Haunted and unusual places can inspire some of the coolest images out there. However, with these great photo ops comes a unique set of circumstances you might not find at more traditional sights. After years of taking images at strange spots–and occasionally committing one or two of these faux-pas myself–here are five tips on photo etiquette at weird locales. Your tour guide and fellow patrons will thank you.
Always ask if you can take pictures.
With the advent of sophisticated cell phone cameras, you can sneak pictures like never before. But that doesn’t mean you should. At the start of a tour (or even before you pay), ask the purveyors if you are permitted to take images. Also, specify if flash photography is acceptable. Most places are fine with images, either with flash or without, but some establishments still shy away from any form of pictures. You might consider the rule arbitrary and outdated, but you should respect their wishes–or go elsewhere, a completely legitimate decision if travel photos are a treasured aspect of your vacation.
If it’s at night or in a dark area, use flash with care.
Some people are light-sensitive, and even those with no known issues don’t want to be temporarily blinded by a bright flash. If you’re shooting in a direction away from people, then you can usually get away with taking a few more pictures, but if you need to point the flash toward others, be careful. Even if their backs are turned when you focus, they could turn around just as you snap the image. Usually, a well-lit walking tour, even at night, won’t be so dark that the flash should bother anyone, but especially inside cool historic buildings or on candlelit tours, when to use flash should be a major consideration.
Be careful where you take images.
Last year, when my husband and I visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, we watched as a woman abandoned her baby in a stroller along the graveyard road so she could get an image of a bridge. I’ve also seen people walk backwards into traffic to get a good angle. If you take nothing else from my blog, please don’t put yourself or others in danger for photos. This seems obvious, but if you go to any busy attractions this fall, you’ll probably see more examples of photographer carelessness than you ever thought possible.
Try not to get other patrons in images.
I come from a performing arts background where the almighty release form reigns supreme. Consequently, it surprises me how many people don’t seem to worry about getting a photo that features strangers. And I’m not talking general crowd pictures; I’m referring to the photographs where you can clearly identify one or two people in the foreground who neither expected nor gave permission to be photographed. Though it may take an extra moment, give others the opportunity to step out of your picture. Besides, you’ll get a better shot if you don’t have an unwitting individual gawking in the middle of your frame.
Never inconvenience other patrons when taking photographs.
Sometimes, a whole tour stops while one person snaps a dozen photos of the same thing. I’ve also seen people stand in the way of others for a minute or more to get the lighting just right. Take your photograph, and move on. And if it comes down to a choice between inconveniencing others or getting the shot, forego the picture. The other patrons paid the same admission as you, which means their experience is just as important as yours.
What other tips for photo etiquette do you think are important? Let me know in the comments!