Thursday, April 30, 2015

How To Be A Photog & Still Have Friends

Ask anyone who has spent time with me since high school: I have had a camera on my person constantly for over 15 years now. It is beyond rare that I am without one. Yes, I use my cell phone for pics- mainly for Instagram- but I almost always have either my point & shoot (perfect for skiing, tiny handbags, etc.) or my DSLR in addition to that and it’s where I prefer to take most of my photos. Capturing images of everything I do isn’t something that has sprung on me since the social media craze sprang into action: I have always done it. Always will do it. And find it gives me great joy. Pictures are, by far, my hugest passion and hobby

What has changed since social media is the fact that you can easily share all the pictures you take now (yay!) but alongside that, there’s also a larger audience- which can be a bummer for some.

Like I said, I have been snapping away on a real camera forever but there has definitely been a level of growth in how I have gone about not only the images I take but also how I present them online. As someone who loves capturing moments but who doesn’t want to make anyone feel bad - here’s a few tips I’ve learned along the way (Spoiler alert: They’re common sense. But I find that they have great value):


The Cardinal Rule: Do not post pictures that are obviously super unflattering.
^Why would I ever upload unflattering pics of others when I have gorgeous ones like these- of my friend Shanin- to upload instead?

Everyone is obviously going to have those times when a picture is just a big fat bummer of themselves. Trust me when I tell you that that person would much rather never see that picture online rather than have you post it because it’s “still a good one of us on our trip”. No. They don’t want it online. Period. Even if there’s a huge cactus behind them with a lightning bolt in the background. Or they’re with an elephant whose trunk is caressing their face. They don’t want that online. Period. Try to look at each image you upload with that mindset: Would this person like this photo? Would they be grossly upset by it? If the answer is yes, don’t post it of them. Don’t. With every album I post, I 100% swear to you that I have gone through each image one by one to ensure that there’s not one that would give someone that pit in their stomach when they realize that everyone has access to a picture that makes them want to curl up into the fetal position.

Modify Images As Needed
^An image from my rehearsal dinner, Sept. 2014. I had a line of bridesmaids behind me but they were all laughing so hard that they looked a little delightfully crazed. I figured they'd be happier this way.

Say you have a large group photo of all your friends, smiling and looking happy as can be at a baby shower. But over there in the corner is Jane Doe swatting away a bee with an abhorrent look on her face. Oh, man. Jane looks weird but it’s such a good memory - to post or not to post, that is the question. The answer? Crop Jane out. In my opinion, it’s not rude. I have noticed that most would consider it ruder to include Jane so she doesn’t feel left out rather than remove her from an image where she would obviously be embarrassed by her expression. Additionally, learning how to use a blemish remover tool will go a long way.

Know the difference in fun party pictures and bad party pictures.
^Of course you can upload Vegas pics. Just be selective!
You and your group trying out a new brewery? Great picture!
Cheersing before you hit the town? Perfect!
Erica passed out at 2 AM after a night of bar hopping? No.
Googly-Eyed images of your friends eating Taco Bell on the couch in their pajamas? Have you learned nothing from this post…

I used to be a horrible offender of this during my college years. I would snap, snap, snap at anything and then post away the next day because “ZOMG!!!! CHEERS TO COLLEGE. WE’RE HAVING SO MUCH FUN.” Needless to say those images have all been blocked and locked down now (In my partial defense- at that time FB was limited to ONLY other college students). Because that’s really unfair to do to others let alone yourself. There’s a fine line in party pictures but if you think hard about it, it’s not that difficult to see. Is this a picture of your friends celebrating, enjoying time together and smiling a plenty with clear eyes and drinks in their hands? I’m sure it’s okay. Or are they all cross-eyed taking shots in a dark bar with neon lighting in the peripheral? Might want to rethink that.

 Note the context of the photo and the person

^Vacation pictures = good.

I think there's a big difference between a photo of someone dancing it up, sweaty and happy at a wedding rather than a hot mess on a nameless Saturday night at the pub down the street. One is a bit more socially acceptable than the other in terms of if your friends will be upset that you posted it or not. Also, some people might love a picture of them being wild while others would be humiliated. Take that all into account.

When in doubt- email that great, unflattering photo.
^Cool view, weird face = a good candidate for the email photo.

Under the first rule I posted, I believe you shouldn’t post an unflattering picture of someone even if there’s other cool elements to it. However, that doesn’t mean the person might not appreciate the humor of their Kim Kardashian ugly-cry face when they’re hiking a cool trail. Just email it to them. They might laugh about it when they receive it that way. But when it’s dispersed to 1,500 others as well, I doubt they’ll get the joke more than they get that you just put them on blast.

And finally, always be willing to take down a photo without getting mad.
^Our family dog, Maddie, looks incredibly cute here. But who knows what she would say if she were a human. Maybe she'd think she looks like a dope despite that adorable smile. Allow people the right to remove.

Even though I try really hard to only post pictures I think others would be okay with, I sometimes don’t get it right. Where one person looks really pretty to me might be the shot where they think they look super weird. I may not see it … but … I’ll always remove an image upon request if someone is uncomfortable with it. Always. And I’ve told my friends that countless times over.


At the end of the day, if your friends/family trust your discretion in the photos you take and what would make the ‘final cut’ of going online: You will be able to take more photos without everyone’s complaints. I find that for me, it not only allows me the freedom to continue my favorite hobby but it ensures that I’m not hurting the feelings of everyone I know. Besides, if they trust that you won’t put certain pictures online- you will have a large portfolio of private images to laugh over as you get older. Ones they would be mad if they even see a flash go off during the event if they didn’t TRUST YOU to not post it. 

I was in Las Vegas for my bachelorette party and while there, we captured the good, the bad & the ugly. The good made it online. The bad & the ugly are just for posterity amongst the group. Another example: I took about 500 pictures the day my sister gave birth. However, I only showed a small amount of them and they were the ones that I knew she would be okay with. Most were far too intimate and I’m grateful that I had her faith in me to know the difference and snap away that day without her worrying I would post something inappropriate.

Any other tips or thoughts?

^Camera at my side always.
I’m always down to improve even further on this. Mainly because my camera and I aren’t going anywhere anytime soon ... which is exactly the hope I have for all my friendships.


Lauren Farrow said...

No wonder you are such a great blogger! You always have a camera by your side to record everything!

It's almost like you are a photojournalist?

I've discovered that really good lighting and a really good camera are usually flattering for everyone's photos.

Pat Hatt said...

Good thing the cats don't care as that is the only pics I use online. Have to use common sense indeed, no drunken stupor photos ever go ever that well.

mirmirzimzim said...

LOL I love that Maddy is the example you give for thinking a pic is good of someone and them hating it. "I look like a dope!"

BLovedBoston said...

I've definitely had that friend that was so against a photo but I looked good in it and it's always a struggle LOL! These are such fun tips girl! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

PorkStar said...

Nice images and pointers. Very classy toilet picture on the first one. Oh and I noticed you were in it too. I mean IN the picture. Let's be clear lol

Also I believe I saw all of your unflattering pictures on your blog, which you had a tag on and why did you remove them? :(

I agree on the not getting mad rule if any one asks to take down a pic. A few years ago, I was the photographer for a naked body painting party and my boss had everyone sign releases so their pictures would be posted with their consent. I had to post them in ALL social media and I then got bombarded with threats and asked to take them down. I had to create a secure website for those who wanted to see them instead.
Party poopers.

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I am the Picture Person in my circles and family. I have been since I was about 16, so that's over 20 years now. I agree, post the good, and email the bad or share via private photo album like snapfish. That's how I roll!

I will also always remove a photo someone hates of themselves. We've all been there!

Great tips!

Gracey Williams said...

Your pictures are always great! I think a lot of people need to be more careful on the night out pictures, they don't look quite as good the next day.

Breakfast at Gracey's

Elle Sees said...

icannot stand it when i tagged on fb and i look awful or it's a pic that i don't want on the internet. i'm constantly telling ppl to undo it!

Shay from Great, Now What said...

Love this! Also- I'm sure people appreciate you taking as many photos as you do! Sometimes it is hard to remember the camera!