Photography Etiquette for Everyone or What Not to Do

photography etiquette, travel

What do you do when a stranger asks you to take their photo? What is the proper photography etiquette in that situation? And what do you usually do? Do you shake your head with a hand gesture indicating that you are in a hurry? Or do you take up the short task gladly, knowing that your little effort will make the stranger’s trip nicer?

What To Do If Someone Ask you To Take a Photo of Them

As this is a disorganization blog, here is the reverse guide to photography etiquette:

  • If you spot somebody scanning for a potential instant photographer, make sure not to make eye contact with them, or else they will pick you.
  • In case they still pick you, say no and pretend that you are suddenly in a big rush. The one minute that this task will take from your precious time is too valuable to be wasted on kindness.
  • If you still decide to do your random act of kindness for that day by accepting to help, then just point the camera at the person/people, shoot, don’t check what you have taken, return the camera and rush away from the scene.
  • Under no circumstances ask what the person would like to be in the frame. It should be whatever they positioned themselves in front of. It’s enough that you are holding the camera and pressing the button, you can’t also worry about the composition of the shot.
  • If there are people behind, pay no attention to them. You don’t have time for the shot to be optimal.
  • Under no circumstances initiate or respond to small talk. Be as cold and unwelcoming as possible to reduce the time you need to spend there. It doesn’t matter that at that moment you are potentially representing locals, or people from your country.
  • In case you are requested to take more photos, visibly roll your eyes. This will make the asker uncomfortable and might leave you in peace.

What To Do When You Want Somebody To Take a Photo of You

There is also the other side of the story – you want your photo taken, so you need to ask. We have all been there: the setting is right, your camera ready, the frame is perfect, but you’re not in it. You have 3 options: set the camera timer and hope to get it right, take a selfie, risking to lose half of what’s in view, or ask someone to take the photo. What is the photography etiquette in that case?

  • Don’t look around to evaluate who would be your best candidate – just ask the first person around, regardless of whether they are in a hurry, or busy doing something.
  • Once you have found your victim, don’t bother explaining how your camera works and what you would like to be in the frame – the mutual frustration is guaranteed
  • Every time a photo is taken, rush to the camera, check it carefully and force the stranger to keep taking photos until you have that perfect shot. Don’t settle for anything less than the absolute best.
  • After the photos are taken, go about the next shot, without taking the time to thank the helper. It’s everybody’s duty to serve you, of course.

And finally, don’t take this post seriously. In fact, don’t take the travel photos too seriously either. Not all need to be “Instagrammable”.

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2 thoughts on “Photography Etiquette for Everyone or What Not to Do

  1. Hand me your phone and ask me to take your picture and I promise I will screw it up. Hand me a camera and I will give you a great photo in return. Invest in proper equipment people! Phones are for telephone calls (or at least they used to be back in the dark ages).

    1. I just returned from a trip and was really inspired by a person who took the photos when she was asked to, with care and patience. It was kindness at its most basic, and I really liked what I saw.

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