How to be a polite Insta photographer

The competition to get great photos in popular Instagram spots had led to a crush of people overtaking the travel landscape. Locals are put off, tourists are pushing and shoving and sadly because of that, the places we are going to see to take photos are changing the enjoyment factor for everyone. Not only that, no one can see or appreciate the place from all the Instagram traffic. Here are a few rules and guidelines to being a more polite  Instagram photographer and respectful of the destination around you.


Don’t be selfish

Everyone wants to take a photo or two so don’t be greedy and hog the direct space taking endless photos, AND IN FRONT OF THE SUBJECT. That means if you must get a selfie with the subject behind you, take your turn and be quick about it. Don’t go taking a photo of child #1 and then a separate photo of child #2. Do one of all of the kids together, a couple of snaps then move on so the next person has a chance. Do not ask your model to pose over and over. One pose, move aside and if you must do another, give other people a chance first before you go back again. If you are a wannabe blogger don’t be doing amateur “photo shoots” at popular times. Not only do you take over the whole area of interest but you bring along suitcases, with makeup and wardrobe changes, but you leave them thrown around which are in the way of  the space people are trying to photograph.

Don’t bother other photographers!

Many people think that solo photographers have nothing better to do than take your photo. Don’t be rude. Ask like minded people to take your photo instead. For example if you are a couple who want a shot together, ask another couple to take your photo, maybe you can even trade taking photos of each other with that couple as they probably want a picture together too. But whatever you do, do not bother photographers who are photographing with a proper camera as many are working photographers. You wouldn’t want someone to bother you when you are at work, and more, ask you to do work for free, well the same thing applies when photographers are at their jobs. They are not there to give up their time so you can have a free professional portrait. If you want those kinds of photographs there are wonderful photographers for hire.

Always ask

Many places like to be featured on Instagram pages, and even go out of their way to attract that. Flower walls in cafes, decorated doorways all in a bid to make them more popular on Instagram. However that doesn’t mean all businesses are like that as I discussed in Is Instagram ruining travel?. If it is not apparently obvious, if its a landmark of note, a private residence, or a religious site, it would be best to ask or get permission to avoid any misunderstandings or confrontations. Local markets too may not like people taking photos without giving them business. Usually at fruit and veg stalls, offering to buy a bunch of grapes or a couple of apples if you can take a photo make the vendor more amenable to having photos taken. So always ask as many times just that act of politeness goes a long way.

Don’t crawl, sit, or stand on the landmarks

Yes the fountain goes back to Roman times and survived wars but it is also 2000 years old and decaying. You wouldn’t want people to come into your home and start bouncing on the sofa or putting their feet on the table so why would you do it in someone else’s home. Also those with selfie sticks be very careful where you swing those things!

Not at the table

This is a hard one I know as who doesn’t like a good Food Porn shot. I am not saying don’t take any photos, but don’t do it continually. It is best if you put the phone away after you have taken a photo and when food is being eaten. And again, do not bother others around you. That means do not lean over and ask other diners to take a photo of you. Many times people will offer anyway, but don’t interrupt other peoples dining so you can have a photo taken. You could ask a waiter, but measure the temperature and mood of the waiters. Are they busy? Hassled? Maybe now is not the best time to ask for a photo. Again many will offer but if not, asking the waiter if he wouldn’t mind taking the photo WHEN HE/SHE HAS A SPARE MINUTE is usually a good way to go about asking. But if there is a lot of activity in the restaurant or its a busy Saturday night maybe hold off.

Be Respectful

Do you REALLY have to take a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa? There are hoards of people waiting to see her and its a painting you should LOOK at and admire, not take a selfie! Another big no-no are important historical sites with a sensitive past. At no time should you be taking a selfie in or around Auschwitz for example. If you are in a church do not interrupt a service.

Always be Polite

Be aware and take into account the surroundings and the people around you. Pay attention if you are walking into someone else’s shot. This also means don’t walk in front of someone photographing, turn to see what they are taking a photo of and stop and take your own photo while blocking the other person. Pause for others and hopefully they will pause for you. Don’t be a nuisance to the locals by taking endless photos, being loud, and disturbing people getting on with their day. Don’t push and shove, and most of all, say things like “Excuse Me” and “Thank you.”

We all love Instagram and it has completely changed the way we travel. But in its popularity it has become another annoying behaviour associated with mass tourism. With people traveling more than ever let’s not turn the thing we love to do into an activity that is loathed by everyone else. Stop and take a moment to help and make it a little but better for all to enjoy.


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