For most people, photography will be a wonderful hobby or profession. One where they will face no issues whatsoever. But naturally, in the world that we live in today, even photographers have to show some caution to avoid getting into trouble. Here are 8 tips to make sure that your only memories of photography remain pleasant ones.
Do some research
The first part of any successful photo shoot or trip should be researching the location. It is also a really good way to ensure you stay out of trouble. By researching a location, you will have a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts that could land you in hot water.
Most places these days will have a website and if there are any guidelines about photography, they will outline them there. This would include if you are allowed to use things like a flash or tripod. So always make sure you do your research before going to photograph anywhere.
Be aware of your surroundings
Often the biggest danger that you’ll face when photographing is from your own negligence. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment when photographing anything or anywhere and not be paying attention to what is around you. This could lead to having things snatched or even worse cause yourself an injury.
For example, not watching where you are walking and turning your ankle or even stepping into a busy road. Remember that the most important rule of photography is to stay safe! So always ensure you are aware of your surroundings.
Don’t travel alone
It’s no secret that the best light for photography is usually early morning and late afternoon. This usually means having to be out and about when it is dark. Clearly, this can be dangerous in the wrong area for both men and women. But even in the wilderness travelling alone has its risks if for example you fall and injure yourself. So, if you are worried about your safety, find a buddy or even better a group of photographers to come with you. It’s much less inviting for prospective criminals to target a group than an individual.
If you are going to be alone, avoid walking around and grab a licenced taxi and ask the taxi driver if he would be willing to wait for you. Yes, it might cost you a few more bucks but it’ll worth it to keep you safe.
Know and respect the rules
There are so many photographic opportunities in the world that there is really no reason for anyone to have to break the rules to try and capture a photo. The only thing that will happen is that you’ll be escorted out, your camera seized or even worst arrested.
For example, on a recent trip to Bhutan, I was told a story by my guide about one photographer who decided to sneak in his smartphone to video inside the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. He had been warned about the consequences of doing so but ignored it. Within minutes he was arrested, and his phone seized. He had to pay a hefty fine and spend a few hours with the security guards for his actions.
It’s just not worth the trouble that you will get into so always make sure you respect the rules and if you are unsure ask. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t photograph military buildings or personnel
It might seem like an obvious bit of advice, but if you are taking photos of military buildings, you really are inviting trouble. So, the best bit of advice is to simply avoid doing it.
Photographing military personnel or even police can also land you in trouble in the wrong situation. Sometimes it will be OK and is part of the experience of visiting a country. For example, in England photographing the guards at Buckingham Palace is acceptable and you probably wouldn’t face any problems. But photographing police or military personnel standing outside a barracks will usually invite some questions at the very least. As always if unsure ask before you click.
Ask permission before photographing kids
Another scenario that might get an angry response is photographing other people’s kids without permission. Parents are naturally protective of their kids and rightly so. Any parent would be suspicious of a stranger taking photos of their children. That doesn’t mean you can’t photograph kids, but always ask permission first. Explain the situation and reason for taking the photo and offer to email the picture to the parents for their use. Naturally, if they refuse, respect their decision.
Watch out for other people’s safety
Besides ensuring your own safety, you should also ensure other people’s safety when photographing as well. Whether that is ensuring that your equipment doesn’t injure people by falling or tripping them, to accidentally bumping into them when not paying attention. Remember that if you cause an injury to someone you could end up with a lawsuit so it’s always a good idea to ensure that you have adequate insurance to cover you.
But there’s no need to worry with a bit of common sense and caution you should be able to avoid causing any accidents.
It always a good idea to have insurance to cover your equipment in case they are damaged or stolen. But it is also worth ensuring that your insurance covers you in scenarios such as the above (injuring someone else). There are a lot of companies that offer insurance for hobby photographers and even semi-professional photographers so make sure you have adequate cover.
Most people will never have any problems or issues during their photography journey. As long as you use common sense and make sure you are obeying the rules and regulations you shouldn’t either. But if you do end up with a problem it is always best to be calm, polite and cooperative to try and resolve the issue. Most of the time a simple apology and a promise of not repeating the offence will get you out of trouble, but it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.