The New Burden of the Passerby Picture-Taker

"She better be taking a nice picture of us!"

"She better be taking a nice picture of us!"

Remember when taking a picture meant a bright flash and several weeks of waiting to see how everyone looked that night?

One of the many allures of digital cameras these days is that their built-in LCD screens allow us to see photos immediately after they are taken. While that feature helps people ensure they get the pictures they want, the instant feedback also has helped turn cameras into portable high-tech mirrors… “Hey everyone, come and see how good I look!

Vanity aside, the most troubling side effect of this “mirror” function is felt by the innocent passersby.  Answering “Sure!” to the age-old question “Can you take a picture of us?” now entails subjecting oneself to a level of artistic criticism from strangers most of us never had to face before the digital camera explosion. No longer is it enough to point and click and smile and walk away. The etiquette has morphed and added the steps of standing and waiting while your composition is critiqued and offering to take another. It’s a whole new level of responsibility for those daring enough to snap a photo for strangers – you cannot just take a picture, you must take a good picture.

It’s an unfortunate case where the burden falls on bystanders rather than those adopters of the technology themselves. So I say stand up for yourself next time your photography skills are enlisted out of the blue! Take the time to either defend your artistic vision or just take a picture and walk away like the good ol’ days.  Or even better yet, experiment with more creative approaches.


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