A historic building in South Florida burned to the ground recently because in the dark of night, a trio of photographers set it ablaze while trying to “paint with light.”
While trying to take a selfie last week, two tourists climbed onto Hercules, a 13th century statue at Loggia dei Militi palace in Cremona, Italy. Under their weight, the statue’s crown broke off, fell to the floor, and shattered.
A gorgeous plantation in Louisville, Kentucky had to issue this statement via its Facebook page about a year or so ago because people with cameras could not manage to respect the property.
These are but a small sampling in a long line of “photographers who ruined it for the rest of us” stories.
And it needs to stop.
You are a photographer and you love to create. You see opportunity all around you and want to make the entire world your studio.
But, the thing is…it’s not.
What you hold in your hands is a camera — a wonderful creation of metal and glass and plastic. It is not a license, however, to go wherever you please in the name of Art, disobeying site rules as you “push boundaries.”
I’ve seen popular workshop givers even teach that rules mean nothing:
“They tell you that you can’t shoot at National Monuments, so sneak in.”
Really? REALLY? Yeah, that’s just the advice we want new photographers to hear.
We are a big industry, and some of you are out there ruining it for the rest of us, causing gorgeous locations to be “off limits” ‘cause you can’t stay out of the flower beds. We’ve got photographers setting up shop and taking over areas frequented by the public; we’ve got photographers trespassing on private land; we’ve got photographers who assume a camera entitles them to do as they please wherever they please.
Dear Baby Jesus in a Manger, we’ve become like pigeons: annoying, showing up everywhere and crapping on everything.
And I get it. I do.
How many of us look at a spot and think, “Dang, I wish I could shoot there.” And, indeed, maybe you can — if you get in touch with the right person and follow the guidelines and do it the right way. But sneaking in or taking over once you’re there is only going to give the rest of us a bad name and then no one is going to be able to shoot anywhere and then we’ll all be shooting against one of those green screens and reminiscing about the good ol’ days when we go could anywhere without the fear of being ushered out by security.
You want photography to be a respected profession? Well, you gotta give it to get it.
The camera should be the “tool,” not the photographer.
About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist, a lover of bacon, a drinker of vodka, a lover of sparkle, and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can connect with her on her website, Tumblr, and Facebook. This article was also published here.