What the Common Folk Don’t Understand About Photography

I’ve spent a lot of time organizing meeting times and shooting various photography projects. So much time in fact that I’ve come to the realization (not a theory, but truth) that the common person does not understand photography as a profession in any way shape or form.

They see the finished product and that’s all they care about seeing.

However, when photographers see a project, they see all of the work that will go into getting a certain shot.

Here’s a fun list about what the common folk don’t understand about photography… AT ALL!


People don’t understand lighting at all. They go out and take photos in the middle of the day and wonder why their sky doesn’t look as great as the photo they saw on Instagram that was shot at six in the morning. Lighting is huge in photography (but I don’t have to tell the photographers that). You can’t expect good results when you’re shooting in bad lighting. It drives me crazy when clients get worried about lack of light when I still have a good 30 minutes of day light left.

I’ve almost stopped looking at photos of people on Facebook because they either have shadows all over their face, or they took a photo right in front of a huge light. Constantly judging lighting is my curse.


I could have thrown lighting in this category as well because lighting and timing go hand in hand. But what about other timing? If someone wants you to take a photo, they don’t see all of the time that goes into it. You see the travel time, the time it takes to set up, the time it takes to get the right light, the time it takes to set up a good composition, the time it takes to edit, etc. Let’s not forget about the fact that if all conditions aren’t right, you won’t get the photo you want and all of that time will be lost, and you’ll have to start over.


Don’t even try to explain RAW files versus JPEG files with people. It’s a lost cause. Even if a common person says they understand photo editing (which is rare), they are probably referring to iPhoto or Google’s photo editor.

People don’t understand adjustment curves. Layers and masks? Yeah, fat chance they can even follow that discussion. Why can’t people just understand the photographer’s struggle that over 50% of photography takes place behind the computer screen? Why?!?!?!


This is a legitimate conversation between a client a me recently…

Me: I want to photograph a paddle boarder from a higher perspective so that you can see them on the water without any distraction from the bank of the river.

Client: Well the bank is pretty high on the edge of the river, you can shoot from there.

Me: Well, I really need to be very close to them because of the lens I’m using and I need their whole body to be within the area that’s the surface of the water.

Client: Can you use a different lens?

Me: No because a telephoto lens won’t give me the same wide look that a wide angle lens will give me.

Client: I don’t understand.


Long story short, I was able to shoot from a boat.

No Sleep

Photographers wake up very early and stay out pretty late, especially if those photographers are shooting night photography. This is an important concept to understand before you sign up for any photography workshop. I’ve had people confused as to why we are waking up at 4:30 AM to get to a location. When they see the sunrise, they understand.


No, I won’t take your photos for free unless you’re a great friend, in my family, or involved in a charity. I’ll just leave it there.

We Aren’t Dreamers

Well, we are in the sense that we are working out dream job. But we aren’t just skipping through fields of wildflowers then posting those photos on Instagram. There’s more of a story to every photograph. Let me refer you back to the “Timing” category of this post.

The moral of this rant is for everyone who doesn’t understand photographers or the lives they live. Be nice to photographers. They work hard, and are so misunderstood.