That's only one of the bad things that can happen when someone does something with a camera. Another is that all photos have me in them. I think I am probably in more family photos than anyone in the world. I don't mean my family photos. I mean other people's families.

I'm in them on purpose.

You see, while visiting the world's great treasures, I've gotten kind of surly about having to dodge between the cameras or abruptly come to a halt every three steps, as if I've walked into an invisible clothesline, to keep from being in the frame of somebody's picture. Nor do I like the whole ducking thing. So now I just keep walking.

I apologize in advance to you and your family photo album for my behavior. But let me just say that there are people who calculate how much of our time is spent waiting at red lights. I think it is something like 43 years of the average life span. Someone should do the same calculation regarding how much time we spend while on vacation waiting for people to take pictures. Assume, for the heck of it and because I like to use the word "assume" in math-oriented sentences, that the typical person takes roughly two weeks of vacation each year.

Divide the waiting-for-picture-taking time into two weeks and I think you'd find a high waiting-to-sightseeing ratio. Either that, or you'd find you have so little to do with your time that you might as well become a magazine columnist.

In the interest of full disclosure and making my word count, I must confess that there was a time in my travel life when I took pictures every chance I could. I enjoyed trying to capture the essence of a place on film and having it as a keepsake for the rest of my life. By "essence of a place," I mean exactly what you think I mean: The Colosseum in Rome with the sun slanting down just right and my 3-year-old son's face bigger than all Italy in the foreground. Or the majestic ruins of Tikal in Guate- mala, its timeless mystery evoked in a blur behind the smiling visage of my wife. You know. Art.