Want Professional Respect? Then Avoid These Three No-Nos

Whether on news or corporate assignments, there’s a certain bare minimum of professionalism that your clients and colleagues should expect. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to know this. Here are three no-nos for photographers who want to be taken seriously:

1. Dressing inappropriately. I don’t care if you were just out on an outdoor assignment in the hot sun; you should still carry a blazer/jacket (and, preferably a tie for the boys) in your car so you can turn up at an event where everyone else is in business attire and not stand out like a sore thumb.

For editorial photographers, dress like you respect the office location you are entering. T-shirts are not acceptable. For corporate/commercial photographers, dress like your client; they will respect you so much more for it. One of the things I see all too often is videographers dressing in jeans when everyone else in the room is in business suits. And then they wonder why they don’t get the respect they deserve.

2. Behaving rudely. Comport yourself professionally. This means not slinging your bag against guests at an event (both photojournalists and event photographers). This means don’t make inappropriate remarks or comments you haven’t fully thought through on a shoot. That goes for editorial as well as corporate photographers.

If what you are thinking of saying does not contribute to the image you’re trying to make, or does not contribute to the client’s positive opinion of you, then don’t say it. This also means turning your cell phone on silent — or off — whenever you are actually working, or in the presence of others “on site”.

3. Disrespecting other photographers. Treat others with respect and due consideration. This means, when you’re at a news event, don’t be the ass who goes in with a 14mm lens while everyone else is respecting their colleagues and staying back where a 35mm lens works so everyone can get the shot. Using the 14mm means you just may get a monopod across your skull; I’ve seen it happen.

Further, respect TV. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen still photographers just walk through a videographer’s shot, or stand up at a press conference in front of a video camera on sticks, which results in the “down in front” or “stills move” burst of a loud voice from the back of the room. Additionally, while I can throw an elbow just as well in a press scrum as the next guy, I’d much rather work with my colleagues to get the shot, or better yet, when everyone else is getting the same shot, look at things from a different angle.

Respect your profession, those whom you are working for, and those who you are photographing. Doing so ensures that same respect is returned to you.

[tags]photojournalism, photography business [/tags]

3 Responses to “Want Professional Respect? Then Avoid These Three No-Nos”

  1. Well which is it? '...look at things from a different angle' or not 'be the ass who goes in with the 14mm when everyone else is shooting with a 35'. You can't have it both ways. If the 14mm shot is the more interesting shot why should the photographer who 'sees' it have to stand back and shoot the same shot as everyone else. Just ridiculous. And your conservative comments on the way photographers should dress is the same. It is not your position to tell people how to dress, or to say that the only way to get respect from someone in a suit is to dress the same. I find it hard to believe that in 2008 anyone would still think this way. Rohan

  2. I'm guessing you do a lot of ad work, Rohan? I definitely think the atmosphere is more formal in D.C. doing editorial, where John works. I also think John is right that corporate clients can look askance at those who dress informally. When I was a VP for a large corporation, for ex, I would never hire a photographer to take a picture of our board of directors who didn't know to come in khakis and a nice shirt, at a minimum. It varies by industry, of course, and doing a shoot offsite with a corporation's marketing director is a totally different story. But too often photographers and others of an artistic bent think that all that matters is the work, when in reality great work may not get you hired again if your behavior turns off the client.

  3. John, I am surprised you have to advise photographers as to how to dress or behave, but maybe not. In these days of sloppy dress and careless actions and semi english no wonder good photographers do not get the assignments. Perhaps it is just a sign of the times or something, however photographers should realize their talent needs to be competetive and so does their dress and actions in the presence of a client

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