Photographer’s Etiquette


Focus is critical, whether it be the in image you’re creating or with whatever task is at hand.  And on my last trek into the field, I was reminded that we all may need to take a moment to focus on the generally accepted etiquette of photography.

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in the Tetons recently, where I spent time with some of my favorite people and had pretty reasonable weather.  I had the opportunity to get in some great hikes, and spent some time behind my camera with Jay Goodrich.  While I’ve already got plenty of great images of Schwabacher’s Landing, I went there my first morning in town just to shake the cobwebs off and revisit a location I’ve seen under many different weather and lighting conditions.  I’d gone in thinking I’d challenge myself to find a new perspective, or find something I’d not seen before.  Luckily for me, a family of five beavers are now quite active there, and I was able to get some images as this family swam, worked and played around their home that morning.

But in addition to scenic Grand Teton and a family of beavers, I found a handful of photographers who, for whatever reason, were not aware of some the basic elements of photography etiquette in the field.  As photographers, there aren’t a lot of “rules” that we have to live by, but respect for your fellow photographer is at the top of that list.  Here are my top four lessons to keep in mind if you’re in the field among a group of photographers.

  1. Move slowly and quietly, and stay low.
  2. Be aware of where other photographers are in relation to your location.
  3. Don’t cross in front of or move around other photographers without letting them know what you’re going to do.
  4. If you think you’re going to be in the way, ask before changing your setup or moving around.

The photographers I came across that morning used poor etiquette and broke every one of those lessons.  For the rest of us, most of these lessons you’ll probably learn the hard way.  I recall I once ruined a shot at a workshop of some sandhill cranes  many years ago when I moved too quickly and caused the birds to take off.  When you’re among a group of photographers (either in a workshop or in a photo hot spot like Maroon Bells or Bosque del Apache) it is important to focus not only on the image you’re trying to create but on your surroundings, and where you are in relation to the other photographers.

Taking the time to be aware who and what are around you will ensure that you and any other photographers nearby will not only capture the images they came to get, but that everyone will have an enjoyable experience as well.  And that’s kind of what it is all about …