You've probably seen news articles where someone's garden gnome goes missing only to return a couple of weeks later along with snap shots of where it's been. It's a popular enough thing that some people will actually mail their own garden gnomes to distant friends and relatives just to get vacation photos. Well, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your garden gnome travel photos, particularly if the gnome is not your own.
First of all, make sure that you travel to a place that it gnome-friendly. For example, some gnome materials may not survive the temperature extremes found in the arctic. Similarly you will want to avoid areas where gnomes are considered "idolatry". In those cultures, the locals may smash the gnome and behead you.
Some places have less obvious hostilities. The Gnome Liberation Army is very active in France and Belgium. They will "liberate" your gnome and then you will have to explain why you came back without him. This can be particularly embarrassing if you are not the actual owner of the gnome and were planning to return him with no questions asked. Iceland is another country where there may be issues due to the widespread belief in elves and other nature spirits. Those spirits may not appreciate your sense of humor.
You should keep the gnome in the same bag where you keep your cameras. This not only allows you to set up your photos quickly, it lets you take the gnome as carry-on luggage. Make sure that the airport security people can look inside the gnome without destroying it. For bonus points, take a picture of the inspection and label it "body cavity search". Just be respectful and informative with the security people or you may have to go through a body cavity search of your own.
Leave room in your camera bag for stunt doubles. Before you go on your trip, craft some plush versions of the gnome to be used for risky behavior. For example, you probably don't want to toss the real gnome to a pack of hyenas but you could easily hide some meat in a cloth version of the gnome and get some wonderful photographs. For other ideas, consider gnome interaction with things like lava, engines, unassisted flight, or prostitutes in Amsterdam. (Imagine someone's precious gnome lying on the ground in an alley behind a bar with bottles all around.)
An added feature of the stunt doubles is that they are flexible. Most garden gnomes are ceramic or polymer resin. This keeps them from moving around very much. A cloth version can have free flailing arms, feet, and other appendages. What's more, cloth is easier to stab or set on fire.
Since you need several of the stunt doubles, why not dress them differently. Few cast gnomes are in beach attire or black tie. Fewer gnomes still are ever caught dressed all in leather with the backside left open. The different costumes allow more realism in your vacation photos and add depth of character to the gnome. This is especially important if you "borrowed" someone else's gnome for the trip.
Remember the airport security mentioned earlier? They will want to look inside your cloth gnomes too. Help them, and you, by sealing the cloth gnomes with something like Velcro that is easy to open and reclose. Just be sure to inspect your cloth gnomes before you go to the airport to make sure no one else slipped something into one of the gnomes. If you attach the appendages with Velcro, it will be easier to reattach them after accidents.
You may wonder why someone would go through all this effort when with software, such as Photoshop or Gimp, one can create photos of the gnome in all sorts of positions. A person skilled with these programs can do a wonderful job of creating fake photos, but doing so is time taken away from your own vacation. Wouldn't you rather just snap the occasional picture while relaxing on the beach?
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't take advantage of photo editing software. The body cavity search at the airport makes a much more interesting picture if the gnome's eyes are bugged out a bit. Nothing shows jet lag better than bags under the eyes. Occasionally, your stunt doubles may look a little fake, so you'll need to blend in a little of the real gnome. Proper use of photo editing software really makes a difference in the believability of your trip.
The final product of your photo journalism should be tailored to the target audience. If it is just something you did to amuse yourself, you can do anything you want. If, however, it was done for the benefit of your nieces and nephews, try to make a kid-friendly display, possibly a story book. If you "borrowed" someone's gnome, just print out the photos and leave them in a tiny photo album when you put the gnome back. Try not to kill the little old lady who owns the gnome; she doesn't need to see what the gnome did in the brothel.
You will really enjoy your gnome vacation photos if you plan ahead and try to enjoy the fun aspects. Just be sure to follow local laws, and always put (your) safety ahead of amusement. As always, be respectful of the gnomes.
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