Photographer Etiquette?

A little while ago you may remember I went on a photowalk of Watkins Glen State Park (if you don’t remember you can refresh your memory here).  We were well over 50 people strong so as part of the “intro” to the walk the host commented that we would all do our best to stay out of each others photos of course!  He then made a joke – who would be the first to walk into someone’s shot – as in a place as confined as Watkins Glen as it was bound to happen at some point.  And we all laughed.

No photographer (at least no photographer I know) intentionally ruins another’s shot.  And when we do inadvertently walk into someone’s shot we apologize profusely.  So as I set out to shoot Moulton Barn – advertised as the most photographed barn in the world – I expected the sort of courtesy I had witnesses at Watkins Glen and just in general among my fellow photographers.

Sadly, I was wrong.  When I arrived well before dawn there were already a few cars parked near the barn.  So I parked a bit away so that my vehicle wouldn’t interfere with people’s shots.  And since the Tetons were surrounded by smoke on this day I set about finding views other than the famous barn in the foreground, mountains in the background shot that everyone takes.  I decided to walk around the barn so that I could get the sunrise – carefully positioning myself so that I wasn’t in the shots of the crowd in front of the barn.


After the sun had risen I worked my way around to take the much-duplicated shot I described above.  And also to chat up the locals to find out what other off-the-beaten-path places I might want to visit with my camera.  As I walked over I noticed a couple of gentlemen sitting with their cameras in their laps away from the group – in the back of my mind I figured they had gotten their sunrise shots and were waiting for the rest of the group to finish.  As I set up and took this shot that a million other people have taken

one of the seated gentlemen yelled across the group that I needed to move, I was in his shot.  Normally I would’ve apologized and moved on but just the way he yelled – I was shocked!  And right then and there the entire experience was ruined for me – just like that.  I moved away and he did come over later and explain that he’d been waiting there for a half hour to get his shot.  Didn’t really apologize for his rudeness – but at least explained.

I’ve never had an experience like that before – all of the photographers I’ve met have been helpful and friendly and have been understanding about “waiting their turn” if more than one person wanted to take a shot from the same spot.  I am a bit ashamed to admit I did no more photo group stuff the rest of the trip – just the typical tourist sorts of stuff.  In hind sight I let this guy bully me and I’m not happy with myself for that.  If he had just come over and explained I was in his shot I would’ve been fine – but the yelling and singling me out to the whole group for what he perceived as my inconsideration after I’d gone out of my way to be considerate – I think I’m still a bit angry about the whole thing.  I’ll get over it I promise!!


Footnote: several days later I was walking along a path and I noticed a gentleman with his camera set up on the tripod.  I stopped before I walked in front, saw he was standing away from his camera, didn’t see a remote in his hand, and then proceeded.  As I was walking in front I heard the camera clicking and realized he was shooting an HDR series – which I had just ruined.  I apologized, explained I didn’t realize, he said,  “no problem – that’s why it’s digital I can just redo it.”   And we then had a pleasant conversation about equipment.  So it’s not all photographers in WY – it was just that one guy who thought we should all work around him instead of all work together.


One thought on “Photographer Etiquette?

  1. I have had such experiences at Disney World but those people have small P&S cameras one could hardly see. I am sorry one buy ruined your time out there. Sadly, even in photography, there are a few who are rude like that. We can all learn from your experience. Thank you for sharing it and your beautiful photos. I like your take on the old barn. 🙂

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