Smile you’re on camera

Written by on January 18, 2013 in Blog - 2 Comments
back a bit

I can just imagine the conversation. “Who is that man in the photo, I don’t recognise him?” – “I’ve no idea, but his face looks familiar, I think I’ve seen him in other photos”. For years I tried, I mean I really tried. I would duck, dive, dodge and hide just to avoid it. It just seemed like the polite thing to do. I’d happily wait patiently and when the opportunity arose I’d move on waving a hand in mutual acknowledgement and maybe add a “no problem you’re welcome.” But, like most things in life there comes a time when enough is enough. And that time has come. Well to be honest it came a few years ago. Now I don’t give a damn. I simply ignore it. I put it right out of my mind.

I’m fed up of ducking

What am I talking about? I’m talking about avoiding getting in the way of the camera. Well to be more precise avoiding the lenses of tourist cameras whilst they take photos inside the city walls. Like I said I did used to try. I’d scan the area around me and if I saw a couple posing for a snap I’d look for the photographer and wait. But there is only so long a man can wait. I wait no longer. I rumble right on by as if nothing were happening, as if I didn’t see the grandchildren balancing on the wall or the loving couple posing with a gentle kiss. No, now I see nothing. Do you ever wonder what happens when you’re caught in other people’s holiday photographs?  When they get home, do they tell their friends “this would have been a great shot if only that man would have moved out of the way.”? A few things dawned on me to change my behaviour. Firstly if I were to wait for every passenger from a cruise ship to snap the Orlando’s column I would probably be still waiting there today. Especially if I see a group of Japanese cruise ship tourists, those guys rattle off photos faster than a Kalashnikov! And while I’m talking about holiday photos, is there anything so mind numbingly boring as watching other people’s holiday snaps.

Who looks a holiday snaps anyway?

Can you honestly say that whilst wading through thousand of photos of your friends weekend vacation that a) you’d really like to visit that place or b) you’re remotely interested in endless photos of them having fun whilst you’re quite obviously not having fun watching them! I almost fall into a coma looking at me own holiday photos let alone somebody else’s. We all lie, “oh I can’t wait to hear about your holiday”, when the truth is that nobody wants to hear about someone else’s holiday. So maybe by me popping my head into a few frames would liven them up, at the very least I add another face (apart from their immediate family) into the picture. But anyway back to my not stopping for the cameraman. So then came the invention of the digital camera. It’s not like the old days when you had 24 shots and then change the film trying desperately to avoid sunlight. Then you’d wind on the new film, which would usually involve trapping your finger in the camera hatch or winding on the film too far so you’d miss the first few photos. Today you can fire away like your shooting ducks. So people in general, not just me, used to wait as they knew that the photographer only had a limited number of shots and the last thing he wanted was half of your head in the frame. My feeling now is, OK so you have my arm in your photo, so what! You can delete that on your digital camera or computer and you still have another 856 photos presumably without any of my body parts. And then that got me thinking, just how many times have tourists seen my blurred left leg or the top of my head in their holiday album. Using my elementary school mathematics I reckoned that on average I get snapped four times on every visit to the old city, not counting the amount of times I’m far in the background. And in the season I go to the city every third day. So that would mean that over the five main months of the season I get in the middle of the picture at least two hundred times. And if, as I have, been “posing” inside of avoiding the camera for the last five years that’s a possible thousand photos of me. That’s a hell of a lot of deleting.

Who’s that man in my photo?

Just the other day I spent a few minutes “people watching” from the steps of St. Vlaho. As I sat there, in prime tourist territory, I counted over thirty people waving their cameras around at the sights…Orlando…Zvonik…Sponza…and then boom me sitting right in the middle of the frame as they snapped St. Vlaho. I reckon that in five minutes I featured in twenty photos. And whilst some of the tourists frowned at me for being in their shot most of them didn’t. So I’m guessing that either a) I’m adding local interest to their pictures or b) I’m the annoying man who wouldn’t move. My vanity hopes that the answer is a) but my honesty knows that the real answer is b). After all, the camera never lies.


2 Comments on "Smile you’re on camera"

  1. Our Adventure in Croatia January 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm · Reply

    I live in central London and now I am the same like you. There are hundreds of tourists taking pictures and if I had to stop on a pavement every time I saw one, I would never get anywhere!. As for holiday pictures which I take abroad (thousands I admit) if one had someone like you in it, I would be pleased to have photographed a “local” of the place which I am visiting. Local people going about their business in their own environment make the picture more interesting, in my opinion. So you’ve made someone’s picture more interesting!

    • mark thomas January 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm · Reply

      I really tried at first to avoid getting in the way, but it took me so long to walk through the Old City how I’ve just given up.

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