Be A Stock Photographer Without Alienating Your Friends and Family

Let me start by saying…..I know you all know what I am talking about here.

You go to a family event and spend the whole time behind the camera not just document the event but, look at the way those candles light the cake, aunt Suzie has some new sunglasses with the coolest design on them. Will she sign a model release?

You know that guy at the party that is always pulling out his Blackberry and checking his email, stock, etc? The one everyone thinks is an annoying jerk? That, dear friends, to our non photographic minded friends and family… us, with our cameras, flashing in people’s faces and that “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE for JUST one second please.”

Now, I am not saying don’t take pictures at graduations, weddings and the like. You are the family photographer and that probably is expected. I am talking about the after events where we feel the need to photograph the way the light is shining on a rock, the balloons floating in the blue sky (really who can resist that?) etc.

We can’t help it. We are what we are, but there are some ways to minimize the damage we inflict on loved ones and try not to make them feel your only interest in them is for commercial value.

1.There are some times you MUST leave your camera in the car…and I say that because you KNOW there is no way to shut that little voice off in your head and/or poke your eyes out, and keep you from pulling out the camera…just this once, then spending the whole evening with your face blocked by your Canon, Nikon, Sony etc saying ”uhhmmm hummm” to every question.

2.Holidays and family events are for catching up and socializing. Especially at a family event, set up a time for photos and then put your camera away and have fun. If you decide your niece is a perfect model for your stock shoots. Set up a working time away from the party to handle that. As an alternative I will sometimes take a little point and shoot for candid family stuff I know I can't use for stock. Then I am not so twitchy.

3.NEVER, EVER take photos of your friends and family drunk and/or doing something stupid. (If it is really stupid, video it.) then you can’t be blamed if they show up on Facebook. Also, this is your best model base. They won’t want to help you if they can’t trust you.

4.Keep a handy stash of business cards. This will (hopefully) keep you from showing everyone every photo you love that’s in your iphone. Direct them to your galleries on your websites and then listen to what is going on in their lives.

5.When on vacations, use that early morning with the great light. Everyone else is usually asleep. You can get some awesome images and then take on the day knowing you have something in the can. DO NOT spend the day post processing them while everyone else is having fun. Again if you really need those lifestyle shots in that area you are not likely to get to again for a while, if ever, schedule a modeling session (and stick to the timeframe) with your family/friends and then be done with it.

6.Funerals- Wow. There is a lot to say here, just be respectful. Usually that involves no camera....I highly recommend either shooting from a distance with a really long lens or leaving your camera in the car. Especially at a military funeral. Your family may understand but visitors will not and that is the quickest way to a physical fight. Then your family will not be on your side either. (and you might get your equipment damaged.)

….and yes I am going to say it. DO NOT photograph the deceased without the family’s permission, even with a long lens. (and for those of you not from the south wondering who would do that??? it's kind of a southern thing.)

7.Weddings. If you are not the paid photographer make sure you touch base with them and let them know you are there. Be very careful to stay out of their way. Your friends/family paid a lot to have them get good photos and not of the back of YOUR head when you pop up in front of them to get the perfect shot.

Lastly….drinking and cameras often fall into expensive danger. At present I am having a lens repaired because the whole camera when flying with a table that got knocked over to the concrete. I had, in good faith, put it down to socialize…. Why was my camera on the table? How did it get knocked over? Alcohol was involved in both cases. Poor judgment on my part. I am considering myself lucky that the damage was so minimal and a fairly cheap lesson learned.

If you are going to be drinking, put your camera away. This will not only save you some grief with other people playing with it, if your nephew, who you adore drops it, now you have a family issue..…and refer back to section #3……

All in all, if you take some care, you can have fun, take photos and not alienate your friends and family in the process.

Photo credits: Shailesh Nanal.

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June 27, 2011


OMG, stock photographers use their families as models??!!! I can not believe this!

Hahahahaha..... shhhhhhhh.

June 24, 2011


OMG, stock photographers use their families as models??!!! I can not believe this!

June 24, 2011


Great tips!

June 24, 2011


Great blog, thanks for sharing.

June 24, 2011


That's so true. Great tips! xD

June 24, 2011


I think everyone of us can smile and shake our heads at one or more of your points ... we all do it!

June 24, 2011


Very useful, yeah! I'm one of these people that go out ith friends and the camera... and don't stop taking photos everywhere!!! I don't shoot people but I recognize in the person with the face behing the canon ;)

thaks for the tips!

June 24, 2011


made me laugh out loud! :)

June 24, 2011


Interesting points!!

June 24, 2011


Interesting blog!!!

June 24, 2011


Great blog.

June 23, 2011


Very good points! :) Thanks!

June 23, 2011


Very good points! I think we all see ourselves in there somewhere.

June 23, 2011


Very thoughtful article..... full of valuable advice. many thanks. David.

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