Photography Etiquette?

Costco Carts
Originally uploaded by Strumpet101

So, today’s Daily Shoot assignment was to shoot life. I grabbed my camera and ran off to Costco, where I had to go anyway. And quickly ran into some dilemmas.

Outside the store, I was fine, I snapped away happily – but then I went inside, and instantly saw just about the perfect shot. There was an elderly lady sitting in the cafeteria section eating ice-cream. She had the free-sample-lady uniform on – hairnet and all. My problem was that there was NO ONE else around. And I chickened out. To snap her the way I wanted to, I would have had to be about 10 feet from her, right in front of her. And it would have been obvious what I was doing!

So, what’s the etiquette here? Do you ask permission to take strangers’ portraits? Do you just snap away and act like it’s normal? I was at a loss. So, this one is what you get. I’d love to know what other photographers would do in that kind of situation.

Comments (3)

  1. Alachia

    This one is super tricky. The moment you ask permission and the moment people are know they are being photographed, it's very hard to get an authentic shot. However, in this case, when it's so obvious you can't get away with her know she's the subject, you probably have to go for the verbal permission OR if you want to be tricky…ask her if it's okay to shoot the surroundings because it's for a photography class etc..and then nab a pic of her while you're "taking pics of the surrounding."

    This is also a great article on Photography Etiquette, especially while traveling.

  2. Bibble

    This is something I'm currently struggling with. Recently, I was asked to photograph a relative's birthday party, and half the pictures were of kids playing. I hesitated to take pictures of the adults because I figured they'd stop acting natural and pose. I got some dirty looks, though, when I walked up and snapped a pic without saying anything.

    I don't know what to do in public, especially if I have issues doing this with family and friends.

  3. parxyr

    Ahh, easy solution… Telephoto lens.

    Ok in all seriousness, I agree that this is a dilemma. But I guess is also depends on what you intend to do with the photo.

    Perhaps the best approach to keep the natural element of the photo is to take the picture and then ask permission. I know this is literally a shoot first and ask questions later (I even groaned a little at that myself), but it is the only way you capture the scene naturally. If the person objects, delete it.

    Good question, I'm not even sure if I'd follow my own advice here… šŸ™‚


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