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

Angry kitty face

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

crazy man's face close up

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


Angry fashion model face

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.

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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???

Anonymous's picture

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

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

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. :-)

Anonymous's picture

thumbs up

Anonymous's picture

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...

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

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?

Anonymous's picture


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.

Anonymous's picture


Michael Holst's picture

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.

Anonymous's picture


Michael Holst's picture

When can I sign up for one of your classes?

Michael Murphy's picture

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.

Michael Holst's picture

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?

Anonymous's picture


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.

Anonymous's picture

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.

Dwight Smalls's picture

Can we include the Escorts vs No Escorts threads?

Anonymous's picture

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

Sean Berry's picture

I hate listening to photographers complain.

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

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.

The fact that many editorial markets(newspapers/magazines) no longer want to pay a guarantee against space/use. They want you to shoot but don't want to guarantee a minimum whether they use it or not.

Some papers I used to shoot for paid a minimum of $250 to shoot images for a small story. A bit more involved and it went up more than double. Now a couple of them try to convince me they have never paid more than $20 a photo ever and these days want AllRights for $5-15 per image.

Worst part is that they can find someone who will shoot at these losing rates - and can't figure out why they don't stay in business.

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.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

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

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