Teachers Learning from their Students

Photography Tip to Keep in Mind
by Don Monkerud

***Don Monkerud is a writer from Santa Cruz, California, and one of our students here at LIGHT Photographic Workshops. Recently, Don sent us a story that we feel is a great lesson for amateurs and pro photographers alike. ***

Anyone who photographs people, especially in public, invariably runs into the irate subject or bystander who objects to having their, or someone else's photograph taken.

My rule of thumb is always to ask permission, but occasionally I'm working too fast, already gained permission earlier, or simply 

Image by Don Monkerud

Image by Don Monkerud

overlooked asking the subject for their permission. Sometimes such oversights can become costly, in embarrassment, rejection, mistreatment or even loss of a job.

A recent incident in the local jazz club where an experienced photographer has been taking photographs for years can be a reminder to all photographers. Over the years, he became somewhat lackadaisical about showing up at the beginning of musicians' sets, instead showing up midway through their sets and simply snapping away.

While posted signs and an announcement at the beginning inform listeners that there is to be no recording or photography during the show, the club photographer volunteers to take photographs for the club's website. The last time he showed up after a show began and started snapping away, the singer stopped the musicians in the middle of a song and demanded that he erase all the photos on his card. Who the hell did he think he was? He mumbled an expletive half under his breath, which didn't go over well either.

Image by Don Monkerud

Image by Don Monkerud

The new photographer makes a point of showing up during the sound check to ask permission. A valuable lesson, for I'm sure the original photographer was not only embarrassed but also humiliated, and he lost his gig. The lesson is to always ask permission and not get so used to a regular gig as to become lackadaisical.

A question about usage also arises. While this has been a volunteer job, what rights does the photographer have to the work? The initial meeting with the musicians is the time to set the parameters: Can the photographer use the photos only for the club? What about art shows or sales on a website? Should an agreement be signed? etc.

Whatever rights are requested and granted, the photographer must to be aware of the first rule in taking photographs in such a setting: 

Always ask permission.

By Don Monkerud
Copyright 2011

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We are happy that Don was willing to share this learning experience so that all of us could learn from it. If you have had a photography experience that you feel others can learn from please share them with us! Contact us at info@lightworkshops.com with your tips and shooting stories.

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