How to Take Pictures of Yourself Without a Tripod

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If you are going for a solo camping trip and you don’t want to lug around a tripod, or you don’t have one, you might need to capture selfies. Learning how to take pictures of yourself without a tripod will help you capture stunning photos regardless of the camera.

How to Take Pictures of Yourself Without a Tripod

Maybe you are hiking, and there is an attractive landscape in your background, or you just want to show your new outfit, but you don’t have a tripod with you. After understanding how to take pictures of yourself without a tripod, you can take well-composed, focused, and sharp pictures.

Woman taking a photo of herself without a tripod

Shoot in 4K Photo Mode

Although the name might vary with the camera you are using, some cameras feature a special shooting mode known as 4K photo mode. This mode allows you to capture the scene as a 4K video and then pull out high-resolution pictures from the recorded video.

This mode works as an advanced intervalometer, but it records as a video instead of shooting around 30 shots per second. Simply place your camera on a chair, tree stump, or a rock and then press the record button. 

The main advantage of using this special shooting mode when taking pictures of yourself is that you can’t miss any pose. The image blur will also be minimal as you pull the pictures from a high-resolution 4K video.

Use a Flip Screen Camera

The best way to make sure you get your poses right and you don’t miss a thing is to use a camera that has a flip screen. The LCD of these cameras mounts on a swivel, which allows you to flip them from the camera body and then spin the screen 360 degrees. 

However, if the camera is heavy, it can still be challenging to compose the shot while holding the camera with your hand. Your hand might even start shaking, and the resulting image will be blurry if your camera doesn’t have a good image stabilization system

You can improve the stability of the camera by using your other hand to support the hand holding the camera. It is also advisable to place the camera in the camera bag and then use the camera bag strap to secure it on your arm to avoid accidental falls.

Keep the Composition in Mind 

Many people tend to forget the composition when taking pictures of themselves, especially when shooting handheld. Whether you are taking a selfie or you want to capture a museum exhibit or a landscape in the background, apply the following composition techniques. 

  • Even if you’re holding the camera with your hand, ensure the main subject is clear to the viewer. It is not a must to include all your body parts. The picture might even look stunning by including only your feet or hand.
  • If you want the photos to look professional, use some composition techniques such as color, framing, and the rule of thirds. 
  • If you are using a flip camera to capture a selfie, remember to look at the camera instead of the LCD viewer.
Woman taking a photo of herself through a car mirror

Make Shots on Reflective Surfaces 

Holding a camera with your hand when taking a picture of yourself can significantly impact your posture. In most cases, you will not be able to capture all of your body parts, such as your feet and the hand holding the camera. 

That means you will need to position your camera on a hard surface a distance away if you want to capture all the body parts. However, this might be impossible if you are in a bathroom and want to capture how fitting your new vest is. 

Fortunately, you can take the picture using a reflective surface such as a mirror. You can also use the reflection of shiny surfaces to create stunning image effects. Considering that you’re using reflections to shoot the photo, the few camera shakes might not be visible in the resulting image.

Place the Camera on the Ground 

Placing the camera on the ground is one of the safest ways of taking pictures of yourself without a tripod, as there will be no chances of the camera falling. Placing the camera on the ground will give a different point of view than the one you can get when using a tripod. 

You can turn this to an advantage and shoot stunning photos, especially if you’re climbing a tree, mountaineering or capturing architectural photos. You can use one of your camera gears, a bottle of water, or even an edge of your camera backpack to lift the camera’s lens upwards for a better shot. 

Considering that you will not be physically holding the camera, make sure you focus on the tree or boulder you will climb and then shoot using the burst mode. Typically, the camera will shoot a series of images at around seven frames per second in quick succession. 

Place the Camera Above You 

Whether you are showcasing your furniture or you want to capture a building in your background, you don’t want a photo with the chin first. Whether you are capturing yourself squirting, sitting, or standing, you need to position the camera above your head. 

You can use many ways to place the camera above you, such as positioning it on a shelf or even suspending it on a tree using a bean bag. If you’re suspending it using a bean bag, you need to balance it and ensure it is level and in focus.

However, if you are using a reflective surface such as a mirror to capture the picture, positioning the camera below your head will simplify the process of editing it out. For a flattering posture, while holding the camera at this position, it is advisable to tilt your chin.

Relax When Taking the Picture 

In most cases, people don’t relax when taking their selfies handheld. You can make your pictures stand out by relaxing, having a bit of fun, and smiling when capturing even without a tripod

Man taking a selfie with his camera

If you are using a flip camera and seeing yourself on the viewer makes you anxious and shy, you can turn away the LCD viewer. Unfortunately, this trick will not work for you if you’re using a smartphone to capture a selfie.

Ask Someone Else to Take the Pictures

Having someone take the picture might be the easiest option if you’re in the company of your friends. Considering that the person will be holding the camera with their hands, you can relax and pose freely. 

The main benefit is that your friends will also capture all your body parts and achieve the right composition if the main subject is something in the background. 

Although the picture quality might not match the tripod’s, it might be better considering they will be holding the camera with both hands compared to when you hold it with one hand. If your camera doesn’t have an effective autofocus mechanism, they will help in manual focusing. 

How to Minimize the Camera Shake Effect When Taking Pictures of Yourself Without a Tripod

Whether you are holding the camera yourself or your friend is photographing you, a camera shake effect can be troublesome if you don’t have a tripod. With these tips, you can minimize this effect and the resulting image will be sharp and clear.

Use Image Stabilization

Many of the modern digital cameras come with an inbuilt image stabilization function. In most cameras, you can turn on the image stabilization function using a switch located on the side of the lens. The image stabilization technology helps compensate for the shake and jiggling that may occur during the exposure.

Some high-end cameras will have the image stabilization feature included in the camera’s body. With this integration, you can use a wide range of compatible lenses and still capture steady pictures without a tripod.

Use Fast Lenses 

If you capture your pictures in a well-lit room, you can avoid taking out-of-focus images and minimize the camera shake effect by increasing your camera’s shutter speed. A fast lens will have an aperture of f/2.8 or less in most cases. 

If you take the photos using a 50mm lens, you can increase the shutter speed to around 1/50th of a second. On the other hand, if you’re capturing using a 200mm lens, you will need to increase the shutter speed to around 1/200th of a second. 

Typically, using a longer lens will translate to significant increases in shutter speed. It is advisable to avoid these extreme increases in shutter speed by using shorter lenses.

Avoid Zooming In

Whether someone is taking your pictures or you want a subject in the background to be visible to the viewer, it is advisable to avoid zooming in if you’re shooting handheld. If you take your pictures using zoom lenses, set the focal length to the minimum.

Camera turned towards the holder

In most cases, the aperture of zoom lenses will vary throughout the focal range. For instance, if you are using a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens, the aperture might be at f/4 when the focal length is 70 mm, and f/5.6 when the focal length is 300mm.

Remember that the focal length will also affect the shutter speed, as longer focal lengths require slower shutter speeds. If you must zoom in, do it with sufficient lighting.

Take the Images With the Right Posture

If your friends are helping you take the pictures, they can have the right posture for sufficient camera support using the following tips. 

  • Tucking the arms into the body and keeping the camera close to the torso to help minimize the camera shake effect.
  • Leaning on a firm object, and if possible, resting the elbows on a firm object to minimize camera shake 
  • Instead of your friends trying to float their arms in the air to get a better shot, they should come closer to avoid the muscle tension that can lead to a camera shake. 
  • If you are taking the pictures while holding the camera with your hand, try to stabilize the hand holding the camera.

For instance, you can have your elbow rest firmly on an object if you’re trying to shoot a part of your body with the background being the main subject. If your friends are the ones taking the picture, they can stabilize their arms and body by leaning against a firm object. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make It Appear Like Someone Shot My Picture? 

If you are taking your picture, but you want it to look like someone else took it, you can use a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens will make you appear smaller and far away from the camera. You should, however, note that wide-angle lenses cause some image distortions.

Can I Use a Drone to Take Pictures of Myself?

Yes, you can use a drone to take pictures of yourself. As the drone technology improves, there are even some smaller drone models you can carry to your solo camping trips. A drone is the more viable option when you want to capture yourself standing in the middle of a large background. 

How Can I Focus When Taking a Selfie?

After deciding where to position the camera and where you will be standing, take the camera to where you’ll be standing and focus on the point you will place the camera. After focusing, take the camera back to its place and start enjoying the different poses. 

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to take pictures of yourself without a tripod will help you capture those fantastic moments that might unfold when you don’t have a tripod with you. Practicing the above tips will help you minimize camera shake and image blurring even when shooting handheld.