Take a Photo for a Stranger

There are many ways to feel happier, become more generous, and get more connected with your neighbors. And most of them are pretty simple.

One of the habits I’ve picked up that enriches my life when I’m out and about is offering to take photos for strangers.

I went out running and hiking today at Stone Mountain, a popular destination for tourists who come to Atlanta as well as for residents climbing up to watch a sunset over the city with friends. Most of these people have phones, and most of them are taking photos. The whole mountaintop is like a photo studio.

Unfortunately, most of these photos are selfies.

I don’t have anything against selfies. And some of these selfie photographers are working *really* hard to get a good shot. But selfies just don’t compare to a well-directed shot from a distance. Yet, surrounded by people whom they could ask to take a photo, most people stick to the DIY method.

Maybe it’s just shyness. Maybe it’s a feeling that nobody cares. Maybe it’s a feeling that other people can’t be trusted.

That’s a big part of why I like to offer to take photos for folks – in addition to giving them a better photo, I’m also giving them the human contact and connection they might be missing from their experience of a new place like Stone Mountain.

It’s an interesting trust exercise as well: to give your phone to a stranger these days is basically to put your digital life in someone else’s hands, with trust that they won’t destroy, sneak, or otherwise abuse it.

In any case, it’s a small crack in the walls holding people back from each other, so it’s well worth doing.

Photo by Haidan Soendawy on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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