The one struggle I hear most often from my solo traveler-clients is they just want good photos, they hate asking strangers to take them, and when they do there is no thought that goes into it. I have several photography-based Airbnb Experiences, located in Washington, DC. From first-timers to savvy travelers, they all want signature iconic photos of DC, which includes monumental-type shots for social media or just celebrate a milestone in their lives.
Solo Travel is Forever Trending
The rise of solo traveling is growing. Over 70% of my Airbnb guests visiting Washington, DC are female solo travelers. One in four people planning a trip in 2018 said they will be going alone, according to a survey by Solo Traveler. Between January 1 2015 and December 2017, the number of searches on Google for solo travel has risen significantly. The graph indicates approximately a 40% increase in searches for solo travel. Source: https://solotravelerworld.com/about/solo-travel-statistics-data/.
Solo Travel Struggles
Despite all the bells and whistles of technology available on our mobile phones, the struggle is real for solo travelers when it comes to capturing the perfect selfie or landing the right angle in front of an iconic backdrop.
While selfie sticks are considered gauche to some people, these are some of the common themes I repeatedly heard from my solo traveler clients this past summer:
Selfie Snafus: Most travelers are tired of selfie photos. Not everyone knows how to take that perfect selfie. Even though we live in world where people pause and move out of the way so you can setup that shot. Asking a stranger to take a picture is not for everyone and we’ve all had the thumb picture or blurry photos that wasn’t centered. Solution: The key to selfie-taking is practice, selfie stick, natural lighting, and knowing your best angles.
Traveling Alone: Even though asking a stranger to take a photo is accepted, not everyone is comfortable with asking and the chances of trusting a stranger to take a great photo is slim to none. Solution: Make it dummy-proof as possible. The key is just set up the shot and show them what button to press.
Eating Solo: It’s one thing to go out to eat for breakfast or lunch alone is easy breezy, but I will admit, eating dinner by yourself is a lonely feeling as you watch others engage. Solution: A local tour or Airbnb Experiences has a lot of group interactions perfect for solo travel.
Posing: The first thing travelers will tell me is I am terrible at posing or this is my first photoshoot. Solution: That’s where I photographer comes in handy to get you comfortable in front of the lens. Most people don’t know their best side. Trust my eyes. I will let you know your best side by the end of our session.
Off the Beaten Path: On many levels, Airbnb Photographers take the guesswork out of your solo trip. Solution: Walking with a local will take you away from the tourist traps and show you a different side of the city you’re less likely to discover on your own.
Social Media: The pressure to post on social media is real. Travelers, influencers, and bloggers are in constant need of fresh and new content to document their travel experiences. Solution: Connecting with my guests before our photo session gives me inspiration and helps me execute their vision before meeting them in person.
Confidence: Men and women look me dead straight in the eye before we start shooting letting me know they are not photogenic (Scratch my head). People don’t realize you’re not only a photographer, but a therapist behind the camera. Your job is to find that positive reinforcement that makes the person feel good about themselves in a split second to tell their visual story. Solution: Trust my eyes.
What’s your solo travel struggle? If you’ve experienced the same struggles or something different worth sharing, I would love to hear them.
About the author: I am an award-winning and published portrait, editorial, and fashion photographer based in Washington, DC and whose work has been featured in Picton Magazine, Feroce, and Surreal Beauty Magazine. Follow Nina @nibaphotos on Instagram and visit bit.ly/airbnbwash to learn more.
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