Shanda Kopp outlines her four rules for travel photography this holiday season.

We all do it sometimes; at one point or another, you will find yourself lying upside down in the middle of the street, or hanging halfway over a bridge for that perfect photograph. Who can really blame you? If any old iPhone photo is worth one thousand words, then how much is that photo of the giant seagull that looks like it’s taking over the Empire State Building worth? Probably still one thousand words, but I get you. By following these 4 simple rules, you can be a tourist without being ‘that tourist’.


1. Always Have Permission. 

This is paramount. Have you ever had someone come up to you in a street, or while you are working, and stick a camera in your face? If you have, I’m sure you can agree that it’s not pleasant. Not only that, but some people cannot be photographed for security reasons. To avoid being ‘that tourist’ here, it is really quite simple: ask. If there’s a language barrier, then motion, point, thumbs up, anything just to make sure it’s okay and you’ll be solid.


2. Ditch the Selfie Stick.

I don’t think I really have to say much here, do I? We all hate it at least a little bit, but for some it is a guilty pleasure that can’t be resisted. In a foreign country, you must. Gone are the days where an outstretched-arm-selfie is taboo. The taboo surrounding the selfie stick, however, is still very much present. Leave the selfie stick at home, and limber up those arms for the elusive Eiffel Tower/face combo.


3. Don’t Hog the Perfect Spot. 

I know, I know, you want that perfect Instagram feed. I understand the frustration that comes with a long string of mediocre photos. By standing in front of the Mona Lisa for half an hour, you are blocking the view of the person behind you. After all, they might later become the person you’re begging to help you with your luggage on your next train. Let’s be nice and invoke a 3-minute rule, ok?


4. Leave the iPad at Home. 

A phone-as-a-camera is standard nowadays, but the world has not accepted the use of a seven-inch screen for a camera. Seriously, there is nothing more bizarre than using a tablet at the Taj Mahal. Tablets are great for a lot of things – surfing the web, hiding your porn stash, saving all the memes your heart desires – but taking photos is not one of them. We all know you have an iPhone or, better yet, an actual camera. No matter which one you choose, it will save a lot of embarrassment in the long run. If you don’t? Buy a disposable camera (yes, they still exist) and remind us all how hipster you are. It is better, I promise.


As always, these are just recommendations. Sometimes the perfect shot will require that little bit extra. Of course, if you want to be ‘that tourist’ all the time, then by all means it’s not against the law (usually), it’s just annoying. Happy travels!



Shanda Kopp



Featured image: Shanda Kopp.