A great picture is the best souvenir you can bring back from your travels to someone at home. No other souvenir can spell the culture of your travel destination as eloquently as a photo can. However, you cannot just go around snapping pictures of everything you see; there’s a certain photo etiquette that you should be aware of to be courteous and safe.
1. Don’t Block The Traffic!
If you’re taking pics in the middle of a busy road or a sidewalk, be quick about it. You don’t want to block vehicular or human traffic. Don’t put yourself or someone in danger due to your eagerness. At night, wear neon clothing so motorists can easily see you. Take someone with you for safety, and always yield to pedestrians and traffic.
2. Always Ask For Permission
Even if you don’t know the local language, point to your camera and indicate with your eyes. Most people understand a request to take a picture. Never take someone’s picture without their permission. If you’re taking pics of kids, always obtain permission from their parents or caretakers.
3. Always Respect The ‘No Photography’ Rule
If you happen to see the “No Photography” sign at temples, museums and other places, respect it. Don’t your inquisitive journalist button on and say to hell with the rules. Always check if you can take photos without the flash – you might get lucky sometimes!
4. Be Sensitive To Cultural Customs
In some regions in developing countries, people don’t like their women being photographed. If you’re a man, don’t take a woman’s picture in rural areas in India. Even if you’re very curious about a traditionally clad woman, or a woman wearing the traditional Islamic veil, keep your camera away.
5. Respect People’s Privacy
Don’t walk into people’s yards or lawns and start taking pictures of their homes. Always seek permission to do so, and offer a good enough reason for wanting to take that picture. Also don’t take pictures of religious functions, funerals, private parties and of the sick.
6. Thank People Politely When You’re Done
When people permit you to take pictures, be sure to thank them effusively. You can thank children by offering candy, if the parent allows it. If you take pictures of random people, they might want to see what their pictures look like. If you can give them a spare copy, do so, or send it to them at a later date.
7. Be Willing To Pay If Required
In some places, people will pose for pictures and then expect you to pay for photographic privileges. This happens in tourist spots, especially in tribal or ethnic areas. If they ask you upfront, decide if you want to pay or not. If not, just move on to the next picture. Don’t promise to pay and then renege on it.
8. Be Polite And Always Explain
If someone challenges you for snapping pictures randomly, think quickly and come up with a viable reason. Be polite and do smile. If asked to delete their picture, do so immediately and show them it’s deleted. Don’t fight or argue – remember, you’re in the wrong here, not them.
9. Don’t Shoot In Private Property
A shop is private property, even if it’s open for the public. An office building, a military installation, a hospital – they are all private, even though they don’t belong to a single individual. Be respectful of the laws that govern the rights of private property, no matter where you are.
10. Don’t Take Pics Of People’s Backs
People don’t like their backs being photographed – in fact some cultures find this sort of thing rather offensive. Sometimes the backs of people do turn up when you’re taking pictures of public buildings – it cannot be avoided. Still, don’t be caught aiming at people’s backs, not unless you want to get into trouble.
11. Check If You Need A Photography Permit
Best to check with tourist stations and tourism offices if you need special photography permits for certain locations. This can help you avoid sticky situations with administrative staff at tourist spots.
12. Do Not Block Someone Else’s View
Don’t be so eager to take your picture that you end up blocking another’s view. Put yourself in that photographer’s place and be accommodating.
About The Author: Teena has two passions in life: Travel and Writing. She brings both her passions together in her travel articles. Teena currently works for Adrenaline, an extreme gift ideas and adventure sports site.