Taking travel photos with no other people in them, especially at popular or famous landmarks, can seem almost impossible. But, if you think about it, if you try to get there when most other people don’t think to, or don’t want to go, you’re obviously going to be one of the only people there.
There’s really no secret, but I do have some tips!
1. Go Early AF (or No Cool Travel Photos!)
Trust me when I say, I am NOT a morning person. At all. But, I know for a fact, and have photo-evidence of no-people at popular places, when I’ve gotten there either before or as they’ve opened. If there’s an opening time, look it up online and plan to get there a few minutes before hand in case there’s still some other early-birdies trying to get the photo-worm as well.
It also helps (me) to set multiple alarms, especially if you label them with things like “GET THE F UP OR NO COOL TRAVEL PHOTOS!” and “Call the taxi NOW!”
2. Avoid Weekends and Holidays
This should be a travel photo no-brainer, but it’s meant to be more like food for thought when you’re booking your trip and making plans. Don’t forget to look up holidays and events in the country you’re going to as well as your own.
If you can travel during the week, or at least extend your trip into the beginning of the week, do it, because that’s when everyone else will be going home.
3. Don’t Go During High-Season
There’s usually a good reason why people travel during high-season, and that usually has a lot to do with the weather. Granted, you may need that good weather to actually get your perfect travel photos, but if you plan things correctly, and have some patience and tolerability, you can probably still get that perfect shot, except with no people in it.
4. Don’t Only Aim the Token Travel Photos
What makes many travel photos so appealing is that there’s an easily-recognizable landmark in the photo, which many people think you can only get from the exact spot that millions of other people have also taken the photo from.
My tip is to go as far away as possible from that token travel photo op spot, and to experiment with unique angles and lighting as well.
5. Use a Fast-Action Camera for Travel Photos
Some of my best travel photos have come from being able to whip out my camera (which it usually a GoPro Hero 4 Black, or my back up. I turn it on, and shoot the photo before the cluster of slow walking people appear from behind the bush or column they’re strolling past.
I also just use my iPhone a lot to take spur of the moment photos, since the quality is pretty good, and all it takes is one swipe to turn the camera on.
6. Ask People to Move (Politely)
This one also might sound a bit obnoxious, but if there’s literally just a few people standing in the way of you and some perfect people-free travel photos, don’t be afraid to politely ask if they’d mind stepping over a bit for one little second.
Sometimes all it takes is for you to show extreme frustration and forced patience by starring at them with your camera ready in hand, but for the sake of positivity, let’s just stick to politely asking them to move.
7. If All Else Fails, Incorporate the Crowd
These are all just tips I’ve come up with based on what I typically do to get my perfect travel photos without any people in them, and as you can see, most of the time it works, but there are definitely some times when it’s just not going to happen.
Sometimes I don’t always listen to my ten alarm clocks, or have time to wait for every last person to meander out of the photo, but I’m not going to just not take travel photos because there are people in them. Instead I try to get creative, and incorporate the people or crowd in a way that will add to the photo.
Sometimes the colors of people’s clothing can make a neutrally colored photo pop, or catching someone’s off-guard expression can make the whole photo more memorable. And if worst comes to worst, you can always crop them out!
Bonus Tip: If you don’t know how to use Photoshop, download the app, “Touch Retouch” and you can physically remove the people in the background with the touch of your finger.