Travelers can be real a**holes.
Their carpe diem attitude may be envious, but don’t let their Instagram feeds fool you. What’s behind the photos can often be ugly.
And I am not referring to pre-filtered, unedited images. I am talking about the BTS (“behind the scenes”) – what happens before and after the camera clicks.
More times than I care to count, I’ve seen a**hole travelers shove their lens in the face of a local, snap a shot, and walk away without so much as asking the person’s name, let alone permission to photograph them.
I’ve stood by silently – ashamed and shocked, but afraid to interrupt or offend – while photographers I’m traveling with instruct children on where to stand and when to smile. “Go stand there. Look this way. Don’t smile so much,” I’ve heard them say. “Come on. Smile. Look happy,” they demand, as if training a dog to sit and stay for a treat.
Except there is no treat. And these are not animals. They are real people living their real lives.
To the a**hole traveler, locals are simply subjects for a shot or props for their perfect photo.
This is a self-serving, insensitive (not to mention, shameful) approach. And it needs to stop.
After returning from yet another trip with some of these a**hole travelers, I was disgusted with them, disappointed in myself for staying silent, and ultimately inspired to think of a way that I could offer a different approach.
How could I capture the beautiful (and often kind, generous, friendly, patient) people I meet in my travels, create a connection, AND interact – even if briefly – in an organic way that leaves us both with a happy memory?
That’s when I created #TAKETWO.
What is #TAKETWO?
- It’s a call to all travelers to stop and rethink how we interact with others in our travels. When shooting a film, if something goes wrong or the director doesn’t like what he/she sees on set, they stop, reset, and do another “take.” I don’t like what I’ve been seeing while traveling, so I am urging others to stop, cut the bad behavior, reset, and do another “take.”
- It’s a challenge to all travelers to come up with your own alternative ways to engage with people. Instead of sticking your oversized lens in a local’s face, how else can you interact? Maybe this is sharing a drink or breaking bread together. Or maybe it is playing a game or teaching each other bits of your own languages.
- It’s a reminder that you are a visitor in someone eles’s home and should always aim to consider your impact. Your travels are not just about you. They are about two (or more): you + local (people and environment). How can you engage with people and planet in a mutually beneficial way?
For me, #TAKETWO is a photo project, because it was the insensitive photography approach that pissed me off inspired me to #BeABetterTraveler. I saw an opportunity to rethink travel photography and consequently designed a simple and fun way to create a photo memory and moment together. The general idea is this:
- I bring along my FujiFilm Instax instant camera and Instax mini instant film. And I leave behind any expectations (<= this is important).
- When I meet people in my travels and if I feel it’s appropriate, I ask if it’s ok to take a photo of them (<=also very important!).
- I explain that I will give them the instant photo when it prints out.
- I snap a photo without giving them any instruction on how to stand, how to smile, etc. (<= also important!). They do what THEY feel.
- Then we stand/sit together and talk while the photo develops. (<= this is the fun part! Who doesn’t love seeing their likeness develop in front of their eyes?)
- I ask them to sign their name on the photo.
- And then I snap a digital photo of the instant photo with my phone. (“Take Two” in the literal sense, as in “take two photos” – I give the instant photo to them and I keep the digital.)
- I give them the instant photo to keep. (<= Here is where hugs, high fives, loads of laughs, and even impromptu invitations to dinner have been shared.)
I gave #TAKETWO a test run on a recent trip to Jordan. The response has been beautiful, hilarious, exciting, surprising… and overwhelmingly positive. And in some cases, it’s moved people (including myself and fellow travelers) to tears.
You can follow my Jordan journey and see some of the #TAKETWO photos below and on Instagram (more photos and #TAKETWO stories coming soon!).
So, travelers, how will you #TAKETWO?
I challenge you to #BeABetterTraveler and create your own alternative ways to engage and interact with people you meet in your travels. And if you decide to do a photo project like mine, please credit FROLIQ for the inspo, link back here, and tag us on Instagram and/or Facebook, so we can see your #TAKETWO too.
This is bound to receive some “I’m a traveler and I’m not an a**hole” feedback. Please don’t waste your thumbs typing anything of the sort. If you are not an a**hole traveler, by all means keep doing what you do! This isn’t directed at you.
For those that have inquired about my camera, clothing, and accessories pictured, they can be purchased through Amazon by clicking the following links:
Fujifilm Instax mini 90 camera HERE
Instax mini film HERE
Camera case HERE
Palladium boots HERE
Denim travel dress HERE
Desert scarf/keffiyeh/shemagh HERE
I met Yousef while taking a tea break at a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Truthfully, I almost missed the chance to chat with him. Not because he wasn’t welcoming. Bedouins are known for their hospitality, and the men at this tent were no exception. It wasn’t him; it was me. I have an … Continue reading #TAKETWO: Yousef
It’s rare to find children in my travel photos* – not because I don’t adore them. It’s because I do. And I don’t want to reduce them to the simple subject of a stranger’s photo, devoid of their own personalities and stories. Children are not tourist attractions. They deserve privacy and respect. Sooooo how did … Continue reading #TAKETWO: Lulu & the Tomb Womb