Monday, January 24, 2011

Safety in self-photography: 6 things to consider

We style bloggers are an adventurous lot, in that many of us will go to extreme lengths to take photos. We'll go to isolated fields, alleys, railroad tracks, or climb trees and stairwells for interesting ways to document our outfits and our lives. 

Safety has always been important to me in style blogging, and it's a topic I've been thinking about since my Hello, Monkeyface! feature on self-photography. After almost a year of my own photo-snapping, I believe there are always risks involved in taking outdoor photos in isolated areas, and I think precautions should always be taken, whether it's to avoid injuries or sketchy run-ins with strangers. None of my tips are meant to scare you away from being adventurous in your photography, but here are some things to consider when you're out taking your own photos:

- Don't forget the essentials: Before you trek out to your next perfect photo spot, it's important to pack a bag of essentials that include a cell phone, water, sensible shoes, and a first aid kit. The cell phone's pretty obvious for any kind of emergency you might have, but the water and sensible shoes are to prevent dehydration and any walking injuries. Keep a first aid kit in your car for any minor scrapes you might get.

- Always let someone know where you're going: This is always a just-in-case issue, but it's something you should consider when you're going to an isolated environment, and it's as easy as telling a family member or friend before you head out the door.

- Keep the expensive stuff at home: I'd like to believe that we live in a safer, more trustworthy society, but unfortunately, being dressed up and taking photos in an isolated area can send off the wrong (re: vulnerable) messages to people who might come across you. It's best to keep any nice jewelry at home, and have your wallet hidden and locked in your car. I usually leave my purse at home, and carry around a beat-up messenger bag around when I'm out at a site.

- Check out the area first, perhaps with another person. If you're unsure about taking photos at a new place, it's best to check it out first before you start taking photos there. I usually go with my husband for a little walk in the area to get a feel for how busy the area gets and how easy it is to navigate the terrain. That way, when I go back to take my own photos, I have a better idea of what to expect.

- Stick close to trails and roads:  If you're unaware of a new environment, it's safe to stay near trails and roads, especially in woodsy areas. If you get injured, the last thing you need is to be lost. I usually take my photos in the woodsy areas of parks, but I try not to venture too far away from the trails.

Use your judgment: A lot of interesting photo spots (railroad tracks, abandoned homes, etc.) can often be close to crime-ridden areas. For example, Jeremiah and I took photos once near a dilapidated home that has since been razed; shortly after we were done taking photos, we realized the area was a haven for dumpster diving. Nothing bad happened, but it made us think twice about going near condemned areas and being disruptive with our photography. Consider doing research on those areas first to determine the risk and use your own judgment about going to those places.

 Outdoor photography can be challenging and a lot of fun, but there are always scenarios to consider when you're in isolated areas. Not every stranger whose path you cross will be dangerous, or even interested in what you're up to, and not every venture to a new photo spot will be cause for paranoia or alarm. But being prepared and keeping risks in mind can help minimize injuries or incidents.

What kinds of precautions do you keep in mind when you take outdoor photos? Is there anything I've missed that you consider? What kinds of risks would prevent you from going to a certain spot for photos? Or, what have been some photography risks that you have taken before?

[Self-Caught with Hello, Monkeyface!]
[6 perfect photo locations that are right in front of you]
[How to take outfit photos when you're uninspired]

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