Salzberg, Austria

Salzberg, AustriaLet’s be honest. The best travel photos are the ones with you in them. You may be a rock star photographer, but the second you hand over your camera to a random tourist and ask them to capture your Big Amazing Travel Moment, you’re letting the quality of your photographic  souvenirs plunge downhill. Quickly. A building will be shooting out the top of your head, your face will be uglified by bad shadows and angles, and a plethora of butts will be captured in your Kodak moment right alongside your cheery smile.

Number one photo tip: when you want someone to take a photo of you while traveling, look for someone with a big, expensive camera. One with a lens and a strap. Wait it out. I don’t care if one hundred people walk by with little point-and-shoot cameras, you do not hand your camera to a single one of them. You’re setting yourself up for FAILURE.

Nikon hat. Nikon camera straps. Two expensive cameras. This guy is your new best friend! We spotted him at Kensington Market in Toronto.

Wait for the traveler with the big camera bag, multiple lenses and/or cameras, and if you’re lucky, a Nikon baseball hat. (BTW He’s probably not with any kids either.) When you see a thick strap around a guy’s body that declares “CANON,” make a beeline to him and strike a pose. It’s SO worth it. And, hey, you better offer to take his picture when you’re done. He’s sick of all the sh*tty photographers out there, too.

Here’s the evidence. FAIL = point-and-shoot photographers. SUCCESS = SLR photographers. (That’s what expensive cameras are called, people!)

FAIL. This lady didn’t know how to ZOOM OUT. Gigantic sorcerer’s hat is out. Random girl is in.

FAIL. What I really wanted to remember from Niagara Falls were the ladies standing next to us.

Almost success! This guy had TWO nice cameras with him. We took his picture afterward.

FAIL. Random British dad yelled at his kids to get out of the way AND turned on the flash. But he didn’t ask us to TAKE TWO STEPS TO THE RIGHT.

Success! Random Asian guy with a nice camera takes the best photo of our Paris trip.


15 comments… add one

  • The advantage of the digital camera is being able to look at the picture, wait a minute and ask someone else :-)

  • Good post, but I have say to that this isn’t always the case.

    I went sightseeing one day with a woman with the same SLR as mine (with a fancier lens), and the in both shots that she took of me (using my camera) my eyes were closed. Now, what at the chances??

  • Krishna Iyer

    Its definitely a good tip to locate a SLR ladden person to take your pic. But as some have already highlighted, its not a guaranteed way to get a good pic. The guy may as well be lousy photographer too.

    Besides, compact cameras are not all that bad. Canon makes some fantastic ones like the IS710 which takes some pretty darn good pics too. At times the algorithms do a far better processing than old time analog SLRs.

    Beauty ,they say, lies in the eye of the beholder… not just in the eye of the camera holder :-)

  • stina

    may sound like stereotyping.. but i’ve found that asians usually are really good at taking nice pictures

  • scotesebreezy

    I own a Kodak SLR type camera but just bought a cybershot sweep panorama. I take awesome shots according to friends so I would say that you are a little incorrect in your assumptions but I can certainly see where u are coming from though.

  • Thanks so much for this post. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I already knew I had to wait it out, but that was the push I needed. I believe your third FAIL pic is from Shanghai? I have a similar one…

  • Yes, it is always a risk to ask others to take a picture of you… :)
    Best would be to have a Tripod with you & to do it yourself…. but always carrying a Tripod with you??? I don’t know…

  • Excellent advice. Now to see if I really have the patience to wait for said SLR man next time around…

  • jona

    it is clear that you dont have an idea of what you’re talking about. you correlated big camera with picture success? what kind of logic is that? have you ever heard of the brand “leica”.. or “contax”..?

    A big nikon or canon slr doesnt make a you photographer, it makes you a canon or nikon owner.

    piece of advise, dont write on something that you dont know.

    peace out

  • Sam

    This is why I don’t leave the hotel without my Gitzo G1178M/GT1541T combo; sometimes it is easier just to frame the shot yourself (and use a timer).

    But, the article is great for when that might not be an option.

  • amateur

    I found the ‘failed’ Niagara Falls photo more interesting, esp. as the ‘success’ could’ve used fill-in flash. Besides, bad photos taken by others often make for better stories. ymmv I guess

    Also surprised you didn’t suggest making use of the self-timer option. It’s surprisingly easy and tripod not even necessary, just a flat surface if available.

  • Great post! I am planning on doing a photo tip post myself and I might just link yours! I’ll let you know when I do.


    • travelpology

      That would be great! Thanks so much!

  • I love this post! Just got back from vacation myself and am so frustrated with the awful photos other people took of us. I swear people don’t know how to use the zoom. Err!

    • travelpology

      It’s really amazing how bad people are at taking photos. It’s like you’re either born with the talent or you’re f*cking awful at it.

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