Professional Responsibility

Recently, I was sitting in the chair at my salon on Historic Commercial Street in Springfield, MO when the Police Area Representative came in the salon. I really did not think anything about his presence in the salon until I heard ‘photographers’ come out of his mouth. Then my ears perked up.

I asked my stylist what they were talking about.

You see, Historic Commercial Street is an urban photographers dream, old buildings made from sun baked bricks, active railroad tracks, alley ways, awesome doors, etc. But what my stylist had to say about what photographers were doing during their sessions made me cringe.

That day I heard stories of photographers putting children on the active railroad tracks, writing on the sun baked bricks with chalk, standing in the middle of the street, all for the sake of an image.

I’m sure most of you are thinking, ‘I’ve done that.’ or ‘What’s the big deal?’.

Well, these are big deals. Historic or old buildings were made with sun baked bricks that were baked, dried, or hardened by exposure to sunlight. These bricks are extremely porous and will ‘stain’. In the photograph below, an unknown photographer used chalk to write on the side of one of the historic buildings on Commercial Street. This has been on the building since May. Approximately 5 months. It looks like it was drawn yesterday.

In regards to placing clients on railroad tracks, whether or not the tracks are active, it is illegal. Railroad tracks are owned by the railroad. The second someone steps on to the track, they are trespassing on private property. Is any image worth endangering your client or receiving a ticket?

As photographers (and yes I am a photographer too), I believe we need to think about our professional responsibility to clients and our surroundings.

Would you enter a home of a client for a family session, move their furniture for the session, then leave without putting everything back in its place? Would you go into a church, move a few pews because they are in the way, and not move them back into position before the ceremony begins?

We have to act responsibly. We need to think before we act because if we don’t our ability to photograph pretty much anywhere we want, will be taken from us.

Let’s let our actions speak louder than our images.

Are you acting responsibly?