July 20, 2024

There is a lot to pay attention to in photography.  There’s the technical side – getting the various camera settings correct such as shutter speed, aperture, iso……………  Then there is the creative side – framing the subject properly, being aware of lighting, shooting the image the way it appears in your mind.  All of this requires considerable time, attention, thought, and effort.  It’s pretty much a “focused” (sorry ’bout that) internal process involving the photographer, the equipment, and the subject.  But there is another important aspect to photography – one that good, experienced photographers attend to as well.  It is Photography etiquette.

In the most broad and general sense, Photography Etiquette involves shooting with an awareness of, and consideration for, what is going on around the photographer as the shoot proceeds.  It requires that the photographer be aware, not only of what is going on in front of him and the lens but also what is going on behind and beside him. There are many different types of Photo Etiquette violators.  Here are three of my favorites.

A prime violator of Photography Etiquette is the Shot Blocker.  You know the type.  The Shot Blocker is the photographer (or non photographer for that matter) who obliviously walks in front of you as you are framing your own shot.  The Shot Hog may just be passing through your shot (bad enough) but frequently he decides he wants the shot (your shot) and so sets up and starts shooting in front of you (really bad)! Can you spell CLUELESS?

With Shot Hog / bwb-images

The Shot Hog is a close relative of the Shot Blocker.  The Shot Hog typically has arrived at a prime shooting location and feels that he has established some type of “squatter’s right of ownership” to a shot.  Totally unaware of (or ignoring?) other photographers who might also like an opportunity to take the shot, the Shot Hog is planted like a tree to the spot – sometimes shooting, sometimes fiddling with equipment, sometimes talking on the phone – you get the idea.  He should be given credit for arriving first and so he should get to shoot effectively with perhaps some type of priority.  But he doesn’t own the shot and should be willing to share the shot.

without shot hog / bwb-images

(Disclosure – the two photographers above are my photo buddies and were not true “shot hogs.” We took turns with the shot.  I used this photo for illustrative purposes only )

 One of the most maddening versions of the Shot Hog is the “pro” photographer who takes clients to a public park or such and sets up his paid portrait shoot in a prime location.  He acts like he “owns the shot” and will shoot for extended periods without any consideration for other visitors or photographers who might like to see the view without him, his equipment, and his clients. 

The Shot Spoiler is another variation on the Shot Blocker. Sometimes he operates in front of you but he is also equally effective standing to one side.  This photographer arrives after you have framed your shot and are about to take your images.  Then he sends his subjects – models,kids, wife, etc – to pose for him in front of your shot!  What was once your lovely scenic landscape is now a background for his crying three-year old and his totally bored out of her mind teenage daughter.

Good etiquette is a big part of being a good photographer.  Keep in mind that everyone is entitled to a shot or view. (That is of course, unless you have established / paid for some type of exclusive shooting rights / typically not available in public places or parks).  This means that the little guy with the point and shoot gets equal access as the big guy with the big guns. 

Pikes Peak (behind the family) / bwb-images

(This is a nice view of Pikes Peak taken from Garden of the Gods, a public park in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  I have no idea who the family is – they were there having their professional “portraits’ done by a photographer who monopolized the site for a really extended period of time – he was there when my group of fellow photographers arrived and still there when we left.  He acted like he “owned the shot”. I thought it was interesting that he even brought his own props! ( By the way – this is no criticism of the very nice family – they didn’t know any better – their photographer should have.))

Good photography etiquette really isn’t that difficult.  It just requires being aware of and considerate of others around you.  The world is a big place and most often photographers don’t get in each other’s way.  But some locations or circumstances get congested.  That’s when etiquette becomes important.  Like they taught us all in Kindergarten – take turns!    Be prepared, take your shot, and then step back if someone else is waiting. Be polite.  If someone steps into your shot – or if they are camped out there – ask in a nice way if they would mind allowing you to step in and shoot an image or two.

Be a Courteous Photographer…………..And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The PhotoTrekker