It’s actually pretty sad that I’m having to write this post. It’s sad because the post is directed at OTHER photographers! I thought about naming it “Photographer Etiquette 101” but decided to change it to what someone else should not do. What some other photographers should take away from this post is pretty simple. Please don’t stand right in front of my camera.
Photographing the cherry blossoms last week at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC was a lot of fun. And being there for sunrise was great. It was early in the morning, but still a lot of fun. I even got my wife to get up early to go down and watch the sunrise – and she doesn’t get up early unless it’s to catch a plane!
But sadly I have to say there was one part of it that wasn’t much fun. The lack of etiquette by other photographers. Let me explain.
As I said in my post for the photograph Pink Cherry Blossom Sunrise, I got down to the Tidal Basin about 5:15AM. At that point it was still dark out, but not complete darkness. You could tell the sky was starting to just slightly lighten. I started walking around the edge of the Tidal Basin looking for where I wanted to setup and take my sunrise picture at. As I’m walking along the cement path along the edge of the water you could see lights flashing in the distance. Other photographers were already there taking pictures of the cherry blossoms using strobes to illuminate them.
In the distance I can clearly see tripods setup and photographers working to take their pictures. As I get closer to them I have a decision to make. I can clearly see, even in the dim light that their cameras are pointed to take a picture out over the water, towards the Jefferson Memorial. I can either continue walking along the path and step in front of their camera possibly messing up their shot, or I can go out of my way by taking a couple extra steps and walk around them. It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make at all, I walked around them.
I continue around the Tidal Basin and I find my spot. I see a good sized branch from a cherry blossom tree stretching out over the water. I also notice that if I frame it just right I can place the Jefferson Memorial so it’s almost surrounded by blossoms. It’s also a curved section of the pathway so that if I shoot a panorama I can see the blossoms on either side too. I’ve found the photo I want to take, so I setup my tripod and camera.
Now I don’t have a small tripod. Without the center column extended my tripod is 74.8″ tall. So not like it’s short and close to the ground so you can’t notice it. As time started to pass and more photographers started to show up, what happened next just amazed me.
Photographers would come along and walk right in front of the camera – while you could hear the shutter going off! There was enough space between the tripod legs and the water to walk there, but not a lot of space. They could have easily walked behind me though as I had done in the morning. But they picked the quick and easy route – right in front of my camera lens:
Bracket shots of people standing or walking in front of your camera are always the best! The most amusing was the ones that would walk in front of my camera and look at me with only their eyes. They wouldn’t turn their head, just turn their eyes. When you looked at them, you could tell by the look on their face that they knew they were doing something they shouldn’t have done! They were well aware that they were walking in front of someone taking a picture. The best way to describe the look on their face is this way. Have you ever walked into an empty room where you’ve caught a dog that has just peed on the carpet? And the dog has that look on their face where they know they shouldn’t be doing this, but they’ve been caught anyway? Well, that’s the look on their faces!
Now, one thing I definitely want to make clear. I don’t think that “this is my spot, this is my photograph, no one else can take a picture of it”. Far from it. I had two photographers ask if they could take a picture where I was at and I told them “sure go ahead”. I have no problems at all with someone taking the exact same photograph I’m taking. I also had one person ask if it was ok to cross in front. Which after the shutter clicked closed I told them yes, it’s ok now. And I really appreciated that. What I didn’t understand was the photographers that just walked across the shot without a care in the world. I doubt they would have appreciated it if someone else got into their shot while they were taking it.
Photographer Etiquette 101: Please don’t stand right in front of my camera – or anyone else’s camera either. Thanks.