Taking Pictures

Twice in the last 24 hours, I’ve seen a reference to the trouble with asking strangers to take pictures for them.

After all, it’s a bit of a tricky situation. You try to ask the most likely candidate (someone who looks like they know how to operate a camera) but if they screw up, it’s hard to go from there.

You don’t want them to take ANOTHER one, because if the first one was a miserable failure, you can make a good bet on what the second one will turn out like.

But it feels awkward to ask someone new to take it in the same location because the first person might see you asking someone else and realize you weren’t happy with their kind act of service.

But if you felt strongly enough about taking a picture in a certain location – enough to stop and ask a stranger to take one – and now you’ve spent all this time trying to unsuccessfully get the picture, it is deeply distressing to walk away pictureless.

A year and a half ago, my parents were in Austin the weekend of my birthday. My dad was lecturing, so my Mom, Bart, and I went out to dinner to celebrate. We’d gone to a restaurant called “Louie’s,” based mostly on the fact that my mom has called me “Louie” most of my life and it seemed funny to go to a restaurant by the same name.

Anyway, after dinner, we decided to get someone to take a picture of us in front of the sign. We stopped a very nice gentleman on the sidewalk who immediately agreed to take our picture. We smiled, he snapped the picture, and handed it back to us. The three of us could all see the display, but he couldn’t and asked how it’d turned out.

This was the picture:
How kind of that man to realize that when we asked for a picture of the three of us by the sign, we really meant we wanted a picture of Bart’s shoe, calf, and the sidewalk.

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  1. I can only assume this guy was a little behind the times with these new fangled “digital” cameras. He pushed the button and without waiting for the click immediately started handing the camera back to you, no? This resulted in the camera doing it’s think time while in transit and then snapping the fabulous shoe-shot. Gotta love that delay, huh? I can’t count how many times that’s fooled people I’ve asked to take photos for me. That or they let go too soon and no picture gets taken. Seriously, do they all still use disposable point and shoots or what? These days cameras are “smart” so give them time to think, k?!?!?!? If it doesn’t click, it didn’t take!!!

  2. Wow. I’m almost impressed by how bad that photo is. I am the same as Janet – I ask people who look like they aren’t going to steal my camera.

  3. When I saw the title of your blog I KNEW this was what you were going to share. I’ve laughed for 5 minutes over this wonderful birthday memory! What a wonderful way to celebrate your 21st year together!! A true Gates/Bradshaw classic

  4. Oh my gosh! How does that happen?
    I’m not a photography major by any means, and I’ve never been in the profession. I did take a photography class though, but even without any of that experience, pre-photo. class I could take a decent picture.
    It baffles me that some people just can’t grasp the concept of aiming the camera to where you want it, click, and wait like 1 second to make sure it’s not blurred or anything. It looks like he was bringing the camera down mid-click. I’m sorry 🙁 But that always makes a good memory 🙂

  5. Yikes. That is pretty bad. When I am a guest photographer, I usually insist on taking more than one. And I count very clearly so that people know when to smile and whatnot.

    I’m always half afraid that, when I hand over my camera to someone, the person is going to dash off with it, and what would I do? Speed is not my gift.

  6. What, you meant asking someone to take your picture isn’t code for “photograph my shoe, please”? That means I’ve been doing it wrong all this time!

  7. Hey Janssen! This is Lindsay Reiter from high school. I stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say “Hello!” 🙂

  8. Thanks for your comment! I have to tell you something. I think we might be the same person. I was reading your About Me. Exhibit A–#8, I also didn’t like french fries until adulthood. Exhibit B–#11, I’ve had the same breakfast every day for TWO YEARS. Exhibit C–#16, I’ve been known to actually CRY if I’m late for something. Exhibit D–#31, I have never been warm, except for once on a beach in Thailand. OK–exaggerating a little bit, but you get my drift.

    Anyway, nice to meet a kindred spirit!

  9. We had the same problem at Temple Square last Christmas. We wanted a picture of the two of us, but no one could take a good one. We finally set up the camera on a trash can and after 3 attempts we got one we were ok with.

    Sorry I deleted my first comment because there was a typo!

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