Let's face it, photographers can be really annoying people. While some of their actions are just mildly tiresome, other things they do are downright harmful to our profession. Are you guilty of any of these wrongdoings?
Having worked for over a decade in the industry, I have crossed paths with many a photographer in my time. I started my career shooting in-house for a large commercial studio and then moved into the world of freelance. During my many incarnations, I have worked alongside a lot of different photographers, and not all those encounters have been positive. They say the world is a small place, and I find the photography industry to be even smaller. It's for this reason that negative experiences surrounding photographers travel like wildfire ,and the reputation of our profession seems to erode away with every bad story, anecdote, or piece of gossip that comes out. Even when a photographer's actions are more annoying than serious, I still regularly find myself rolling my eyes at how some of us "professionals" act.
In no particular order, here are eight annoying things that photographers do that I believe are harming the industry.
1. By Being Creepy
First on this list of photographer no-nos is the most serious of them all. Being that creepy photographer who ogles the models on a shoot is totally inexcusable. Ask any model who has been working in this industry for some time, and they all will have a story of a photographer who has made them feel uncomfortable. It's the complete opposite of what we should be doing on a shoot, and the negative environment such behavior creates will show in the pictures you make and destroy your reputation forever. People talk and stories stick. If you're serious about having a long career in this industry, then don't be a creep, period.
2. Forgetting Manners
I've seen first hand how people turn into Dr. Jekyll the second they get behind their camera, and it's not pretty. I shouldn't have to say this, but don't forget your manners while on a shoot. It's somewhat of a cliche, but you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and this is just as true when shooting. I like to think I'm an easy-going, polite, and considerate photographer, and this approach has definitely contributed to the repeat work and long-working relationships I have built up over the years.
3. Name-Dropping Too Much
There's nothing wrong with being excited to have worked with certain clients, creatives, or talent, but name-dropping too much can be a real turn-off for people on a shoot. There's a fine line between being proud and boasting, and you need to tread that line carefully. Like many of the points in this list, creating the best possible working environment will always get you the most favorable results in front of and behind the camera.
4. Not Giving Credit on Social Media
Nothing annoys me more than when photographers don't give credit to all the people that helped to make the picture in question possible. It may only be a small detail, but things like this don't go unnoticed, and it could be harming your working relationships. I recently talked to a photographer who was complaining that they were never tagged in pictures by the clients and creatives they worked with. I later found out that this photographer never bothered to credit people either!
5. Breaking Promises
If a photographer agrees to do something for a person or client, then they should do it. I have lost count of the number of clients I have spoken to that have had unreliable photographers bail on them or not deliver what they promised. This behavior really harms the industry, and it can be hard to rebuild that trust clients have in some photographers. If you really need to break a promise, you must offer an alternative solution in the form of a different photographer recommendation or be able to commit to another date to shoot. We are hired as professionals to solve problems, not cause them.
6. Obsessing Over Gear
While it's ok to get excited about the latest camera body released, it's best to not get too obsessed about gear in front of all the non-photographers you work with. Showing enthusiasm and technical know-how can be reassuring to clients, but it can also be a real bore too. Most people won't understand or care about half the features your new camera has, so best to keep those stats for when you can nerd out with your fellow photographers.
7. Rejecting Any Kind of Criticism or Suggestions
A person who refuses to accept any kind of feedback will create a closed and awkward environment for others to work in. Your team must feel like they are free to add their own thoughts to your shoots without fear of the ideas falling on deaf ears. I have personally been on the receiving end of creatives who refuse criticism or suggestions, and the end result is that I eventually stopped offering my ideas to them. The creative process is always richer when you have more than one perspective on things. Nurture and welcome that input rather than building a wall around yourself.
8. Telling Lies
Lies will catch up with you sooner rather than later, and most people would rather not work with a liar. As I have already said, the photography industry is a small place, and everyone talks to each other. Thanks to the Internet, untruths have become much easier to spot too. I know of a photographer who claimed a shoot was done in China and boasted about it all over social media. Problem was the rest of the team on the shoot didn't get the memo and disclosed the not-so-exotic location in their own social media posts. While many may think this kind of lie is harmless, it didn't do the photographer in question any favors, and jokes are still made about the event today. When someone is labeled as a liar, it's hard for people to know what is fact and what is fiction anymore. This obviously isn't a great foundation to build a career upon.
Over to You
So there you have it, the many different ways I have personally found photographers to be annoying and damaging to the industry. While I don't claim to have been holier-than-thou during my career, I have always acted professionally and courteously when working and treated people how I would want to be treated myself. I wouldn't go as far as to say the term "photographer" is a dirty word yet, but its general trajectory seems to be going in the wrong direction. Photographers are definitely not held in the same regard as they used to be now that everyone is a photographer with a camera in their pocket. Unfortunately, this dilution makes it too easy for the world to generalize and to tar us all with the same brush. If you're serious about having a long career in this industry, then you can't be that annoying, unreliable, or creepy photographer. I guarantee that the phone will stop ringing much sooner than you think if you do act in these ways.
This topic is bound to ruffle some feathers and we'd love to hear your thoughts on both sides of this argument. What annoys you about photographers today? Are any of these points defensible? Please leave your comments below.
Lead image by Min An via Pexels used under Creative Commons.