Travel photos – Instagram is turning us into idiots

by Humor

Armed with digital cameras and smartphones, travelers are able to detail every idyllic moment of every trip in all its “Instagrammable” glory. And with extra memory cards, we have the ability to easily record thousands of images from every minute of every single trip … despite the fact there are numerous times many of us should probably just put the camera down.

Aside from the proliferation of ridiculous pursed-lip selfies populating way too many of today’s Instagram and Facebook posts or the overabundance of uber-posed “look at me I’m here” images (which in fact block the view trying to be shared), there are also those photos that should never see the light of day … or even be taken. I’m talking about those images one spouse finds funny or endearing and the other merely sees as horrifying and embarrassing.

Quite a few years ago (and before Instagram, thankfully), I went to a friend’s slideshow of a trekking expedition he did with his wife in Nepal. Right in the middle of a very inspiring series of spectacular scenery images was a larger-than-life photo of his wife in what she thought was a private moment. While I agreed with all of our friends that we had never seen a more magnificent composition of a woman peeing in front of a snow-capped mountain, his lovely wife failed to appreciate the humor. Good thing the pull-out couch I was seated on appeared comfy. Because it was quite likely he spent a good month or so camping out on it.

Travel photos of that ‘perfect’ wildlife moment

And this brings me to so many aspiring National Geographic photographers in search of that perfect wildlife moment, one that will bring fame and fortune – or at the very least thousands of likes to their Instagram account.

Wildlife photography requires a special patience, skill, nerve, raw talent, and ability to overlook the obvious — like realizing the bear you are trying to take a photo of is just inches away from the lens and apparently only wants to discuss photo ops after lunch has been served.

Despite the dangers, there are very few travel photographers who wouldn’t give just about anything to be able to bring home photos of a wild bear tossing salmon in the air and fileting it like a master sushi chef, or a jaguar melting into the shadows of a sun-dappled evening.

And it is this quest for that one Instagram-worthy wildlife image that inspires many wannabe travel photographers to toss aside sanity and attempt the ludicrous. I once watched dumbfounded while a gentleman in an adjacent campsite nearly ran over his poor wife and through a campfire — scattering dinner everywhere – as he sprinted after a fleeing bear cub. Clutching his smartphone while in hot pursuit I’m pretty sure he was only taking photos of the terrified little one’s behind.

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Instagrammable travel photos of wildlife butts

And therein lies the cruel reality: Too often, and despite best efforts, so many wildlife photos just end up being images of, well, rear ends. I have a backup disk full of ’em. Deer butts, moose butts, bear butts, swan butts, rhino butts, lion butts, even my wife’s butt (but please don’t tell her).

As for the brainless one chasing the cub, I later heard from a park ranger that it wasn’t long before the cub’s mother decided the photo session was over and began chasing the man, sending him scurrying up a tree sans smartphone. Apparently, the bear ended up chewing on the man’s smartphone for a while, doubtless to pass time hoping the idiot who chased her offspring might fall out of the tree.

It’s really too bad the mama bear didn’t know how to work the smartphone camera, because she surely could have composed a lovely picture of a man’s butt, hanging out of a pine tree. Now, that’s a photo of an idyllic moment I would have been all too happy to “like” on his Instagram feed.

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Travel Photos Instgram Turning Us Into Idiots

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Armed with digital cameras and smartphones, travelers are able to detail every idyllic moment of every trip in all its “Instagrammable” glory. And with extra memory cards, we have the ability to easily record thousands of images from every minute of every single trip … despite the fact there are numerous times many of us should probably just put the camera down.

Aside from the proliferation of ridiculous pursed-lip selfies populating way too many of today’s Instagram and Facebook posts or the overabundance of uber-posed “look at me I’m here” images (which in fact block the view trying to be shared), there are also those photos that should never see the light of day … or even be taken. I’m talking about those images one spouse finds funny or endearing and the other merely sees as horrifying and embarrassing.

Quite a few years ago (and before Instagram, thankfully), I went to a friend’s slideshow of a trekking expedition he did with his wife in Nepal. Right in the middle of a very inspiring series of spectacular scenery images was a larger-than-life photo of his wife in what she thought was a private moment. While I agreed with all of our friends that we had never seen a more magnificent composition of a woman peeing in front of a snow-capped mountain, his lovely wife failed to appreciate the humor. Good thing the pull-out couch I was seated on appeared comfy. Because it was quite likely he spent a good month or so camping out on it.

Travel photos of that ‘perfect’ wildlife moment

And this brings me to so many aspiring National Geographic photographers in search of that perfect wildlife moment, one that will bring fame and fortune – or at the very least thousands of likes to their Instagram account.

Wildlife photography requires a special patience, skill, nerve, raw talent, and ability to overlook the obvious — like realizing the bear you are trying to take a photo of is just inches away from the lens and apparently only wants to discuss photo ops after lunch has been served.

Despite the dangers, there are very few travel photographers who wouldn’t give just about anything to be able to bring home photos of a wild bear tossing salmon in the air and fileting it like a master sushi chef, or a jaguar melting into the shadows of a sun-dappled evening.

And it is this quest for that one Instagram-worthy wildlife image that inspires many wannabe travel photographers to toss aside sanity and attempt the ludicrous. I once watched dumbfounded while a gentleman in an adjacent campsite nearly ran over his poor wife and through a campfire — scattering dinner everywhere – as he sprinted after a fleeing bear cub. Clutching his smartphone while in hot pursuit I’m pretty sure he was only taking photos of the terrified little one’s behind.

Instagrammable travel photos of wildlife butts

And therein lies the cruel reality: Too often, and despite best efforts, so many wildlife photos just end up being images of, well, rear ends. I have a backup disk full of ’em. Deer butts, moose butts, bear butts, swan butts, rhino butts, lion butts, even my wife’s butt (but please don’t tell her).

As for the brainless one chasing the cub, I later heard from a park ranger that it wasn’t long before the cub’s mother decided the photo session was over and began chasing the man, sending him scurrying up a tree sans smartphone. Apparently, the bear ended up chewing on the man’s smartphone for a while, doubtless to pass time hoping the idiot who chased her offspring might fall out of the tree.

It’s really too bad the mama bear didn’t know how to work the smartphone camera, because she surely could have composed a lovely picture of a man’s butt, hanging out of a pine tree. Now, that’s a photo of an idyllic moment I would have been all too happy to “like” on his Instagram feed.

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Travel Photos Instgram Turning Us Into Idiots

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Michael Hodgson

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Winner of a 2018 Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel writing excellence, Michael has authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. His bylines have appeared in Backpacker, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Outside, The San Jose Mercury News, Portland Oregonian and more. His travels have taken him to all seven continents. He is a member in good standing of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.
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