a group of women in traditional japanese clothing

This article shouldn’t be necessary, but it totally is…

There’s outrage from Iceland to the islands of the South Pacific these days as “perfect shot” Instagram obsessed travellers desecrate sacred sites, destroy nature and even more than occasionally fall to their death in popular destinations around the world.

The pursuit of the perfect “look at me” photo has ruined countless attractions around the world, and though none of the offenders will likely ever read this, we’ve created an etiquette guide anyway.

a city and water from a mountainTime Limit

No two pictures are the same and some smiles are better than others, but it’s unacceptable to monopolize a great vantage point, or worse – the hotel pool. For any millennials who don’t enjoy board games, monopolize means to take up all of the space for yourself.

A 5 click maximum seems fair here, so plan to take up to 5 quick photos and then carry on so that someone else can. And no, that doesn’t mean outfit changes in between, it means snap, snap, snap, snap and snap and then GTFO. And yes, you should then get out of the way so that everyone has equally nice photos too.


An Instagrammer was famously towed out of mud in Iceland after getting stuck in an area where their obnoxious 4×4 destroyed precious moss and other vegetation which gives Iceland its uniquely lush, green landscape. That’s not OK. Those signs that say no off roading, no drones or do not walk on dunes aren’t there as a great big joke or a symbol of irony, they’re there to protect what makes the place special.

Don’t be that person, and when in doubt – ask someone. Any place worth visiting has enough legally approved angles to get a beautiful shot, and you don’t want to be the one responsible for locals turning on tourism guests and creating a hostile environment.

a group of women in traditional japanese clothingCultural Understanding

It’s true, some cultures believe a photo steals your soul, and really – it’s just f*cking rude to snap a picture of someone, or anyone without permission anyway. In areas of Kyoto, laws have been put in place where fines can be levied for taking pictures on private property, or of culturally sacred Geisha’s.

Before going anywhere, the least you can do is be respectful enough to understand local custom, and how people feel about photos being taken of them, or private property on their streets. Use this as a rule of thumb: If you don’t feel comfortable enough to ask someone if it’s okay to take their picture, it’s definitely not okay to take it.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Also, when picking a spot to set up for your precious photograph, don’t pick both sides of a busy thoroughfare and expect everyone to stop and wait for you. I’m looking at you, mainland Chinese. I’m walking right through, hope you enjoy your free pic of me!

  2. Amen! I am so sick of the selfie, Intragram obsessed culture we live in. Take a photo to document your trip and move along. BTW, while I feel sorry for their families, those that fall to their death off a cliff or otherwise get seriously hurt trying to capture that perfect shot at least get what they deserve – those that disrupt everyone else around them are simply annoying!

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