Why selfies go bad

When my wife and I are out in public I often see couples and families struggling to take selfies using their smartphones. All too often, make that all the time, I see them making so many mistakes in composition it makes me want to jump in and help them.
Photos of memorable moments in front of famous places or locations that mean something to people are too important to be risked with taking a one arm selfie shot. Now just to be clear, I do have a smartphone and I do take pictures with it for my own use. The difference is, I use all my skills and experience to make the shot the best it can be, and I do not take selfies.

When I see people standing shoulder to shoulder holding a cell phone above eye level, I know the shot will look like that famous painting of the couple in Iowa in front of a house. That kind of shot, well maybe one of them smiles. You know the one, the man has a pitchfork in his hand and neither of them are smiling. It’s called American Gothic and was painted by Grant Wood.

It makes me want to ask them where they went to photography school, but of course I don’t because I am not like that.
I get up and offer my services as a professional photographer. Usually, I say I will take their photo if they give me their camera. When they hand it over, I take a quick shot, thank them for the camera and turn to walk away. This gets a laugh and I assure them I will take a good photo. Then I pose them off to one side, ask them how long they have been dating (even if they are obviously married and have been for more than forty years.) When I have them posed in the best position to take advantage of the light and the background, I tell them I will take the shot on the count of three. Then I start counting backward from twenty-one. This gets a laugh and while they are smiling naturally, I snap off four or five quick shots. Even though I am from Wisconsin, I do NOT ask them to say “Cheese”.

Why am I telling you this secret? Because it breaks my heart to see those posed, stiff photos of people standing like wooden soldiers in front of a fantastic background that is hidden, or half hidden behind them.
So, if you see me wearing my trademark Panama hat, do not be afraid if I approach and ask if I can be of assistance and introduce myself.

Oh, and just to be clear, this is the only time I shoot people because it’s a sin and against the law.
I hope you enjoyed this.
Have a great day!

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