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Tiffany’s article last Friday really struck a chord with me. My guess is that I’m not alone in having experienced, in some form or fashion, all of what she discussed. I really appreciated her article because it’s one I’ve wanted to write for a long time but thought I should play nice instead.

In keeping with her theme I thought I would write about some of the ways I’ve responded to the similar, or the same, irritants. However, there is a really big caveat. These are what work for me. I’m not, by any means, suggesting you do what I do. It’s important that you find responses that fit your personality and demeanor. In fact, with some of the responses I’ve used, the exchange can become somewhat confrontational. Let’s face it. Some of the annoyances come from jerks and jerks are jerks because they are so self-absorbed that they think they’re the only people on the planet. Therefore, these jerks are not going to respond with an “Excuse me. I’m sorry for doing that.”

I think the cat in the photo probably ran across one of these people that really annoy me.

Just remember, I’m sharing this with you, not as advice, but for the entertainment value.


I try to keep in mind what Thumper’s father said to him. “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all” also known as the Thumperian Principle. I’ve noticed that really good photographers don’t critique photographs of other people unless asked. Even then most are reluctant to do so. One of the reasons for this is something that accomplished photographers know – just because you don’t like a photograph doesn’t mean it isn’t good or that someone else doesn’t like it. I’ve seen photographs win awards at juried competitions that I wouldn’t waste the time to get ready for competition. Shows what I know. Trolls that make rude and nasty unsolicited remarks about the photos of others are just that, trolls. They aren’t good photographers. I once told one when I received his unwanted opinion about one of my photos, “If you knew half as much about photography as you think you do, you’d know three times as much as you really do.” By the time he figured out that I hadn’t given him a compliment, it was way too late.

Photographers using any lens who forget there are OTHER PEOPLE AROUND THEM.

I was attending a relatively small, local ballroom dance competition. I arrived early and because I was familiar with the venue, knew almost all the dancers and was familiar with their respective routines, I selected a good location on the front row that was also away from the traffic and wouldn’t interfere with other people trying to watch. I set up my tripod and attached my video camera to record the dances. During the first dance a self-appointed “official” photographer walked over and knelt down directly in front of me, blocking the camera’s view of the dancers on the floor. I was irritated but didn’t say anything at the time. However, the third time he did it I “tapped” him on the shoulder and asked, “Do you really think that your photography efforts are so important that you can disregard everyone else and continually stand or kneel in front of my camera?”

His response was along the line of, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were taking photos.” Of course, I couldn’t leave that alone so I responded, “Right, and you didn’t see the tripod you had to avoid tripping over every time you came over here.” It worked, he found someone else to stand in front of.

There are times when I would have completely understood his behavior. If I’m attending a wedding and I know that the bride and groom are spending a few thousand dollars to have a professional photographer capture their wedding on film, as far as I’m concerned the photographer can stand anywhere he or she wants to. (Photography etiquette for people with cameras attending a wedding as a guest and not as a wedding photographer is an article in itself.)

Friends and relatives who expect you to provide your photographic services for free.

I’m going to separate friends and family here because I frequently photograph family because I want to. I’ll even provide them with a low resolution jpeg of some of the photos so they can look at them on a computer screen. Prints are a different category.

When someone asks me to provide photo services for them, I don’t give them an opportunity to expect me to do it for free. I immediately agree to provide the services and quote them a price. Frequently I get the response of, “Oh, I didn’t know you were going to charge for it. I thought you did it for a hobby.” I usually respond that it is a hobby when I’m taking photos for myself but when it’s for someone else I get paid for my services.

I recall one incident when a friend asked me to take some photos for him and balked when I told him the price. This person just happened to own a computer service business. The conversation went somewhat like this:

“Oh, I didn’t know you charged for your photography, I thought it was a hobby.”

“Let me ask you a question. Would you be willing to help me with my home computer equipment for free?”

“Well, of course not. That’s what I do as a job.”

“How much of an investment did you make to start your business?”

“It wasn’t much, four or five thousand dollars. Why?”

“I have over $20,000 of photography equipment. I don’t give away my time and effort. Do you realize that for every minute I spend taking photos, I have to spend ten to thirty minutes at the computer finalizing the images? You don’t service computers for free and I don’t take photography assignments for free.”

Of course, he didn’t hire me. This is the kind of person that would always complain about the price and never be satisfied with the images. Not the kind of person I want to work for. I much prefer the customer that told me she really liked an image I have and would like a copy of it for her living room. When I responded that it would be $350 she was surprised it wasn’t more. There are too many great customers and wonderful people out there to waste much time on the boors.

Remember, “Illegitimi non carborundum”

Photo Credits:

Hmph by delphaber on Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Luismacedophoto

    Loved your post!

  • Betsy Breeyear Finstad

    Hysterical!  I would never have the guts to say those things but I definitely would think them :)

  • Photography Beginners Guide

    I really like what you said about bashing. You’re absolutely right. If you weren’t asked, don’t volunteer your opinion!!