The camera made me strange!

A funny thing happens when you put a camera in people’s hands. They do odd things!

After spending a lot of time taking photos and watching others do the same, I have put together a mock celebration of the unusual behavior of photographers. Have you seen any of these types?

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Walking away from a beach in Hawaii, I saw this scene and almost didn’t take the photo. It felt like such a predictable tourist shot but I took it anyway because, well, it looks good even if I’ve seen it  before. However, to fully qualify as touristy, I would have needed to get my wife to stand in the shot.

1. Touristy

These people are genetically predisposed to stand in front of every majestic mountain or tiny puddle they encounter on vacation and get someone to take their photo. Their secret pleasure is blocking the view of landscape photographers.

Motto – Look at me on holidays.

2. Relative shooter

The sole purpose of every family gathering is to assemble everyone into the dreaded family pose. The chaotic process typically begins by using 45 minutes to figure out which relative is missing. The least loved in-law ends up taking photos with everyone’s camera since no one can figure out the timer. Every shot ends up with one pair of closed eyes, a few scowling teenagers or older men and a kid clowning around.

Motto – Isn’t this wonderful!

3. Trophy hunters

These type A personalities are constantly in pursuit of the iconic photo, that they’ve scoped out from following other photographers. They are climbing at 4 a.m. to reach a mountain plateau for the best shot at sunrise and then run off to the next trophy spot. Who has time to actually enjoy the scene?

Motto – I got it and it’s on the mantle.

4. Random paparazzi

Their specialty is constantly watching and photographing people. Sometimes you can watch a street or a party open a path for them as their prey scatters in fear. The unique expression is king and the leathery-skinned elder with a native outfit is the prize catch of the day.

Motto – Now that is character!

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Sometimes you have to be quick. I saw the light hit this side of a mountain and quickly set up and took the shot. In a minute or so the sun was gone and so was the opportunity.

5. Drive by shooters

The real purpose is to complete the trip and just get home. They may visit interesting spots along the way but will only slow down enough to roll down the window and grab a shot. These guys are fast.

Motto – Been there, done it, here’s the photo.

6. Wildlife groupies

They claim interest in wildlife but keep their eyes peeled on the road. They are looking for assembled cars, knowing that there’s likely to be wildlife and hopefully a bear. As soon as they stop, they immediately check out the lenses of the other assembled photographers.

Motto – Bear jams mean bears!

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I don’t take a lot of photos with people but searching around got me this one. By the way, how did those people get there?

7. Baby obsessors

A baby shows up and creates a flood of baby photos, jamming every digital device and social media platform. The term cute is applied universally to all babies of a certain age. However, the number of photos declines exponentially with the number of kids.

Motto – Look what the baby is doing (nothing is usually technically correct).

8. Self absorbed

This person is continually taking self portraits and posting them on Facebook fearing their friends might forgot what they looked like since the last post. The classic pose is the camera held at arm’s length at a 45-degree angle above their head. Typically this person spurns originality. See touristy.

Motto – Look at me.

9. Effects photographer

Every photo gets run through the latest and greatest filters and effects before posting on Instagram or other sites. All photos bear an uncanny resemblance to images taken in bygone eras when cameras were of incredibly poor quality.

Motto – Cool effect (despite everyone using it).

10. The Artistes

These people disappear into their own world for hours or days. They emerge with their prize photograph of a used paper cup or a blurry coloured maze claiming it is true art – mere mortals would never understand.

Motto – Can you feel it?

The endless list might also have included birders, sports mom photographers, bug watchers, storm chasers and a host of others. What other strange behaviours have you observed in yourself or others?

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I think there’s a rule that you should end all  photography posts with a sunset. Or was that another cliche?

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Latest Comments

  1. Scott Marshall says:

    completely hitting the mark here – I have to admit to being most of these characters in my time lol

    Like

  2. Jacey Krahn says:

    Dad, the self absorbed now have a technical name. The pictures are called a “selfie.” Just thought is update you on the lingo. Good post!

    Like

  3. Vassilis says:

    Described better than I ever could! May I add one more? The ones that buy the latest expensive camera and lens and go out, more to show off than to take photos. Good thing they exist and we can buy their older gear a bit cheaper!

    Like

  4. mariayarri says:

    I recognize myself in most of your points except for 7,8, and 9 … And the explanation for it, is that i´m not in either Instagram or Facebook 😉 … And the fact that i don´t take photos of children …
    I got me a good laugh when i read your post , so thank you for making me smile !
    The past week has otherwise mostly contained a lot of tears … // Maria

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I’m guilty of quite of those as well – it made them easier to describe! I am so happy that I could bring a tiny bit of joy into the difficult situation you find yourself in.

      Like

  5. mflahertyphoto says:

    Haha! Great post Lyle! We’ve all been guilty of one or two. I have to stop myself from the trophy hunting thing from time to time. The bear jam effect is quite relevant to your Yellowstone trip. I did my best to avoid the groups of wolf watchers when I was there last time. Even hiked up the other side of the Lamar trying to get a more intimate shot of the wolves. But then when I got closer to them the watchers gathered on the road below and I needed to hide from them and the wolves. Much harder than hiding from one or the other. I finally broke down and joined them next day. But I hated when guys would try to engage me in gear talk. Was I too subtle when I tried to change the subject?

    I’d like to humbly suggest another category, the “I want that shot too” person. Mostly I see it in N.P.s (like Yellowstone!). I was off the roadway about 50 feet, pulled over at a random spot (not a viewpoint), shooting the morning mist rising over a small creek. I thought I was pretty well hidden, there in the weeds, but a pair of tourists w/cameras found me and stopped to sidle over, trying to capture the exact same composition. I suddenly decided that I had probably gotten the shot I wanted and left. I’ve gotten to the point where I try to pull over in places much too small for another car. But they will happily park blocking the road, so that doesn’t work very well.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Glad you liked it.

      Great stories and a great addition to the list (I think many more could be added). Photographers can really exhibit some strange behaviour though you were quite creative in trying to avoid it. Everyone must sense your uncanny ability to pick great spots to photograph.

      Like

  6. Rejoice For The Day says:

    Too, funny! I think I am guilty of several of these, and you have described each and every one of them so well.

    Like

  7. melodylowes says:

    My all-time touristy favourite has to be when I was working at Banff for the summer and watched a tourist film his wife slowly swimming at least 30 laps in the pool. How strange is that? Who even wants to watch it when they get home?? Sheesh…

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That is bizarre. It is fun to watch people and the strange things they do … and of course I have inadvertently entertained a few people along the way.

      Like

      • melodylowes says:

        I have often thought about this phenomenon. In Banff, the foreign tourists are fascinated by the gophers. I used to laugh myself silly over that one. And yet, I darn near fell over a wall once to catch a marmot. (Aren’t they in the same genetic family??) And in Europe, EVERYTHING was strange and different, so I’m pretty sure I had people turn up their little noses at me and my enthusiasm for their laundry on the line… It’s all perspective, isn’t it? and if we can laugh at ourselves over it all, so much the better, right?

        Like

        • lylekrahn says:

          Absolutely (I especially like marmots). And then sometimes I come back to the familiar and catch a great moment with a gopher in perfect light and end up liking the photo. Go figure.

          Like

          • melodylowes says:

            That’s the thing! There is always a quality of the unexpected, even in the mundane, when you open your eyes to the possibility. This must be what drives artists and sculptors and writers and photographers to document what they see and feel in new ways…

            Like

  8. melodylowes says:

    Ha! You got me giggling with the family photo session (Do you know my mother-in-law?) and I must admit to peering around when spotting a traffic jam – actually, I should admit to causing a few, too, by pointing and gesturing excitedly at exactly nothing and being rewarded with several touristy types stopping to find what I was looking at! I spent quite some time today squatting dangerously close to the water’s edge when I spotted a leaf trapped in the ice – does that mean I’m an Artiste?? 😀

    Like

  9. Stefano says:

    Hahaha!!! Lyle, this is an awesome post! Hilarious!!! 🙂
    Also, great photos: I particularly like the one of the mountain illuminated by a beam of light. Well done.

    Like

  10. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    I’m strongly considering staying up and going outside in freezing temps to photograph his Lyrids meteor shower tonight/early this morning. I am weird and it is the camera’s fault.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That’s what photographer’s do! You’ll have to post the photos since I want to see them. Now that you’ve established that it is the camera’s fault, it should all make a lot more sense.

      Like

  11. artsifrtsy says:

    I’m definitely a wildlife groupie, maybe even a stalker. I go on vacation hoping to make captures, they are better than any souvenir. I drive home past the meadow where the deer feed on the way home from work because the light is perfect at that hour.

    Like

  12. idiotphotographer says:

    I think my problem when I am behind my camera is I tune out the world, you could drop an anvil next to me and I probably wouldn’t notice. I once stood in the same place for so long ( attempting to compose an HDR shot ) that a mouse decided my shoe was a good spot to sit and check out the surroundings, I’m not sure who was more startled when I finally moved, me or the mouse.

    You forgot to mention those who photograph their cats obsessively, though I suppose it is the same disease as people with babies. (I have an ungodly amount of cat photos that no one but I have seen, I try to keep the cat obsession to myself)

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I understand the zoning thing, since I can get a bit oblivious. The mouse story is hilarious.

      Ah yes the cat (and all other pet) photographers – definitely another grouping.

      Like

  13. caleephotography says:

    LOL!!! I think I’ve seen all of these. My favourite (or not) is the Tourist who takes pictures with flash, even if it’s a big monument 100m away at dusk or their partner at sunset. And #11 the ones who take pictures of their dinner (or all kinds of food that happen to be in front of them) and post it on Facebook. Extra points if taken in a restaurant with flash so the dish glows white. 😉

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Those are great additions! I’ve certainly seen people do them and chuckled to myself. And I’m sure people have laughed at me for various things too!

      Like

  14. Deb W. Trotter says:

    Amusing post. I guess you didn’t hang around to see how/whether those people on the ice got off of it. Maybe they fell through! It looks awfully thin!!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. Since it was the middle of winter there was lots of ice on the lake so thin ice never occurred to me but you’re the second person to mention it so it must leave that perception. As for the people, they are family members. I was joking about not knowing how they got there. It’s interesting how being at a place the photo was taken gives such a different perception of a photo of it.

      Like

  15. queenlorene says:

    You were disparaging about the Hawaii photograph, but I NEVER tire of looking at that one. It is a feast for the eyes and calms my irritated nerves. Photography impacts us in ways the most personal narrative never can.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      You are right on all counts. In the spirit of mock celebration I established for the post, I was disparaging but also said I liked it and posted it. In a backhanded way I was trying to say that even if a scene has been used a lot there is beauty there that still catches our eye and can be enjoyed. It was a wonderful place that we thoroughly enjoyed. I’m happy it had a wonderful effect on you. Photography really can have a powerful impact – I suppose that is the attraction to it.

      Like

  16. Shy says:

    you have to add in the fashion blogger photographer. out in the wilderness in dressed to the nines with a tripod taking “Dreamy” pictures of oneself! This was a funny post!

    Like

  17. RobynG says:

    Great post Lyle! Beautiful images. Love the light in the mountain! Robyn

    Like

  18. hannele says:

    This is great, especially in combination with Sontag’s ‘On Photography’, which I’m reading at the moment. She’s wonderfully direct and perhaps, a bit critical of the whole thing.

    “There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera. This is as evident in the 1840s and 1850s, photography’s glorious first two decades, as in all the succeeding decades, during which technology made possible an ever increasing spread of that mentality which looks at the world as a set of potential photographs.”

    I catch myself doing that every now and then. I do my best to be the opposite of a Trophy hunter (and many of the other types you’ve listed), but I’m sure I’ve fallen into all of these categories at least once (except the Baby obsessor one).

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That’s an interesting quote. I too have found myself there and doing many of the others I mentioned. I think it’s part of the fascination of capturing the moment in a photo. We are intrigued by it.

      Like

  19. Buzzwordz says:

    You forgot “lazy” That is the one who forgets to take the camera, or is too busy actually living in the moment to even think about taking pictures of it. We depend on all the others to email us the shot!

    Like

  20. Stephen G. Hipperson says:

    🙂 – guilty as charged! … and proud of it. 😉

    Like

  21. Seenorway says:

    ‘I don’t take a lot of photos with people but searching around got me this one. By the way, how did those people get there?’

    And secretly you were considering the ice thickness and wondering if you’d be getting the shot of the year? 🙂

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That’s definitely amusing but it wasn’t quite like that. It was around a Christmas when our family went to the mountains. I was taking photos of the ice and noticed the kids looked good out there so I told them to stop for a minute and got the photo.

      Like

  22. sagescenery says:

    Great post! Awesome photos!!

    Like

  23. Fotografin Thee Ballmer says:

    Cool, you made my day:-) I drop on all these categories while being out.
    The worst I always see, are these tourist buses. They stop at a nice place( scenic or a monument etc) all the tourists run out and take a shot and run inside again to drive to the next point. Jeeeez, I feel so sorry for them. And you are right. At home they can say: I have seen this and that and they are proud like a peacock. But I think I don’t have to feel sorry, these guys don’t know the opportunity how to keep impressions from traveling
    About sunsets: I think it ever did and always will attract people. It’s something nice and why not to take tacky photos. And a good photographer always knows how to make a sunset photo special with a great foreground etc:-)

    Thanks for this entertaining article, Thee

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Glad you were entertained. I had a little fun with the topic.

      Yes the tourist buses are in a league of their own. I recall once I was enjoying photographing picas in the beautiful, quiet atmosphere of a national park. A bus arrived and the people started poring out and flowing out to where I was. I left.

      I agree on the sunsets. There is a powerful attraction and not all sunset photos are created equal.

      Like

  24. Lakshani Suranga says:

    Sunsets will never become cliches, because you never get tired of looking at them. They are the perfect ending for photography posts 🙂

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I find it interesting that I have watched innumerable sunsets but I’m still drawn in to watch an average one. They have a powerful attraction and an air of mystery since you never quite know how they’ll unfold. So if I have a sunset in the series, I’ll probably keep putting it at the end.

      Like

  25. vanbraman says:

    You aren’t making fun of me for finishing my post today with a sunset picture are you ;-).

    Not sure where I would classify myself. I don’t think that I fit any of the ten you listed.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I was making fun of myself for regularly doing it but it turns out I have some good company! I’m not entirely surprised you don’t fit neatly in a category since you appear to be interested in a lot of different things. Much more flexible than I.

      Like

  26. Mike Powell says:

    I certainly have seen most of these types and occasionally I have starred in productions in which I have played the role of many of them. One of my favorite types is the guy who obsesses about the gear and gadgets,and needs pack mules (or shepas) to tote all of the “stuff” required to take a photo. I am not sure he ever uses all of the equipment, but he sure accumulates it quickly. He reads and researches obsessively in his quest for the best gear–sometimes it seems that the photos are secondary in importance.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I’ve played a few roles as well and I used to … ahem … carry around a lot more gear. Now I get my wife to carry it (just kidding). I have learned that lighter is better and the best lens is the one you’re actually using.

      Like

  27. Gunta says:

    Beautiful sunset. We get a lot of folks with the tripods swarming to the beach at sunset. I posted a funny shot of just one at: http://wp.me/sXX8J-smiles (last shot)

    Like

  28. renxkyoko says:

    Touristy, I’m sure. lol

    Like

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