How Not to Ask a Stranger to Take Your Photo

Byron Bay contains the most easterly point in mainland Australia. Like any good point of interest, there is a sign legitimizing it.

Cape Byron Australia
Exhibit A

If you want a picture of yourself with the sign, you either have to wait in line or sneak in like a ninja when the other people are examining the photos they just took.

The sign is on Cape Byron, where you can find the famous white lighthouse. It’s accessible by car (but be warned there is a fee for parking) or you can walk up there. From the Beach Hotel to the lighthouse it’s about 3km, and there are good walking tracks the whole way. It’s also a spectacular early morning run if you are that way inclined.

Byron Bay trails
Not gonna lie, it’s steep towards the end.

I followed the 1km track from Wategos Beach (where there is free parking), camera in hand, determined to get an unencumbered shot of the sign while Jared stayed back to surf. The sky was ominous, as it had been for most of our week in Byron.

Wategos Beach Byron
Wategos Beach

On the way up, I heard a rustle in the bush. Whenever I hear a rustle, I hope it is a cat but fear it is a goanna. Usually it is a bush turkey. But this time, it WAS a cat, a Siamese that had roamed from one of the nearby houses. I wasted precious rain-free minutes attempting to coax the cat toward me and taking useless pictures of it, prompting an entire family of tourists to pause and do the same.

Siamese cat

Eventually I tore myself away and got to the top, where I had a clear view of the storm on the horizon. “I better get out of here,” I thought, not wanting to get my camera wet.

Rainclouds over the Pacific
This…does not bode well.

Then I saw a lycra-clad mom jog across to the eastern-facing railing, calling to her son to follow.

“Look, Lachlan, whales!”

She was pointing at a grey figure impossibly close to the land, and I was scornful. Obviously these were dolphins and this lady was mistaken.

Two giant puffs proved me wrong, and I sprinted to the edge, transfixed. I soon saw that there were whales everywhere, traveling in small pods to northern waters. When the first fat drops of rain started to fall I barely noticed, until they resulted in smears on my lens.

Byron Bay lighthouse
The lighthouse, circa 1901.

I jogged down the stairs to the Most Easterly Point, where I was tapped by an older couple to take their photo. The lighting wasn’t great, but they seemed satisfied with the result, and I realized that this was my moment.

“Do you mind taking my photo too?” I asked.

The woman obliged, asking if I wanted a full body shot or just upper.

“Just the top half is fine, thanks,” I said.

She fumbled with the camera for several awkward seconds, and we discovered that I had handed it to her in the ‘off’ setting. I flipped the switch on, embarrassed, and she snapped a photo.

“Look at it to make sure,” she said.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” I said, confident.

The photo was of me – just me, no sign. I literally could have been anywhere in the whole coastal world, looking like I just rolled out of bed. It was uncomfortable for both of us when I asked her to take another one, ‘this time with the sign.’

Lauren at Byron
Important lesson: when asking someone to take your photo, always specify what you want in it.

The rain was falling harder now, accentuated by the occasional boom of thunder. People were rushing for cover, and the woman’s husband was visibly annoyed under his thin plastic poncho. She took the photo and leaned over my shoulder to see the result. It was so dark you could barely tell there was a person there.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I must have had it on the wrong setting. Don’t worry about it!”

“NO! We WILL get the picture,” the woman insisted. “Try again.”

I adjusted the setting and she took another photo. I had now occupied at least five minutes of their time, in the rain, a kilometer away from the nearest shelter.

Most easterly point
The worst part is I’m never going to use this pic for anything bc I look terrible in it.

“Perfect,” I cried. “Thank you so much!”

I ran back to Wategos, shielding my camera under my jumper, and climbed into the car just as Jared was coming in from the surf.

I think I’ll stick to selfies from now on.

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