Please Hold

So you're standing at a sight to behold, and you want a picture with you in it. Aside from doing the arm's length self-portrait technique -- which invariably results in a picture of half your heads or shows your arm telescoping in 2/3 of the picture -- what to do? Why, silly, you look around for someone to take the photo for you: an innocent passerby or some other unassuming tourist. But be careful: here's a true story.

My friend visited SF, and she had a Sony DSC-P5 digital camera. She had someone take a picture for her and a friend out by Fisherman's Wharf, and the guy dropped it on the sidewalk. Ouch. The zoom lens wouldn't retract, so pictures were perpetually zoomed in and off-center, and the camera wouldn't close.

So I think you'll agree, there's the innate fear of making sure we pick the right people to be our momentary photographers. And when I ask a stranger, I always look to see if I can find a "responsible" person -- you know, not a crack addict lying on the sidewalk. Even so, I worry every time I hand my camera to someone. Every time. So let's discuss the proper approach to finding the right person(s) to take a picture for you:

- Wrist strap. Okay, you say you almost always use the strap when you have your camera, but that doesn't mean he/she will. How do you make them? When I hand my camera over, I always hold the strap open as a clear and easy indicator they should "insert wrist here". It's easier than being all,
"Oh, could you please put the strap on? Your Parkinson's makes me nervous that you might drop it. I'm not paranoid, I'm just -- well, really, I mean ..."

- Speed kills. Hey, we live in a rough world! People are always trying to get something for nothing; I just hope it's not my something they're trying to get. So I try to make sure I find someone I think I can outrun, in case they try to take off with my camera. (What. Could happen.)

- Age gap. I try to pick someone in my generation, because chances are a little better they know how to use a digital camera. That is, at least they will use the LCD, instead of still trying to use the tiny little optical viewfinder.

- Common ground. If they're tourists, or avid amateur photographers, they probably have their camera out. If they have the same camera as you -- or the same series, or even just the same brand -- then bingo! They're a leg up on anyone else, because they at least know where the zoom is and how to use it (kind of).

None of this guarantees anything, but it puts me a little more at ease than randomly selecting my next loser. We talk more about this later. Let me know what factors into your photographer picks!


Anonymous said...

So I try to make sure I find someone I think I can outrun, in case they try to take off with my camera.

LOL! I use the same criteria and am also prepared to knock the person out.

- aliasa

Anonymous said...

I like your criteria. especially the one where they must be someone you can outrun.

problem with finding a tourist (especially if they've already got a camera) is they may end up holding 2 or 3 cameras and that only increases the chances of one of them being dropped.

I just got back from some popular tourist spots where lots of people are taking pics. I get a little nervous sometimes when people give me their cameras to take pics. I'd feel terrible if I dropped the cam.


Cyrus said...

Picking someone who you can outrun can make sense, however that usually because of some age gap (like you said). I asked an older Chinese gentlemen (who was with his wife, so i thought they wouldn't dare take my camera) once to take my picture and it took him 3 or 4 tries to take a proper picture. He didn't understand that you had to press and hold the button all the way down. It didn't help that he didn't understand english, either...

Nk said...

When S and I were in SF wandering around Chinatown, we were looking for someone to take our photo when he saw a fellow with a professional camera. Like, SLR-professional. S was practically drooling. And the man must have noticed because he asked if we wanted him to take our picture. S nodded, with a huge grin. And then the man took a picture of us with his own camera. =)

The thing with having someone else take your photo is that they don't seem to get the right angle or whatever. Maybe I'm just very particular about my photo composition, but I tend to think that most people take substandard photos. One women took a photo of S and me in front of the Golden Gate Bridge... and clipped the tops off the suspension bridge!?! I mean, c'mon now, that was a no-brainer!