Travel photo tips: How to take photos without people in them

Travel photos with no people in them seem impossible to take. Especially in famous touristic places where the crowds keep coming and going, all wanting that one particular shot. However, with determination, patience and some creativity it actually isn’t that hard as it seems. A lot of people keep asking me “Were you there alone?” or “How did you manage to get a picture without people in it?”. Well, by reading this blog post you will discover how I take travel photos without people in them!

Tips for taking travel photos without people in them

Get there early

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All alone at the Blue Mosque early in the morning!

I already mentioned this a hundred times before; being early to visit places is one of the best tips I can give you. If you arrive early you’re often the only one there or you’re accompanied by some other early birds, but it will never be crowded. If it’s a place with opening hours; go there 30 minutes before opening time. You’ll be the first in line and you’ll have the place to yourself. I took some incredible pictures at the Topkapi Palace because I was there first to enter the Harem.

Be patient

Lovely Venice

As Epictetus once said: “No great thing is suddenly created”. Too many times I waited until all people got out of my picture frame. I just kept sitting or standing there for minutes with my camera ready to shoot. I’m not a very patient person by nature, but to get the perfect picture I somehow manage to keep waiting and waiting. Once I get the result I aimed for, there’s always that moment of relief and happiness and a jump for joy!

Act fast

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Chichen Itza on the day of the Equinox… OK there’s a lizard in the photo but no people!

Attentive fast acting people with a quick responsive camera have an advantage here! Always have your camera ready to shoot. Sometimes that moment where no one is around is suddenly there and then you have to act fast and take the picture. In just a few seconds that rare moment can be gone.

Avoid popular times

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The Casa de las Duenas during siësta time

High season, weekends, holidays; these are all periods you should avoid if you want to take pictures with no people in them. These are the busiest most popular times. So always look up vacation periods, also of the destination itself before booking your trip. It’s better to visit at the beginning of the week because people often leave a place on a Saturday or Sunday. At hot destinations it’s also worth visiting during the hottest time of the day. This year I was walking the streets of Sevilla all by myself around 2-3pm and I had the Casa de las Duenas all to myself!

Use a selfie stick

Using a selfie stick at Hvar
Using a selfie stick at Hvar

I’m not a fan of taking the standard selfie. But I do use the selfie stick to put my camera on and taking pictures from different angles. For instance at the Plitvice Lakes I used it to take better photos of the waterfalls from a height to create more depth and to avoid people getting in the frame.

Just ask

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So many people at the Mezquita, but it seems as if I was there alone

To get travel photos without people, you can also just ask to move. If it’s just one person or a couple standing in your frame, you can simply ask them kindly to move aside. No one has ever reacted badly to this (at least not to me).

Use yourself

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Me blocking the view of people coming out of the door at Dubrovnik’s city walls

You can also block people out of the frame by simply standing in front of them, so you can’t see them in the picture.

Find other places or angles

Off the beaten track at the Algarve

Try different angles (with a selfie stick?) to take your pictures to avoid getting people in your photo or search for a less crowded place near your subject. At the Dubrovnik cable car everyone stayed on the platform to take pictures of the old town beneath. I just left the building and found a silent empty spot a little further away. No one was here and I could snap dozens of (better) pictures.
Sometimes it’s also good to leave the path. For instance at the Algarve there was an indicated hike along the coast, but there were often places off the route that were easy to reach as well (without destroying plants or other nature things). From there I could make some incredible photos.

Use the people

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Locals can add an extra to your photo!

Sometimes people make the picture better. Take this photo I made in Trinidad, Cuba. It shows the street life and gives the photo way more character.

Use Photoshop

travel photos without people
Monument Valley

If there is no other way and you tried all the above tips, there is always Photoshop! Just take the same photo 20 to 30 times while people are moving. Later you can layer the pictures making all the people disappear.

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If you like my pictures I suggest to follow my Instagram account where you can find a lot more!

Do you have other tips to get travel photos without people in them? Please share them in the comments down below!

2 thoughts on “Travel photo tips: How to take photos without people in them

  • October 31, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    Haha, I’ve shamelessly asked people to move MANY times! And photoshopped them all out too! 😉 Sometimes I get so obsessed I start photoshopping bits of rubbish out as well, LOL!

    • November 1, 2016 at 1:38 PM

      Hi Charmaine!

      Thanks for your comment!
      I try to avoid the photoshopping. It’s often not necessary, but sometimes there’s no other way 🙂
      Keep following for more tips and keep traveling!

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