Are You a Rude Photographer?

From concerts and baseball games to barbeques and beach days, we bet you’ll be spending plenty of time at snapshot worthy events this summer. But when you bring your camera along to public parties and occasions amongst large crowds, it’s important to use the best photographers’ etiquette. Often times in an effort to get the best shot, we forget to remember that others around us are trying to enjoy the show as well, and we might be stepping on their toes. To save you from social faux pas, we came up with a quick list of protocol you should generally adhere to:

1. Flash –

Picture this- you’re at a beach wedding during sundown and there’s really low lighting. Is it okay to use flash? We vote no- when it comes to special events (especially those where there is likely a hired photographer there on the job), religious ceremonies, or intimate concert settings, you should respectfully avoid using your flash. The best way to gauge? If no one else (other than paid photographers working the function) is taking flash photos and your flash would be even slightly noticeable in an otherwise very dimly lit ambiance, it would be distracting to other guests and rude of you to use.

2. Photographing Strangers –

If you’re in public somewhere (like on the beach or at a park), this can be a fun time to practice your portraiture- but would it be rude to take a stranger’s picture? In this instance, our advice is to simply ask.

You might feel worried about seeming invasive, but just try to remind yourself that in the absolute worst case scenario, the subject could say no, in which case they’ll surely be glad you asked instead of just going for it. We recommend simply explaining that you’re a portrait photographer getting some practice and asking if they’d like to be a subject. If they seem hesitant or uncomfortable, don’t ask again or try to convince them. What we tend to find instead however, is that most people are excited for the chance to participate and flattered that you want to include them in your portfolio. If the shot comes out really well, they might also appreciate if you offer to email them a free copy of their own.

3. Special Events-

To elaborate on the example used in #1, if you’re at a wedding or special event where a photographer has been hired to take pictures, is it rude of you to also unpack your camera gear and start capturing your own shots? It really depends on the preferences and comfort level of the professional, and we strongly advice you politely introduce yourself and ask. Simply explain that you’re a friend/ relative of the guest of honor, you’re a photography hobbyist yourself and that you’d love to take some pictures for your own collections or to share with others. If he/she tells you this makes them uncomfortable, you should respectfully refrain.

Generally speaking, you can use your own judgement to decide whether your photoshoot is impeding on a special event or distracting the people around you. For the most part, we find that other professionals are excited to meet another photo enthusiast, and that pedestrians are happy and flattered to be included in your shots. Just remember to be polite, and to always err on the side of polite caution by introducing yourself and asking permission before you get started.