I’ve met some great people when I’m out and about taking photos. We’ve had congenial chats about the landscape we’re photographing or the cameras and lenses we use. We’ve shared tips on the best places to go and the best times to go there. We’ve shown each other a modicum of civility because we’re nice people and it’s great to meet someone who enjoys the same hobby as us.
I’ve also met some less great people.
So you’re out on location at a stunning beauty spot and the weather gods are smiling on you. You’ve created a beautiful composition, checked your tripod’s level, adjusted your graduated ND filter and double-checked the lens for dirt. You squint through the viewfinder, happy that you’re just about to take a ‘keeper’. Then, just as you’re about to crank off a few shots, someone wanders into your shot and sets up his tripod right in front of you. Charming.
All photographers like breaking the rules of course, it goes with the territory. The best ‘urbex’ locations are only visited by trespass. The best view is not necessarily the one in the official viewing area. But let’s face it – there are limits – and most of us fully understand what they are.
I’ve seen many examples of photographers who don’t give a shit about any damage they might be causing to the environment. They’ll climb over fences and trample through protected undergrowth to get a photograph – never mind that they’re destroying the very thing they’re trying to capture.
The Personal Space-Man
When it comes to my photography I’m a fairly solitary beast. However some photogs are the exact opposite, they seem to be attracted to other photographers like flies to dung. I think the assumption is that that the person already standing there has found the best viewpoint and so naturally they set up in exactly the same spot. You could be the only two photographers in a hundred square miles of wilderness and this fellow will erect his tripod in your shadow.
Mr Get Off My Lawn
Then there’s the possessive photographer (no relation to the first photographer above). These are folks who feel they have some sort of medieval fealty over a particular location and they are the only people allowed to take photos of it. Make the mistake of setting up on their ‘manor’ and they’ll go out of their way to screw up your shot. Their behaviour manifests itself online too. They choose never to reveal any geographic details about their photos and will strip all EXIF from their images before posting them on any public website. Don’t bother asking them where a particular location is because they’d sooner lop off their shutter-finger than tell you.
The Wedding Swinger
And it’s not just the hobbyist photographer who suffers from self-centred folks. Speak to any wedding photographer and they’ll tell you any number of horror stories about guests at a wedding getting in the way of the official shots. One photographer I know was telling me that he missed out on the all-important first kiss at the altar because the father of the bride jumped up off his pew and stood right in the middle of the aisle and took some snaps with his DSLR, which they later discovered were blurred and over-exposed.
All the Gear – No Idea
They’ve got a D800E, or a 1DX. They’ve got pro glass sticking out of the front of it. They’ve got a Gitzo tripod that could hold the weight of a small water buffalo. They’ve got a special backpack full of more lenses, filters and back-up cameras than a BBC wildlife photographer on location in Borneo. What they haven’t got is any idea how to use it. Some of these folks think good photographs are due to good cameras and so haven’t learned how to use theirs. The camera only leaves Auto mode by accident.
Mr Smell the Roses
Here’s one that I am, unfortunately, guilty of myself. This is the photographer who is so obsessed with capturing photographs that they find themselves incapable of switching off when in a social setting. Holidays become a blur of ‘shoots’ instead of a shared family experience, celebrations become an exercise in lighting techniques and focal lengths and walks in the country are viewed through a viewfinder and never actually enjoyed. I’m in a self-help program for this one and have, on occasion, managed to leave my camera at home!
Life Through a Lens
Cameras have become something of a blight in certain social settings. One which I think everyone’s noticed is the plague of the smartphone or (worse) tablet at the school play. Turn up too late to get a row near the front of the auditorium and instead of watching your kid and his peers trying their best on the stage, you’ll get to see the whole thing through the back of a hundred LCD screens held aloft by ignorant parents. I’m wondering how long it’ll be before schools start banning them.
So there we have it. Are you guilty of any of these photographic indiscretions? Have I missed out any familiar photographic types? I’m all ears …