As a child, we went on vacation a couple of times every year. Many photos were taken. Sometimes (actually almost always) my mother would take control of the camera. On a rare occasion one of us would do so. Once in awhile, however, we would utter six words… six words that I rarely hear now.
I would hear these six words quite often when on vacation. We must have been a friendly looking group of people. Now these words seem to be on their way to the graveyard of expressions, but I would like to try to rescue them — for in their death there remains nothing but an unending line of selfies and (G-d help us) the so-called selfie stick, which allows a person to take a picture of themselves without it looking like the person has taken their own picture due to the increased distance that the camera is held.
Those six beautiful words are…
“Would you mind taking our picture?”
Thankfully, most situations in which you ask people to take your picture do not end up like the one in European vacation — with the number of phones out there that take high quality pictures, cameras are in a way so ubiquitous that they don’t seem worth stealing — except for the newest and best models, of course.
When you ask someone to take your photograph, you get more than just a nice group picture taken from a distance — you get a chance to interact with people outside of your own circle. When you ask someone to take your picture and you are by yourself, you go outside your own ego and acknowledge that there are other people in the world and that you would appreciate their help.
Who knows what kind of conversation you might open just by asking someone to take your picture instead of taking it yourself? “Oh, are you visiting *insert city name*? I live here, I can tell you some pretty interesting places to check out that most tour books don’t mention.” “You like statues of famous writers? There’s another one just down the street, Walt Whitman.” You won’t possibly know unless you ask.
Try this — the next time you have an urge to take a picture of yourself somewhere, stop someone you don’t know instead and just ask them — would you mind taking my picture?
Amazing things might happen.