Having met and talked with quite a few photographers, I have seen that there are a lot of things we do which, to me, a fellow photographer are annoying. Some are innocent enough such as asking for the lighting setup, but others sit on the fence about being illegal.
Talk About Gear Too Much
I will flip the next time someone tries talking gear with me. The only time this is tolerable is when someone is not a photographer and wants to find a common topic. In any other circumstance, I could not care less about what light or camera you use. This is true for many photographers because most of us don’t read camera reviews and hardly find them interesting either. Simply knowing the specs won’t land me a client, and I don’t want to spend my time discussing the autofocus on a DSLR vs a mirrorless camera. As long as it works, it is good. Photography is about the art, about the process, not about the camera and lights you use. While gear matters, it does not matter to the point of being the main subject of discussions between photographers.
Compare Clients and Income
There is this tendency to have a length-measuring contest when it comes to clients and income. While it is reasonable to be open about what everyone charges, it is fairly unprofessional if not in a bad tone to compare what clients you worked for and how much money you made just to show off. Money is one of the discussion taboos you probably should not break.
That said, my closest friends know how much I make. For example, if you happen to be close friends with a photographer, you can monopolize and raise the prices at the same time, meaning that you both will make more money and nobody is price-cutting or overcharging. This is fair game, but this should be done with people who you trust to be on your side. Probably stay away from messaging a random photographer and asking how much they charge.
But don’t be an annoying showoff who talks about their income and clients. Maybe just because the person you may be showing off to has shot for bigger brands and made more.
There is a proportion of professional photographers who shoot for a reason not related to art. A while back I wrote an article on this topic, calling out, politely, the photographers who take images with an ulterior motive behind them. While workplace romances are something we are all used to, there should be a clear divide between what happens on and off-set. I am not talking about people who met on set, I am talking about people who use the power they have for the wrong reasons, or just act creepy with their models. As soon as you become a creep, word gets around very fast.
The set is a professional environment, where you can't be a creep. I have heard plenty of stories where “usually” middle-aged photographers act inappropriately with models. The models usually don’t say anything as they are afraid, however, it does not go unnoticed.
This harms not only the personal reputation of the said photographer but the image of the photographer in general. Unnecessary sexual references are not the way to get a model to loosen up, if anything, they will feel more uncomfortable making the images worse.
Not Crediting on Social
I don’t quite understand the photographers who don’t tag their crew on social. I mean, just because the makeup artist did not click a button doesn’t mean they are not a vital part of the image. The same applies to the whole crew, the retoucher included. While there is some debate on if and how the retoucher should be credited, it is usually better to credit than not.
You should not care about what others have to say. This is a good mantra to live by if you want to protect your own mental health, and in general, if you want to have confidence in your work. However, with this information, still, keep in mind that rejecting useful feedback will send you on a downward spiral. I don’t know why, and I do apologize to the people who find this sexist, but this is such a “guy” thing to do. Usually, it is the male photographers who have an inflated ego. Being able to listen to feedback, take certain things in, leave others out, and in general filter what you hear is an invaluable skill. It is really sad to see so many photographers reject perfectly good feedback and as a result, not make progress.
This topic can be a separate article in itself, but in short, feedback can come from anywhere. Your job is to be able to sort out the good from the bad. I sometimes am unable to do this, and my ego gets the best of me. For example, there were a few times when the “trolls” in the comments said very sensible things that ended up improving my work. While I try to not take the things trolls say too seriously, it is still worth reading and trying to see if what they have to say comes from a good place. Often people mean good things but express them in a bad way.
Asking About the Light Setup One Too Many Times
I am almost certain that no matter how much I will try to tell people to not use light setups, they will still ask me for the “setup”. The truth is, there is no setup that I use. In fact, half of the time I set the light by feeling rather than by the rule. It is more about the image that I see in my head than the light setup. There are other times when I just want “soft light” and frankly, I could not care less if it is being done the “right way” as long as the result is what I want, it works. Therefore, don’t be the annoying person who is always looking for an easy way to light — learn to light instead. It is fine to be curious about one effect or the other, but when you haven’t tried it yourself first. Chances are, you are able to do it your own way already.
What are some of the things that you find annoying in other photographers? Let us know in the comments!
Coming up through the biz as an assistant in NYC 20 years ago, I met and worked with a ton of pros doing all kinds of work. Every single one of them had a professional demeanor and was pleasant to work with, even under stress. My impression is it's mainly the wannabes online who stir up trouble. I largely ignore them and seek out conversations where 1) I can be helpful to someone who's genuinely searching for answers, or 2) I ask specific questions in search of practical solutions for myself. This works well. On DPR's forums, I make frequent use of the "ignore" feature, which keeps the posts of folks I consider not helpful or contributive from my sight. It doesn't take much to get on my ignore list, and the feature is very useful.
I've trained myself to not interact with any post that strikes me as contentious. I just ask myself before typing, "Is this a conversation that's likely to feel good or bad?" If the latter, I just move on. It takes practice, but my online life is better for it.
Oh, and one other thing. It helps to not make broad claims of universal truth. I generally stick to statements of fact and explanations of personal experience, prefacing them with qualifying phrases like, "In my low-light event work, I've found that..."
Thank you for sharing your experience Jacques. I certainly agree with the "ignore" feature. It helps a lot, and it is so easy to do online. Forums can be quite the battlefield sometimes.
It takes two to argue. I no longer find this form of competition amusing.
I'd also add gossiping and discussing clients in general. I used to collaborate with photographers for their tfp projects as a model and there were those who would tell stories about other models they worked with: how X's skin was so bad they had to spend hours in Photodiva smoothing it, how Y's couldn't pose or how creepy Z's smile was. We all have bad experiences and hilarious moments we'd love to share, but when the laughter comes at the expense of someone else, I wonder if it really needs to be aired. I mean, what kind of stories are you going to tell people about me later on? Not the nicest impression ever.
Photography is inherently objectifying, and this makes photographing people something like entering the cave in Star Wars that manifests one's predispositions.
I agree with the creepy photographers- the industry has many of them.
Yes, talking gear is annoying to some, but why can't you? I am a bit of a gear freak and its a hobby to know and love gear. My assists and fellow photographer love their gear too and talking about it, it doesn't on any way take away for the photographic results and actually helps being very technical to solve real world photography problems.
Your point about arrogant photographers is annoying too- but this is usually a coping mechanism.
Being in the professional photography industry - especially the adverting industry is a flight of keeping confidence, being bulletproof from criticism - especially from yourself- which often is the biggest critic.
I think we should be accepting of people that can even stay in this industry, even if they are arrogant, I think they doing this as need to keep themselves protected personally. The talking about rates is part of this, stroking their ego. Just ignore these people - shut them out, don't hate them, let them be. The industry is hard (to make a decent living) and its the way they deal with it. I know its painful, and to be honest the clients will really be the judge of this if photographers are too much. This industry is has too many haters and critics.
The comment is about crediting crew. I really try to do this myself, but I have a memory like a siv, and usually so engrossed in the project that I don't even get to know or even meet many of the crew. Also, the jobs I do- the time I can actually post is way after the job is done due to only posting when the job is live and printed, so remembering everyone when it might be 4 months later and you have done a few jobs in-between is hard. It's really cool to credit, but its sometimes hard to even get this posted, anything posted is better than nothing. If I do a good list of credits, its because my producer has credited everyone in their post and I copy and paste!
Again, I feel the criticising really isn't needed, The crew was paid (hopefully very well) , they will survive...