10 Tips For Taking Great Self-Portraits – while on Vacation!

Are you always disappointed with the way you look in vacation photos? Or worse, you get home from a wonderful vacation with your partner and realize you don’t have any photos of the two of you. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are a couple or single, taking a self-portrait can be a lot of fun. From selecting an interesting background to striking a pleasing pose, you can create so much more than just a lackluster ‘selfie’ with no identifiable traits of the places you visited.

Follow these ten easy steps for capturing images of yourself in beautiful destinations without handing your camera to a perfect stranger.

1. Don’t Be Shy – using a tripod and staging self-portraits may seem a bit outside the box, but unless you are willing to get out of your comfort zone you will have to continue to rely on strangers to capture your not-so-perfect vacation photos.

2. Use a Tripod: Tripods are a great way to keep your camera stable and in place for the perfect self-portrait. Whether you are mounting your camera or cellphone on a tripod, you’ll want to use a remote shutter. If you don’t have a remote shutter, set the timer on your camera or device.

3. Choose a distinct background: When taking a self-portrait, you should consider the background being displayed. You will want your photos to clearly identify where you are. Are you in front of a cathedral, at the beach, or hiking through the woods? Vacation portraits should incorporate your surroundings. Otherwise, it’s just another selfie!

4. Take Multiple Shots – While it is ideal to set up the shot and take just one picture, it is sometimes necessary to take multiple shots in order to get just the right angle and expression. Take your time to get it right, but don’t be an obnoxious tourist.

5. Try Different Angles – Experimenting with different camera angles can help you get the perfect shot. Try shooting from an angle above your eye line, or even down to further emphasize vertical lines and emphasize facial features.

The photo on the left is infinitely better for a variety of reasons,(great light and no shadows) but mostly due to the position of the camera. I wanted to have the fallen leaves in the background and the way I chose to do that was to hold my phone on an extended tripod above our heads. The photo on the right was shot from ground level to capture the oak trees and hanging moss in the background. This was a throwaway for me. Looking down is never a good idea!

6. Use Props – It can be helpful to use props like hats, books, handbags, wine glasses, coffee cups, plants, and more to give the shot more personality and life. Props help distract from potential flaws and draw the viewer’s eye to the overall composition.

7. Strike a Pose – Posing is an important part of self-portraits. Practice in front of the mirror to come up with some interesting poses. Whether it be a profile shot, a 3/4 length portrait, a full body shot, or a natural look, practice and get comfortable with posing before beginning to take your photos.

8. Take ‘staged’ candid shots – yes, that is a thing. You can see the remote shutter in my hand in both of these shots, but it is likely not the first thing you noticed. These are authentically ‘beachy’ shots that I took with my camera propped on top of a table. The goal was to capture a natural, unposed moment.

9. Find Interesting Backgrounds – A simple but effective way to make a self-portrait stand out is to find an interesting background. This can be a wall of graffiti, a beautiful landscape, a textured wall, or anything you can find to give the photo more life.

10. Be Creative – From crazy poses to random props, there are so many ways to make your self-portrait unique and interesting. Spend some time thinking about different ideas and testing them out.

Disclaimer: This post was written using AI assistance. If you have not tried the new experimental WP feature, and have a limited understanding of the subject, read this post by Hugh at Hugh’s Views and News. You may also want to read this post by Kathy Gottberg at Smart Living365 who adds to the discussion with an interesting point of view, and this post from Donna at Retirement Reflections who recently shared her experience with the new WP feature.

My Experience

For this post, I suggested ‘self-portrait poses’ to AI as a subject and received over 20 suggestions for improving self-portraits. I narrowed and refined AI’s suggestions to what you see here. And, I interjected some of my own voice and ‘personality’ so it wouldn’t sound completely mechanical. Overall, I’d say this post is about 80% AI generated. Generally speaking, I spent almost as much time composing this post as I would have without AI, as I noticed a lot of duplicate responses, spelling issues, and even a few grammatical errors. My advice would be to ‘fact check’ carefully before sharing information.

My personal opinion regarding AI is that I can see a use for it, (especially for ‘how to’ posts like this one) but I can also envision a multitude of abuses. Please let me know what you think – about AI and about this post in general.


Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who responded to my post last week. I read all of your comments with interest but did not have time to return comments or to read posts you may have written. Malcolm and I were on our annual trip to Jekyll Island, treasure hunting while enjoying glorious weather. I’ll catch up with each of you this week. Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

45 thoughts on “10 Tips For Taking Great Self-Portraits – while on Vacation!

  1. Hi Suzanne – your AI generated writing sounded more “real” than Donna’s did. I’ve yet to read anything produced by AI that makes me think it does a better job than an authentic human voice does, although I’m sure you had fun playing around with it. I enjoyed your photos but realized that I’m never going to be able to get past my self-consciousness to be able to take great selfies. I just feel really weird posing for photos – and I’m quite envious of how you do it so naturally.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leanne, I never wanted to be ‘that lady with the selfie stick,’ but, after too many vacations with no pictures of us, I got used to traveling with a lightweight tripod, Taking self-portraits, even in public places, became easy. Malcolm and I always seem to make a fun game out of it, but we draw the line at inappropriate (restaurants, inside churches, etc.) I’m grateful that he is a willing participant, although he has his limits and I have learned when not to push. Getting the picture should never outweigh enjoying the experience or disrupting someone else.

    Generating the AI post was interesting, but I think you are right that it will never substitute an authentic voice. I don’t know if WP will stick with it, but I do think it has a place here. I just hope people respect it as ‘just another tool’.


  3. I’ve never been one who sought time in front of the camera. I still don’t, but do recognize that there were a lot of times in the past when I wish I had included myself in a shot. You provided some very informative points here, and it was a learning post for me. As for AI, I think I’ll leave it to others. I guess I’m in a rut and use to looking things up myself from a variety of resources that I value. Very interesting though so thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Judy, self-portraits aren’t for everyone, but as you said, ‘there were a lot of times…’ AI also isn’t for everyone, but I found it highly entertaining to play around with. In one practice post, I suggested the topic of ‘best chocolate cake recipes’ and got some interesting paragraphs. This post could have just as easily been about that, but my passion is photography, so why not stick with what you know?

      I don’t think AI will ever replace ‘looking things up’, and from what I have read, it has a long way to go in terms of accuracy.

      PS, I’d love to see a photo of you in your garden. Maybe a springtime post, clipping roses? Hint, hint!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some good advice….but I kept thinking it didn’t sound like your voice, it felt kind of stilted….and then you disclosed the AI. Interesting. It felt less personal. Could be it’s just the ‘how to’ thing that makes it more formal. But still, really good advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dawn, thank you for your honest assessment. I intentionally saved the disclaimer to the end of the post for that reason. I realize that some of my readers will likely move on to another blog after the first paragraph, but instead of talking about, or explaining AI, (others have done that very well), I wanted to show its practical application.

      Of the twenty or so tips AI shared, I thought these were actually useful. I can see a place for AI paragraph assist here on WP. Especially for those who write a lot of ‘how to’ posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have so many batches of vacation photos that don’t include me at all and include maybe 2 or 3 photos of my husband. I don’t know that I’ll ever travel with a tripod, but thanks for the reminder that it’s important to include pictures of us, not just pictures of landscapes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janet, the tripod I use for my phone is just 12 inches long when folded and fits comfortably in my camera bag. It is lightweight and extends to about 4 feet. There are tabletop models which are even smaller, but not as flexible in terms of use.

      The pictures of us are important to me because I love publishing an annual Shutterfly book of all the things that happen during our year, and of course, to use on our blog. We didn’t name it Picture Retirement for no good reason!


  6. Hi, Suzanne – This is a great example of how AI or AI blocks can be successfully used in posts. The tips here were solid and practical. I believe this post worked well because you always remained in control – picking and choosing which AI-generated responses were best for your purposes. Carefully fact-checking, addressing potential spelling/grammar issues and inserting your own voice also made a positive difference. It is interesting that this post took you the same amount of time as if you had written it without AI assistance.
    Thank you for the linkup!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Donna, I think when WP perfects the feature the time involved will be significantly reduced. I could only get a small block of text each time and sometimes it repeated the same information a few times before it would move on.

      I believe ‘control’ should be easy to maintain, as the blogger can choose to accept or reject the information being relayed. For future posts, I could see myself asking for information (especially when stuck) and rewriting it to better reflect my voice and style. I do think that as Dawn said, this post sounds a bit stilted, especially for my usual audience of ‘friendly bloggers.’ If I were writing for a different audience, I would probably delete all the casual parts and stick to a more professional format. We’ve all seen those – Opening paragraph followed by 1. yada, yada 2. yada, yada, summary, the end.


      1. Hi, Suzanne – This truly was a great post! I love how you took control and made this post your own, while still being AI generated. In my last post, I tried to go with 100% AI-generated, so mine was much more stilted. I agree with your full reply above. Just for fun, I plugged your reply into ChatGPT and asked it to respond. I have included its (rather lengthly) response below.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Unedited Response from ChatGPT: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the AI block feature in WordPress. I agree that once the technology is perfected, it could significantly reduce the time involved in creating content. However, I understand your frustration with the current limitations of the feature, such as only generating small blocks of text and sometimes repeating information.

        It’s good to hear that you think the control of the content should be easy to maintain, as the blogger can choose to accept or reject the information being relayed. I think your idea of asking for information when stuck and then rewriting it to better reflect your voice and style is a good approach to using AI-generated content. It’s also important to consider your audience and adjust your writing style accordingly.

        Regarding your comment on a more professional format, I believe it’s essential to find a balance between being professional and personable in your writing. It’s great to maintain a friendly tone and engage with your audience, while also delivering valuable information.

        As AI technology continues to advance, I believe we will see more improvements in the features and capabilities of tools like the WordPress AI block. It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves and how it can benefit content creators in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Donna, this response is awesome, but a bit scary too, isn’t it? I tried to resolve an issue with Shutterfly a few weeks ago and talked to a Bot for over a half hour before I realized it wasn’t a real person!!! After a while, I started playing with it and she/it/they/ got a little frustrated and ended the conversation rather abruptly.

        I can’t wait to write a post 100% AI for What’s On Your Plate! Although, I’ll bet you have already done it. Now, that could be a fun challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks, Suzanne – I’ve loved playing with the AI technology to help myself understand it better and see what it can do. My ‘Playing With Robots’ post was 99% AI generated (up to the ‘Back Over to Donna’ portion). I look forward to reading your 100% AI-generated post for What’s On Your Plate. See you there! ❤

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Deb, make sure you have a couple of hours on your hands when you go down this rabbit hole. So far I have suggested ‘self-care tips for women over 50’, ‘best chocolate cake recipes,’ and ‘top 5 places to visit in the US’. The possibilities are endless. I’m having way too much fun with this.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I’ve taken selfies and I have even used them on our blog. Truthfully, they stink, but they also reflect who we are which hopefully makes us a little more real to people. I believe in sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

      Regarding AI, as an author, you will likely be appalled, but from a purely academic/curious point of view, I think you will love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Suzanne, both you and Donna have tempted me to take a look at the AI option. I did find your tips useful. My problem with photography is that I am probably too spontaneous rather than taking the time to think about it. I’ve overcome my ‘selfie’ self-consciousness because at almost 66 I try not to worry about what other people think and just go for it. Have a lovely week and thanks for the tips. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue, I like your attitude. Not caring about judgment is the biggest part of defeating camera shyness. You’ve obviously conquered that with your exercise videos and interviews. I am glad you found the hints helpful and I hope you will find some time to experiment with AI. It is an interesting tool.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Suzanne, this was a great post highlighting the uses of AI, it’s not something I’ve investigated yet but I’m keen to see how it can be used. Thanks for the photo tips too, we use my husband’s ‘long arm’ for our selfies when travelling as it’s important to us to have memories of our time away together and it’s quite fun :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie, I think you might enjoy playing around with AI. It will be interesting to see what other bloggers come up with in the next few weeks. Not sure how long the feature will be around, but I think it is getting a good response.

      As for selfies of you and your husband, I couldn’t agree more. It is so important to record special moments together. I never want to look back and say I wish I had more photos of the two of us. Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. After taking many unsatisfactory selfies, I started to test different positions to hold my head. Straight-on was definitely not my friend. I think they are better now but I still prefer having the shot taken by someone else (or, I guess a tripod, although I haven’t tried that). I often come home from a trip with very few pictures of us… mostly just scenery.

    Interesting about writing that with AI assistance. As I read it, I thought that it didn’t sound like you. Not nearly as friendly and approachable. I was actually relieved to find that it was written using AI. Can I have my normal Suzanne back? 🙂


    1. Hi Janis, I am happy to say that your ‘normal Suzanne’ isn’t going anywhere. It is high praise that you noticed the post did not sound like me. I thought of putting the disclaimer at the top of the post, but where’s the fun in that?

      Tripods for cell phones are great for travel photos as they take up very little room and can easily be set up anywhere with a flat surface. Mine came with a remote shutter, which connects to Bluetooth on my phone. It is so much better than using the timer on the phone as I can take multiple photos. You should give it a try sometime. Have a great week.


  10. Hi Suzanne, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. Great tips for taking self-portraits, particularly the selfie-stick. It’s on my packing list when I travel. When my sister and I traveled together, I brought a compact selfie stick with me. We came home with wonderful memories and pictures of the two of us together. Looks like you and Malcolm had beautiful weather for your trip.

    I played with the AI blocks in WP and mentioned it to Donna. I enjoyed reading how you and Donna have played with AI. I’ve also seen a demo of how ChatGPT was used with Canva and Instagram. To me, it’s part of staying current and general awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Natalie, I read Hugh’s post and he made it look so easy that I had to try it. Before that, I had only a mild interest as I didn’t quite understand how it worked. Donna mentioned in her post that she was inspired by your interest – one of the many advantages of being part of a blogging community – we all inspire and learn from each other. Staying current is important in our crazy world. Unfortunately, things seem to move at the speed of light these days. Take care and have a beautiful week.


  12. Great tips, Suzanne, but I found #9 to be somewhat of a repetition of #3 (about the backgrounds).

    If your writing usually flows – like mine does (once I get started) – then I can imagine an AI post takes almost as much time as writing one in your authentic voice. Like you, I’d need a substantial amount of time improving the AI text and tweaking it to my own voice.

    I try to remember taking photos of Mark and me (and Maya) in stunning natural surroundings, with a selfie stick or when visiting with friends. It’s been a while since I asked a stranger for a photo. I do have a small tripod as well but never use it.

    My main reason for these self portraits of our trio is so I can assemble another calendar for my family at the end of the year. In the beginning of the year I always think I won’t have enough shots to pick from (Mark is not a fan of photo shoots) but I always end up with thirteen decent ones in December (one for the cover as well).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Liesbet, good catch. I think #3 was my rewrite of #9 and I forgot to delete it. Originally, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to use AI as an assist or go with the tips exactly as written. It was an interesting experiment and I will use it again.

    I think anyone who shares a lifestyle blog should include self-portraits at least once in a while. Otherwise, posts are devoid of personality – much like writing exclusively with AI.

    I’m sure your family loves your annual calendar as it keeps them connected to you. I use our photos for our annual memory book and our blog. Malcolm doesn’t love it when I point the camera at him, but he knows that as soon as I get the photo I want, I will pack it away and be done.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think this AI assisted piece would have been nothing without your excellent photographic examples. I agree, there are probably some good uses for the tool, but it kind of makes me nervous. BTW, #8 – my niece calls these “plandids.” They usually turn out much better than those photos by the perfect stranger.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Christie Hawkes

    Thanks for the tips, Suzanne. I am going to put a few of these into practice on my next vacation. Like so many of your other readers, I feel self-conscious taking self-portraits in public, but it’s worth it to have the more personal record of your travels. As for AI, I do think it can be useful in coming up with talking points or blog post ideas, but the personal touch is always more pleasurable to read. Also, since my blog is a personal blog, it seems like a copout to not use original writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Christie, I totally agree with your thoughts about AI. I like the personal aspect of my blog (and yours) and would never want that to change. I think I will use AI again, for the reasons you have stated, but it is not likely I will ever write an entire post with it.

      Malcolm and I used to be shy about our self-portraits, but we decided that was the only way to get what we wanted so we got over it.


  16. Suzanne,
    I found this post very interesting because I have been on a blogging break and have not experimented with the AI feature on WP. I tend to stick with what works, but committed to the principle that an old dog can learn new tricks, so I will play around with it (my kids are still amazed that an old geezer like me can master the task of an online blog). Please fill us in on your time at Jekyll Island because we love it there. Helen and I are camping in San Diego. It’s beautiful but cold and windy. Enjoy your weekend! Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joe, we had a great time in Jekyll, doing the usual things – bike riding, eating, relaxing, and discovering. The weather was great for our time there.

      AI is fun to play with, but I don’t know how often I will use it, or if it will even be available after the trial run. Give it a go. I would like to know what you think. Like you, I think of my blog as a chance to ‘learn new tricks’ and stay reasonably current. Technology will pass us by soon enough, why surrender without an effort?

      Glad you made it to San Diego. Hopefully, the weather will change in your favor. Take care.


  17. Hi Suzanne, I returned to your post to devote some dedicated time rereading it. I feel I am the worst self-portrait taker. I am the meme on this topic where my face (and my partner) ends up looking like a giraffe or Shrek. 😊Many great points. I often carry a lightweight tripod with me, yet I don’t always use it. You have inspired me to haul it out more often. The multiple shots frustrates my usually patient husband. I especially like your point about the interesting backgrounds.

    Re: AI – definitely a hot topic right now everywhere. With writing, I believe “our voice” will always have an intangible “it” quality. I have not explored AI yet. Without investigating more, I feel it may be a form of plagiarism, unless credit is specifically added to the writing. Always great to read and learn from your posts, Suzanne. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi Erica, I often do that too – make a cursory pass and then come back to read when I have more time. I’d rather come late to the party and leave an ‘informed’ comment rather than one based on a quick read. Thanks for that courtesy.

    Malcolm doesn’t mind the multiple shots when we are playing around, like in the last set of photos. There was music coming from the hotel pool and we were drinking wine, dancing, and waiting for the sunset. But, multiple shots in front of a monument, historic building, etc. that’s a hard NO. Our men do have their limits. I love having a record of us through the years though, and that makes the effort worthwhile.

    AI does feel like plagiarism, and I’m glad you mentioned that. I think that any blog writing done with it needs to have a disclaimer. I have no doubt there will be abuses, but, as you said, ‘our voice’ is distinctive and I think my readers would tune out very quickly if every post sounded as stilted as this one. Thanks for the visit. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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