An historic building in South Florida burned to the ground a couple years ago because in the dark of night, a trio of photographers set it ablaze while trying to “paint with light.”
An historic plantation in Louisville, Kentucky had to issue this statement via its Facebook page a few years ago because people with cameras could not manage to respect the property:
“We are implementing a ban on photography sessions on our site…we are first and foremost a historic site, not a photography studio. Many photographers have been deliberately disregarding our site rules, moving benches, photographing in areas that are off limits, showing up and refusing to leave when the site is closed. Until we can guarantee that the photographers we allow on our site will be courteous and respectful, we have had to take this course of action.”
These are but a small sampling in a long line of “photographers who ruined it for the rest of us” stories.
And it needs to stop.
You are a photographer and you love to create. You see opportunity all around you and want to make the entire world your studio.
But, the thing is…it’s not.
What you hold in your hands is a camera- a wonderful creation of metal and glass and plastic. It is not a license, however, to go wherever you please in the name of Art, disobeying site rules as you “push boundaries.”
I’ve seen popular workshop givers even teach that rules mean nothing:
“You aren’t allowed to shoot at National Monuments, so sneak in.”
“Sneak into abandoned buildings with your clients/models and pay off the homeless with alcohol.”
And workshops given WHILE trespassing? Oh, don’t even get me started.
Is that really the advice we want new photographers to hear? That advice could easily result in a session that goes so spectacularly wrong you could sell tickets.
We are a big industry, and some of you are out there ruining it for the rest of us, causing gorgeous locations to be “off limits” ‘cause you can’t stay out of the flower beds. We’ve got photographers setting up shop and taking over areas frequented by the public; we’ve got photographers trespassing on private land; we’ve got photographers who assume a camera entitles them to do as they please wherever they please.
Dear Baby Jesus in a Manger, we’ve become like pigeons: annoying, showing up everywhere and crapping on everything.
And I get it. I do.
How many of us look at a spot and think, “Dang, I wish I could shoot there.” And, indeed, maybe you can – if you get in touch with the right person and follow the guidelines and do it the right way. But sneaking in or taking over once you’re there is only going to give the rest of us a bad name and then no one is going to be able to shoot anywhere and then we’ll all be shooting against one of those green screens and reminiscing about the good ol’ days when we go could anywhere without the fear of being ushered out by Security.
You want photography to be a respected profession? Well, you gotta give it to get it.
Remember…the CAMERA should be the “tool,” not the PHOTOGRAPHER.
About the Author
Missy Mwac is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: Facebook, Tumblr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.