“Laura, you don’t need a flag. You are a flag. You could use a baton though,” one of my coworkers says to me as I, in my flowy kaftan, lead my parade of eight through the busy intersections of Pioneer Square like a marching ringmaster. Or maybe a crossing guard jogging it out with high-knees? Either way, we are heading toward Pike Place Market and Seattle TheatreSports, an improv comedy show, because I want nothing more for my birthday than laughter with friends on all sides.


And then I see him.

There he is, crouched down on one knee about thirty feet ahead of us. He scoots back and forth on the sidewalk pivoting off one hand like a real-life Spiderman, though one who is wearing holes through a nice pair of jeans. He holds a camera and shoots up and down the street and landscape and sky at alternate angles. I can’t see what he’s photographing. What I do see is an opportunity. With his back to me, he’s unable to spot me rushing him like a cheetah hunting a laser-focused gazelle.

“Hold me back,” I say to my gaggle of friends.

One says to another, “As if she can be restrained.”

I gain speed in my three-inch high wedge sandals and pull away from the pack. Another says, “There she goes,” like they let loose a bouquet of colorful balloons into the cloudy Seattle sky.

My swirling kaftan gives me wings to fly. I surge and become a long-jumping ballerina. I am instantly IN the photo.

photobombed Greg Westhoff in Seattle

I squeal, “Photobombbbbb!” Take that, Spiderman in nice jeans!

Of course, one never knows how a photographer will receive such mischief. Nor do I ever know how I will respond to their response. This is one reason to photobomb—if alone—for the surprise factor.

My friends are generally used to my spontaneous desire to jump into any scene for the fun of it, photographed or otherwise.

And the times when my body can’t get there fast enough, at minimum, I attempt a “fingerbomb.” It is my positive spin on flipping the bird; it is a flick of happy.

I’ve even been told, “Laura, you just photobombed a flower.”


photobombing Leslie Leyland Fields

Mr. Nice Jeans photographer turns. His eyes are kind and his perfect teeth smile wide behind a lumberjack beard and a telephoto lens. I smile wider to match his. It is contagious. Then…


Click. Click, click.

He closes in on me and my face and shoots a series of, what I can only guess, are close-ups of a whale shark seining for plankton. Because I cannot shake this gummy grin.

Click, click, click. “What’s your story?” he asks me from behind his lens.

photobombed Todd

In the snap of a shutter, I learn his name is Greg Westhoff. In minutes, I discover he’s a director/editor/cinematographer and contributor to Instagram’s @ourneighbors.

“Awesome,” I tell him. “I need an author photo for my memoir.”

“What’s your book about?” he asks, as he clicks a few more rounds.


“It’s about my time working as the sole female and scientist on a fishing boat on the Bering Sea,” I say.

“I’m hooked already,” he says. “I know the life well. I’ve commercially fished in Alaska since I was fifteen years old.”

Serendipitous? What are the chances of such an encounter? This is why I talk to strangers. This is why I photobomb. You never know what spontaneous interactions will bring your way. Photobomb and you shall receive?

We both shuffle off together. He says, “You know, you didn’t really photobomb anyone.”

“Well, I photobombed your cityscape,” I replied.

“Nice friends, by the way,” he says. I look blocks ahead where my flock of friends has flown.


I joke, “Well, Greg, there’s another reason to photobomb, because you never know when you need a few substitute friends.”

We are both late to our plans but happy to have paused long enough to interact and laugh with a smiling stranger, both who surprisingly happened to have worked on fishing boats in Alaska.

In this technological age where reaching out to people is mostly, and literally, at your fingertips, don’t forget to look up, to interact with the many smiling faces in front of you. They might make your day or  at least make you smile, and you might form a new friendship or at least find a much needed photographer out of it.

Plus, photobombing is fun.

Love This Day.

By | 2017-12-11T15:49:47+00:00 June 19th, 2017|


  1. Cynthia Beach July 6, 2017 at 4:11 am

    loved this reminder. being free-spirited has its benefits: connections!

  2. Diane mcelwain June 22, 2017 at 5:21 am

    This is so you! You live life with such freedom and ease. Someone sent me photos of Patti and I at Harvester Island and yep, you were there!

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Hi Diane. I suppose it all stems from what makes us feel rewarded. For me, it’s playful banter and connecting with people. Some don’t enjoy that, but they have other talents I so appreciate. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Laura Peterson June 20, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    I liked your reminder to look up from our phones and computers so we can connect with the people around us. I would take a real-world friendship over a digital one any day!

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Exactly, Laura. I walked into a coffee shop and looked around. Each person sat staring into a computer or phone, at separate tables, and no one was interacting. The whole scene made me a little sad. Praise to human interaction!

  4. Heather MacLaren Johnson June 20, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Love this, Laura! You’re a hoot! So spontaneous, fun and full of adventure. Plus, you’re a really good writer!

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Heather, YOU, my friend are an explosion of personality. We will make an adventure out of this when I visit you. Dual photo-bombing Can’t wait.

  5. Barbara Meyer June 19, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Laura, I loved this story! Probably too shy to photobomb, though.

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Oh, Barbara. The shy are less suspect, so I challenge you to do a sneak attack on the sly. Do it! I appreciate you.

  6. John Henry Browne June 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    You are a HOOT thats for sure. I will have to try your trick!! By the way there is NO Rickie associated with me!! Not sure how that happened, that was years ago. Keep up your wonderful spirit!

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Thanks John. You probably meet enough people as it is, but I’m pretty sure you’ve got the photobombing spirit, too.

  7. leslie leyland fields June 19, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Haaaa!! What a great moment! But photobombing is something of a gift. Or, will you argue and say we simply need to practice and release our inner photobombing child?? Yes, probably that. (Fun!)

    • Laura Hartema June 23, 2017 at 7:45 am

      That’s a good question, Leslie. I’m sure it comes easier for some with a more mischievous or outgoing spirit. I challenge everyone to try it. Next? Cartwheels in the street.

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