In the wake of the knowledge that more people die each year from taking selfies than from shark attacks (such as the couple who recently fell to their death at Yosemite National Park), it’s important to think about your safety when taking travel photos. Not only do tourists put their lives in danger by standing in precarious spots to take photographs, many people also don’t consider their personal safety when walking around with their expensive cameras on display. Here are our top tips for keeping safe when taking travel photos.
1. Don’t risk your life.
It’s not worth balancing at the edge of a cliff or stepping to the other side of the safety rail just to take a photograph. Look for spots where you have no risk of falling or can create the illusion that you are much higher up than you actually are. Never put yourself in a dangerous situation for the sake of a photo.
2. Don’t walk backwards.
If you’re taking a selfie with a dramatic view behind you, remember never to step backwards, regardless of how close to the edge you think you are. If you want to reframe your shot, always turn around and keep your eye on the edge of where you are standing while positioning yourself.
3. Carry your camera out of sight.
If you don’t feel comfortable having your camera on display in public, put it away until you are ready to take a photo. Carrying your camera obviously can attract negative attention from people who don’t like having their photograph taken or could make you a target for thieves.
4. Always ask permission before taking someone’s photo.
Never take a photograph of someone without asking their permission. You don’t know how that person will react if they see you slyly photographing them, but you should also be respectful that some people will not want their photographs taken due to cultural reasons or if they feel uncomfortable.
5. Always tell someone where you are going.
If you are getting up early to take photographs at sunrise or are planning on heading into the wilderness to capture the perfect shot, ensure that someone you trust knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. You can’t predict what might happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
6. Don’t hand your camera to a stranger.
It may seem obvious, but many tourists hand over their cameras to perfect strangers to ask them to take a photograph. How can you trust that a stranger won’t run off with your camera? If you are travelling with a friend, take photos of each other, or use a tripod if you feel comfortable.
7. Carry your camera on a strap.
If your camera is out on display, carry it on a strap placed across your body. It is much more secure and will be much harder for someone to grab than if you have it slung over one shoulder or clasped in your hand.
8. Insure your gear.
Always insure your photography gear prior to travelling, in case it is lost, stolen or damaged. Not only will you feel more secure, but you will also be less likely to put yourself in danger to challenge a mugger if you have peace of mind that you are insured.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.