Photo Etiquette on Vacation

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For many people, taking photos constitutes an integral part of a good vacation. Sometimes that means snapping a shot of yourself or your family in front of a famous monument. Sometimes it means capturing that perfect sunset down on the beach. In those situations, photo etiquette is pretty straightforward, but in others, it can be tricky. Especially in foreign countries, if you’re taking pictures of local people, you should follow some basic guidelines to avoid being rude.

– Make sure you have permission before you photograph someone. If you don’t share a language with the person you’d like to take a picture of, you can usually get their permission by miming. Gesture toward them with your camera and smile, and they’ll probably be able to figure out what you mean. In many cases, they’ll even smile for you. If you don’t get permission, don’t take the photo.

– Once you do take photographs of someone, spend the time to get to know them a little bit. Ask them about themselves, or play some games with the kids you’ve just snapped a few shots of. If you’re using a digital camera, show them the photos you’ve just taken. People often enjoy the experience.

– Be careful in religious situations. Tourists often run afoul of cultural norms when they forget that what might be simply a beautiful building to them is a sacred space for someone else. If you’re visiting religious attractions, do your research ahead of time and find out whether photography is permitted, and if it is, under what circumstances. It’s generally considered rude to photograph people when they’re worshipping, so don’t plan on doing this, no matter where you go.

– Keep in mind that etiquette changes from place to place. In areas where security is an important consideration, you may not be allowed to take photos at airports. And at some tourist attractions, you may be charged extra money if you bring a camera inside.

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