5 Professional Etiquette Guidelines for Photographers

Being a good photographer requires a lot of talent, knowledge, and skill. Not everyone has the eye for capturing light at flattering angles and it takes a patient person to hone the craft properly.

However, there is another side to being a good photographer that has nothing to do with shutter speeds or aperture, and everything to do with professionalism. Grow your reputation and business by following these 5 professional etiquette guidelines:

Be Reliable

Nobody likes a flake and it’s downright unprofessional. Stay true to your commitments. Always deliver quality work.

Be Reasonable

As a business owner, you must be flexible and reasonable. Be conscious and understand of extenuating circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all contract or model release form. You don’t have to compromise on all your policies, but clients will certainly appreciate some flexibility when possible.

Clearly Communicate Expectations

It should be made clear well in advance what the business terms and shoot concepts are. Both the model and the photographer should agree on the concept before the shoot. By doing this, everyone will feel prepared and confident when the time comes to shoot.

Be Respectful of Boundaries

If you’re like me and you shoot swimwear, implied, or nude work, that means you are shooting people in a vulnerable state. You have an extra responsibility to be sensitive and considerate of their feelings, non-verbal cues, and comfort zones. Don’t touch models, or physically adjust anything on them without their permission first. Vise versa, if a model asks you to do or shoot something you are not comfortable with, you have the right to say no.

I also recommend avoiding introducing an implied or nude concept mid-shoot if it has not been previously discussed. If you sense any hesitation or discomfort with the model when asking them to pose nude, stop right there. When you put someone on the spot, you don’t need an outright “no” to make a smart decision and avoid future liability.

Use Appropriate Language

Your models are clients first. They are coming to you via a professional avenue and you should treat them with the best customer service possible. Friendly small talk is okay, but don’t stray into their personal lives unless they ask you to.

Why is Professionalism Important?

First, you should be professional because it’s the right thing to do. Second, your success is built on your reputation. It only takes as little as one damaging review or one negative social media blast from a model or agent to send your business spiraling. On the flip side, praise and positive word-of-mouth will keep you booked solid, and more importantly will help you establish yourself as a true professional.