However, the most frequent topic that I noticed, recently, is how worried people have become about their gear. I’ve seen ten or fifteen posts in the last week from (mostly) Americans who all wanted to know how to safeguard their equipment in such dangerous places as: Paris, Rome, and even (gasp…) Copenhagen! The thing that strikes me as funny is that each of these places has a much lower violent crime rate than just about any major city in the States, and each one is also a pedestrian city where, even in the unlikely event of a crime being perpetrated, you are surrounded by helpful people ready to jump in and help ensure social stability. The idea that your Canon Rebel needs to be locked in a hotel safe or secured to your neck with a special strap containing unbreakable wires (what a good way to be decapitated, should your camera get stuck in a train door…) is laughable. If you are dragging that much paranoia along on your vacation you may need to invest in other things. Therapy comes to mind…
Face it. People will see that you have a camera in your hands anyways. And unless you are doing your tourism in Sudan you’ll also notice, when you look around, that almost everyone else has a camera or a cell-phone with a camera, or a video camera. They’re everywhere. Believe me, people in the European Union also buy and use cameras.
Early this year I headed to the far South of Italy, for a few weeks of vacation and photography. I brought the only camera I own, a Leica M4-P with a 50mm Summicron, and I spent most of my time walking along shooting whatever caught my attention. Books on travel caution newbies to be constantly aware of their surroundings. Hyper-vigilant, if you will. I discarded all that advice: No one cared. Every once in a while an older gentleman would ask about the camera while younger people ignored it. And this is the way it has gone for me for decades. If someone doesn’t want to be photographed they’ll let you know. If you don’t push it they won’t either. If you are calm, relaxed and see other people as, well, simply other people, you’ll probably do just fine and, before you’ll even notice it, you’ll even start getting comfortable outside your comfort zone!