RE: Photoshelter’s post, Top 13 Ways To Piss Off A Photo Editor

To be sure, there are annoying, irritating and potentially job ending road blocks that are thrown at Photo Editors on a non-stop basis. But, photo editing is a job that requires you to be resourceful, use experience to avoid failure, sift through the garbage and seek out great photography wherever it may lie. Sure, there are handout jobs where the number one requirement is no hassle, just great pictures from the photographer, but if it were always that easy there would be no need for photo editors in the first place.

Please digest with a grain of salt.

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  1. The items on that list are a good way to piss off anyone. Behaving unprofessionally is never a good thing.

    But I have to object to the tone of the article which, at least to me, tries to paint photo editors as gods who need to be appeased. Photographer/photo editor is a symbiotic relationship. Photographers need good assignments; photo editors need good photographers. Everything else is pretty much negotiable.

    I’m sure there are photographers who could break every one of those rules (and then some) and still get work.

    • @Getova Yosef,

      there are assignments where you want zero hassle and I’m sure there are entire magazines and photo depts built around don’t hassle us but really all that matter is pictures. if that mean you gotta put up with an ego or god forbid digging into a website to find the email then so be it. photo editing is as much about managing creative people. not an easy task.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        I used to have a boss who was fond of saying “that’s why they call it work.” Dealing with issues is part of every job.

        Any photo editor who can’t deal with creative people probably should be looking for another line of work.

  2. Love it! Common sense, courtesy and professionalism. Simple rules to live by.

  3. All parties concerned shouldn’t forget that it’s a two-way street.

    • @john mcd., it may be a two-way street but let’s not forget who has the wallet.

  4. Gotta love the deadline one. You know how often PE’s go silent for 2wks following the shoot and then an email pops up asking for a final image the same day or the following day? Sometimes multiple images? More times than not that’s for sure….

    This article just reads as a bitchfest for pe’s and is kind of insulting to photogs.

    • @Anon,
      Really? I thought it was pretty tempered, and constructive. I mean, the list might be more poignant if you brought it down by half, but beyond being photo editor-centric by design, i didn’t think it read like a b!t3hfest at all.

      I agree to the comment that it’s work, and a PE might have to dig for contact info and maybe even track someone down, by I think saying we’re “creative” types and therefore should be held to a different standard is utter bull. It’s like trying to justify being a bully by saying that you had an unhappy childhood. I’ll feel sorry for you, maybe find you some help, but i’m not going to want anything to do with you from a professional or social standpoint.

  5. ehhh I would rather see something a bit more positive and constructive. We’re all in this together, you know.

    Maybe: “13 things that make a Photo Editors day” or “13 ways to build a relationship with a Photo Editor”

    I also agree with the poster about the lack of transparency in this field. If it weren’t for AdBase, Agency Access, and, where would photographers learn about interacting with editors? There is a huge information gap that leads to frustration and wasted effort, and articles like this one.

  6. I love it! Great stuff! I am waiting for Grover’s 10 ways to make a PE love you.

    It boils dow to treat others the way you want to be treated, so if you start throwing dog crap out there you will get elephant crap back. It all flows downhill.

  7. I believe that the majority of effective photo editors have a strong respect for photographers even if they have opposing views.

    It’s a very tenuous line between being strong willed and being able to compromise.

    It’s very much a “Don’t whine; Deliver!” position.

    Many days you have to dig deep to keep your sense of humor and thick skin when dealing visual colleagues who have a singular focus.

  8. Hmmmm. I’ve called too much after a shoot that I was really psyched about…

    I also bad-mouthed another shooter (who deserved it…) and wished that I had not….just bad karma and unprofessional. (but he still deserved it…the little trend riding p@%#k!)

    I’ve also heard picture editors bad mouth their bosses and other shooters….I just listen and keep my mouth shut.

    Also questioned a credit line once……(well the lack of one really)

    BUT I learned and will never do it again.

    But I’ve also saved the picture editor and editors ass when a writer out and out lied and I corrected it with accurate captions. Writer was challenged and admitted they she had been to the site just did research on this site/event.

    I’d love to see the opposite side of the list….


    Ten ways to make sure this photographer will never accept your calls again…

    I can add three to that list right now.

    1. Treat the photographer like a lackey and so heavily art direct a no-budget editorial piece that it become de-facto advertising including product placement within the frame to gain favor with an advertiser.

    2. Lie to a photographer with the line that “well such and such (a well known shooter) never has a problem with this sort of usage or he never bills for that.

    3. Bitch to the photographer about how bad your working conditions are, how your budgets are so tight and how horrific the creative director or senior editor is to you and your co-workers.

  9. whoops…

    I meant…

    Writer was challenged and admitted she had NOT been to the site as claimed and just did research on this site/event.

  10. I love getting emailed jpegs from photographers and notice that they have sent the same emailed photos to every magazine photo editor in the skateboarding industry.
    I have actually given a couple of photographers friendly advice that that’s not cool.

  11. The issue is not editors vs photographers, it’s really employees (editors) vs. entrepreneurs (photographers).

    If these photo editors don’t think their bosses (magazine owners) do the very same things on the list then they’re plainly high.

    Think about on payday photo editor!

  12. Hello APE,

    I thought the link to the post was interesting. It revealed a lot about the mindset of some photo editors. Here’s the problem I have. I wish more photo editors would be straight forward in situations other than blog rants.

    If I call you, drop a promo, leave a message and don’t hear something back, I will probably follow up with a phone call or email to see if you got my message and/or promo and if you have any time for a meeting. I do this because if I don’t, you might consider me to be a lazy ass who doesn’t have the energy to follow up with you.

    If you are too busy to answer my call or meet with me, just say so. Send me an email letting me know that you’ve gotten my message and/or promo, but you just don’t have time to do a sit down right now. I would probably be stoked to know you’ll keep me on file.

    If you hate my work, let me know it’s not what you’re looking for. I bet you I won’t be calling you back until I think I have work that will meet with your expectations. Or maybe I won’t call you back at all because I’ll realize that my work isn’t where it should be because you’ve been so kind as to let me know that straight up.

    Bottom line, it only takes a few minutes to clear things up with a photographer. It takes countless effort and time to receive multiple unwanted calls/emails or promos. It’s kind of like a boyfriend that doesn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. He can lie and suffer with his annoying girlfriend for another 6 months or he can be a man and break it off before it drags on any further.

    Photographers aren’t completely daft, they can take the hit. So photo editors, be a man!

    • @Jess,
      Although I agree with most of your sentiments, some of these photo editors just do not take the time to address every e-mail or call that they get. Their non-response is very pertinent and also instructive. Either they are not intrigued enough to take it to the next step, they are too swamped with work, or they have different communication priorities than us. In an ideal world, we would all address each other with respectful attention. But, I think we both realize that the dynamics here do not meet the definition of an ideal world. Yeah, It sucks, but I try to keep my eyes on the grander scheme. And just keep moving forward.

    • @Jess,
      I can tell you based on experience that being completely honest with people doesn’t always work.

      If you tell a photographer that you don’t like their work or don’t think it’s appropriate for the magazine then they want to argue with you about it or they want an explanation or they want to know what they should change about it so you will hire them. Which is fine but you can see how responding quickly escalates the amount of time you spend on something you’re not interested in.

      Most photographers don’t realize because they don’t hear back that the photo eds look at every single email and direct mail piece that is sent to them. That’s the good news. You are actually reaching the person you want to.

    • @Nacho,

      Once again all good, albeit common sense, advice. But I am still very put off by the tone.

      My experience, in business in general not just photo editors, is the royal managers (the people who think their pleasure is the only real objective) rarely produce the best work. They usually wind up surrounding themselves with sycophants who are so focused on pleasing the boss they lose focus on the actual job. The end result is poor or mediocre work.

      Good managers bring out the best in people and compensate for their weaknesses. The focus is on producing a quality end-product, not pleasuring the boss.

      Frankly, any photo editor who rigidly subscribes to these silly “rules” ought to be approached with caution. Your a-hole meter should be flashing red.

      • @Getova Yosef,
        yeah they all sound like d-bags. I’ve met a couple of them and they were super nice so I’m going to chalk it up partially to the way it was written and edited. Obviously P-Shelter wanted this tone.

        • @A Photo Editor,

          That’s a shame if these are really good people being made to sound like a-holes by P-Shelter.

          On the other hand there’s the Jeckyll/Hyde personality issue that seems to be common with the king/queen type of manager. They seem really nice if you are above them on the org chart, work with them as a peer or know them on a social basis. But people who work for them see a very different person.

          I think it goes back to the “do your research” recommendation. Whenever you are contemplating working for someone, it’s always a good idea to check them out with someone who has also worked for them.

      • @Getova Yosef,
        I agree. Common sense and off putting tone, at times very patronizing.

  13. Both Photoshelter articles seem to assume that everything is still hunky-dory in the land of Editorial.
    When were these little snag-lists drawn up?
    – BEFORE most of the top Advertising photographers began paying for great Editorials out of their own pocket?
    – AFTER every jetsetting Photo Editor finally ditched that stupid 12-inch PowerBook G4 and stopped complaining that your site didn’t quite fit on their screen and they had to scroll sideways a bit?
    – BEFORE most successful shooters became too busy to completely re-do their book before every single appointment? Seeing seven or eight PEs in a single day is not uncommon, and usually the most productive approach. To be frank few of us have 8 ‘slightly different’ books, and there are times when it will be biked directly from an Ad agency to to your desk.

    If we’re talking from direct personal experience…
    (Just a few) ways to piss off a Photographer;
    – DO increase the number of images required for an assignment, once you’ve had the Photographer’s edit in. Stretch it out over a few more pages, go ahead. But don’t increase the budget accordingly, or pay for any extra pages, and be sure to get your intern to request the extra fully-retouched images at 7pm on a Saturday for FTP delivery by noon on Sunday.
    – DON’T do any real research on a Portrait subject, perhaps even get their name mixed up with that of their PA or a notable public figure with a vaguely similar name.
    – DO your best to lock the Photographer into a full Rights grab, whilst telling the entrepreneurial Portrait subject that yes, of course, they’ll have full access to everything that was shot and can go home from the shoot with a DVD full of images.
    – DO occasionally completely forget that a Photographer was dropping in for an appointment. We’ve heard the ‘I’m working on a different computer this week’ excuse many times, and we love it. It’s totally okay for you to have not heard of MobileMe or Outlook.
    – DO ask me to completely reformat my website just for you because you run Internet Explorer. It’s fine. I wouldn’t dare suggest you perhaps download a (free) browser that actually f**king works.

    Getova, you’re spot on with everything you’ve said.
    Two-way street, idiots everywhere. Watch your step!

  14. I wish it did not have a tone of us vs. them.

    We need to be mutually respectful. Most of the things on the list would also work in reverse so I think we need to all keep in mind that what you expect from others is also what you should do in return.

    I do not think it is complicated. All seems like common since.

  15. I have to say meeting photo editors is really stressful and difficult and I think the way the business and the industry is going with increased compeition it just compounds this. I have sometimes phoned 7 times + before finally scheduling a meeting.. but in the end, I got the face to face meeting..

    Asking for a presentation to be 100% tailored to their magazine is really difficult and I have gotten this kind of comment before…

    I showed a book of portraits and some somewhat reportage style images at a magazine, known for its portraits and it does have editorial stories and reportage, the comment was, this book looks like it is for “insert name here” magazine. It was a difficult nut to swallow, and I immediately thought, WTF, cant they see what I can bring to the table here? and why does it HAVE to be so similar to everything they already print? it taught me that not everything I shoot works for every magazine and that not everyone will appreciate your work.

    Another thing that is really frustrating for photographers is if the PE doesnt respond or give feedback, I have dropped a lot of books with 100% radio silence afterwards.. it stinks, but again, I think most photo editors are just too busy.. I think you kind of have to get used to the fact that most of them are just really really busy and they dont have the time to relay their thoughts.. from what I hear its a tough job, with a lot of expectations and reporting to higher ups..

  16. we are probably too busy to answer your emails, but send us chocolates….

  17. I recently did a shoot for a major environmental magazine. I spent my short window of time allotted by the magazine shooting a very difficult and in-depth topic (physically, the area they wanted represented was the size of new jersey) but was told the deadline was max 72 hours. Under bad weather, bad conditions all around and lack of information – including some inaccurate – I managed to get a nice portfolio of images together. Not my best, but much better than any stock out there and I was still pleased. I offered to continue shooting for an additional number days on this large feature to really nail it. The magazine said they had what they needed. I wanted to improve on it and go a layer deeper. I didn’t want more money (they pay pretty well anyway for the short time). This was about getting images that represented me as the photographer the best. In the end after repeatedly offering and asking they were adamant they had what they needed. After three weeks, they still hadn’t gone to layout despite the initial mad rush. Finally, the piece comes out a month or so later and the opening spread is a stock shot that I could have taken walking distance from my house and looks like it was shot in the 70s. Photo Editors need to realize that it’s not all about money for some of us photographers. Our names are on those pieces and we enjoy capturing the best we know we can capture. Had the magazine had their act together, I could have used those extra 3 weeks to really delve deeper, time the weather better and give them an all around better product while also saving them money on stock purchases. This wasn’t my first assignment for them so they know my skill set. I hope photo editors really learn to communicate and that all editorial staff, including layout/design, communicate with their photographers because the end result will be better for all.

  18. What’s with all the whining? Stop being so damn emotional. We’re dealing with 2 different things here, art and business. As an artist, I know that some people will love what I do, some people will hate it. That’s cool. It is what it is.

    But there is one fundamental goal in business. How do I get you to give me your money? It’s their money. It’s their publication, organization, corporation, etc. If these are the rules that they set, you have 2 choices. Play by them or not.


  19. I agree with most of the posts about the tone of this. It feels like we (photogs) are being talked down to again. It does have a negative feel, but I will take it with a grain of salt;)
    I can tell you I just had a very unusual meeting with A Art Buyer in NYC . This guy for a hour and a half while phones were ringing,emails coming in and people putting notes on his desk sat there and told stories about past jobs. Now you would think getting someone’s undivided attention for an hour or more is a good thing ? Well just like alot of folks in the industry I left the meeting scratching my head saying WTF just happened? Nothing about my work or if I’m even someone they would consider. When I tried to get to that point I was blown off by some weird deal about Disco balls and airplanes.
    I was always under the impression that folks in the “Big City” with the “Big job title” were busy . Well take this with a grain of salt ,but your no busier than me . In fact judging by what the “Senior Art Buyer ” told me his job is more about adult day care( clients and photogs) than anything else.
    So getting back to what pisses off A Photo Editor the bottom line is this. The supply and demand equation is in the favor of the clients,art buyers ,editors and such. So you(Photo editor) can be as rude ,snotty ,demanding ,inconsiderate,insulting,waste ones time or whatever. Not because your under pressure or your job is tough,because you can.
    My observation over the years has been this unless you(photog) have achieved “Rock star ” status , your good friends or they just trust and like you the client will hire no other photog. It’s pretty simple people hire their friends or referrals from friends. If you the photog off the street think these folks are going to treat you with respect think again,they don’t have to!
    The article” Top 13 ways to piss off A Photo Editor “is kind of the same old stuff. Photographers need to understand this is the attitude you are working with. This is a great article if you do not understand these folks by now? The best thing photogs can do is be as professional as you can and hope that the folks your dealing with are as well.

  20. Most picture editors I have known are good at their jobs, love photography, like photographers, are easy to work with and are nice people on top of that. Most. Those who were queried here seem a mixed bag. There are a couple who sound like prima donnas(or as APE put it, “d-bags”) that you’d be better off avoiding. Some of what they are quoted as having said is condescending and makes me wonder if they even like photographers(something I should think would be a prerequisite for the job of Picture Editor). But there is also some basic good, if obvious, stuff there too. So by all means read what they say. Then make up your own mind. It’s your work that matters most, but a great attitude is always a plus. As for the suggestion that you send gifts to these people to get their attention, if someone is going to favor you over someone else because you sent them candy that doesn’t speak very well of them. I sometimes send a small personal gift to client, after a job, when I feel I have a relationship with that person and want to thank them for having chosen me and for having been a particular pleasure to work with. It’s always appreciated and there’s never the risk that it will be seen as insincere or inappropriate.

  21. When the title of a post includes slang terms (“piss off”), and the author is in some way attempting to tell you to be more business-like and professional, do you find this to be funny in a pathetic way….or am I just too old fashioned? “Pissed off” is not a business-like term. I wouldn’t worry myself about PhotoShelter’s advice on how to be ‘professional’. A business conversation should not include slang / obscene / hipster terms, unless you want to be assumed at a very base level of ability to articulate. Correct?

  22. I’m sorry…but part of number 7 confuses me…the last quote.. Why wouldn’t you want to put the area you reside in on your website? Maybe if you were a photographer who is already farther in ‘the game’ then this would make sense…but wouldn’t you want people who are looking at your website to know if you’re local or not? Maybe Im just stupid…it just confuses me because that was never explained.

  23. Here is a helpful hint for picture editors in a rush.

    When ordering files from a photographer, include the complete file name. Don’t shorten it.

    I have often had clients order a file in a rush and not include the full file name or worse, rename it and send the jpeg to me and expect me to find the file based upon their new file name.

    I have a specific file structure that is based upon shoot date and client name plus the subjects name.

    EXAMPLE: xx_050810_time_haggart_001.nef

    In my web galleries I watermark each image with the file name just incase the client decides to rename the photograph: right_hand_page_upper_left.jpg

    It is tough when a client is in a rush and they shorten the file name to say_haggat_1.jpeg when I have photographed Mr. Haggart over three days or six locations in two cities. Each shoot would have the date, client, city, location in the file name.

    It gets even worse when they do not include the web jpeg in the email and no contact information to call back.

    I received an email yesterday from a client who took a screen shot of his selects in columns that were contracted. So, I have shortened names from a multi location shoot with just the date and of course, no contact information for him other than his email address. Of course he needs the files uploaded to his ftp site today, Saturday.

    Clients ask for detailed information to make their job flow work, but rarely consider how they change the information will impact the photographer.

  24. Appreciate you sharing, great blog article.Thanks Again. Will read on…

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