19th Nov2015

5 rules for event attendees with cameras

by Christine

Over the years that I’ve been a photographer, I’ve covered a large number of events; from stage shows, to pageants, to weddings, to award banquets. And across them all, there’s some fairly similar issues that plague the hired photographer.

Because these events are generally attended by the general public, from guests to ticket-holders, the chance that some of these attendees will have cameras of their own is fairly high. Some of them are just capturing a few shots for their own enjoyment, which is perfectly fine, but others… well , there are others who are trying to utilize the event in a professional capacity that has not been offered to them.

To those, I have these five rules:

1. Get out of the way.

Seriously. Sit in your seat and don’t move. Don’t lean out into any aisles, don’t stand up, don’t move your chair out of the position it’s in so you get a better angle, and especially, don’t stand in front of me.

Just. Sit. Down.

And if you place yourself into the center of the activity, thereby appearing in my photographs, we are going to be having a special kind of chat.

2. Don’t try to share my space while I’m shooting

I’m here to do a job. You are not.

I am not required to give you any kind of preferential treatment because you have a camera in your hands. I don’t care of you’re working for the Associated Press, you aren’t here on the clients’ dime, I am. Allowing you in my work space and allowing you to interfere with the relationship between my clients and my camera reduces the level of quality service that I am providing to them. If you desire to take your own photographs, do so in a way that does not interfere with me. Shooting over my shoulder is just bad etiquette, and asking clients to look in your direction so you can have your own shot is just downright interference.

Occasionally there are circumstances where it behooves me to let another photographer take a shot or two. If you are granted this privilege – here are some special rules for you:

Do NOT assume that you now have control of the photography and can re-pose my clients. Get in, get your shot and get out. You’d want me to act quickly and quietly if our roles were reversed. This isn’t the time to showboat.

Do NOT criticize me, my setup, my photography or my polite request that you just take a few shots so we can maintain our timeline. I’m not being paid to argue with you.

Do NOT complain about me and my limitations on you to my client or on social media. I always find out.

Do NOT utilize the photographs I allowed you to take for anything other than the very special intended purpose that resulted in you being granted the opportunity to photograph. If you do, I’ll assume your very special reason was fabricated. That’s fancy for “lie.”

You were granted a favor. Appreciate it, or you will never be granted that favor again.

3. Don’t ask to pick my brain

I love that you have a passion for photography and I love that you respect me enough to want to ask my opinion on some photographic matter. But please, I’m working. I just don’t have the time to chat with you about photography.

I don’t want to be rude, but introducing yourself and asking me for my business card so you can contact me later with questions is a much better approach, and I will gladly give you a card when I have a moment free.

4. My formal background area is not a photo booth

Time and time again, it seems that folks misunderstand the intention of a formal background area. I pay many many dollars-es for backgrounds and lights and all the accessories that go into a formal photographic setup. If I bring that setup with me, it’s because the client has requested their formal photographs to have a “studio” look. It’s not so you can keep dashing in to use the pretty background when I’m in between shots.

It’s not a photo booth. Seriously. Do you see any crazy hats and mustaches for people to wear?

I didn’t think so.

5. Don’t “gift” my clients with your own images publicly

There’s been a number of times that I’ve been out-spray-and-prayed by an amateur who “only wants to give a gift to the bride and groom.”

Yeah. Right.

You and I both know that you’re an aspiring photographer and you’re looking at this event as an opportunity to either pump up your portfolio or get paying gigs of your own. If you’re wanting to “gift” my client with your own images – do so privately. That’s what you do with gifts. Plastering 839 images on Facebook within 24 hours of an event is not a gift, it’s advertising.

Yours in Wootness,

Leave a Reply