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Insights & Thoughts

Facebook Etiquette for Photographers

By Sparkle Hill on April 13th 2015

Facebook is a wonderful platform for all businesses to market to potential clients and connect with other professionals in the same field. However, in many cases, common courtesy and respect seem to be dismissed on a daily basis, especially among photographers. Let’s face it, photography is a heavily saturated industry, and we are all just trying to make our mark and be noticed. In fact, many photographers rely solely on Facebook as a means for marketing and showing off their portfolio.

With all of the many benefits of using Facebook as a marketing platform, I have noticed a common trend in photography groups and business pages. So many get caught up in “competing” with one another that common courtesy and etiquette seem to be put on the back burner. Hopefully, these tips will help shed some light on keeping Facebook a positive place for connecting with other photographers.

Photography Group Etiquette

As a photographer, chances are you are part of a few (or a few hundred) photography groups. Groups are a great place to socialize with others in the industry, share tips and advice, receive honest feedback (constructive criticism) on your images, and maybe even make a few new friends. I am an active member in many groups, and I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal from fellow photographers this way. I also administrate a group with close to 3,000 members. I try not to over-saturate my group with a ton of rules. However, I feel there are a few rules that need to be put in place just as common etiquette.

facebook-group-screenshotJoin the SLR Lounge Photography Community Group on Facebook

Deleting Your Own Posts

One of the biggest issues I have noticed in groups is the deleting of posts. Someone posts an image for critique or posts a question for advice and many members take the time to give the requested advice or critique, then the post just vanishes. Why does this happen? Usually, it is because the OP (Original Poster) simply does not like the advice given to them. It could be because they feel humiliated or foolish based on the responses. Or, they feel that their question has been answered, so the post serves no further purpose to the group.

Here is why this a problem: photography groups are created for the sole purpose of becoming a learning environment. When you post an image for critique or ask for advice on a topic, you are likely speaking for many other members in the group. One single post by you may help educate hundreds of other members. The image you posted that was completely blown out or out of focus may be a common issue for many others. That question you posted regarding pricing advice may be something that several other members are struggling with themselves. We all learn from one another’s mistakes. By deleting a post, you are defeating the purpose of the group.

delete-post-facebook

Group members need also to take into consideration the time that others spend giving free advice and tips. My group is made up of many seasoned pros who know a thing or two about photography and running a photography business. They take time out of their day to interact and offer helpful advice to complete strangers. However, I have found that many of those seasoned pros have just completely given up on helping others in groups because it becomes a waste of time when their advice just vanishes. If we want to keep groups productive learning environments, we need to maintain a level of respect for those spending the time to educate.

I get it; sometimes people can just be plain mean. I’ve seen it happen a thousand times, and I have been the victim of it myself. Of course, if you are being threatened, bullied, or intentionally humiliated, then protecting yourself takes top priority. There are exceptions to every rule. There is always an option to report to admins if you feel you are being “attacked” by a member. Just always keep in mind that other people are taking the time out of their day (unpaid) to share valuable information with you and other members, and your post may help other photographers.

Screenshots And Sharing Other’s Work In An Attempt to Belittle Them

Just don’t. It really is that simple. You gain absolutely nothing by taking screenshots of other photographer’s posts or work then posting it in a group for hundreds or thousands of others to see with the intention of belittling them or making a mockery out of them. It is distasteful, disrespectful, and a complete waste of your time. So you don’t like what the photographer is charging, or you think their style of work is horrible? If you need to vent, send a private message to a trusted friend and vent away! Always keep in mind how you would feel if the tables were turned. The only thing humiliating others in this industry will get you is disrespect.

Do Your Research First

Have you ever posted a question in a group and the only response you get is telling you to Google it? Do not take this as a rude response. I have learned that you can find just about anything on Google. Gear reviews/comparisons, legal questions, camera functions, software questions, etc. can almost always be answered with a little effort and research. One thing my college professor taught me that has kind of stuck with me is self-resourcefulness. If you feel that you have done your research on a topic and are still having a problem comprehending or understanding, then by all means, ask away! But, you may just find that you learn a hundred more things while researching that one topic. Research first, ask questions later. A quick search on “photography tips” yields almost 3,000,000 results. You are sure to find at least some information to lead you in the right direction.

google-screenshot-photography-tips

Giving and Receiving CC (Constructive Criticism)

I am not going to go into too much detail on this topic. It’s like beating a dead horse, and everyone has their own opinion. However, I feel that there are a few points that everyone should keep in mind when giving and receiving CC.

[REWIND: HELPING OTHERS GROW THROUGH CONSTRUCTIVE CRITIQUES]

Receiving CC

So you have decided to put yourself out there and post a photo for critique? It can be nerve wracking at first. Believe me, when I first started posting for CC, I sometimes left wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. Here is what I have learned: photography groups are full of other photographers. Plain and simple. If you post an image for critique, that is just what you will get.

Disconnect the personal connection you have with your work (easier said than done) and soak up every ounce of CC you can get. If exposure, composition, or focus seems to be the common issues pointed out, invest time into correcting those issues. Critiques on your work are not critiques on you as a person.

Keep in mind that “criticism” is part of CC. Members may not even point out the good things about your image. The point of CC is to learn from your mistakes and the basic fundamental issues of your image. Take it, learn from it, and apply it to future images. You will notice major growth in your work when you learn to be open to honest criticism.

Giving CC

There are a few things to keep in mind when giving CC as well. Of course, the obvious would be not to resort to name calling or telling the person that they should just put their camera down and never take another photo. That is rude and not at all helpful.

Ask questions. What were your settings? This simple question can usually answer many issues with the image. ISO may be too high, shutter speed too slow, aperture too wide, etc.

Keep in mind that an amateur photographer may not be familiar with all of the lingo and photography terms that come with experience and education. Communicate on their level. Perhaps point them to websites, forums, or tutorials that are more in depth than you could possibly write in one comment. Most importantly, be honest. False praises may seem like the right thing to do, however, save that for their family members and friends. My family certainly lied to me when I first started, and although they meant well, it did not help in my growth at all. You can be honest and helpful without being just plain rude.

Critique, Vote, and Win Prizes at SLR Lounge

Facebook Business Page Etiquette

As photographers, we use our business pages for marketing. We display “sneak peeks” from our sessions for our clients, their families, and potential clients to see. Unlike groups, these pages are public and open for all of Facebook land to see.

Facebook etiquette certainly needs to carry over to business pages.

[REWIND: 5 TIPS FOR GAINING FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES FROM POTENTIAL CLIENTS]

Unsolicited CC

We post images on our page for marketing purposes. We tag our clients in them. Criticism on our public pages is absolutely uncalled for. We do not want our clients or potential clients seeing every issue with our images pointed out for everyone to see. When it comes to business pages, unless specifically requested, just keep your thoughts to yourself. Respect the fact that doing so can cause negative consequences to the photographer and their business.

Leaving a Bad Review

So you “aren’t a fan” of a certain photographer’s style, or you feel they aren’t worthy of charging for their work. This does not give you the right, as a fellow photographer, to leave a bad review on their business page. Reviews are meant for clients to give their opinions on the services they received from a photographer. Again, this boils to down to respect.

Marketing Yourself on Another Photographer’s Page

Unless you receive an open invitation to do so, you should avoid marketing yourself on the behalf of someone else’s page. Again, this is distasteful and disrespectful to the photographer you are intruding on, regardless of whether or not you believe you have something better to offer. Keep marketing yourself to your own page.

Reporting Images

This is an issue that has grown very common for photographers and it is very disheartening. Resorting to reporting images with the intentions of getting a photographer’s page shut down is quite frankly, ridiculous. There are many valid reasons to report images on Facebook. However, reporting just for the sake of reporting needs to stop. We work very hard to build our page followers. To see it all come crashing down for no legitimate reason at all can be devastating to a photographer. Receiving a notification that your page has been unpublished usually results in having to start fresh with a new page, and rebuilding your following. Appeals seldom work in your favor. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

screen-shot-unpublished-facebook-page

Back in June of 2014, Victoria Simmons was one of the many photographers who have been targeted in this way. You can read her story here. 

If you feel offended by “controversial” images posted on a photographer’s page, simply un-follow their page, or perhaps send them a private message with your concerns. Opinions are not a good enough reason to risk someone losing their page over. Boudoir photographers are going to post boudoir images. Don’t like what you see? Don’t follow their page. Most importantly, do not report images just because you know it is an easy way to get someone’s page shut down. You will gain nothing by having their page eliminated.

To Sum It All Up

So there is no formula or set of rules set in stone for Facebook etiquette for photographers. However, I feel these are common issues that need to be addressed. I believe most of it boils down to common sense and respect. Focus your time and energy on your own business and your own clients and success will follow. As long as Facebook is around, there will be thousands of other photography pages and groups. Your page is just one of many. Treat one another with respect and the way you would want to be treated. We can all help one another grow in this industry, but respect is a must.

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Share this article with all of your photographer friends so that, hopefully, we can get the message across!

About

Sparkle Hill is a photographer based out of Canton, Georgia. She specializes in children, high school seniors, couples, and families. In early 2015, she began venturing into more artistic composites.

Sparkle strives every day to find the balance between marriage, three children, her photography career, and reaching out to advise beginning photographers however and whenever she can.

And yes, that is her real name. :)

Website: http://sparklehillphotography.com/

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Helen Smith

    I was curious if there is any courtesy or etiquette in regards to photographers and their clients. Recently our daughter got married. The photographer posted a sneak peek on facebook of about 32 pics. More than what I consider a sneak peek, but that’s beside the point. I as the parent who financed the wedding festivities would have like to have seen the photos before hand versus seeing another daughter sharing them on facebook for all the world.
    Previous photography work we’ve had done I’ve received an email to a link of the photographer’s work and then a few days later they are share on facebook via the photographer or myself. This includes the mother of the photographer (she wasn’t available this time round). My older daughter insists this is how its done today, but I find it …. not sure of the work, but a lack of common courtesy to the parties involved. I know the groom’s parents aren’t big facebook fans and so will hear about the photos from friends and other family members long before they see the photos.

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  2. norman tesch

    i have gotten away from the groups for the most part. to many have thin skin, you dont know their sill level, or you run into that guy that cant just comment but when someone differs they try to bully people to think there opinion is the best one. or that guy that has to find something wrong with every photo. i also ran into a couple college professors that thought they were be all end all of photography. i looked at their work and finally told them that getting advice from you is like me telling jordan how to dunk. that was after i looked at their work.

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  3. Mark Hopkins

    Great article Sparkle…. all good points. :)

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  5. Richard Hammer

    Frankly, it’s sometimes embarrassing to be known as a photographer, simply because there are so many other photographers out there that give this industry and craft a bad name. Photography has a stigma attached to it that makes it harder on those of us who genuinely just want to bring beauty and art to this world using our camera. It’s also embarrassing that, despite the fact that we are all adults, we need a set of etiquette rules in order to associate with one another on social media. Is it really so hard to communicate in a healthy way with another photographer without either party becoming offended?

    Apparently so!

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    • Sparkle Hill

      I agree. The stigma is a result of the competitive nature of this industry.

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    • Graham Curran

      The problem is much wider and not unique to photography. The anonymity of the Internet makes many people behave in ways that they wouldn’t on a face to face basis.

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    • Thomas Horton

      Graham nailed it. It is the anonymity and the lack of accountability that makes the Internet what it is.

      I wonder what would happen if everyone on the Internets Tubes had to use their legal name?

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    • Thomas Horton

      That’s why I call myself a picture-taker-guy. :)

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  6. satnam singh

    thanks

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  7. Denise Richardson

    I love this article! I refrain from posting cc often because I feel like the poster gets offended or hasn’t made the effort to seek answers that could be more useful than anything I could tell them (google, public library, camera manual etc.) Wonderfully written!

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    • Valerie Holifield

      Yes and I often also feel like who am I to judge? Art is subjective, for one, and secondly what qualifies me to “teach”? I very rarely say anything CC wise. It has to be for someone who is clearly very new and could use a few very basic tips before I do and when I do offer criticism I always offer a compliment as well.

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    • Thomas Horton

      Unless someone asks me specifically for CC, I also refrain. There are enough people who will give unsolicited CC.

      Besides, really, if I don’t like a photograph or don’t agree with a composition, who really cares? It ain’t my photograph. :)

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  8. Dustin Baugh

    I feel a little sick at the idea of “photographers” bullying and abusing Photographers but these days everybody thinks that the fact they own a camera gives them some privilege above others. Just having a decent camera is no longer the defining point of being an actual Photographer, it’s how you act with that camera that defines you from the masses and trying to undermine others online makes you more of an internet troll than Photog.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      We live in an era of Generation Image where people express themselves through the use of Instagram, but as you said having a camera does not make you a professional photographer if you don´t work at it.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      You have to improve on a daily basis and be humble about it until you reach your goals and get respected for it.

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    • Thomas Horton

      There is a breed of photographer out there that takes things way too personally.

      If I post that I like CaNikon cameras, some photographers feel that what I am “really” saying is that NiCanon cameras suck and anyone who owns one is a fool! Yikes.

      People have different opinions. But there is a growing breed, especially on the Internets Tubes who believes that their opinion is fact.

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  9. Graham Curran

    All excellent advice and not only for photography FB groups. It annoys me when I (and others) have made several posts to a thread and then find it deleted. If I have taken the time to think and reply on a topic then my time has been wasted when the thread is vaporized.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      True that has happened to me.

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    • Thomas Horton

      But to look at it from the other angle, the person who wrote the article also took time out of their life to write the post.

      If an OP decides that their post is should no longer be posted, some credence should be put on their decision.

      It goes both ways.

      The key is not to give the OP any reason to delete their posts. :)

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