Travel SOS: Travel photos you really shouldn't take

There are many stories of travel pictures going wrong – from people being scratched by wild animals to falling off cliffs.

Now, we’re not in the business of pointing fingers, but some places really aren’t the right environment for taking selfies.

Here are a few locations to steer clear of if on the hunt for the perfect travel shot.

Read: The world’s most popular attractions

1. At the tops of cliffs

The accidents are so well-publicised, the dangers so completely cliched, that we’re honestly surprised people are still doing this. Cliff edges are notoriously unsteady, overhangs are prone to giving way, and two to three people die annually from accidental falls in the Grand Canyon alone.

If you’ve trekked to the top of a mountain, you’ve already got a good view, and an extra metre of danger is not going to revolutionise your trip. It could end it though.

2. At memorials

Selfies can feel so frivolously flippant, but there’s something particularly unseemly about snapping your own smile at a site of mourning or remembrance. Do not take a selfie at Ground Zero; do not take a selfie at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial; and do not take a selfie at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Most of all, do not be the people caught clicking away beneath the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

3. In Amsterdam’s red-light district

Amsterdam’s red-light district has long attracted tourists, and there is a rigorously enforced rule that categorically bans photos with its working women, shopfronts or interiors.

If caught snapping a brothel by proprietors, your best outcome is having your camera removed, stamped on, and flung into one of the canals.

4. With wild animals

You’ve probably worked out that big cat selfies at the safari park are unlikely to end well, but what about the many creatures that won’t disembowel you in seconds?

Well, it’s still not a good look: think of the Alaskan mountain goat that drowned after fleeing into the sea to escape tourists or the endangered baby dolphin in Argentina that was dragged onto the beach for a fatal photo shoot.

Then there’s the tragic tale of ‘Pedals’ the New Jersey bear endlessly harassed, photographed and videoed after injuries left the animal capable only of using its hind paws. In 2016, he was shot and killed allegedly by a trophy hunter.

Sometimes you should ask not what the wildlife might do to you, but what you might do to the wildlife.

Read: Five experiences you should cut from your bucket list

5. Sites of worship

Another simple case of respect: mosques, Buddhist or Hindu temples, and even some churches, are no-go areas for the amateur photographer. Rules and expectations vary greatly – photographing those at prayer is generally out, snapping holy symbols is often frowned upon, and some establishments have banned photos entirely.

Selfies have one particular pitfall – if you watch Buddhist monks at worship, they tend to pray in front of the Buddha and then back away, their faces still focused on the statue. Turning your back on Buddha is a big no-no, rendering selfie-taking a little tricky.

Read: Eight of the world’s most beautiful churches

6. While driving

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know full well holding a phone while driving is now illegal, so no-one is going to have any sympathy when you get points on your licence and a fine. Repeat after me: eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.

7. Going through airport security

You may not know this one, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Many airports across the world do not allow photography of any kind while going through security, and some extend the ban to other areas.

The enforcement of the rules varies from airport to airport, but your photos may have to wait until you’re at the gate.

8. Inside the Sistine Chapel

It may be one of the most famously aesthetic spots on any traveller’s itinerary, but photographing the splendour of the Sistine Chapel is strictly forbidden by Vatican authorities.

It’s probably not for the reasons you think. Though artistic preservation and religious hauteur would surely be cited in 2019, the impetus came from an expensive restoration project that started in the 1980s. Even the fabulous wealth of the Vatican couldn’t fund the operation, so the church struck a deal with a Japanese broadcasting company in exchange for exclusive media rights. The deal has now expired, but the rules remain.

Do you have any of these travel photos stored away? How many snaps do you usually take while on holiday? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

– With PA

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Written by Luke Rix-Standing



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