How to: Take Awesome, Lonely Photos


My current favorite photo to take while on travel is what my friends and I like to call sad, lonely photos. Essentially  it’s a self portrait in which you are minuscule, little person against a vast epic environment. Creating these self portraits is my favorite kind of travel photo because it’s not your typical stand-next-to-this-historic-monument-statue-thing tourist photo and it helps you remember the environment you just explored –with you in it! A frequent question I’m asked regarding these shots is “who takes them?”

1. Timer Method

Photo by: Melly Lee (

This is a the classic method.

Step 1: Set up a camera on a tripod
Step 2: Put it on a timer
Step 3: Run into place!
Step 4: Look natural (not like you just rushed in front of the camera.)

To keep myself in focus during setup I’ll prefocus my camera lens on mark nearby (rock, tree, twig, anything-that-won’t-move) then run into that spot for the photo. For the above photo I threw my orange bandana on spot that I wanted to be in for the final photo. After focusing on the bandana and setting off the camera’s timer I ran back my bandana, picked it up, tied it around my neck, then stood still for 30 sec while pointing a flash light up into the sky.

2. Remote Trigger

Photo by: Melly Lee (

Nowadays I rarely use the timer on my camera for a self portrait because unless you’re completely holding still and hamming for the camera timing the shot precisely is difficult. Since I like to moving and jumping around in my photos I take my own photo using a: tripod and wireless remote triggers.


a. RoadTrip Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
b. Plus III Transceiver (2x)
c. N10-ACC-1 Remote Camera Cable (Model varies with camera companies and models)


When I have a shot in mind I’ll set up my tripod to frame the shot then take an average exposure of the shot. Then I’ll connect one of my Pocketwizards to the camera with a motor cable. This will trip the camera’s shutter on my command from the other transceiver. The other transceiver will either be tucked away, hidden out of sight, or removed in post.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.15.48 PM

For action shots it’s imperative to set your camera to burst mode. This will make the camera go off like a machine gun and rapid fire a bunch of shots.

* If you don’t have a the budget for a remote trigger set up, no worries I got you.

Here’s the bargain method:


Step 1: Connect cell phone to bluetooth selfie stick
Step 2: Set up shot using your cell phone
Step 3: Step into frame with selfie stick
Step 4: Hide the selfie stick behind your back
Step 5: Proceed to take photos


3. Get a Friend

I’ve saved the best for last. This is the most efficient method of accomplishing the sad and lonely shot. Bring a friend to an epic location then each of you take turns taking photos of each other. Make sure they stay out of your photo. We’re trying to make ourselves appear friendless.

The only downfall with this “method” is that you and your friend will end up with very similar profiles photos or forget to take photos together.



CollegeHumor does a great job with advertising the “Friend” method. I’ll end this post with their video for you to enjoy.


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