Photographer Etiquette

I’ve been taking photos at various locations and events for a good few years now, and over that time have met quite a lot of friendly, interested people who stop and have chat about what I’m doing and my equipment. However there are always exceptions with some people becoming the most annoying and frustrating thing at that one time, making your job as a photographer a nightmare and if you’ve ever taken photos yourself, you’ve probably experienced most, if not all of these.

So, to stop you becoming one of these people, or to find out if you are one, you can follow these 6 handy hints of what not to do when you spot a photographer;

1. Keep out of my line of view

Picture the scene; I’m taking a photo of a lovely car from various angles to get the shots I want, and then bumbling along comes a group of people, completely and utterly oblivious to my presence, and stand in front of me, or in my line of view.

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Now, what you have done is probably ruin at least one shot that I was taking, and made me stop and wait until you decide to move – or until you actually realise I’m there. Normally, the person or group of people in question simply stand there talking or deciding what to do with themselves before moving – all of which they could have done behind me, or to the side – just not in front of me.

2. Get your shoddy camera phones out of my face

Slightly related to number one, and equally as frustrating, are people who also want to take a photo of the lovely red car, and so run up to it as quickly as possible, camera phones at the ready, snapping their grainy, under exposed, pixelated mess which they call a photo.

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By all means, take a photo of the car, but why in front of me, blocking my shot of the car and making yourself become an annoyance. I have at times thought the reason was that these people were trying to imitate the shot that I was trying to take as they probably thought ‘Oh! He’s taking a photo from here, so I will too’ – but why those people can’t wait till I’m done is beyond me, or take it from the side, out of my way.

3. Yes. It’s a camera. Deal with it.

A funny bunch of people this time; the ones who stop and stare at you as if you’re holding the crown jewels. These people will stand, again normally in shot (so they can see the camera from the front) and gawk at it for a good few minutes – and they don’t even have to be in between me and the subject, but behind the subject looking over – I’ve given up counting the amount of photos I have of (for example) a lovely red car, with someone’s head peering over the top staring at me.

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4. Move away from the tripod

From Wikipedia; “a tripod is used to stabilize and elevate a camera”. So, in layman’s terms, if I’m using a tripod, I need the camera to be completely still, meaning that I don’t want you, or you kid, to come over and start knocking into it or kicking your foot into it. It’s not that difficult to walk around, or stand just 1ft further away.

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5. I’ll be happy to take a photo of you with your camera – as soon as I’m finished

This happened just the other day to my friend while we were out shooting; we were there, happily taking photos of a subject, when a random guy shoved his camera phone into my friend’s face (putting an abrupt halt to his photo taking) wanting a photo of the subject with himself in it.

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I know the vast majority of people realise we know how to use a camera, and for the most part appreciate that and are happy to take a photo of you – once we’re done. Stopping us from getting our shots, just so you can have a poor quality camera phone photo to upload to facebook is not very fair. Wait till we have a moment to ask, or, ask someone else.

6. If you stand too close, expect to get whacked

You can take this from a couple of angles; firstly I most likely have a camera bag and so will need a tad more space to turn (or access the contents of said bag) if I need too, but in some situations this can’t be helped if there are a few hundred people all trying to see the same thing.

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However the second is the most annoying. Quite often you’ll find photographers kneeling down taking a shot, this is no invitation for you to then come over and stand directly over me (sometimes leaning forward directly over me) to get a similar shot as to what I’m taking (all be it, higher up). Chances are, because you’re behind me, I haven’t seen you and have no idea you’re there – so, when I stand up to move, you can expect me to hit you with my back and/or head. This not only hurts my head and gets me irritated; it probably gets you irritated too. So, to prevent this mess from occurring in the first place; don’t stand over me!

So there you go, the list of don’ts if you see a photographer. I’ve probably missed something out, if so tell me in the comments below, or if you’ve had some first hand experience with some of these annoyances!