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Editor at Large

The science of photo-crashing

- Last modified: September 26, 2013 at 4:44 PM

It occurs at parties. At family gatherings. At sporting events.

Actually, it occurs anywhere you have people and cameras -- and most everyone has a camera these days, thanks to smartphones.

It's called photo-bombing -- or, as my family has called it for five years, photo-crashing. It's when someone who is not supposed to be pictured in a photo (or video) intentionally jumps into the camera's field of view just before the photo is taken.

It's a cultural fad, with anecdotal evidence of photo-crashing seen in the social media or on websites almost every day.

Generally, photo-crashing is good-natured and fun, especially among friends and family. And remember, photo-crashing no longer wastes expensive film. All the photographer has to do is delete the photograph and take a new one.

However, a bit of caution when photo-crashing strangers: Keep things light. Apologize if they get upset. And know when to back off.

Meanwhile, for those who have never photo-crashed, it is a blast. It naturally induces great facial expressions and cheeky grins on the part of the perpetrator. And it results in funny photos that more often than not a photographer will want to save.

So, if you want to photo-crash, here are some tips:

-- The farther back you are from the camera, the funnier the photo -- assuming that you will be noticed in the photo and that you are looking and smiling (or waving) into the camera.

-- Props are good. Example: Biting into a slice of pizza with mouth agape, eyes wide open and, of course, looking into the camera.

-- Generally, simply a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile is all you need to accompany the look into the camera. But, for variety, you can make a funny face or expression.

-- Once is enough for a particular photo attempt or photographer. After successfully -- or unsuccessfully -- photo-crashing, walk away and do not ruin the photographer's next attempt for that particular photo. In fact, it's best not to photo-crash that specific photographer any more that day. However, it is OK to photo-crash other photographers at the same event.

-- If you're a novice, begin photo-crashing among friends and family. Try it with strangers only after you've become accomplished at it.

Because, as we warned earlier, you need to be a bit careful. Photo-crashing can be dangerous to your health, particularly if there are strangers and alcohol involved.

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