Everyone’s seen them—those groan-worthy photos in your uncle’s photo album. You may think they are silly. But if you go all the way to Italy and don’t pretend to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you may feel like you missed out. Even if you never show them to anyone, these may end up being the pictures you’re secretly proud of. Do not be afraid to take your time. You traveled thousands of miles to create this picture—you can afford to spend ten minutes getting it right.
Photo Op 1: Monumental Manipulation
Forced perspective is the name of the game in this photo op. Use a wide-angle lens and take the photo during clear weather. Using a tripod certainly couldn’t hurt. Popular illusions include holding the monument in a hand or between fingers, pushing against it, climbing it, kissing it, or breaking it (but only if it’s already destroyed or damaged). Of course, if you have the time, you might as well do all of the above.
Photo Op 2: Iconic Re-creation
When re-creating a famous photo, the two most important things to consider are the pose and the wardrobe. Plan ahead and bring a copy of the picture so you won’t need to do it from memory. If you can’t wear the same outfit seen in the famous photo, try to wear an outfit that follows a similar theme.
Photo Op 3: Borderline Intersection
Well-known borders and other transitions can also make for ideal photo ops—with you and a friend standing on either side of a border. There are many moods you may want to portray: friendliness, animosity, or even just separation. Hug or shake hands or try using props, such as rival sports team jerseys.
Photo Op 4: Statuesque Imitation
Communication is the key to getting this picture right. You may think you know what the statue is doing, but often your back is turned to it. Your photographer should help you adjust your pose until it is accurate. Costumes or props are optional but encouraged.
Photo Op 5: Cultural Appropriation
Most travel destinations have iconic local foods or pastimes. The goal in this photo op is to show that you participated in the local customs. You can try being either completely subtle or completely over the top.
To be subtle, observe the locals. Pay attention to how they dance or ride the bus and do likewise. To be over the top, try exaggerating your unfamiliarity with the activity or your inability to blend in with the crowd. Perhaps you could overreact to the spicy food or wear your tackiest tourist gear at a public gathering.
Photo credits (from top)
courtesy of North Carolina Digital Heritage Center