We all love taking a selfie now and then. It’s a fun way to share special moments and to create personal keepsakes from our travels. But it’s not always such a smart idea to take a selfie of everything that catches our eye – no matter how amazing or photogenic the scene.

Here’s a look at some situations and locations when you’ll have to allow your own imagination or a postcard to provide the memories because a selfie would just be too rude or dangerous.

When You Need to Watch Your Step

The Grand Canyon, Hawaii’s giant waterfalls, and the viewing platform at the top of the Empire State Building in New York may provide perfect panoramas for selfies, but always play it safe and ask yourself is backing up another inch to frame your shot really worth the risk? The same goes anytime you’re in a precarious setting where watching your footing is important and even a simple slip can lead to big trouble.

When You Have to Break the Law or Trespass for Your Shot

You may have just scored flight deals to a new and exciting place that has a whole new culture and etiquette. But wherever you end up visiting, and even if you don’t speak the language, it won’t be too hard to understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. If the sign says “do not enter” or “keep off the grass” that applies to all the time, even when you only want to bend the rules for a quick click of your phone’s camera. Don’t damage other people’s property or end up getting fined or arrested for your selfie!

When You’re in a Solemn or Sacred Place

You know the sorts of places, we’re talking about: Holocaust and war memorials, church services, funerals. Be polite and considerate and know when and how to honor what’s being commemorated.

When Other People Who Might End up in the Shot Don’t Want to Be Photographed

Will other people unwittingly be the subjects of your shot who might not want to be or have explicitly expressed they don’t want their picture taken? No means no — and following the Golden Rule means as much when it comes to selfies as in all other circumstances.

When You’re Around Wild Animals

Just because you want to pose with that amazingly beautiful animal you’ve just encountered doesn’t mean that the critter does. Always pay special attention and give plenty of room and respect to any animal you’re not familiar with – especially when they’re wild and you’re in their habitat. If you’re with a guide on safari in South Africa, diving in Thailand, or taking a hike in the Rockies in Colorado, ask when it’s okay before taking any photos. If you’re alone, use your best judgment, thinking things through and being extra careful before shooting. Otherwise, you may wind up ruining the moment by causing the animal to flee, hurting yourself or others, or distressing the poor creatures.

When You’re in the Way

Are you holding up a line, stopping traffic, or interfering with the natural flow of events? As with all the situations listed in this post, use your common sense and courtesy when you feel the urge to take a selfie so you don’t interfere with everyone else’s good time.

What are your rules for when somebody should or shouldn’t snap a selfie? Tell us in the comments.

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About The Author

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.