Skip to main content

3 things you should NEVER say to a photographer

3 things you should NEVER say to a photographer
(Image credit: YouTube: Justin Mott)

If you're a photographer, there are things people say that are guaranteed to annoy you. Whether it's trying to get you to shoot things for free, or trying to tell you how to do your job, we've all heard the kinds of questions and suggestions that set alarm bells ringing. 

As a working photojournalist and commercial photographer, Justin Mott has seen and shot it all – and he's just about heard it all, too, when it comes to cheeky things that friends and clients say when it comes to his photography. 

• Read more: Best professional cameras

These people frustrate him so much that he's put together a brilliant YouTube video, "HOW TO ANNOY PHOTOGRAPHERS" – we strongly advise you to watch the whole thing below, as you'll be squirming along in your seat as he rants about all the crazy things people have said to him both as 'friend with camera' and as a professional that they've hired for a gig. 

Here's a roundup of the most aggravating things people have said to him. We can't wait to hear what's coming up in part two! 

1) "Oh, could you bring your camera?"

"We’ve all had this happen to us, we know what it means. I’ve actually had this happen to me: a friend asked me to bring my camera to their wedding and then they didn’t have a wedding photographer. 

"'Oh just come, bring your camera, take a couple of snaps.' First of all, this is gonna sound cocky, but we don’t take snaps, we take pictures. Like, we think about things, we think about light, we think about composition, we think about moments. So it’s a lot of brain power, it’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of effort… not just in that time that they’re shooting, it’s a lot of work afterwards. 

"Don’t invite a friend who’s a photographer with the stipulation that like, it’s just gonna be easy they’re just gonna take a couple of shots. It’s like, if you want to hire them, hire them. If you don’t, don’t. That little in-between area where you’re trying to get them to do all the work but not pay for them? We don’t like it. So just stop."

2) "Why don't you try…"

"Insert, 'a different angle', insert, you know, 'the model looking this way'… If you’re not the creative director on that shoot, even if you’re the client in marketing or communications, don’t say that. Don’t tell us, like, the technical stuff. 'Did you try a different lens? Did you try a different angle?' Like we know. We have tried that angle before, we tried it years ago, early on in our career, and it didn’t work. And we know it’s not gonna work here now. That’s why we’re not trying that angle. 

"Trust us a little bit. Like, when you start having these ideas about try this angle, try with this lighting, try this… all that time, because most of us are pretty polite, even though I don’t sound like it right now, most of us are pretty polite. So like, we’re gonna do it, but all that time we’re doing it, that time could have been spent doing what we do best, which is getting the shots that you hired us to shoot. 

"If you looked at our portfolio, and you liked what you saw, let us do what we do to get those shots." 

3) "Can my friend shadow you for the day?"

"Don’t ask the photographer, 'Can my friend shadow you for the day? He’s learning about photography, he’s interested in photography.' At first glance you're gonna be like, well why not, what’s the problem, what’s the big deal? He wants to learn, it’s a great opportunity to learn. 

"Well, a professional shoot comes with a lot of stress, a lot of different things that the photographer will have to manage; one more thing going into that is one less thing going into the overall creativity and the overall quality of the shoot we’re doing for you."

For more of Justin's opinions, reviews, tips and, yes, more ranting and raving, be sure to check out his YouTube channel

Read more: 

Best cameras for wedding photography
Best lenses for wedding and event photography
Wedding photography tips

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-PhotoDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus (Micro Four Thirds) and Canon (full frame) shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a particular fondness for vintage lenses and film cameras.