You are traveling to a place, you see something interesting, maybe the people look so happy or kids are playing a really cool game, you want to take a photo of this event. What do you do?
Conventional wisdom is that you should ask people if it’s okay to take photos of them. And, as a responsible traveler, you asked and they said yes but only if you pay.
People have to right to ask for the value of what something is worth to them, and you have the right to accept or decline. In many places, voluntarily offering to pay for casual photos or giving gifts can foster a cycle of dependency. You should think twice before doing so. Your good intentions as a traveler can sometimes have a negative effect. That’s why using responsible travel photography methods is important.
You should interact with the people you plan to photograph before taking photos. That may make the interaction memorable and the photos would then just keep this memory alive. You shouldn’t hide your camera, while on vacation, or take spy photos. I know it’s tempting, I myself have been guilty of that at times.
We are not perfect travelers but we can all learn to be more responsible travelers. So, you should pay for the photos, if asked, and only at the price you feel is reasonable to you. Or, you can kindly decline and move on.
Sometimes in the spur of the moment you might tell yourself, I have to take this shot before it slips away. You may do so but show the photos you’ve taken to the people. More often than not, they would just be happy to see them.
I was standing by a water fountain at a park in Manhattan a few years ago after a job interview. A German couple visiting NYC for the first time asked me to take a photo of them, then they asked to take my photo and I obliged. It was a fun interaction.
If you’ve taken photos and they ask you to delete them or pay, do so. You don’t want to get into an argument in an unfamiliar place. If you are taking official photos, for a project for instance, ask for a price and bargain if necessary. But, don’t push too hard.
To learn the dos and don’ts of responsible travel, download your free guide here.