Image by Sharon Schweitzer – Hue, Vietnam

Capturing the moment with a photograph in a new place, enjoying the sunrise, or the sunset on the coast, taking a photo can be an instinctive reaction for many people. Experts tell us almost every household in Western Europe and the U.S. owns a camera. Snapping images is not only meant for preserving memories, but also for sharing with family and friends on social media. Whether you’re behind the lens or the star of the shot, it’s crucial to know the modern manners for both sides of the camera. August 19 is international World Photo Day commemorating when the French government purchased the patent for the daguerreotype process – which creates highly detailed images on a sheet of copper plate with a thin coat of silver. However, World Photography Day was originally created and promoted in 2009 by Australian Photographer, Korske Ara.

Image by Sharon Schweitzer, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Picture Taking: Behind The Lens

  1. Steady Hands. When snapping photos, hold the camera still to avoid blurry results. Try to stay calm and relaxed, it will make for better results.
  2. Exercise options. If you are asked to take photos and know you aren’t the best with the camera, be honest and decline with a little levity. Gently respond by saying they will like the results better if someone else takes the picture. They will be thankful.
  3. Be subtle. It’s normal to be in awe of the scenery in a new locale, however refrain from advertising yourself as a tourist available for pickpockets. Unless you’re on a photo safari, snap photos here and there; focus on the beauty and move forward. 
  4. Quick takes. In popular locations with long lines, avoid long poses with monuments or artifacts, such as the Mona Lisa or Statue of Liberty. Others want to photograph as well, so be considerate. The faster you shoot, the more time you have to enjoy the view.
  5. Avoid accidents. Walking around the city of your dreams, you cross the street and see that beautiful landmark, like the Arc de Triomphe, that you just must photograph. Avoid becoming a casualty by having a photo session in a city street. Not only is it dangerous, but inconsiderate. Be observant and select a safe location without a busy paved road!

Picture Taking: In Front of The Lens

    1. Be still and listen. When the photographer is snapping photos, hold, sit, or stand still so they can capture the best shot. Follow their instructions as they have the best angle. 
    2. Selfies. When capturing a shot of Vietnam’s color at sunset or Russia’s Hermitage from afar, be careful when people are caught in your frame. Even with a selfie, if someone is in the background, you don’t know if that person is okay with being photographed, especially in communist countries or if it’s going to end up on social media. Remember, a selfie is a picture you take of yourself, and yourself only.
    3. Avoid photobombing. This phenomenon was born in 2005, and ruins a picture by jumping in as a practical joke. While it may be amusing to you, others may not see the humor. Stick to your own photos and respect others’ pictures and personal space.

Although using a camera to take pictures is designed for collecting memories and documenting experiences at a later time, it’s important to savor the present moment. Remember to use discretion with photos posted online as well! Honor World Photo Day August 19 by presenting your best self in front of and behind the lens.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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