The Accidental Photobomber


Photobombed by Ben

Photobombed by Ben

I’m standing in front of Big Ben. The clock in London, not the football player in Pittsburgh. My sister Julia is taking pictures of Ben and I am standing in a flock of tourists who are all taking pictures.

I am not one of them, having relegated all of the photographic duties to my sister. The camera and I have never, ever gotten along. I am as photogenic as a “before” picture, never having understood what to do when a camera is pointed at me. I smile too much or too self-consciously, don’t know what to do with my hands, and always end up looking as though I am either constipated or on angel dust.

Moreover, I am the single worst photographer in the history of shutter and exposure. I am never able to capture the scene I want. My pictures always turn out to look like postmodernist interpretations of random body parts or a sideways road view of an accidental pocket shot. Architecture is my active foe.

Despite all of this, I have somehow always had a talent for accidentally ending up in strangers’ pictures. I am the accidental photobomber. And I am magnificent. I surely grace dozens, hundreds of strangers’ photos in the background scratching my crotch, picking my nose, doing the post-bite of pizza mouth cool down, or laughing like a hyena. Complete strangers have given me Polaroid snaps that I have unwittingly ruined by somehow becoming its central focal point.

Accidental photobombing is my weird talent.

In fact, while checking my watch against Ben, I notice that I am standing directly in front of a woman who has a phone in her outstretched hand, obviously snapping a picture. A picture that will no doubt include me if I don’t move. I do the embarrassed “I’m in your picture” shuffle that I have done 20,000 times – hands up, apologetic smile/wince, dance out of her line of sight.

She looks from the screen up at me and gives me a look which mixes confusion and irritation. Then she brushes her hair back a little, puckers her lips, makes a sexy face, and looks back into her screen.

Julia grabs me and she aims the camera at our faces. Big Ben is in the background.

Aha.

It dawns on me.

They’re taking selfies.

I look back at the mob of tourists snapping pics. They are all holding out their phones pointing them back at themselves. They make cute faces in front of Ben, they bunch in twos and even threes in the bottom foreground of Ben. Some capture the broader moment by holding out selfie sticks.

My weird talent has been rendered obsolete by photographic trends. I mosey in a straight line in front of those holding out phones. None of them notices me. I can no longer ruin photos. Wow.

Admittedly, I am a little upset. Weird and aggravating though it is, my accidental photobombing talent has always been a  unique part of me. Something that has added spice to otherwise quiet moments. And now it’s gone.

Just as I sigh in mild sadness, a grunt of irritation comes from behind me. I turn to see another group of photographers, but these have their backs to me. They are holding out phones and snapping selfies of them and the Thames or the other skyline. Two them turn and frown at me. I am photobombing them from behind.

My talent has adapted to trends. The accidental photobomber is back!

My nose is itchy and I have the sudden urge to eat pizza.

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