You can’t wait to take pictures of your upcoming family road trip. You’ve looked at a variety of point-and-shoot cameras and bought the one you fancy. You’ve even made a list of must-photograph spots in your destination.
The eagerness to snap great photos of one’s road adventures is fine, but when it causes inconvenience to others or violates someone’s privacy, then it could be a problem. It’s easy to get into trouble when taking photos in places where cultures and norms are different from your own.
In this digital age when it’s so convenient to take pictures anytime and anywhere, being respectful and considerate of others can be easy to forget. Don’t be that annoying camera-toting traveler—brush up on the basic rules of photography etiquette before you hit the road.
6 Digital Photography Etiquette Rules to Live By
1. Never use a selfie stick in tight and crowded places.
While you’ll see many people selling this accessory in tourist spots (with some companies even integrating the selfie stick feature in their travel tripods) you should still be mindful of how you use it.
Using a selfie stick in tight and crowded places may cause you to hit people and even destroy valuable displays in museums. So that you don’t get angry stares and have to pay for any damaged item, reserve the use of this gear for places with a lot of space.
2. Never photobomb.
Sometimes, you’ll have to pass through between someone aiming a camera and a person or a scenery he’s photographing. After all, it may be the only way to get from one point to another. But if you’re going to pull a prank on someone by photobombing on purpose, then you better think twice. Not every person or culture may find it funny. More often than not, people may find it rude. So skip the prank and just wait until the picture-taking is over.
3. Get your subject’s consent.
Planning to take a photo of that local in the field with her child sleeping on her back? Politely ask for her consent first because not everyone is comfortable with being photographed. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, anyway.
“But street photography is supposed to be candid,” you might wonder. Photographer Erik M. believes otherwise. “You can ask for permission when taking a photograph of a stranger. I don’t think just because a photo is candid makes it any better than a photo with permission. The most important thing in street photography is to capture emotion, humanity, and soul.”
Also, you might violate the law if you don’t get your subject’s consent first (depending on the state or country you’re in), so better read up on these laws before you embark on your road trip.
Lastly, learn to take no for an answer. Even if you have a juicy concept in mind, you have to respect the person who refuses to be photographed.
4. Hold off the flash.
When shooting in low-light conditions, one may be tempted to use the camera flash. But there are tourist spots like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris where the use of flash is prohibited, as it can distract other people who are praying or trying to tour the place solemnly. Zoos and museum also have rules regarding the use of camera flash, so observe them properly.
5. Don’t make other tourists wait for too long.
In some cases, your fellow tourists are gracious enough to wait for you to finish taking photos of a specific spot. But don’t make them wait for too long. Waiting for their turn to get a photo at the same spot you’re standing on is not their only agenda for the day, you know.
6. Avoid posting pictures of other people’s children on social media.
When traveling with other people, you’ll naturally have group pictures with their children. Before uploading these photos on social media, consider how the parents will feel about it.
Some parents are protective of their children’s privacy. So no matter how close you are to the parents, it’s best to hold off posting their kids’ pictures on social media until you get their consent.
It’s best not to upload pictures of children on social media, especially when your profile is public. Identity thieves lurking on the internet might grab pictures of these children and use their photos inappropriately.
These common courtesies may appear to be common sense, but we tend to overlook them in our excitement to photograph a new city or sight. It pays to be always mindful of our surroundings, including the people around us, so we can blissfully enjoy snapping photos without getting in the way of anybody.
Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with more than ten years of experience in the field. Being a freelance blogger enables her to help photography beginners and enthusiasts to tell wonderful stories of their travels as seen through their lenses. This profession also allows Liz to share her thoughts about another advocacy: social equality and change.