Are Photographers Becoming a Public Nuisance?

by David Gibbeson

Are we as photographers becoming more of a public nuisance? Photography as a hobby is as popular as ever, but are a select few potentially damaging the hobby for everyone else? Lately there seems to be a growing trend of photographers not caring, or simply being unaware of how they are impacting the areas that they are often there to photograph themselves.

Photography has always been a fairly passive hobby; with photographer’s presence rarely being noted apart from the usual long lens comments from passers-by. In more recent times the age of social media and photography sharing websites has driven competition and inspiration through the roof. This is causing people to go to further lengths to get a “better” or more extreme version of a photo to trump their friends/rivals for each location.

Photographers causing damage

There have been instances of late where photographers have caused irreparable damage to places that are often a popular spot for photographers. This includes people possibly burning down boats and causing damage to property; especially with things like light painting with burning steel wool or however the effect is achieved. Waving around things that could be a potential fire hazard or cause distress to wildlife should be kept to areas that are suitable and safe.

Bluebells have been the in thing as they bloomed across the UK. It is sad to see reports of people using smoke machines in prime locations or even damaging the flowers themselves by not sticking to the paths. Soon it will be poppies that are in demand. It is a real shame because it not only damages how landowners or the general public perceive us, it also gives those that like to keep locations secret more reason to do so.

Photographers being a nuisance

Drones have captured the world’s attention with the press looking for any angle on them to use in their articles. Drones are a massively positive tool for photographers and a whole range of other people. Again though, there are a select few stupid people who insist on pushing the boundaries too far and often being a public nuisance or causing harm to people or property. As drones get more affordable and accessible I feel that they are going to become an invaluable tool for professional photographers and hobbyists alike, who look for alternative perspectives. This isn’t to say that people are intending to infringe on others. Often it is just the drive for an image or film sequence, or poor piloting skills that can lead to issues.

The few could ruin it for all

In an ideal world photographers should not leave evidence of being anywhere except for the photographs that they have captured. While most photographers visit locations at all hours and leave without trace, except to maybe greet another photographer in passing, some are not as considerate. We have to remember that a lot of what we love to photograph is on private or managed property. In the name of preventing damage or harm being caused to property, wildlife or plant life tripods could be banned, or photographers all together.

We also need to remember that it isn’t just photographers that like these beautiful scenes or places. Lots of people just like to enjoy them for what they are, and the last thing they want is to wade through smoke generated by machines or to have to step over tripods or worry about getting in photographs.

We need to educate

I am highly confident that the majority of photographers are decent people who are just trying to enjoy the hobby. I feel that we just need to strive to educate the few and re-affirm the message of respect and care for the things we shoot. This could be done by photography magazines, communities, at club level or taught by those people that teach workshops. This isn’t about finger pointing, or calling anyone out, it is just a hope that the message will be out there to encourage everyone to respect and appreciate we have, and to let others do the same.


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