These days, I laugh in the face of adventure sports. Ask me to skydive, and I just go, “Pshaw! Call that scary?” I’ve been known to fall asleep while bungee jumping. Offer me a free ride in the space shuttle and I’ll reach for books titled “New Theories on the Dewey Decimal System,” because they’re more exciting.
This is because of a baptism of fire, having travelled with the most lethal, frightening group of people on Earth. No, not toddlers. Not nuclear-reactor technicians or special-forces soldiers or astronauts either.
I’m talking about photographers.
I’m talking about the real ones here, who froth at the mouth in their world of angles and frames, not your average IT person with a DSLR. The ones who take bad weather as a personal insult and reserve the right to complain that the world was not designed for the particular shot that they wanted to take at the moment, and could we just shift the Eiffel Tower three feet to the left, please?
If you aren’t sure how to identify a real photographer, there’s a simple test. Hand one a ticking time bomb. A fake will run away, a real one will say, “Could you hold it up like that? Yup, just like that, and hold it there. The sun will light up the explosion so well! Thanks! And can you do it two or three times, so I can capture it?”
So what makes me wary of this species? Simple: it’s the fact that unless taking that shot is lethal to you or them or at least blatantly illegal, it isn’t worth taking. Take the case of the photographer who is now on the watch-list in California for flying a drone over Union Square in San Francisco. Three times. After being warned by the police. Or, a photographer for this very magazine who managed to electrocute herself. While taking a photo of a cow. Through an electric fence.
Not convinced? Try this. In snowy Shimla, I was reviewing a BMW SUV, and the photographer, Dhaval, asked me to slide towards him, so he could get a shot of the snow being kicked up.
“You want me to slide towards you. On snow.”
“Snow on which I have no grip.”
“Towards the cliff.”
“And where will you be?”
“Between you and the cliff.”
Later the same day, Dhaval, upset with how his lovely, pristine snow had been turned a coffee brown, spotted a virginal patch and asked me if I could reverse onto it. That virginal patch was a roof. Now do you see why I believe photographers are a threat to humanity?
Actually, I don’t believe they’re human at all. I think they’re an ancient, secret and rather inefficient doomsday cult, dedicated to the extinction of the human race, one human at a time. How else do you explain the photographer who tried to get me eaten by crocodiles because he wanted to get the best GoPro shots ever? Don’t ask me for details, but I still scream a little every time I see a pineapple (Yes, of course pineapples were involved. Because, photographers).
Do you know why the world is so messed up? It’s because when god said, “Let there be light,” he was immediately interrupted by a clicking noise and a whiny “Tsk! Could you turn that off? You’re ruining my exposure.” And that little voice inside you that says, “Hey, jump over that cliff! Let’s see what it feels like!”—that’s your genetic conditioning by these malevolent beings.
To be fair, they’re willing to put themselves through whatever they’re willing to put you through as well. “Can I run alongside this train as it goes at a 30-degree angle up Mount Washington? No? Why not?” However, they will also get annoyed at you because they over-turned the canoe and now the camera is in the water.
“Help! I can’t swim!”
“Thank god I got the SD card! What were you saying?”
And that, my doomed friends, is why I think adventure sports are for wimps. You can keep your stunt planes and cave-diving. If you want real fear and thrills, and want to hear your grandchildren squeal, “Oh please, please, tell us again how you lost three limbs while hanging upside down from a man-eating skunk,” just befriend a photographer.
(This column is dedicated to the brave men and women who have tried to kill me so many times, especially Dhaval Dhairyawan. You haven’t got me yet.)