As you may have noticed, I like taking photos. In fact, I have already taken over 400 pictures since I’ve been here!
But I have a confession, a guilty pleasure of sorts. While I am out capturing memories through photographs, I like to help strangers get theirs too.
I don’t set out to do this. It just happens.
Here’s how it works. I’ll be at some beautiful location or a place that suddenly has a photo worthy moment and as I take my own photos I’ll often notice couples, families, friends trying to do the same.
The problem of course is that not everyone can be in the photo. Sometimes people try to get crafty. They hold out the camera at arm’s length, squeeze in together tight and hope that magically they and the background they are hoping to catch will all somehow come together.
That rarely works.
That’s when I step in. When I see this struggle, I offer to take the picture. Often the people I approach don’t even know English—since they too are tourists—but the hand gesture of I’ll take your picture?—seems to be universally acknowledged.
I take a few, hoping that at least one will be worthy. It takes only a few seconds, but I can’t tell you how happy this makes people. They are so grateful to me, that it makes me happy in return (hence the guilty pleasure).
Sometimes they even offer to return the favor. Most of the time I say no, unless it’s somewhere I’m completely taken with in the moment. They seem surprised, but they don’t get that I’m not doing it in exchange for something else.
This happened a few times yesterday. I was at Buckingham Palace taking in the massive beauty that it is, taking in the guards on duty, the enormous fountain outside the gates, when I saw lots of opportunities to lend a hand.
There was the group of Italian college students. There was the young, attractive couple. And then there was this beautiful family.
The family stood out in the crowd of casual dressers. The pretty mother, who was taking the photo of her husband and sons, was wearing a perfectly tailored fuchsia skirt suit, matching hat with black feathers popping off and nude heels. The hat was the outfit. The hat was the quintessential British piece. It wasn’t a high tea hat, but rather a hat worthy of a royal wedding. She looked exquisite, as if she just came from a Vogue photo shoot.
I thought—How can she not be in this picture with her family?
I jumped in and offered. She was instantly grateful as was her family. That’s when I noticed. The husband and sons? They didn’t look too shabby either! The sons were in navy suits to match their handsome father, who looked to be in some fancy military garb.
Oh, and he was holding a medal.
I said, “You all look so stunning. What’s the occasion?”
Beaming, the wife replied in her striking accent, “We’ve just been to meet the Queen!”
“Really? That’s amazing! Congratulations! How was it?” (I asked this as I clicked away, Buckingham Palace as the backdrop, different angles, near, far, vertical, horizontal—hey, they needed lots of photos for this moment!)
Her hands went to her chest, “Oh! It was absolutely brilliant!”
“I’m sure! Well, congratulations again!” As I said this I looked at the husband who was holding his medal. I handed over the camera (which was just their iPhone—maybe cameras aren’t allowed inside the palace). The whole family genuinely thanked me and took a moment to look their pictures. I hoped there were a few that they liked, maybe even one they would print and frame or show future grandkids.
As I walked away, I smiled. Then I laughed.
I am now officially one degree of separation away from the Queen of England. The idea cracked me up.
Hey, don’t be jealous! If you know me that makes you two degrees separated. 🙂
Thank you for the opportunity to capture what had to be one the most memorable moments for that family. Sometimes you really do feel like you are at the right place at the right time.