This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

How to take photos in historic places

I had the pleasure of visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California recently, and as I expected, there was a lot of photography.

I like to look at photos after a trip, but I am respectful of a public space like this. If you feel that you have been getting some dirty looks from people while you are framing up a photo in a public place, you probably have. It has to do with respect. If you would like to show it, here's how:

• Treat historic places differently from Disneyland, or your local bar. Lining up your grinning friends in front of the fragment of the Berlin Wall is not only disrespectful to the the idea of the monument itself, it's disrespectful to the people who came to see it who understand it. A place like this is not a "photo op", it is not a place where people are obligated to get out of your way just because you have a camera. If you want a photo of it, you can find it on the web. If you want a photo of it with the family, you have confused this monument with Goofy.

• Be discreet. If you must, take your camera out and take a picture. Walking back and forth in front of something, framing it up as if you were Steven Spielberg, just tells people what an idiot you are. You are lucky to be just be getting dirty looks. If I could, I would hire a linebacker to smack you into next week.

If you see me walk in front of you while you are taking a picture in an historic place, you may consider me rude. But you have thrown away any consideration the moment you started trying to turn this place into a "photo opportunity". If you were a professional photographer, you would have gotten permission to interrupt everyone else, and would have roped the area off. You are not a professional photographer, you are just someone who doesn't understand. I wish you would.

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