Selfies have created a lot of new dialogue in the world of travel photography. Before they became mainstream, travel photography already revealed a lot about cultural ideas of what is valued in other nations to foreigners. Travel photography is wonderful, but it can also unveil pretty cynical truths about racism, colonialism, and privilege. The trend of selfies has made that all the more noticeable.
That is not to say selfies are inherently bad. It is nice to have a personal photograph you took of yourself to remember your trip. We want you to keep taking selfies, but to remember these ten eitquette rules so you do not make the locals complain about you over their family dinner.
10 Avoid Slum Tourism Selfies
Slum tourism is a very controversial topic. Taking outsiders into a place of poverty can produce a mixed bag of results. On the negative, a company could be profiting from the suffering of others. On the positive, the money can instead go into the poor community and they can benefit. It is something that requires a ton of research by the traveler.
No matter what though, photos are generally a bad idea. It typically dehumanizes the people and creates a stronger barrier between them and you. The only good pictures that come out of slum tourism are ones that are shared and built on a relationship of trust. Situations where they get to take pictures themselves, keep them, and actually connect with you.
9 Get Permission
If you want to take a picture with someone, ask permission. This seems obvious, but some people take a picture without permission due to shyness, not thinking about it, or a language barrier.
This is the same for some places as well. If you are at a sacred site like a church or temple, you should definitely ask before taking any selfies.
8 Consider How Locals See Your Action
You may be on the trip of a lifetime, but you are also standing in a location where people live their daily lives. So think before you take a selfie on how they might feel.
You could be where they pray, eat, and/or live. They might be offended if you take a selfie like you are at a zoo. This is especially true if you are visiting during civil unrest or disaster for them.
7 Don't Overdo It
A quick way to annoy fellow tourists and locals is overdoing the selfies. Besides caring about what others think, it would benefit yourself not to overdo the selfies either. After all, you need to experience the world more than you need the photos.
It is rumored that some Instagram travel photography influencers basically take more pictures than actually enjoy the location they are at. Don't be that person.
6 Make Sure You Are Not Blocking Others
Chances are that you won't be the only person who wants to take pictures while traveling. So if you are at a popular place, make sure to not block other people's photographs. No one wants you taking a selfie in their picture of the Eiffel Tower.
Besides other photographers, definitely do not block locals who may just be trying to walk home from school or get to work.
5 Know Where You Are And Whether A Selfie Is Insensitive
The word "selfie" has been cursed due to tourists taking them at the most inappropriate of places and times. If you are in a place of historical tragedy, then fight the selfie itch. You won't just make the locals mad, but other tourists as well.
This also goes for if someone gets hurt or there is a disaster. Also, places of worship. Certain churches, temples, and other sites do not allow photography on the premise.
4 Safety First
A photograph is not worth your life.
Believe it or not, there is a rising number of tourists who have died in an attempt to take a cool selfie. Such deaths include getting hit by trains, car accidents, plane crashes, falling off cliffs, animal attacks, falling down staircases, accidental shootings, drowning, and more. So do not take selfies on cliff-sides, near trains, while driving, with firearms, near dangerous animals, and anywhere where you can fall and hurt yourself.
3 Avoid Crowded Places
In a crowded place, it is easy to accidentally take pictures of people who may not want to be in your photo. It is also an easy way to lose your stuff. Crowded places are a common pickpocket's hunting ground. Taking a selfie means you will be still and distracted, which would be a perfect chance for someone to sneak their hand into your purse or pockets.
Also, the reason a place is usually crowded is because people want to see something, or they all are trying to get somewhere. Chances are that you are blocking them.
2 Look At The Rules Of A Place Before Taking Pictures
Be it museums, temples, or tours, everywhere has rules about photography in general. Selfies are included and sometimes there are even bans on selfie sticks. Places that have banned selfie sticks include Disney parks around the world, numerous London museums, New York City museums, and many other places. As to why, its because they take up a lot of space and can inconvenience other visitors. Mostly, they obstruct people's views.
So if you plan to bring a selfie stick, be sure to call or check the website of whatever place you are visiting.
1 Use Something Small
Taking selfies with ipads is generally a bad idea in the travel world. Using something small like your phone is the most convenient for you and it's nice to others who do not want their views obstructed. This is also part of why selfie sticks are banned in various tourist areas, they just take up too much room.
In the case of travel, smaller is almost always better.