Photojournalists tend to forget that when we show up it’s a big deal. Some
people obviously don’t know what to expect or what to say, but they know
they might have their photo in a newspaper or magazine where it will be seen
by the masses and they say strange things. There are some things you should
never say to a photojournalist.

 

HEY PAPARAZZI!

 

The term “paparazzo” (one is a paparazzo, more than one is paparazzi) is
insulting. I am not a paparazzo, cameraman, camera guy, shutterbug or
picture man. Not to stereotype, but this is a guy thing. It’s the same guy who
calls a bartender,”nurse” or calls a doctor, “sawbones”. Cut it out, you’re pissing
everybody off, and the “nurse” is probably spitting in your martini when you’re
not looking.

 

PLEASE USE YOUR THIN LENS.

 

While I’m stereotyping, women say this. I understand that they care about the
way they look. We all do, but my “thin lens” is in the repair shop, and I’ve
misplaced my “young lens”. The problem is if you’re really that self conscious
about your appearance it will show in the photos. Just be yourself and that too
will show in the photos.

 

YO CAMERAGUY TAKE MY PITCHER

 

I can overlook this from a five-year-old, but it’s hard to ignore from an adult
while covering a breaking news story, during a press conference or a sporting
event. A variation of this is the people who strike a pose and then say,
“Take my pitcher” as if they’re ordering from the dollar menu at a fast food drive
through. Liquor and stupidity contribute to both of these scenarios. I work for a
newspaper so I see a lot of stupidity.

 

THAT’S A REALLY BIG CAMERA

 

I don’t hear this one often, but I don’t know of a woman photographer who hasn’t
heard it. If I were a woman photojournalist I think the really big camera would be
upside the head of the guy who said it.

 

DO YOU JUST TAKE PICTURES?

 

People mean to ask, “Are you a reporter?”, but it doesn’t come out quite right.
A variation is,” Are you just a photographer?”  I want to respond that some days
I’m allowed to feed myself. I realize some people need a clarification because
of their interest in my job.

 

THIS IS MY PHOTOGRAPHER

 

Reporters, editors and PR people who ought to know better say this. Photographers
should be allowed to kill them.

 

 

YOU AREN’T GOING TO PUT MY PICTURE IN THE PAPER ARE YOU?

 

No I’m standing here with $20,000 of camera equipment and a press pass around
my neck for no reason. Don’t give it a second thought.

 

 

WHERE DO YOU WANT ME TO STAND?

 

I would like you to do what you do. I would like you to continue to do what brought me
here. Standing around is probably not the reason I’m here.

 

WE CAN REENACT WHAT WE DID BEFORE YOU GOT HERE.

 

I don’t take photographs of people pretending to do things because those photos look
like photos of people, well, pretending to do things. This conversation will be awkward
and the photos may be problematic.

 

NO PICTURES!

 

If you’re going to do something really stupid, but newsworthy you’ll want to do it in your
own home or yard. You have no right to privacy when you’re in public places. This can
also come from a police officer or a public official, but the same laws apply for the most part.

 

SMILE. SAY CHEESE.

 

Bystanders think they’re being helpful or clever. I have had people yell “Smile” at a man
who just lost his home in a multi-alarm fire. This can be counter productive when parents
are talking to their children. Who is junior going to listen to, mom and dad, or the strange
guy with the cameras?

 

AREN’T YOU DONE YET?

 

I shoot hundreds of photographs. Most photojournalists do, and we keep shooting until
we know we have the photo that tells the story.