Shoot Me

Stephen Schneider on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, waiting to be shot

Going on vacation with someone who just bought a brand new camera can be a real treat.

“Oh that’s interesting (snap),” “How cool is that telephone pole? (snap)”
“Hey it’s been three minutes since I’ve taken a picture I should probably take another picture (snap)”
I’m gonna fuckin snap (SNAP).

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words but to me it’s worth just one: “STOP!”

Why don’t you strap a video camera to your head so you can capture EVERYTHING without missing a single moment of your precious little vacation? It’s water, what are you a fuckin martian? How many goddamn pictures do you need? You’re missing the entire experience. Instead of taking twelve hundred pictures on our African safari we should have just stayed home and done a google image search of the phrase “african safari”. It’s free and you can see illicit pictures of black ladies’ boobies.

African Boobies in Africa

When I’m traveling in a foreign country with just my girlfriend and her camera I get to feel like a total supermodel:

“Hey babe, go stand over there by that fountain, I want to get a picture…”
“Babe, how cool is that statue? Go stand next to it…”
“Go over there babe by that wall and smile…come on….smile! Smile nice, nicer, SMILE! PLEASE JUST SMILE FOR ME? PLEASE!!!”

How bout I smash your camera into a million pieces instead? Fuck smiling. Smiling’s for pussies and liars.

I should’ve been born at the turn of the century because everyone in those old time photos looks exactly the way I feel: unhappy to be there. They’re just sitting there and waiting for the bastard photographer to get this goddamn thing over with. “Just take the picture so I can move on with my life and get back to cobbling shoes and dying from Tuberculosis.”

Here’s a valid question: how did I become responsible for holding my girlfriend’s 10-pound camera bag and carrying it around my neck in ninety degree weather all week? Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t bring a camera so I wouldn’t have to have a strap giving me an Indian sunburn the entire day. By the way honey, I’m so psyched you opted for the hubble telescope lens attachment that weighs an additional 4.3 lbs, now we don’t have to travel to Spain because we can see it from our balcony.

“What? I am being careful with it! I DIDN’T BUMP IT INTO ANYTHING!”

One of the real joys of carrying an expensive camera around with you while you’re abroad is that you get to be worried every moment of the day that someone is going to rob you. Second thing anybody says to you when they find out you’re taking a trip, no matter where you’re going, “Oh you’re gonna love it there, it’s so gorgeous1 … be careful though, make sure you keep an eye on all your stuff at all times, the people there can be animals2.” This really allows me to relax when I’m out and about town. Especially when I’m at dinner trying to cut my steak with one hand while I’m clutching the camera bag with my other using all my white-knuckled might because it’s my responsibility if anything happens and I’ll never be forgiven.

Although once in awhile during dinner I do get a chance to let go of the camera bag — when my girlfriend decides it’s time for us to take a picture with the random couple that we’re seated next to in the restaurant who we met an hour ago. Great idea, babe, after all, we did talk to them about that delightful appetizer!

So it’s up to me to find someone to take the picture, obviously. So I stop the only waiter in the restaurant who’s carrying a full tray of food and ask him to take it. He agrees and we awkwardly shuffle over to their table to get this thing done. And that’s when I say to myself, “Hey, Steve, you’re a friendly guy, why don’t you put your arms around this nice couple here and bring a little warmth to this picture.” At about the same time I make that decision, the waiter makes it abundantly clear that he’s never heard of or seen a camera before. Cool. This is going to last a lot longer than I expected. He’s holding it backwards and upside down like Mr. Bean. “No the other way.” They should consider swapping out fractions in elementary school for teaching people how to press a button.

He begins firing away, but just can’t seem to get it right. It’s either too dark, someone was cut-off, or blurry. Each time he checks the screen to see if the picture came out, there’s a ten second gap (which feels like ten minutes) where I’m stuck standing there wondering why the fuck I have my arms around these strangers. #poorjudgement. I want to put them down, but I’m not sure if that would be considered rude, after all, they did recommend that delightful arugula salad. After I had literally been holding onto these people for over two full minutes, my armpits begin sweating onto the tops of their shoulders. We really don’t need this picture that bad, do we? I’m gonna put my arms down. He finally gets it and I’m cleared to go, until the girl from the other couple breaks out HER camera too. Of course, everybody should have their OWN picture of these exciting moment in time. “Great! Now let’s get one with the waiter…”

One of the pleasures of traveling with only one other person on a trip is that you really can’t trust someone to take a picture for you because they’ll either jack you or literally leave you hanging. So in almost all of our pictures it’s either her or me ALL ALONE. It’s creepy, I look like Jeffrey Dahmer. But it beats the alternative of asking someone to take a picture for us. I really hate it. “Excuse me, can you just put your entire life on hold for a minute, we need to capture a still frame of this moment right here, I know you’re in the middle of catching this taxi, but this will only take one minute of your life plus it’s your responsibility….”

Once the trip’s over, you bet your bottom dollar that we just can’t wait to get back to show everybody all of our great pictures! Our friends just can’t seem to get enough of this. “Oh wow! How wonderful! You went to Italy while I worked all week in a factory only to come home to my verbally abusive husband every night? Why don’t you also rub dogshit in my face while I look at these? Hey, how come there are no pictures of the two of you together?”


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