Birds and photographers

Today was great. We managed to get out of the house and go to Piper Spit in Burnaby Lake. The weather was beautiful, which has the unfortunate effect of bringing everyone out of the woodwork. In most places this isn’t a huge deal, but the reality of small spaces with lots of people isn’t much fun when everyone has a camera.

There were a couple of photographers down there today who had Canon 1Ds and huge lenses set up down on the mud, off the pedestrian area. I find this behaviour annoying, not only because it makes other people think the behaviour is okay, but because you can tell a lot about a photographer by how they interact with the environment where they’re shooting.

A lot of people have heard me say that I love photography, but hate photographers. This isn’t to say that I am annoyed by every other person who picks up a camera. Rather, I can’t stand photographers who are entirely money-driven and don’t care about the environment they shoot in or those things that live in it.

Sure, the occasional photographer trampling the mud when the water is low won’t hurt much. The problem is that if people see one person doing it, they tend to think it’s okay for them to do it, too. I made mention of this to the photographers and pointed out a kid who had decided to go down there, and got a couple of lame excuses. They said it was the only kid they’d seen do that in four hours, but that isn’t really the point — one kid feeding the birds does little damage, but three kids running about trying to pick up goslings is dangerous for both goslings and the kids.

In the end I engaged one of the photographers in conversation, made my point, let him say his thing, and left. I was unconvinced by his argument, as I’m sure he was unconvinced by mine. I think that following a set of ethical field practices is a must, but I can certainly understand that it gets in the way of shooting for money. Oh well — it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d encountered parasitic photographers (street photographers are among the worst offenders, and I live in a city with lots of them), and it definitely won’t be the last.


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