Certainly one of the joys of traveling is taking photos of the experience. Digital makes it so much more fun and carefree, the fact that our phones take great photos make it so accessible and available, and selfie wands, well, they allow those who travel alone the ability to get great photos of themselves virtually anywhere.
However, sometimes the taking of photos can “take over” your vacation, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing everything through your camera lens, or even worse, offending those around you.
The following are some rules of thumb to keep in mind while embarking on your own photo safari.
1. Always ask permission before taking a photo of someone in close proximity to you. I have seen people literally shove a camera in front of a local’s face in India, freaking the person out. It came across as if they were treating the person like a zoo animal. It’s not respectful, and it will make you look like a jerk.
2. After you have taken several photos, put down your camera and immerse yourself in the real experience. See everything through your own eyes, and not through a lens. It’s liberating.
3. After taking a day’s worth of photos, if you can get on wifi, upload your photos to Google Images (it’s free) or Amazon Prime Photos, if you are a member. It is easy, relatively quick, and can be uploading while you sleep.
4. Ask before you post. You never know when someone may want to keep a low profile about being away from home.
5. When posting photos of friends, if you don’t think it is a great shot of them, they probably won’t either, so don’t post it.
6. Especially if you are taking pictures of gay events, if the photo is going public and there are people in the foreground, you should probably check to make sure they are out and comfortable with being outed. Everyone deserves the right to control how they come out.
7. When in a group, be considerate about the spatial needs of others and don’t let your need for the perfect shot outweigh another’s appreciation of the perfect moment.
8. If you are in a tour group and you take pictures of others in the group, be sure to send them the photos as soon as you can. Sometimes these photos can be the best gift you could ever give someone.
9. When shooting video, hold the camera horizontally. This will eliminate the black space that would otherwise appear on your video.
10. Turn off your flash when it is requested, and obey no photo signs. I remember a time when I was in Egypt and one of the guys on our tour (let’s call him “Bryan”) took photos of one of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. A guard stopped him and took his phone. He had to pay the guard off in order to get his phone back. I was so nervous… uh, for him.
Bonus: Especially when visiting very touristy areas, be mindful of others waiting to take photos where you are, or when you may be unwittingly photobombing someone's otherwise perfect photo. We've all been there, and you don't want to be "that guy".