Photographers Share Their Biggest Industry Pet Peeves

Photographers Share Their Biggest Industry Pet Peeves

You can't work in the photography industry for any length of time without developing a few pet peeves; it's only natural. Surround yourself with anything for 8-12 hours per day, and a few things are bound to get on your nerves. So, what is it that drives photographers up the wall? A lot, it seems. A few brave photographers and other industry professionals shared what makes them crazy. Is your personal pet peeve on this list?

Pet peeves are interesting things. They have an almost innate humor to them when viewed from the outside (who doesn't get a kick out of watching someone else squirm), but they also give little clues about the person who struggles with them. One of my personal pet peeves is when people ask me, "What were your settings?" when they see my photograph, as if, somehow, just replicating those numbers will help them take the same photo. That pet peeve gives a bit of a clue about me as a photographer: I share images with other people, and I teach. It's a question I get a lot, and one that grinds my gears after a while. It's not the only thing that makes my eye twitch, though.

When I asked photographers for their number one industry pet peeves, I got answers that ran the gamut from style and editing to client interaction and pricing. What I found interesting about the responses on the whole, was that very few of them were trite or humorous; most had to do with things they thought degraded the integrity or value of the industry.

With so many genres and specialties, it's guaranteed that there is a fount of material out there just ripe to make photographers' teeth grind. This is what industry professionals had to say...

On Pricing:

  • "I hate when potential clients are looking for a photographer 'that doesn't cost an arm or leg,' but what's worse is when a photographer advertises themselves saying they 'don't charge an arm or a leg' in such a way to imply that other photographers are ripping people off. Charge what you're going to charge, but don't advertise by implying that others in the industry are bad or wrong." Trina Heppner
  • "I hate when people under price themselves, especially when they are good! I want to smack them and yell 'YOU CAN'T DO AN EIGHT HOUR WEDDING FOR $250!!!'" Sierra Haber
  • "The audacity of clientele feeling as if they have the option of having an alternate value on your work." Charan Ingram 
  • "Sadly, many companies assume that because they are using photos 'just for social media' that the work put into creating the image (both shooting and in post) become irrelevant. In my industry (motocross photography), a single event typically takes us 30+ hours of work (over a less than 48 hour period of time). I can't imagine any other industry or job where someone would be asked to work 30+ hours in less than two days without a single dollar of compensation. My guess is that you'd immediately be searching for another job because both your time and talents are valuable." Krystyn Slack

Are you devaluing the industry? You've made Kitty angry....

On Style:

  • "I hate the grungy, on camera flash look of some editorials. Like they took the image in a back alley with a pop up pointed straight into their face." Olga Tenyanin
  • "Only shooting natural light and acting like studio photographers are beneath them. It's all light!" Jessica Drake
  • "The uber cheesy descriptions on blogs/sneak peeks... like 'I could just feel the love emanating from this couple, and their ceremony was the single greatest event I've ever photographed in my entire life!' kind of thing. I suck at it, we know it's sugar coated and bordering on insincere, and I read it and roll my eyes. Every. Single. Time." Kellie Horrocks Barner

Is that a sky overlay, I see!?

On Attitude and Work Ethic:

  • "People complaining about other photographers doing well." Kristian Dale
  • "People thinking there is a fast track to success, they want all the glory without putting in the work and effort for it." Gerry Kingsley
  • "The notion that if you don't have work on the internet, you're not a real, serious, or credible photographer. Often, in discussions with people, as soon as I have a contrary opinion about business or photography, they want to see my social media presence. It's as if they don't believe I'm a successful full time commercial photographer because I just post fun smut or street photos on my Instagram of 500 followers." Rob Timko
  • "When photographers put other photographers down. I had a friend that judged others' work, lifestyle, and effort they put into their work SO HARD yet didn't work on her own portfolio. Anytime I'd talk about investing into my business she would talk me out of it or try to. needless to say, we aren't friends anymore." Hannah Earhart
  • "People working for likes and follows rather than for art and passion, then using said likes and follows to prove their talent. Not that I don't like likes and follows, but I feel like everyone on the IG space is copying everyone else because it's a trend train." Aakaash Bali

On Editing:

  • "Over smoothing of skin, it But I am also a makeup artist." Kat St.John​​​​​​​
  • "So many of my friends get photos done where the photographer clearly used the Lightroom adjustment brush and didn't clean it up and there'll be a huge halo of light around their subject. Makes me sad laugh (and then wonder why they went to anyone but me?!?!)." Sam Czeh
  • "Bad sky overlays due to un-matching lighting, depth of field, or proportion." Eden Bao​​​​​​​
  • "Over whitening the eyes! It makes them look all freaky. Blech." Jennifer Mitchell


Are those MASKING lines I see!?

Personal Quirks:

  • "I hate the words 'pics.' Like a lot. It feels like it's demeaning artwork in some weird way...'photos' or 'photographs.' Pics are like selfies, not the photos that I pour my heart into." Halsey Hendrickson​​​​​​​
  • "When people have assistants do all the lighting and set building, and the photographer comes in snaps a pic but can't actually do shit." Pat Black 
  • "When team members of a TFP magazine submission shoot post all the photos before the issue is released!"​​​​​​​ Ella Grace Bell

Considering how much photographers value their work, it's not really surprising that the two biggest categories of pet peeves were pricing, and work ethic, and attitude. After all, if you spend hours, weeks, years, and decades of your life learning to perfect your craft and using it to pay your mortgage, watching someone devalue what you do can be understandably irritating. Unfortunately, these irritants won't be going away any time soon. It looks like it's up to us to either learn to deal with them or to fight the good fight to raise industry standards and rid the world of bad masking, photo-leakers, and over-whitened sclera. 

Was your personal pet peeve anywhere on the list?  

Images Used With Permission from Roy B, Jesse Watson, Theresa A Johnson, and Noah Berg.

Nicole York's picture

Nicole York is a professional photographer and educator based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. When she's not shooting extraordinary people or mentoring growing photographers, she's out climbing in the New Mexico back country or writing and reading novels.

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Good read Nicole!
My biggest pet peeve is when people don't communicate and leave everything up to the photographer. Another is having people ask my prices only to A. Ignore me or B. Say there friend can do it for free. Then why ask my prices to begin with???

I agree with your first item but if they're happy with the results I'm okay. Now, if they were ever to complain...


Andrew, I'm sorry but if you're going to make comments like these, you should post better photos or don't post anything. :-/
I don't post anything. :-)

thumbs up

I completely understand not posting your best photos so my point remains. As in all things, do your best or don't do anything. Don't post third and fourth rate photos. What's the point of that? Do you think prospective customers don't "look you up"? Do you really want them seeing those photos?

There's no logic in your statement about critiquing the work of others unless you post. If your comments are valid and helpful, nothing else matters. In the same way, if they're not, nothing else matters. And voting isn't a very good analogy in this case.

And finally, my comment wasn't about your photos but rather your original comment. It was really arrogant. I've never heard or read of really great photographers making those kinds of statements. I'm kinda lazy so I'm not going to go through it line by line but...


Good luck with that.

Given your sh***y attitude i don't anyone will miss your "expert critique". You dole out scathing criticism but can't seem to take any yourself.
Thin skinned much?


So it's trolling to call you out on your condescending arrogance?
Again - a thin skin. But report all you want if it makes you feel better.

Im gonna agree with these other guys here. Im all for critique and harsh critique. Im all for telling someone "you need to learn alot more". But to say that your tired of other people who are only trying to learn is ridiculous. Im assuming since you hate self taught photogs that you have a degree in photography? Well lucky for you. At some point, we all learn on the job. At some point we all start out with nothing. If your teachers would have said "we dont want to teach this guy, he seems like a total dick" then you would be one of those self taught photogs.

I have a passion for photography but anyone that wants to learn, im more then happy to help. Im tired of photography snobs in my community who think because they worked on film, or they have shot for x amount of years, that they are good. New techniques come out every day and one day you may be asking someone for help and I hope they refuse.


Seems like you don't post your first rate photos anywhere. If they really are that good you should probably find a way to expose people to your work as much as possible. You never know where your next customer will come from. Maybe that's why your competition is only self taught newbies.


When can I sign up for one of your classes?

The general tendency for people who's work is not up to par is to talk down those who are better because we are insecure in ourselves, we need to bring them down a peg or two so we are not so deficient ourselves. That's the base instinct, most of use can get past that or have already evolved past this behavior. Then you just go with the positive. I will tell someone what I like and don't like about their photo(s) but I always try to keep it positive.

You give people unsolicited advice? You must be a hoot at parties. If everyone around you is so bad then why are they even on your radar for business competition?


On style and editing:

Photos that look more like computer graphics than photos.
Digital camera photos trying to look like tungsten film and failing miserably.
Digital camera photos trying to look like tungsten film.
Noise reduction below ISO 12800.
Obsession with HDR.
Grey blacks.
Grey whites.

All subjective of course, but I prefer the look of older photographs and keeping things realistic and simple when it comes to style and editing. I think most photos today look unrealistic and are seriously overedited.

I generally agree with your assessment of a lot of photos but it doesn't bother me. I'd rather someone make a hideous photo they're happy with than a work of art that disappoints them.

Of course. As I said, the things I mentioned are ultimately subjective based on what the photographer prefers.

Can we include the Escorts vs No Escorts threads?

I'm not familiar with that. What are they?

I hate listening to photographers complain.


The problem with a lot of these peeves is a lot of photographers consider themselves to be artists but are trying to make a living doing it. These two pursuits have ever been at odds. Pick one. Be an artist and starve or not, or be a businessperson and make a dollar. Pretty simple. I own two hats. When I'm paid, I do what's expected in order to get paid. When I'm not being paid, I do whatever I want.

How about people teaching photography who are good speakers, but poor photographers with very little real experience in the industry. And while I'm at it, people teaching you how to build your social media following and acting like it is the way to build a career in photography.

Great article Nicole! Mine would be the fake post processing blur around the subject when it is done poorly and looks obvious :)

I like your articles and you seem like a likeable guy so I'll ask you, rather than others with similar comments: why? Of course I don't like some of the things you, and others, mention but why is it a "peeve"? I was thinking it should be things that affect you, personally.

For me it's good to know things that are seen as mistakes for improving my own photography. For example when I first started making HDR photos I had halos and did not know to keep an eye out for them. I'm never one to think my photography couldn't use more work. Never stop growing. Some things you learn from and make adjustments and others you ignore (like being told you need a tilt shift lens or have no business shooting a building!) :) Thanks!

And THAT is what I like best about you: your sense of humor!
Every time I look at one of my photos, I see things I wish I had done differently. If it was a mistake in post, I'm kinda okay with it because I can go back and fix it. But I can't re-issue it. The client or other audience has already seen it. Too late! #$&*^(*
If I made a mistake in-camera, AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
I have no time to worry about anyone else's mistakes but I do make exceptions for photos that I think are really good but there's just that one...little...thing. :-)

Thanks, man! It was a lot of fun to find out how people feel about certain things. Some of it was stuff that surprised me, and other stuff I was nodding along with.

as a digital tech, my biggest pet peeve is when people on set decide my cart is a great place to put there personal belongings i.e. Purses, sunglasses, food and drinks, etc...I once had an art director put his Starbucks in the top of my MacPro. He thought it was a speaker with a cup holder. no shit

Holy crap! Yeah, someone would be getting a solid kick for that one...

My pet peeves...where should I begin? ;)

Articles like this

So you read the title and enough of the article to reply about your pet peeve and it was, "Articles like this"?
You must REALLY hate them! ;-)

I have a second cousin on my sister-in-laws side who is 15, has a Nikon, takes good 'pictures' and said he could shoot the entire wedding for us for a hundred bucks. Why would we pay you $2000, why are you so expensive? Because I'm not 15 or related to you in any way, shape or form. If he can do it for $100; I say hire him, Bye.

One thing I don't get paid to do is negotiate, compromise, convince you to spend money you aren't going to actually ever spend or argue with you about what the difference between your sister-in-law's15 year old second cousin being a 'professional picture taker' and me or anyone else being a 'professional photographer'. I'm not even going to dignify this query with opening a dialog or trying to justify my position or point, just have a nice day, Bye.

I don't try to explain to people who have relatives 'in the business' why I charge what I charge. I have actually been told more often than not (by professionals at a higher status than me) that I don't charge enough for my services for my skill level and results. I studied art in college, I have degrees, plural; you know color theory, composition, perspective and lighting. Key on the 'lighting'. I know the math that helps predict the lighting needed to get you close just by looking at a scene for both Nikon and Canon even though I don't or ever have shot with a Canon. I've been spot on several times with just a guess, God I need a life.

Not only this but I've been doing photography for over 20 plus years, way back when you took a photo and had to wait until the film came back to see if you actually got a shot on the roll that you could actually use.Trust me when you pay to get the roll of film developed whether or not you actually get a photo you can actually use, you get real good real fast. I even learned to develop film in the darkroom and techniques for making good photos better in the darkroom.

Hows those for '"Pet Peeves'?

"I don't try to explain to people who have relatives 'in the business' why I charge what I charge. I have actually been told more often than not (by professionals at a higher status than me) that I don't charge enough for my services for my skill level and results. "

So why do you choose to leave money on the table? Being a low baller, cheap guy, economy choice just brings down the prices and value for all. If 2 studios charge $50 and $47 for a gig and you do it well for $35, you just lowered the value of the job to $35. For no good reason...

A friend and I do similar work for different companies who are in the same business. I charge almost 50% more than he does. But the combination his fear of charging what he is worth and his client getting great work for a bargain price lowers the value....and that is my pet peeve

You are 100 percent correct. My thinking was that I would rather shoot a busy schedule for less money than shoot a more open schedule for less money per shoot. I have been raising my prices and was surprised that no one, not even returning clients even blinked at my increase pricing. I'm still not where I now believe I should be but I will be building a studio on my new property Spring to Fall of 2018 and hope to have a highly successful grand opening. I already have both model, Photographers and clients who can't wait for me to open my own studio. I think that was why I hesitated to raise my pricing because I didn't actually have my own studio.We will see though, its all about believing in ones self enough to do it.

"Editing" - a term that now has 2 very different definitions (ie. selecting the best photographs or post production/retouching)

Good point!

I thought about another 'Pet Peeve'. When a woman contacts you and wants to know what you pay photo models. This conversation usually starts when you meet her in person because she wants you to see she is beautiful. After she sees that you see her and now can plainly see she is beautiful, now she tells you she wants to have some photos taken and some prints made for her. You tell her about your $200 package, your $400 package and the $700 package. She then asks you why you will pay her more for the various packages if the photos are all the same? You tell her, "You don't understand. You are the one who wishes to have photos taken, I am the one you are hiring to take the photos for you therefore you pay me." She gets a bewildered look on her face and says, "But I'm beautiful, why should I have to pay to get photos done of myself?" You reply because that's how the world works, how do you think I make my living?"

Seriously bewildering how 'Beautiful' women decide they should not only not have to pay but should be paid.

I'm all for paying pro-photo models when you hire her / them or when you wish to book a session to take photos of a certain model or look to add to your portfolio. I am also very thankful of the 'TFP' that some models do and even some aspiring models do for us photographers and the ones I have worked with have been straight up 9s and 10s in my book. I have no problem giving them photos (copy files) straight out of my camera) if they bring a jump-drive with them) just so they have something in their hands for their talent, time and patients with the promise of 'fixing' anything that needs fixing and providing them a copy as expeditiously as possible down the road. I can and will even slide them some money if I get great shots just to have them want to shoot with me again.

But why do people off the street believe they can just call me up and I'll spend money to provide them with what they require? I don't understand it.

Just like many young photographers never assisted don;t really understand how the business works, many young models who most likely are not agency models but internet models don;t understand how the business works either.
Both job/trade/professions have a very low bar for entry. If you say you are a model or photographer, you are.