How to Tell Someone Else to Take a Photo of You

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to know that a selfie isn’t the most ideal way to capture a memory of yourself on vacation. Whether you're traveling solo or with friends, it's so important to be able to muster the courage and ask a stranger to take your photograph. With a little bit of practice, you can be quick (so as to not waste their time) and also walk away with a great photo. Here are a few of my favorite tips that will leave you feeling more comfortable telling someone random to take your photograph:

 Thanks for this one, random stranger in Vancouver!

Thanks for this one, random stranger in Vancouver!

Before you even hand over your camera, make sure its settings are set correctly to increase the chances of the photograph coming out okay. This means having autofocus on, flash enabled (if you think there is a chance for shadows on your face), and a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blur if the person shakes the camera inadvertently. If you have a professional camera and want to make it as painless as possible for them, put it on "Auto" everything mode so that all they have to do is press the shutter.

 I would  love  to have captured this memory of myself swimming in a Mexican cenote better, but I didn't adjust the settings before handing my camera over.

I would love to have captured this memory of myself swimming in a Mexican cenote better, but I didn't adjust the settings before handing my camera over.

When you’re trying to figure out which stranger to ask for help, look for someone else holding a camera. If you're in a country where you don't know the language, listen for other English speaking tourists. Worst case, try to use hand motions, and someone should eventually understand.

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Tell them not to put your head in the dead center of what they see when they look through the viewfinder (or on the camera screen). To prevent blinking, ask them to tell you when they’re taking the photo with a countdown.

 Great job keeping my head out of dead center, Andrew Kruczkiewicz

Great job keeping my head out of dead center, Andrew Kruczkiewicz

If the person is taking a full body shot, ask them to look through the viewfinder to make sure your head and toes are in view.  

 Blinking in Basel, Switzerland

Blinking in Basel, Switzerland

Last, ask them to take more than one photo. Three is usually enough. If you can get them to take a test shot first and show you the result so you can guide them further, that’s even better.

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I think this last one goes without saying: always thank them for their time when they're done. Have any additional tips to share? Add them in a comment below - I'd love to read them.

Marie Frei

One Carry-On is a blog managed by Marie Frei, a travel expert and photographer with a passion for exploring off the beaten path locations. The blog covers honest and personal stories about living and traveling as an American abroad, shares her global appreciation for culture and design, and promotes traveling to far-flung destinations with a carry-on as fun, affordable, and easy.