My Photography Skills Have Taken An Embarrassing Turn

Is dying of shame an actual thing?

Time To Read: 3 mins | June 10, 2017

I don’t like drinking through straws. I could rant on this subject for several weeks (and will if you ask me about it over cocktails), but the SparkNotes version is that John Wayne, Harry Stamper, and James Bond would never use one, so neither will I. Also, they look like tiny penises.

Regardless of your opinion on this matter, you need to know that those little straws that come in your vodka soda are not for drinking through. My personal preference has nothing to do with this; the mixing straw is for just that. Stir your beverage, knock the ice around a bit, then ignore it. Or better yet, take it out of the drink all together.

Now, as I’ve complained at length and will continue to complain at length, Ramadan in Morocco means no alcohol. This means I’m drinking all sorts of other beverages I usually pass on, things like orange juice and fancy coffees.


Why not, really, considering I suddenly have several hundred calories to spare daily.

I ordered both of those drinks simultaneously on a rooftop terrace in Marrakech. It was a lovely day, meaning only 310 degrees outside, and the view over the main square looked like a beautiful cheap postcard. So, I thought, why not take a picture?

The first step was removing the straw from both drinks. Obviously.

Then I pulled out my proper camera. It’s an old Pentax, an entry level DSLR from an eon ago that gets the job done without any bells or whistles. A bit like Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux in the ‘90s: nothing fancy, but solid and consistent. It’s the one I use for every cover photo on DF.

Now I generally don’t like taking pictures of my meal, at least not without good reason. It’s too common these days to see people standing on their chairs in restaurants so they can get a perfect top-down angle of an utterly bland plate of chicken and rice, because hashtag foodie. So as with many other habits of normal people, I unnecessarily overcompensate in the other direction and abstain (nearly) entirely.

But in order to frame this shot with the city square in the background, I needed the camera to be at table-level. Which would be no big deal if I were using a phone, or had a camera with a digital display preview — but Maddux requires you to physically look through the viewfinder.


That meant I’d have to get my head down to table-level, and that meant looking exactly like the people I enjoy feeling superior to.

I tried to circumvent this necessity by shooting from the hip – literally just pointing and guessing and pulling the trigger. Someone more skilled than I may have been able to pull this off, but my attempts at casual blind photography came out about as sharp as those vintage black and white photos of Bigfoot, only blurrier.

So I sucked it up, swallowed my pride, and bent over (“That’s what she said” times three). And just as I realized that the photo I thought possible wouldn’t actually work, my waiter walked up and did a polite little cough. Even though his English was shaky at best, he still managed to put the perfect judgmental inflection into, “I can come back…”

No need. I’ll be dead of shame by then.


photo: nope, not an antique store. metalsmith’s storefront in marrakech, morocco

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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