Photography Etiquette

Hundreds of photographers on Morro Strand State Beach

As a travel photographer I’m often sharing my workspace with other people – other photographers, tourists enjoying (and possibly trying to photograph) a beautiful place, or just dodging people going about their lives. Most of these people are delightful and courteous but sometimes there are those few people…they aren’t paying attention, or they just don’t care. Unfortunately those folks probably aren’t reading photography blogs and its unlikely they’ll see this, but I can share a few photography etiquette tips with my fellow photographers.

Hundreds of photographers on Morro Strand State Beach

Photo credit: Cat Evans of Thru Catz Eyes, California Photo Festival 2011 (that’s me second from the left, looking through my viewfinder)

Rule #1 in photography etiquette (and in life) – Treat others the way you want to be treated.

If you’re following Rule #1 the rest of these should be pretty self explanatory:

  • Be aware – If you are trying to get a shot of something beautiful and/or interesting chances are someone else is, too. Keep an eye out for others who are trying to shoot and do your best to stay out of their way (just as you’d like them to stay out of yours).
  • Be patient – If you have to wait on someone, be patient – especially if they were there first.
  • Communicate with kindness
  • With photographers: If someone has already set up and started shooting in a location you’d like to use let them know that you’d also like to shoot. Assure them that you don’t want to ruin their shot.
  • With everyone else: Just give them a moment. Most people will eventually move on. However, if it looks like they have no intention of moving kindly let them know that you are waiting and ask if they’d be willing to move for a moment or two.
  • Share the space – Be willing to move over a bit or let someone get down low in front of you. If that will kill your composition let them know when you’ll be done (be reasonable, 5-10 minutes depending on the situation, lighting, etc.), or offer to take turns at that spot.
  • Be a teacher and/or student – Each of us is at a different level in learning the craft of photography. Usually (if you are communicating with them) you’ll have an idea of your fellow shooter’s skill level. Perhaps you can help them with something or learn something from them.

I think that covers the basics. Is there anything else you’d add to the list? Let me know if the comments.

Keep these tips in mind next time you are out shooting and it’ll likely make the experience more enjoyable, and you might even make a few new friends!

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