The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: I’m tired of having photos taken at every social function

Dear Miss Manners: I love candid photographs. I also appreciate posed, portrait-like photos. I believe the subjects of these photographs, whether candid or posed, should be given the opportunity to share the images — or not — at their sole, unquestioned discretion.

Apparently, however, my version of photography etiquette is not shared by many people.

Because of the plethora of cellphones with cameras, almost every social function is now plagued by celebrants insisting on group photos. Stop everything, huddle and freeze a smile while someone takes a wide-angle photo of you looking terrible that they can share with the world through social media.

I have made every polite effort to avoid being in these pictures. I quietly leave the room, I drop my napkin and duck below the table, or I step behind a taller person, which is difficult, because I am also tall.

These tactics often fail. I’m at my wits’ end, so I have recently resorted to honesty. I regret to tell you that even brutal candor is ineffective on relentless photo-takers insistent on ghastly pictures.

This concept may be difficult for our “selfie society” to grasp, but there are people who do not want to be in every photo. We do not enjoy seeing ourselves caught in a blink or a sneeze, frozen in a picture that is then posted online and seen by every person we have ever met — including old boyfriends and archrivals from high school.

Please tell these people that no means no for a photo, just as it does for a plate of anaphylactic-shock-inducing catfish.

The ubiquitous photographer is one of the great nuisances of our time. Being pressured to pose is indeed a violation of etiquette, even among friends and relatives. So is being photographed while unaware and having one’s likeness posted without permission.

For that matter, it is also tedious to feel obliged to admire countless photographs that one is sent or shown, whether the subject is of any interest.

No should mean no under any circumstances, trivial and serious. Miss Manners has always declared it rude to bully people into doing something they clearly don’t want to do, under the insulting presumption that they are just being coy.

Here is a new use for a mask: Turned sideways, it can be used to cover your identifying features.

Dear Miss Manners: Suppose I’m planning to serve wine to my dinner guests, but I know that some of them are nondrinkers. When I set the table, should each place be set exactly the same, with wineglasses? Or should I omit the wineglass and provide a water glass at some of the places? I generally have a pitcher of cold water available on the table.

You set each place with a water glass and a wineglass, and let your guests who want wine pour it for themselves. Miss Manners promises you that if you set each place for each person’s exact habits, some will change — either habits or places.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin