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The how to guide of taking pictures of strangers who hand you their cameras

I'm supposed to be somewhere in this picture, but can you see me?  Yeah I can't either.  If someone gives you a camera to take a picture of them, please make sure they're actually in the picture!

Ok, we've all been there.  That moment, when you're in some nice place and a stranger is looking around with their phone for someone to take their picture, and hey, you look honest enough, so you get asked to take a picture.  Why you?  Well, after today, it's because you are going to take an awesome picture!

This post comes after years of trying to give people my camera to take a picture and almost always having been disappointed.  The last straw came today, when I was on top of this beautiful, freezing cold, mountain peak, skiing, and gave someone my camera, showed them how to use it, and then waited for him to take a picture.  I figured it was great, didn't look at it, and later realized, after it was too late, and I had left, that he hadn't even taken a picture!!!!

So here's the guide.  It's quite simple.  Do all of them, and make people happy forever! ...but seriously.

1. Ask for directions - Always check to make sure you know how to use the camera.  If there's a language barrier, just find out how to take the picture.

2. Survey the scene - Sometimes people give you the camera, and they're not in the ideal spot.  Like for example, let's say you're at the Colosseum in Rome, and they're off to the side.  Don't just take a picture where you can't see all of the Colosseum!  Tell them to move until it all fits.  Remember that they can't see what you're taking a picture of, that's your job, and sometimes that means moving back a little bit.

3. Fit things in! - This is probably the thing I've found most frustrating.  If people are in some famous place, they want a picture of the place with them in it!  They don't want a selfie.  They can do that themselves.  Sometimes that means sacrificing things, like for example taking a picture of just their faces to fit the huge building in, or having to get lower or moving back etc.  But whatever you have to do, do it!  You can always zoom in on just the family AFTER YOU HAVE FIRST FIT THEM IN THE FAMOUS PLACE.

4. Take lots of pictures - Think of this your insurance policy.  It's simple mathematics, the more you take, the higher your probability of taking a good one.  ALWAYS take at least 4 or 5 pictures, try a couple different angles or zooms, and hand it back.

5. Leave! - Hand back the camera, turn around, and walk somewhere else.  Don't give them the chance to ask you to take it again.  This is as much for your sake as it is for theirs.  First of all, it prevents you from being annoyed by them or feeling like you didn't take a good picture, but if you followed the four previous steps, you should've taken a good enough picture, but it might not fit their particular taste.  If that's the case, and they're really that picky, they can wait and ask someone else, who may have a different view of the picture than you do, but if you didn't do well the first round, leave, it's not your problem, you are the one trying to help after all.  You shouldn't feel bad about the picture you take.

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