If all else fails, when someone is staring, remember that you will never see them again, and chances are if you make eye contact they will feel more awkward than you do! The more you practice the easier it will get.
5. Capture a genuine smile
It can be hard to capture a genuine smile without someone behind the camera making you laugh. My best tip for this is to fake laugh out loud until it makes you actually laugh! This is where being awkward actually helps! When I’m fake smiling or laughing (and if someone sees me doing this) it makes me actually laugh because I think of how dumb I probably look. If this method doesn’t work, try thinking of something that makes you happy. OR you can always go for a more serious pose, look away from the camera or continuously move around and just let the camera capture your movement. That way it doesn’t feel so contrived.
The best part of taking photos alone is you can change positions as many times as you want, and make your own vision come to life, without having to annoy your cameraman by saying “just one more” ten times. It can be extremely frustrating when you have the perfect photo in your head and can’t seem to make it come to life. With a tripod, you have the freedom to adjust the height, distance, and angle of the shot, and with interval shooting, you can try different poses at the same angle before moving on to the next. It really is the most convenient once you get the hang of it.
I hope this helps, and as always feel free to ask questions or leave a comment!
The Growing Creative