I always travel alone, so it is not possible to take a photo of myself except selfies.

Some of my friends also travel alone, yet they frequently upload non-selfie photos of themselves on SNS. I asked how they took them and they answered they asked a stranger.

Now I wonder how I could ask a stranger to take a photo of myself, usually in front of a memorial place or in a cafe or restaurant. I feel it sounds impolite to ask it to a stranger; at least I would not feel good if asked, although I would certainly take anyway.

Also, they are all female; I'm male so I feel a bit nervous to ask a stranger just to take a photo... In most cultures, taking pictures of themselves seem to be considered a girl's thing, I think.

I also have slight fear of my iPhone being stolen once I hand it to them.

So with these points in mind, how could I ask a stranger to take a photo of me without offending them?

I'm 20s East Asian male traveling to Europe. I'm planning on visiting several countries: Poland, Ukraine, Baltic, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Czech, and Austria. I'm totally fine with getting answers that only reference specific countries.


There aren't many times when it's totally ok to approach a random stranger and ask a favour. In fact, there might be only one, and this is it. It is totally ok, in almost every country, for you to approach someone on the street and ask if they'd take your photo.

Tips: use your body language to communicate what your problem is before approaching anyone. Take a selfie, look a bit frustrated and dissatisfied. Look around for someone to help. Look back at phone. Look around more. Try propping the phone up on something, look frustrated. Chances are, someone is already thinking about helping you. By the time you get to, "Excuse me, I was wondering..." while holding your phone out, they know exactly what the deal is.

It also doesn't matter if you're male or female. I've both taken photos for, and asked people for photos, of people of both genders many times. It's fine.

  • Great point! Now I feel that behaving to take a selfie would get an eye contact from a stranger, and if the stranger shows a smile, that would be likely the best instant to ask it.
    – Blaszard
    Sep 14 '17 at 10:33

Personally, I'm not crazy about being asked by strangers to take their photograph, but that's about me: I'm afraid they won't like the picture I took. But I understand that no one has 25 ft. arms to take a photo of themselves that includes the Trevi fountain. So I take pictures of tourists when asked. And, no, I don't think it's rude at all (I'm an American.)

So, a few pieces of advice, maybe helpful, maybe not.

Look for the right person. Pick someone (or a couple) who's walking at a leisurely pace. If they're carrying a camera that's more expensive than your phone, it's probably a good bet that they like taking pictures, understand your dilemma, and won't want to make off with your iPhone.

Work the word "please" or "would you be so kind" or something like that into the request.

Make it as easy as possible for them. Be able to explain in a few words and gestures how to do the whole thing.

Learn how to say "Thank you/that's very kind of you" in the language of the country you're in, so if you're a tourist, you can express your gratitude in their language. (I don't know if that can come off as condescending, but in Italy people love it.)

Offer to reciprocate. You might be surprised at how often people take you up on it.

If there's no one around, you can always take your own picture by setting the phone down somewhere nearby and using the timer on your camera. If you're really afraid of losing your camera, make sure there's no one within running distance.

In the USA, taking selfies is definitely not a girlie thing. I have taken maybe 5 selfies in my life (I'm a female). One of my sons probably takes that many in a week. And he's definitely not girly. He's just a ham.

  • 1
    As someone who nearly always totes a DSLR camera around while on holiday, I will happily take photos for anyone who asks... which isn't completely uncommon... though selfie sticks make it less common than it used to be. :(
    – Catija
    Sep 13 '17 at 22:07
  • 2
    Thanks. I believe in no country is it condescending to express your gratitude in their language. In Travel.SE, people usually encourage other travelers to memorize and use a few basic words including "hello" and "thank you".
    – Blaszard
    Sep 14 '17 at 10:38

Greetings from Baltics. People are a bit reserved here, so don't get offended if some of them might refuse to take a photo. But mostly they will be alright with it. (it could happen that they don't speak English - so go for younger generation)

As you will probably want to take photos in places of tourist attractions - ask other tourists. They will know your struggle.

And use your judgment. Don't ask a creepy dude if you don't feel like, and definitely not someone running late to a meeting. If the place is by the coffee place, ask a waitress if she doesn't have to walk off the workplace (they are less likely to steal anything from you)

But it's totally okay to just start with "excuse me.. can you take a photo of me.." Start the conversation maybe before you are too close to the person, or they might feel scared.

I think it will be quite similar in the Eastern Europe when you get to Scandinavia, it will be so much easier, as they are quite open and friendly to strangers, and sooooo used to taking photos for tourists daily.


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