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What is a Photobomber?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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A photobomber is a person, or occasionally an object, that ruins what would otherwise be a nice picture. Anyone who has ever attempted to take a group photo probably has many stories to tell of the youthful photobomber who chose the particular moment a photo was taken to pick his or her nose or make an incredibly ugly face. Kids are often the worst photobombers in this respect, since many of them can’t resist giving another child a pair of bunny ears.

More recently though, the term photobomber has come to mean people who are strangers to the person in a photograph, that decide to spice up the photograph by any odd number of actions. In major areas of tourism, a person may decide to ruin your photo by creating strange faces (or something worse like a bit of public nakedness). This may be referred to as photo terrorism, though the term terrorism is too strong for such behavior.

It may be a point of pride by locals in heavily touristy areas to attempt to wreck visitor’s pictures. Of course the behavior is not that common, though it seems to occur with greater frequency. This is perhaps assisted by several websites, which now prominently feature the work of photobombers.

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Sometimes the photobomber isn’t intentionally attempting to ruin a photo. He or she just walks by at the wrong time and spoils the mood or intent of the picture. Occasionally objects behind people being photographed can ruin your photo too. Beware posing in front of an unflushed toilet, or a sign that says something that might wreck the essence of a picture.

It’s well to discourage the young from intentionally becoming photobombers, but they also may not be quite able to control it. More mischievous older kids may be handled fairly easily. Have them pose for a silly pose on purpose so that they get to do whatever they want that is decent and not harmful, and can thus get the urge to photobomb out of their systems.

Fortunately, the wonders of programs like Photoshop® can pretty much eliminate photobomber attempts in the background of your picture. Providing the photobomber doesn’t cross in front of you, you can simply cut bizarre goings on behind the people your picture should feature. On the other hand, some unintentional photobombs are so funny they deserve a bit of celebration. They may make photos and the people in them, more memorable and give you a chuckle each time you view them.

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