Selfie Etiquette – How Not To Be 'That' Tourist

18 March 2015
Read Time: 2.2 mins

Selfies aren't a new invention. They've been a thing well before 'selfie' was crowned Oxford Dictionary's word of the year 2013. As long as there have been cameras, there have been self portraits. Heck, there are selfie rock paintings still going strong!

But the Smartphone has changed all that – whether it's for better or worse will be a debate for the ages. We all have the ability to leave our mark on the digital world and, boy, do some people leave their mark...

Selfies are one of the great joys of travel; they're the new 'wish you were here' postcard, but modern manners leave a lot to be desired. If you dare to dabble in the dangerous world of selfie-dom, there are a few things to remember...

 It might take a few tries, but you'll get there

Get your shot & get out

Finding your best angle is vitally important to capturing a good selfie (for me, it's the left side), but there's a limit. Follow the light, take a shot from this side, that side, maybe above, but that's enough. The whole process shouldn't take you more than 30 seconds.

Don't be 'that guy' blocking the Mona Lisa or the Brooklyn Bridge for the other travellers who DON'T want your best duck face in the background of their photos. To paraphrase a memorable Seinfeld scene, "Just take a pic and END IT!"

Stick it (or don't)

To Selfie Stick, or not to Selfie Stick? That is the question. Whether the 'narcissism stick' is here to stay or a fleeting fancy, unfortunately you're going to have to put up with them at major tourist attractions for a while yet.

Some hotels are renting them out, savvy Balinese try to sell them down on the beach, and some places have banned use of the 'vanity wand' within their premises.

It's up to you whether you choose to use a Selfie Stick, but please be mindful not to shove it in people's faces, take photos of unwitting passersby or crowd the sidewalks with your ego.

 The Selfie Stick is a group's best friend

Keep it respectful

There are some places that should never, and I mean never, be used as a selfie backdrop. The list includes Holocaust memorials, funerals, accident sites and any general places of a sombre nature.

Keep it classy. Also, be discreet. Isn't splashing a photo of your pretty mug all over the internet enough? You don't need everyone watching you capture that precious moment. No, you really don't.

Have app, will travel: 4 Professional Photographers Who’ve Made It Big On Instagram

Brush up with these 10 Photography Tips – Learnt From Professionals

Know your limits

A selfie in front of a great work of architecture, a beautiful vista, on a sun lounger, at the airport, eating strange foreign delights... these all get a big tick of approval.

Selfies on the edges of cliffs, while behind the wheel, perched on balcony ledges or in any life-threatening or illegal position? I just can't give you a big enough no.

This does not add to your street cred. It adds to your rap sheet and subtracts from your lifespan. Safety is sexy – don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

 A natural pose is best, just like these lovely ladies

Pay it forward

Our arms can only extend so far, and not everyone is blessed with (or bold enough to use) a Selfie Stick. If you see a fellow traveller, a couple or group trying to squeeze their bodies into the frame, do them a solid and offer to snap a few pics for them.

Go one better and take a few shots so they're guaranteed a keeper. Every time they look back at that priceless memory they'll say "Remember that kindly stranger who took this photo for us?" and you will think "Gosh, I am such a good person. I deserve a doughnut." Little acts of kindness always come back to you. But first, let me take a selfie...


Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg