biker jacket and jeans

How to Take Outfit Photos in Public Places Without Feeling Awkward

How to take pictures of yourself in public without wanting to die of embarrassment, by someone who does it for a living

One of the blog-related questions I get asked most often is about how to take pictures of yourself in public without feeling awkward about it.

My answer? I don’t. The fact is, while I much prefer to take my photos outdoors when I can (because natural light beats artificial light every single time) the problem with “outdoors” is that that’s where Other People are. And other people don’t really understand style bloggers. They think we’re nuts, basically. They may have a point, actually.

OK, I’m kidding, I’m kidding… Fashion bloggers aren’t nuts, but taking photos of yourself in public places can certainly make you feel that way: especially when you encounter people who act like they’ve never seen a camera in their life before. I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling awkward when I run into an Other when I’m out taking photos, but I do have some techniques which can make it a little bit LESS awkward. Here are just a few of them…

How to take pictures of yourself in public without feeling awkward

how to take pictures of yourself in public01.

The first thing you have to understand here is that when you’re taking photos in public, nowhere is truly “private”. Unless you’re on your own property, there’s always the chance that someone will come along and interrupt you: seriously, I sometimes feel like I could drive to the exact middle of nowhere, and the second I start taking photos there, an entire bus-load of people will turn up to gawk at me in amazement.

With that said, some places are more private than others, so your first job is to identify a few of those places, to use as your “go to” locations. This can take a bit of time and patience, and basically involves just always being on the lookout for locations that might work. I don’t have the time to drive too far from home in order to get photos (and I quite often have a very narrow window of opportunity with the weather), so I like to try and scout out places I can get to quickly.

I’ve come across quite a few good spots while out running, or walking the dog, but if we have a bit more time, Terry and I will also sometimes hit up Google Maps and take a look to see if there’s anywhere nearby that looks like it might be worth checking out. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t – you never know until you try.


While a lot of the people I encounter while taking outfit photos will politely pretend they haven’t noticed the over-dressed redhead twirling in the big skirt, others will be a little less tactful, and will stand and openly stare, or want to know what on earth I’m up to. For these people, it’s a good idea to have an excuse at the ready: for instance, you could say you’re studying photography, or working on a project for school or something.

Obviously this involves lying, which you may not be comfortable with, but personally I just find it easier than getting into what a “blog” is, and how it all works: basically the less you say, the less likely you are to get follow-up questions, so I’d avoid using the words “blog” or “fashion” and just say something vague. In my case, I’d probably just say my husband is a web developer (true) and that we “need” some photos for “a project” (also true), in the hope that they’ll assume I’m referring to some kind of stock images for websites or something.

I’ve never had the opportunity to use this excuse, though, because Terry normally just buts in with a long explanation along the lines of, “Well, my wife has a fashion blog, so we take photos of her wearing different outfits, then she puts them on the internet, and people look at them. Sometimes people pay her to do it! Oh, you don’t know what a blog is? Well…” And, you know, that’s true, but… awkward.

(If anyone ever asks what the “project” is, my plan is to say, “I’m afraid that’s classified. I’d tell you… but I’d have to kill you.” THAT’LL teach ’em.)


Preparation is everything when it comes to knowing how to take pictures of yourself in public. Once you have your location and your excuse at the ready, the next step is to prepare yourself by working out exactly what kind of shots you want to get, and discussing them with your photographer (or just working them out yourself, if you’re using a tripod and self-timer) before you get to your location.

So, you might decide that you need a close-up of your shoes, say, or a particular detail of your outfit, as well as a couple of full-length shots: working that out before you leave the house will save you time when you get to your location, and will give you a better chance of getting in and out without The Others appearing on the scene.


One of the best things you can do for your outfit photos in general is to find out what works best for you in terms of poses, angles etc. I know that sounds a bit silly, but if you know what works (and, more importantly, what DOESN’T work…) it can save you a lot of time, which makes it much easier to grab some quick photos, even when there are other people around.

In my case, you might have noticed that I’m often walking towards the camera, or looking off to the side in my photos – that’s purely because it looks more natural to me than standing rigidly in place and staring right at the camera: if I try to do that, I’ll almost always end up pulling a stupid face or closing my eyes, which means we have to take tons and tons of photos, just to get one I can use. Once you find out what helps you get a usable photo, taking those photos in public will be that bit easier – mostly because it’ll be a whole lot quicker.


This one will probably sound rude as well as silly, but if I’m out taking photos and I see someone coming, I’ll do my best to avoid making eye contact, even if I have to pretend to be looking at my phone, or adjusting the settings on the camera or something – anything that makes it obvious that I’m busy doing whatever it is I’m doing (Important busywork. NOT that newfangled “blogging”!) and don’t want to stand and chat. Most people will pick up on these cues and leave you alone – for those who don’t, go back to point 2, tell them you’re “working on a photography project”, and leave it at that.


One of the things to bear in mind when you’re taking photos in public places is that while it’s annoying to have people staring at you or making comments, it’s also annoying for them to have to stand and wait while some fashion blogger twirls around the street. If you’re in a crowded place, make sure you’re not in anyone’s way, not blocking an entrance or exit, and are generally not putting anyone out. And if you are… it’s time to find another photo location, simple as that!


My final tip

when it comes to how to take pictures of yourself in public is easier said than done, and basically involves building up the confidence to just do your thing and ignore everyone who stares at you or tries to make you feel uncomfortable. Taking outfit photos is weird, sure, but it’s not illegal and you’re not harming anyone, so it’s really no one else’s business what you’re doing. When I start feeling awkward about it (which happens a LOT), I try to remind myself that it’s probably a much bigger deal for me than it is for the passers-by who I imagine are staring at me.

Sure, they may well be looking, and they might even be thinking something negative when they do: but what does it really matter? In a few seconds, they’ll have passed by, and a few seconds after that, they’ll have forgotten all about me: it’s not like they’re going to spend the rest of their day thinking about that woman they saw having her photo taken in the street, and the fact that someone I’ll never see again MIGHT have thought something negative about me for a second shouldn’t be a huge deal.

If it is a huge deal for you, you might want to re-consider the idea of blogging altogether, because there will always be someone who thinks you’re weird, or stupid, or something else negative – just as there will always be people who think less-than-charitable thoughts about you in real life. Why let those people call the shots?

how to take pictures of yourself in public

Do you have any advice on how to take pictures of yourself in public? I’d love to hear them!


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  • Love the dress x

    April 19, 2015
  • Yes, that’s exactly how it is… Usually our photoshootings don’t take long as my photographer and I know what we want.
    While I was freaking out in the beginning whenever I saw someone whom I knew, in the meantime I don’t care anylonger. I live in a small village and just say “Hi” and that’s it. No further explanation. We have received comments like “Shall I take a photo of you together?” (Thanks, very kind, maybe another time…) or “There is no sunshine for your photos!” (No, and we don’t want bright sunshine…)
    Luckily it is a very touristic area and lots of people are taking photos anyway!

    Annette | Lady of Style

    April 19, 2015
  • I guess I’d add to this list that if you are living in a country like this with temperamental weather that you’d definitely benefit from keeping an eye on the forecast. I narrow it down to a couple of days (well, usually the weekend) and try to make a decision at least before Friday night about which is ‘shoot day’, looking at likelihood of rain and, actually more importantly, wind speed. Wind can ruin SO many photos that you have to take x10 as many to get a few good ones, so picking a less windy day will mean less prancing around in front of strangers potentially! Otherwise, I don’t think I’d add anything to your tips – completely agree that having stock poses you know work and scoping out potential quiet spots all the time is a very good idea. The other thing I’d say is the more you do it, the easiest it gets…

    April 19, 2015
  • Where I live, I always encounter dog walkers and joggers who often want to know what I’m taking photos of. I still haven’t figured out the best way to answer because there’s usually nothing much around which I might plausibly be taking photos of (using a tripod no less) and people are ever so confused if I say I’m taking photos of myself. People usually stare/comment less often if I’ve got someone else with me to take the photos, but that’s not always possible.

    April 19, 2015
  • I am mostly using a tripod and selftimer, so you probably know how I feel. I am totally ok to have my pictures taken on the street by a photographer, I think this is a normal thing, tourists do it all the time. I think I would not feel ok to have my pictures taken in a café or restaurant, I have not even tried it yet.
    The tripod draws attention of course and I am also a bit affraid that someone might bump into it etc. so I am mostly taking pictures in parks or streets where there are not people, which means during morning, before noon. I think I have perfected this tripod thing, but it is too heavy to carry it around with my camera, on the other hand I am independent and it is only up to me when I want the pictures taken.

    April 19, 2015
  • You look gorgeous in your dress. I find it really awkward doing my outfit photos in public but the more you do it the easier it becomes. One thing I recommend is to smile! People can’t complain about a happy person! Great post ️xxx

    April 19, 2015
  • I feel sometimes embarrassed, I know I shouldn’t.

    I did 3 trash the dress photo shoots in a wedding dress, so I had a lot of people looking at me shocked or at least puzzled. One was in the snow, another one was in a forest and at the beach. It was me and the photographer (hubby) with no party or a good reason for being there.
    It was very funny, so many people yelled: “congrats!”. I’m sure they talked about me, but the photo shoots in a wedding dress was too exciting to miss.

    April 19, 2015
  • Ah, these tips are spot on! Especially not making eye contact with passersby! I usually start ‘adjusting’ my camera or taking photos of my surroundings (usually there’s ducks around so that helps) but there’s inevitably someone who comes by and asks what kind of camera I’m using, etc. (usually it’s kindly old gentlemen – not as creepy as it sounds, they really are gentlemanly with their questions).
    I’ve also learned to figure out what times are the best to be out taking photos. Weekends aren’t the greatest because there are usually tourists and families about in my go-to area, so I’m constantly having to move over and wait for people to pass by which gets frustrating after a while, not to mention 90% of my photos have me with shifty eyes, or looking over my shoulder for people coming my way – not a good look!

    April 19, 2015
  • I tend to hang around my house to take pictures if I’m taking them myself (which is 95% of the time.) Drivers slow down and stare sometimes if I’m out front and I’ve heard so many stories of people just gawking at blogger taking pictures in public. It blows my mind that people think another person taking pictures is something to stare at. Just why? I used to take pictures outside an apartment building though and I’d try to dodge passersby. If anyone came across me they didn’t usually say anything though, which was nice! I like your idea of coming up with an excuse. I think that’s definitely the easiest way to get a lurker to move along!

    April 20, 2015
  • Yes to all of these! I always feel super awkward and my fiance/photographer does not help the situation! I’ve decided to approach the problem by going with a tripod and camera with a remote. We live close to the country so I’m thinking I can find some obscure places to shoot!

    April 20, 2015
  • I take the coward’s way out by taking my outfit pictures in our backyard – I will be eternally grateful to my husband for having a bigger, private property. I’m an introvert as well, and as much as I tell myself it doesn’t matter what other people think (if they have any thoughts at all about the photo shoot taking place), it is SO awkward!
    You really nail it though, you never look uncomfortable, and I love the variety in your photos!

    April 20, 2015
  • ldk


    My brother and I have an ongoing photo project and we found that the best day to shoot for us was Thanksgiving day. We literally had all of downtown to our selves for hours. So now we plan the huge parts of our photo project to Thanksgiving day for the last four years. Everyone is at other people’s houses eating all day and most store are closed so the foot traffic and car traffic is mostly at a zero. It’s pretty cool cause I still get to spend time with my family and get to work on our photo project without prying eyes. 🙂

    April 20, 2015
  • Catherine


    I don’t blog, but thank you for doing it. It’s inspirational.

    April 20, 2015
  • Well do I have a story for you Amber!

    My friend, also a blogger, took me to a secluded waterfront where she takes all of her outfit photos – promising me this place is always totally empty with no one around. So we start taking some outfit photos – only for a busload…of…BAGPIPE PLAYERS….IN KILTS AND ALL to arrive at that exact moment and start playing. This happened in Gosford, AUSTRALIA. Surely this is the kind of cringe stereotypical scenario that should be way more likely to happen to you taking photos on the country roads of Scotland?

    I told my friend I have exceedingly bad luck when it comes to taking photos in public,and now she believes me. I seem to draw bagpipe players to me.

    April 20, 2015
    • Oh my goodness I’m laughing so much at that – who would expect a bunch of bagpipe players!?!

      April 27, 2015
  • I laughed and groaned (in total understanding!) throughout your post — and I even read it aloud to my husband (who also takes most of my outfits photos for me). He was nodding his head throughout as well! So thank you for keeping it real while also giving some useful tips at the same time!

    Weirdly, one thing that I have found works is taking photos in a very public place or well-known landmark, a place where people expect other people to be taking photos! Then no one looks at you weird. 🙂

    April 22, 2015
  • Very useful excactly Amber! Is has been taking me a while to find what works for me. And actually realize that People will notice. Keeping that in mind has acutally helped me a lot. Your description has really left me in stiches because most of this has happened and you are reporting it so well:) Was happy to share your post with my readers! Sabina | Oceanblue Style

    April 23, 2015
  • i always forget the ‘people care less than you think they do bit’; you’re so right.

    April 26, 2015
  • I always pick secluded places to take my outfit photos at, but I often have the same problem. Even in the most secluded spots, people will appear and will make me feel awkward. I don’t like people staring at me when taking photos for the blog, and I’m still really shy after 4 years of blogging. I always have an excuse at the ready, but I rarely use it. I should definitely start remembering no. 7. It will make my life so much easier.

    May 4, 2015
  • I use that logic too if I’m out and about – I don’t know these people and they’ll be gone in a second so I just carry on posing! Although Tam once spotted a blogger taking outfit pictures on the beach at Blackpool and was pretty pleased with himself, we were definitely hanging over the pier having a nosy! 😉

    May 6, 2015
  • How to Take Outfit Photos in Public Places Without Feeling Awkward >

    May 6, 2015
  • How to Take Outfit Photos in Public Places Without Feeling Awkward >

    May 8, 2015
  • Made me smile all the way through, I really must work up the courage to leave my garden for my next post! Wish me luck

    May 13, 2015
  • Shirley


    Speaking as an Other, maybe you could make business cards with your blog address and if anyone asks, hand them a card – “check it out here” – and take the opportunity to expand your readers.
    If I saw a photo shot, I would probably stop and watch for a minute or less, not because it was weird but because if I see the results somewhere, I can say that I was there!

    May 24, 2015
  • great tips! I find having a good photographer you feel comfortable with helps. I feel much less awkward when my sister takes my photos as I’m comfortable with her

    May 25, 2015
  • Another really helpful post thanks! I dipped my toe into it this week for the first time, venturing so far as my back yard, and it was mildly terrifying! Kept worrying what if the neighbours came out and asked me what I was up to! I live in a city so avoiding people is tricky though I do have a couple of favourite quiet little streets I might seek out if I’m feeling brave! 🙂

    June 24, 2015
  • I started my blog when I moved to Paris (only one month ago), so I don’t have a photographer and the city is always full of people.
    I haven’t really figured out how to do this, but it’s a challengeI welcome … not only because I’m getting tired of the yellowy wall in my bedroom or the strange skylight in the corridor ;-).

    September 30, 2015
  • Love this!!! It’s so true!! I get some of the funniest stares. It’s usually me, my little man in his stroller, my tripod, or my husband. The moments he can come are so welcome. The odd looks normally aren’t quite as obvious when he’s with me. Loved your post!!

    January 21, 2016
  • Thank you for the wondeful blog. I think we both have the same strategies in posing on public. I can feel you. Haha.

    Check out my blog!

    February 8, 2016
  • Very nice entry! Very helpful.
    Every Christmas/NY I start a new blog. I have lost count of how many I have now. But they always get deleted, and I am considering deleting my current one again. I love fashion, but my style is simple and focuses on the essentials but with nicer details. I am always scared that this will not come through very well in a blog when my looks are average (most models could make a white T-shirt with jeans look like the prettiest thing in the world. When an average person does it… I feel you need a (VERY) professional photographer to make it interesting). I am also having a hard time posing in front of the camera (unless I’m drunk) and I have to admit I am a bit scared of being judged for fashion blogging. My parents always created awkward situations when taking pictures, my boyfriend never takes any of me, and I have often been the one to hold the camera. It is so hard to get over!
    Still, I do feel I have something to add to the fashion blogging world in terms of tips and tricks. I guess that’s why it’s the Xth time I start a blog.

    Ok this ended up being a massive post. I shortened it down once already. (Usually I never actually post my comments hehe). But you seem very good at what you do so I just had to share it.
    I just want your honest opinion about style. Can a classic basic style work out well in a blog? Have you seen any examples? Maybe asking friends to join and taking pictures of each other could be a good start? Instead of posing awkwardly alone?

    December 22, 2016
  • Elizabeth


    I live in a small town, but also live around a lot of super small, almost ghost-like towns. That means plenty of old brick buildings and cute locations like that, and I’m looking forward to getting out of my backyard more and doing that! And since they’re such small towns, you don’t have to worry about much of a crowd 😉

    April 22, 2017
  • Thanks for this post I’m just trying to get out of this rut myself. I self shoot my content and now that I’m trying to get outside more it’s caised me to take a massive step back and not do this. Everything you’ve said is 100% true and it’s given me motivation to get back out there thank you.

    July 12, 2018