The Five Most Annoying Habits of Photographers

London wiv Jonny-31Oh yeah, I do love a good grumble (it’s an age thing)

Don’t photographers get on your nerves sometimes?  Sometimes they can be a little irritating and other times incredibly annoying.  Sometimes they do things that make you cringe and there are other times, sadly too often, when they do things that make you embarrassed to call yourself a photographer.

It’s easy to poke fun at other minority groups and all their irritating idiosyncracies (cyclists in lycra, in-your-face vegans, train-spotters, etc, etc) but we as photographers can be just as bad in our own way.

I bet there are things that irritate you.   Here are just five that range in scale from laughable and infuriating, through to head-explodingly dreadful.  There are more, but I run the risk of being rude (and I might even find myself appearing in some of the categories if I widen the parameters too much!).

So, my top five irritants are:

1.  Reversed lens hoods
2.  Carrying too much gear
3.  Over-processing photographs
4.  Flooding Facebook posts with multiple images
5.  Arguing about Gear

1.  Reversed lens hoods

Does anyone else look at photographers walking around with their lens hoods fitted on backwards and think… “Why?”

reversed lens hood-1The lens hood is an essential tool for two reasons.  Firstly, it helps shield the lens from the suns’ rays and secondly, if you bang the lens accidentally against a wall or some other object, it helps protect the lens glass.

Some manufacturers ship their lenses with the hood fitted in the reverse position to help reduce the overall size of the package.  It was never designed to be actually used in that position.  Are people being lazy or is there some kind of stigma about fitting a lens hood?

Here’s a question, are lens hoods uncool?

Is it actually uncool to use a lens hood?

I think I may have something here.

Ok guys (and I’m sure this is mainly men), let’s be honest.  You’ve bought a really nice lens with a wide aperture.  It might be something like a 50mm f/1.4 or maybe a 85mm f/1.2, and the front piece of glass is HUGE.

It looks so damn awesome without a lens hood fitted and people can see all that glass and instantly know that you have a frigging awesome lens fitted.  It’s impressive.  Other photographers are gazing at your lens with child-like envy.  You look epic!

THAT’s why you don’t put your lens hood on properly.  It’s an ego thing.

Stop it.  It’s annoying.

 

2.  Carrying too much gear

Camera bag manufacturers must love us.  They produce a dazzling array of bags to fit all sizes of gear; from something small enough to carry a tiny point-and-shoot camera (do people still use them?)… through to huge behemoths, capable of storing multiple professional-body DSLRs, a plethora of lenses and a selection of flash, filters, spare batteries, memory cards and cables as well as laptop and hip flask (I wish).

Oh, I nearly forgot the tripod strapped to the outside too!

It’s not uncommon these days to see men (yup, this one is mainly down to guys too) walking around with HUGE bags on their backs, smaller lens pouches wrapped around their waists and then the cameras over their shoulders.  When I say smaller lens pouches, they’re not always that small.  I saw one guy with a couple of massive lens pouches attached to his belt, one of which I swear went down to his knees.

The worst cases of gear-hauling is when spouses/partners get lumbered with carrying gear too.  Sherpa spouses I call them.

big camera bag-1Seriously, how much gear do you need to take?  It’s easy to understand what’s going on in his mind.  He’s packing for all eventualities.

I can’t help feeling he’s kinda lost the plot.   You’ve only got to look around to see that the majority of other photographers aren’t carrying that amount of equipment.  There’s a lot to be said for shooting light.

There are plenty of experienced photographers who would argue that less is more.  Freeing yourself up from having to think about which lens to use, means you can focus more (no pun intended) on the taking the photo.  My own experience has shown me that keeping it simple by reducing your choices, often helps you develop your composition skills.  You’ll think more about the photo and less about the equipment, less about whether to change lenses, to go wide or shoot tele.

If I might make a confession here, I can remember early days in my career when I thought a big bag meant you look more professional.  In reality, it’s probably the opposite.  From my perspective these days, the more you carry, the more it speaks about your inexperience.

And it looks so nerdy too

Less, is most definitely more

 

3.  Over-processing photographs

To those individuals who lack discernment when processing photos in Lightroom (or other editing software), where colours are ridiculously intense, where the Clarity slider has maxed out (in either direction – God there are some dreadful images out there) and where the sky and clouds look like something from an acid trip… STOP!.

Go away and never post your photos on social media again.  Your photos are awful!

I like to think that I have a fairly liberal attitude towards photo styles.  Photography is an art form and therefore we should allow ourselves to push boundaries.  I hope I never restrict any of my students from breaking with convention.  Colour, composition and form can all be experimental.  Van Gough broke all the rules, but no one would dare accuse him these days of being anything less than a genius.

But I’m not talking about this.

No, I’m talking about garish, over-the top, indiscriminate visual nightmares.  And it’s not just landscape photographs that get the treatment.  I’ve seen so many portraits that make me cringe.  I think there are some people out there who need the Clarity slider disabled.  The over-use of Clarity in the editing process has wrecked many a fine image.

I’ve posted a couple of images below (which I’ve mocked up deliberately) to illustrate the kind of thing I see all to often.

Over-processed boats-1

Over-processed portrait-1

4.  Flooding Facebook posts with multiple images

So you’ve got a camera, you’ve been on holiday or you’ve just come back from a photo-shoot.  You’re proud of your photos and you want to share your experience with the world.

What do you do?  You upload the whole frigging lot to Facebook.

To be honest, whenever I see anything over about 10 images I scroll past.  I don’t have time (and I’m not sure that any of us do these days) to flick though 30, 40 50 or even sometimes over a hundred images (most of which are fairly identical) of someone’s attempt to get the right shot.  They might like them all, but that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to look at the whole lot.

Posting just 2-3 of your very best images is a much better solution.

  • Less people will get bored (and if you do it a lot, people will just stop looking)
  • If you only post your best, people will begin to see YOU at your very best
  • To grow as a photographer, it’s extremely useful to develop a sense of discernment.

I often find, that when I set assignments for my students, some will struggle to select their best shots and end up sending me many different images, asking me to pick the one that I think is the best.  That’s not my job.  They will never fully learn the skills of discernment if they don’t force that discipline on themselves.  Picking the best from their selection has to be something they do.  It’s their eye that needs to be educated.

As a professional photographer, it is absolutely essential that I only show off my very best images.  What professional is ever going to show off anything less than their best.  Reputations are made and lost on the quality of their work.

I know it’s nuts, we all take bum shots, professionals as well as amateurs. We just don’t show them to anyone.  It would be the same for most creatives.  They only let people see (or hear) what they want people to see.

Take a recording artist for instance.  What pop star would let their public hear any of their out-takes when they sing or play out of tune?  That’s why they’re called ‘out-takes’, because they take them out before anybody can hear them.

When you listen to the finished song, it has no mistakes in it.  Only the best bits are kept.

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said famously, ‘Your first 10,000 photos are your worst‘.  Keep the bad or average ones to yourself, just let us see the good ones, the successful ones.

When some people post dozens of photos on social media I am amazed at some of the really bad images that are amongst them.  Images that are out of focus, under-exposed, over-exposed or just simply uninteresting shots of nothing.

Whilst I have no right to impose my standards of what makes an image good or bad on anyone, if you’re a photographer who, having spent a lot of money on gear, wants to improve… just take a moment and pause before posting.

Think to yourself, do I really need to post this many?  Would I be better off just selecting the best so that people can see that I actually can take nice photographs.

Less is more – absolutely (again)

 

5.  Arguing about Gear

And this is my favourite, the one I love to hate the most

Worldwide-photowalk-2018-9.jpgThe protagonists that fall into this particularly annoying habit are also mainly male (what a surprise!).

If you’ve ever been on the internet in any kind of photography-based forum, you will likely have come across heated conversations about gear.  There is something quite primitive, almost primeval, that happens to certain photographers’ behaviour when conversations gets around to what make of camera they use.

It used to be Canon users verses Nikon users.  Conversations, heated debates (AKA all out war) would break out as each side vociferously argued for the superiority of their chosen camera system.  I can remember the time when Canon had the high ground and then Nikon grabbed it.  Each side doggedly arguing for their own.

Then, when mirrorless cameras came out, there was a vicious polarisation between DSLR users and the mirrorless early adopters.  The language was often quite abusive, nasty and I’ve no doubt that if the individuals involved were face to face, fisticuffs would have resulted.

Then, Sony brought out their full frame mirrorless cameras in direct competition to the long-established Canon & Nikon full frame DSLR bodies.  The technology in Sony was extraordonary and owners of both Canon, as well as Nikon, flocked to sell their gear and migrate to Sony.  If you thought nasty belonged to the previous two debates, it was nothing compared to the venom that errupted next.

Blogs a Vlogs were popping up everwhere with headlines like:

“Why I sold my Nikon gear and went to Sony”

and

 “Hello Sony, goodbye Canon”

Whenever a new Canon or Nikon model was announced, the Sony trolls would go on the offensive with a deluge of derogatory comments, targeted directly at Canon & Nikon users.  Baiting them with sarcasm at one extreme and personal, offensive jibes at the other, these conversations were amongst some of the worst I have seen between photographers.  Indeed, many photographers were (and still are, it’s still going on) an embarressment to the world of photography.  They seemed to have fogotten the reason for having a camera in the first place… taking photos!

And this is what really angers me.  We are all photographers, we enjoy the same hobby/artform/profession.  What the hell are we doing arguing with each other about camera choice?

I play guitar.  I have a Fender.  I have friends who own Gibsons.  We don’t argue, it would never occur to us.  Both makes are respected, both makes have their strengths and weaknesses.

Both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have their own weaknesses too.  Canon has weaknesses, so do Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic and Olympus.   There is no such thing as a perfect camera.  If there was, camera manufacturers would’nt keep updating their models!

Seriously, why do people get so nasty about other people’s camera choices?  Why do they bother to waste so much time arguing?

More importantly, why aren’t they out taking pictures instead?

I guess the world will always have it’s fair share of arseholes.  These ones happen to own cameras.   Shame.

 


 

As always, if you have any questions or comments please post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

Learn Photography

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Kevin Ahronson

Kevin is a full-time professional photographer and has been teaching photography since 2009. He founded the Hampshire School of Photography where he runs photography workshops and gives one to one mentoring to photographers at all levels, from complete beginners through to those who want to turn professional

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