Photography is both a profession and a hobby for a lot of people. With the proliferation of built-in cameras in smartphones and tablets, it’s become inevitable that photography itself has exploded to become one of the most common activities in day-to-day life. Most people don’t think of themselves as photographers, though, when they whip out their smartphone and snap a photo. And, a lot of them don’t follow the time-honored etiquette that professional or enthusiasts adhere to without much though. So, today, we’ll discuss a few tics that newly-minted smartphone (or mobile) photographers have that drive people up the wall.
1. Don’t photograph strangers — If you’re in a fairly public area and the people are not your primary subject (such as photographing at a parade or just a candid “daily life” street photo) then most people won’t be bothered. However, if you happen to see someone wearing an outfit you like or doing something you think is interesting, it might annoy them to suddenly become the subject of your photo — especially if your photo is being taken with the intent to mock them over the Internet later (such as is done with the “People of WalMart” site).
2. Photographing kids at play can get you in trouble — If you’re passing through a park or an area frequented by children and stop to engage in photography, you may find yourself getting in hot water. So, be prepared to politely explain yourself to the parents and to show them the photos you’ve taken (and delete them, if requested). Exceptions are generally made to this rule for public events and places like monuments or streets where, again, the children aren’t the principle subject.
3. Photography isn’t a crime but… — While it is becoming more common for people to record arrests, accidents, and other activities where the police are involved, the police don’t always like it. It is perfectly legal to record them in public so long as you aren’t interfering with them doing their duties but they may still harass you and attempt to confiscate your equipment. So, if this happens, try to decide whether this is a battle you really want to fight.
4. Don’t be a gear snob — If you happen to see someone with a camera and you’re interested in discussing your mutual hobby, remember to be polite. Don’t diss their gear if it’s older or not the latest and greatest. Not everyone can afford the newest high-end DSLR or lenses.
5. Don’t be a jerk — If someone is showing you their photo collection that they’ve posted online, don’t immediately assume that they used Photoshop to make it look great. Editing is part of the photography process but even the most skillful use of Photoshop won’t replace sheer talent in composition.
6. Don’t block someone else’s shot — If you see someone recording or photographing something, don’t block them. And, while photobombing can be funny, try to exercise some common sense and don’t overdo it. One photobombed shot is enough. Ruining their entire gallery — especially for something like a wedding — is just mean.
7. Different photography fields are different; none is better than the other — Fine art photography has its place but being a fine art photographer or a post-modern or a hipster or whatever doesn’t make you better than another photographer who prefers different subjects.
8. Put the camera away sometimes — While it’s easy to always have a camera with you these days, pack it in sometimes. Yes, you can photograph every meal you eat, every street corner you walk past, every thing you see but that doesn’t mean you should. Put the camera away and enjoy where you are from time to time. Unless, of course, your job is to document everything for some kind of secret historical society. If that’s the case, then go right ahead. Just be prepared for the strange looks you’re going to get.
What are some other bad behaviors that novice or mobile photographers engage in that you’d like to see stopped? Let us know in the comments below!
— da Bird