One of the biggest things I hear from people is how photographers are “Creeps” or “Creepers”. I thought I might write something on this so you don’t end up being one of those creepy people they are referring. This is not a complete list, but things I see almost monthly with other photographers in social settings.
What is a creep or creeper? That is someone who makes someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable to be around. This may have ax murderer feelings associated with it, or even sexual fears. The key here is being unsafe or uncomfortable. This means that being called a creep will happen more with males than females (for some odd reason). Being a creep can occur at large gatherings to small personal interactions.
Know that you can’t determine if you aren’t a creep – that is for others to decide. You can decide to be a creep, though. It isn’t what you want but rather how others around you perceive you in those settings that you are with them. You may be trying hard to be interesting and engaging in that situation. This simply means that it is your responsibility to not creep people out as best you are able and be aware of how others react around you. If you really don’t care, then you are a creep. Worse, no one has an obligation to tell you that you are being a creep, but they will tell others.
As a photographer, I am always looking for new models. When you find someone who works well with you, it is great. But, as a photographer, you need to taper that desire. People don’t exist for you solely to capture in images. This also means that just because a person is a model that they want to date photographers they meet. Some of the photographers I know use their status for dating, and even worse, sexual favours. And, no matter how prestigious of a photographer you are, people around you aren’t your little minions to be at your beck and call to do what ever it is that you want them to do. Some of the things I have seen happen in real life: always changing the conversation to sexual innuendos, propositioning people, being desperate, publicly sulking because you didn’t get your way, and getting really upset and loud when people try to get away from you. Remember, you are there to socialize, network, and be friendly in almost every social setting. Learn something about those people who you are there with you.
At meet and greets and social settings, don’t come up with ways to partner yourself with someone else if they don’t want to work with you. Let me rephrase this: don’t cheat the system to force someone to talk with you. As a photographer, you will hear “no” many times for a multitude of reasons. Accept this and move on. It is just a fact of life for any photographer. This also means you don’t want to make it difficult for the person you are talking to leave. You don’t want to follow them if they leave. These are both strong signs you are creeping the people out and the only way to stop this is by escaping from you. Let them have their space – be it a city of separation or just a conversation distance that is comfortable to them. If you don’t, you will only make things worse. If you aren’t wanted to be around someone, just go away from them and leave them alone.
Finally, nothing signals creepy more than touching people inappropriately. Sure, many people hug in social settings in the US, but intentionally putting your hands on someone who doesn’t want them there is a sign of a creepy person. Put them some place sexual, and you are likely to be on the ground in pain (or maybe worse). If you are just a “huggy” person, and if someone tells you not to touch them, then don’t. You should apologize for touching them and for making them uncomfortable, too. If you have a significant other, and you bring them to the social gathering, you shouldn’t be in someone else’s arms and lap so much that most of the people think that they aren’t your significant other.
I hope this gives a few ways that I see people being creeps as photographers in social settings.