no photographs, please

When encountering rude, staring people, my mother used to mutter, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer!”  I think I’m having the opposite problem.  I’ve begun to notice strangers taking my picture…perhaps because it’ll last longer.

Now, maybe this is one of the hazards of living in a well-known tourist town.  People flock here to take

I think this campaign is why they are flocking here... What do you think?
I think this campaign is why they are flocking here... What do you think?

carriage tours of historic homes and gardens, to see Spanish moss hanging from gnarled live oaks, and to dine on shrimp and grits.  During the spring and summer tourist season, as I stand at my bus stop on one of downtown’s main drags after work, I am often approached by tourists.  “Does this bus go to the visitor’s center?” (yes).  “Which way to the battery?” (that way).  My personal favorite is to watch them photographing the building immediately across the street from my bus stop.  It’s a cool looking building, I’ll give them that, but as far as I know, and according to the walking tour book we bought for entertaining out of town guests, it has no real historical significance.  More than once, eager be-fanny-packed tourists toting large cameras have stopped to ask me, “What is THAT building?  Was it a school?”  I usually smile and say, “Well ma’am, I’ve only lived here a couple years, and I don’t know.  Right now it’s just an apartment building.”  I mean, I don’t want to let people down on the Southern Hospitality portion of their experience, but, WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE, A TOUR GUIDE? I’M JUST STANDING HERE, PROBABLY HOT, AND IRRITATED THAT THE EFFING BUS IS LATE FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME.

And then, one day, as I was boarding my bus, one of the be-fanny-packed socks-with-sandals tourists snapped my picture.  AIN’T NUTHIN’ SCENIC BOUT MY SKINNY ASS GETTING ON A CITY BUS.  MOVE ALONG.  I have no idea what they’ll say about THAT photo when showing folks their photos from their lovely vacation down South.  I mean, I didn’t even tell them that I’m a real live curtsey-ing debutante or anything, so as far as they know I’m just some random girl who rides the bus.

I just basically assumed that the bus-stop photographer was an anomaly until I was on my lunch break, shuffling my lil flip flops down one of the main shopping drags immediately adjacent to my work, having made a quick run to The Body Shop for my favorite hair product (Cottonseed Curl Boost— thanks to it, I no longer blow dry).  I was passing the Louis Vuitton store and trying not to covet when a man leaned out of his carriage tour and snapped my picture again! I think I scowled at him.  Now, I’ve been on plenty of vacations in my life, and Lord knows, anyone who’s seen the number of photos I took in England alone knows I like to document my experiences.  But never have I ever snapped random photos of people on the street.  What is WITH that?  I feel sorta like my privacy has been invaded.  Who were those people who thought getting your picture taken stole a little piece of your soul?  I feel them.

Late breaking update: as I stood at the bus stop after work today, waiting for a 10-minutes-late bus, some guy hanging out the window of his car took my picture.  Pretty sure he wasn’t a tourist, just a creep.  Such weird things always happen to me, usually involving my time on the bus.

6 Replies to “no photographs, please”

  1. I think the bizarre part is the idea that these pics could end up in some family album, somewhere, that you have NO CLUE about!


  2. I’ve taken plenty of pictures where innocent bystanders get caught in the shot, but I’ve never actually taken a random picture of a complete stranger. It’s so weird!
    But then, you know, you get random weirdos giving you their phone numbers, so you have a way of attracting these types.


  3. I just realized I’m totally lying about not taking random stranger pics. I took one this weekend, but only cause she was wearing a ZOMG SWINE FLU mask. Besides, she was sitting in an arena and had no idea I was doing it on purpose.


  4. Well, Alissa, if I were wearing something ridiculous, I’d say I deserve to get my picture taken. So, mask lady? Totally asking for it.


  5. I’ve taken pictures of random strangers, but only because they would be nice to sketch afterwards.
    I live right in front of a tram strop and sometimes I do see some funny people and take a picture or two, but I doubt they ever notice little me, up on the third floor, looking out of the window.
    Oh when I was downtown I did see a little asian kid pulling in the opposite direction that his mom was walking. Snap, went my camera.
    Whoa, this is making me realize that I actually do take bunches of pictures featuring people I don’t know…


  6. The Canadian girl that I am cannot get enough of your Southern humour. I almost died when I read “AIN’T NUTHIN’ SCENIC BOUT MY SKINNY ASS GETTING ON A CITY BUS. MOVE ALONG.” I can’t read it without laughting. Thank you for brightening my day! And, by the way, I can relate to your tales of public transportation. The subways and streetcars here in downtown Toronto are just crawling with fun characters. It makes a regular, old trip to the market a lot more fun, that’s for sure! I know a lot of people who hate it but I wouldn’t do without it even if I could.


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