Photo Etiquette Goes Both Ways

When I lead photography workshops and excursions I emphasize the importance of being courteous and professional to all the people who get into a picture, whether they are wanted there or not. When shooting for the media I feel this is even more important, because I am representing another company or group. I am also hoping to do an excellent job for my clients and come home with perfect documentation of whatever event it is I’m shooting.

Press passes are issued in part, so media photographers can avoid having to compete with hundreds onlookers with iPhones, tablets and GoPros at any particular event, and so they can come away with the best event photos that will be used to publicize that event. Media photographers are also given access to people and places that the general public might not have access to, so we can interview them for the story.

There will always be freeloaders who sneak in with a press pass, but when those people start pushing their weight around by posing as “media” to promote their own club, cause or business, that’s where the line is crossed. Recently I experienced the most unprofessional behavior I’ve seen in a long time by individuals who represented themselves as “media”. Several individuals said they were from a non-profit dive club in order to get a press pass. A dive club is not media. They started cutting in front and photo-bombing our shots by flashing the logo of the person who sent them. To add insult to injury, they didn’t make any effort to use their images or video to promote the event and its cause, but only used them days later to promote their dive club. Sad that anyone would need to be on such a power trip.

I try to keep my own ego in check when shooting and hope I am never perceived as being unprofessional. This experience reminded me that as a spectator I need to be even more courteous of media photographers when I encounter them. As a media photographer I may not be as nice if someone elbows me or jumps into my shot again.