If you are a photographer in any capacity, chances are you deal with the same repetitive questions and comments from non-photographers when your photography comes up in discussions. It gets old, and despite it usually being well-meaning, I wish people would stop asking these five things.
Anytime the classic "what do you do for work?" question comes from non-photographers, I brace myself for a handful of all too common questions and comments when I tell them I'm a photographer. Even if you do photography as primarily a hobby, you likely have had some of these as well. I know that it is whiny and nitpicky, but quite frankly I wish these questions could just mostly go away.
Do You Shoot Weddings?
This is almost always the first question I get from people when I tell them I am a photographer. Instead of taking the time to find out what type of work I actually do, they jump right into this. It is apparently big news to some non-photographers, but there are genres and careers of photography out there that do not involve shooting weddings. Not every photographer has the desire to photograph weddings and, quite frankly, the wedding photography market is saturated enough in most locations.
Have You Tried [Fill in the Blank] Photography?
One of the other things that I get almost every time these types of conversations happen (and one that gets under my skin the most), is the non-photographer trying to give me career advice. They like to recommend types of sessions that they think would be popular, even with no insight into the market in my location, what I may enjoy doing, or what my skill set is. Since living in Hawai'i, I seem to get this question even more and it got old extremely quick. I get that these people are well-meaning and just trying to help. But, you don't talk to a divorce lawyer and ask them if they have tried copyright law or ask a middle school science teacher if they have thought about teaching high school English. And yet, photographers are frequently asked if they have tried any number of genres outside their field of expertise or enjoyment.
You Must Love Living There Since It’s Such a Pretty Spot for Photos!
This one once again comes down to perhaps not understanding that there are different genres of photography and that I may be interested in something other than the few genres they know. I live in Hawai'i currently and have also lived in Colorado, and in both locations when I tell people I am a photographer they make some variation of the comment about how it is such a great spot for a photographer to live since it is so beautiful. Sure, I enjoy taking some casual landscape photographs every now and then, but I would not at all consider myself a landscape photographer. My primary work, and the work I enjoy most, is not landscape photography and isn't even dependent on pretty locations. Yes, living in a beautiful location is cool, but it isn't more suitable for me just because I am a photographer.
Since You’re a Photographer, I Won’t Bother Taking Any Photos
This one happens in a more limited capacity, as it is usually just in the context of vacations or special trips, but it still happens way too often. Once again, at the core, this comment comes down to an individual not taking the time to consider what type of photography you may actually do or enjoy. While yes, I do take images on trips, I am not there to document things for others and will not be taking loads of professional images of the rest of my group having fun on vacation. You are welcome to hand me your phone for the occasional snapshot, but don't expect too much more than that.
In the same vein, it is all too common to have group shots happen and be told that I should take the photograph because I'm a photographer. Taking a spontaneous group shot with a cellphone is absolutely not the same thing as me posing a group and taking an image with my camera, but this seems to be misunderstood. While the composition could be marginally better than if a non-photographer was to take it, I am not going to be treating a moment like that as a professional shoot and thus, the results will not be anything special. I'm happy to do it (within reason), but let's keep expectations realistic.
What Camera Do You Have? It Takes Such Good Photos!
To a certain extent, gear matters. But, there is also a lot of skill and creativity that goes into taking strong photographs. So, when people quickly ask this question after seeing a few of my images (or even before seeing my photos), it rubs me the wrong way. I have spent a lot of time, money, and effort getting to where I am today, and having that work distilled down to just having a nice camera can be frustrating.
What are some common and annoying questions that you get from the non-photographers in your life? Rant away in the comments!