How to Take Travel Pictures Without People in Them

Have you ever seen a photo of someone and wondered “how did they manage to get this shot without any tourist in it? This place is usually so busy!” I tend to get those comments on a lot of my photos that were taken in famous landmarks especially in Prague.

Taking travel pictures without any people in them can seem insurmountable, especially if they are known to be crowded places. Often, those shots seem to be impossible to recreate because of their touristy location. However, with a few crafty ideas and determination, it isn’t that difficult of a task! Keep on reading for the best tips and tricks to take travel pictures without people in them. Your dream photo will no longer seem impossible to take!

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Get there super early

Trust me guys, I am definitely not a morning person. However, I know by experience that if you want to be able to take photos or enjoy a famous landmark without people, you need to get there as early as the sunrise! If the place has an opening time, look it up and get there before it opens (because a few more people will also have the same idea!) Even ultra-popular tourist spots, can be empty if you get there during sunrise. I took amazing photos at the Duomo in Milan and at the Charles Bridge in Prague during this time (and it is incredibly crowded during the day). Early mornings also are known to have amazing soft light with magical colors!

Even if you are not a morning person, remember that sunrise during winter is not at 5 AM but more 7-8 AM, so no more excuses!

From top-left to bottom-right: Old Town Square (Prague), Charles Bridge (Prague), Astronomical Clock (Prague), and the Duomo (Milan).

Get there last

Sometimes, especially in closed places that have opening hours, being one of the last ones will allow you to take amazing photos because most of the people would already be gone! You won’t have a lot of time if a place is closing soon but you will have a few minutes to capture THE perfect shot without anyone in it! For example, I stayed at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild until it closes and managed to get the pictures below.

The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France

Choose your angles wisely

This might sound like an obvious tip but if there are too many people, you should take photos in a way that no one can possibly fit in your shot. This means that you can do a close-up on you and not include too much of the scenery around. For example, you can do a close-up of you overlooking some gorgeous place, you can take a photo of you hanging from a cliff (be careful with this one though!) If no one can make it to the shot, it will be easy to fake this “I am all alone” feeling in a photo!

Prague, Milan, and London

Try avoiding tour groups

Sometimes you have no choice but if you do, try traveling and going to the places you want to take pictures at, alone – or with your travel buddies/photographers. If you travel with a tour group, you will almost always be surrounded by people and constricted by a timeline so it is definitely not the best environment for travel photos! For example, when I went to the lavender fields in Provence I went by car and I could visit the fields at sunrise or sunset!

The lavender fields in Provence, France

Be patient and act fast

Even if you get somewhere super early, sometimes you cannot avoid crowds. In this case, what you can do is wait patiently for every single person to get out of your frame before shooting. Once you have those few seconds of an empty frame, take your photos in burst mode to make the most of those moments. Being patient is totally worth it!

“Maybe because it’s entirely an artist’s eye, patience and skill that makes an image and not his tools.” – Ken Rockwell

Copenhagen, Prague, Milan, and Český Krumlov

Literally use yourself

Sometimes, there are some people in your shot that are far away and you cannot ask them to move. In this case, use yourself and hide them with your body! This might sound weird but it works. You can block people by simply standing in front of them. Sometimes I use my head to hide people. This especially works with crowds in the distance!

Copenhagen, Prague, and London

Get creative

Instagram and Pinterest tend to influence a lot the travel decisions of their users. The problem is that places that are popular and overtaken by tourism are usually super busy and crowded. Everyone wants to recreate the typical postcard photo they have seen on their social media.

If you want to take a photo right in front of the Eiffel Tower but are too lazy to go there during sunrise, you probably won’t be able to be alone in your shot. In this case, my advice is to get creative! Find other places or angles. You can see the Eiffel Tower from so many different viewpoints so try to explore and find the best spot for you. You will end up with unique and creative photos of places that were photographed a million times but in the same way.

However, don’t only aim at taking token travel photos. Sometimes it is good to go out of the beaten tourist path. You can find so many beautiful sights that aren’t touristy. Finding a hidden gem that is not popular yet is such an amazing travel experience. For example, you can check out my article about the Hidden Gems in Prague!

Beautiful hidden gems in Prague!

Try avoiding popular times (high season, holidays & weekends)

You can enjoy your holiday and take perfect photos with no one by avoiding the crowds of the peak season. One tip to avoid traveling during popular times is to look up holidays and events of your destination before booking the trip. You can also look up “best time to travel to….” and try not going during those times! Granted you may not have the best weather during your vacation but your trip will be cheaper and with patience, planning, and perseverance you will get the perfect shot with no people in it.

If you can travel during the week, it is also usually better to visit at the beginning of the week because people often leave on a Saturday or a Sunday. If you have a full-time job like I do, chances are that you often travel during weekends though. In this case, try using the other tips in this article. Even if you go somewhere famous on a Saturday, if it is during sunrise, you probably won’t find a lot of people!

Incorporate the crowd

Some photos are actually better with people in them! I have never seen a picture of the Shinjuku Crossing in Tokyo that looked cool with no one in it. Sometimes, incorporating locals in your shots give the photos more character.

Also, you won’t be able to wake up at sunrise every day during your trip or have time to wait for every last person to get out of your frame. You will end up one way or another in a crowded place if you are a frequent traveler. It is just the way it is. Just embrace it and make the crowd the focus of the photo. You can get creative and capture motion blur of people walking!

Prague and London during Christmas

Travel to lesser-known destinations

This advice is in correlation with the previous one. If you want to take amazing and unique photos alone, you can definitely do it by traveling to lesser-known destinations! The world is home to a lot of amazing places that have yet to be overrun by tourists. You can decide on a city or even a country that is overlooked by mass tourism. Who wouldn’t like traveling to places before they got famous? You can even help make this lesser known destination more popular with your amazing travel photos!

When I was invited to visit Mamö in Sweden (photos below), I didn’t know a lot about it and neither did anyone I know. Now a lot of people ask me for advice about visiting Malmö because they are interested in visiting this cute city! The great thing is that I managed to snap so many pics alone because it still isn’t a touristy destination so I never had to wake up at sunrise to take photos and had a pretty relaxed holiday. You can check out my article about the Most Instagrammable Spots in Malmö!

Just ask and be nice

If there are only a few people standing in your frame, don’t be afraid to kindly ask them to move aside for a second. No one has ever reacted badly to this because usually people also want to get nice photos without someone in their frame so they tend to understand if you ask nicely. As a thank you, you can ask if you can take photos of them. An act of kindness always brings along another one!

Saint Petersburg, Prague, and Hillegom

Last resort: edit your photos

Even with all the advice above, sometimes you will end up with some tourists you really wish weren’t in your frame. In this case, you can always remove them using software like Photoshop or even directly on your phone with Lightroom’s clone tool for example.

You can also take several photos in a row on a tripod (depending on how many people are walking in your shot) while people are moving and layer the pictures post-processing on Photoshop. This will make all the people disappear.

Nice, France (before and after)

I hope you found all those tips useful. If you have any more advice on how to take travel photos without people in them, let me know in the comments below!

Want to keep reading? You might like those articles as well…
Top Quotes That Will Change The Way You Travel / How to Start Your Own Travel Blog (Advanced Guide)

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  1. A.
    June 18, 2020 / 8:56 AM

    Hi! I just discovered this blog! It is so fun to read! And the information is extremely useful ^^ The photographs are marvelous too!
    I saw the before and after of the “Nice, France” photograph, and I was wondering, how did you edit it? It was so dark previously, and now its so clear. It is amazing! Do you have an article in which you explain how you edit the photographs? Or maybe a tutorial video? Do you have a YouTube channel?
    Kind regards!
    Lots of love ^^

    • June 24, 2020 / 2:09 PM

      Hi! Thank you so much for your comment!

      I use Lightroom to edit the colors/highlights on my photos and Photoshop for more drastic edits. I don’t have an article or a YouTube channel but you can find a helpful highlight in my Instagram stories: Called “How I Edit” 🙂

  2. Tatiane
    February 21, 2021 / 4:09 AM

    Love your pictures! =)

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