How to Take a Photo for Strangers

Have you ever been asked to take a photo for strangers on tour? If you are summed up as trustworthy enough to hold their camera and take their photo, here are some pointers for getting it right so that they can take home a memorable shot. If you are well attuned with taking photos, likely you won't need all these instructions. With modern cameras, even the most inattentive photographer can take a great photo though, so it helps to understand what to look for quickly.

Steps

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    Get to know the camera quickly. You don't have long and you don't want to make it into an inquisition, so here is what to ask the camera's owner if he or she understands English:
    • Where do I click?
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    • How do I zoom?
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    • How do I focus? (This answer might not be needed and can be left till you think you need to know it.)
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    Check the film is wound on. Most people will have digital nowadays but if it is an older camera or one of the common disposables, you will need to know if they've remembered to wind it on. Just ask "Has the film been wound on?".
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    Hold the camera correctly. If it has a strap, wind it around your wrist if you are standing precariously or on uneven land, so that you don't accidentally drop someone else's precious photo gear into a chasm or on hard rocks. It tends to happen when we're trying hard to get things right!
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    Use the flash if needed. If the light is very bright or very dull, or you are indoors, using the flash will often offset any light problems. Ask quickly if the flash goes off automatically or if you will need to adjust it.
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    Take the photo.
    • Ask if there is anything special about the features behind or around the people being photographed that they want included. Try to oblige.
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    • Rely on your own judgment as to whether a portrait view or a landscape view would look better; consider quickly how the scene and the people in the photo come together.
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    • Use your fingers and voice to count down quickly from 3. This helps everyone get ready, even if the people being photographed do not speak English. It also makes it clear when they can stop posing.
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    • Take two shots for good luck if it is digital camera as they can always wipe it. Be more careful with film cameras.
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    Ask the owner if he or she is happy with the photo on a digital camera. If not, offer to take another one.
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    Give the camera back. If you would like them to take a photo of you and your fellow traveller(s), now is a perfect time to ask.

Tips

  • You might need to gesticulate to get the answers to step one if the camera owner does not speak English. Just point and make a "clicking" movement and look quizzical.

Things You'll Need

  • Other person's camera

Article Info

Categories: People and Portrait Photography | Travel Tips