Photography etiquette: how to handle backseat drivers
We’ve all probably encountered a backseat driver at one point or another. They aren’t limited to just the road — this type of person can exist anywhere, from work to home and even online. In photography, a backseat driver (or backseat photographer) typically tries to offer unwarranted direction on a photo shoot, even if they aren’t a professional. More often than not, it’s a family member attending the session or someone else close to the client. Backseat drivers can be a pain in the you-know-what, but there are ways to handle the situation cooly and professionally.
Try to move away from them if possible
First and foremost, the easiest way to silence a backseat driver is to move away from them. Now, this isn’t always possible — it’s more likely to work if your session is in a big, crowded setting. For example, at a wedding, let’s say the mother of the bride wants to direct the bride’s poses or wants to tell you which angles to take.
If the setting is pretty busy, you might be able to quietly shuffle away from the backseat driver. You could casually say something directly to the photography subject, like, “Let’s get some photos over here,” and walk away together.
If you can’t escape, humor the backseat driver once
Plan B: if there’s no getting away from the backseat driver, maybe you can give them a chance. Take one of their suggestions on posing or angles or scenery, even if you don’t agree with it. It’ll be one or a few out of probably many photos, so it won’t hurt to humor the backseat drier just once. And it might be enough to get them to step back a little.
Joke it off, but remain professional
What’s one of the best ways to politely get a point across? Crack a joke. You can hint at the backseat driver’s intrusion by saying something jokingly, such as, “Hey, what do I know? I’m just the photographer with 10 years of experience.”
BUT, remember to be as polite as possible. Keep the mood light and remember that, as frustrating as the situation might be, it’s still a job that needs professionalism. Plus, when you maintain your composure, you’re more likely to keep the client calm.
See if the photography subject wants to say something to the backseat driver
Finally, make sure to pay attention to the client’s attitude. If they seem uncomfortable with the backseat driver trying to take control, you might want to pull the client aside and ask if they want to talk to the person. If they’re close with the backseat driver, they might be able to stop the behavior. You might also get permission from the client to politely ask the backseat driver to let you focus on your work. It’s all about communication!
Contact October Dreams Photography for more tips.