Being a photographer seems like the ideal job. Your work might involve travel to exotic places, interacting with a range of fascinating people (and other animals), and dreaming up unforgettable images that the whole world could one day talk about. But the reality of taking photos for a living isn't always glamorous. Check out these behind-the-scenes images for a glimpse of the extreme highs and lows photographers go through in their daily quest for the next shot.
A Quick Editing Session
Photographers rarely allow their models to sit in on the editing process—the post-production phase in which the best photos from a shoot are selected for additional image corrections and, ultimately, publishing. But when you're working with a model as charming as this, why not let them look at the shots and give their opinion? Apes are of such high intelligence that they might actually serve as a great test audience to determine which photos are keepers and which can be left 'on the cutting room floor.'
What luck that in this case there's a panel of glass separating the photographer from his subject. You don't want the primate running off with your Panasonic!
Hope They Wore Layers
It's a tough task to manage a closeup of a wild red fox; the adorable furries aren't exactly known for sitting still. But their faces are so photogenic that photographers will unsurprisingly invest a lot of time tricking a fox into a perfect portrait shot. The patient photographer here went to great lengths to form an igloo-type dwelling big enough to completely encircle them while they waited for the curious animal to get into position. And it was surely worth the effort.
Might as well leave this snow hut intact for the rest of the winter. Who knows what other wildlife might wander up for a curious look into the camera lens!
A Little Too Focused
The ability to maintain your concentration in the heat of the moment (pardon the pun) is one of the most critical elements of good photography. If you get distracted for even a millisecond you can miss the opportunity you'd been waiting for, a moment which might not come back. But too much concentration can also apparently be problematic. Let's just hope whatever media outlet this guy's shooting for provides him with very comprehensive health insurance.
It may seem like anything is worth the perfect shot, but that attitude can ultimately lead to trouble. A tripod is certainly replaceable. But your feet? Best to save them for future shoots.
Leave the Equipment Behind
Equipment can be very expensive, and some might say that the once-in-a-lifetime photos you've taken on a given shoot might be considered priceless. But respect to these guys for recognizing that their lives are ultimately more valuable than a tripod. Or, at least, respect to most of them. The image of the guy fumbling in the grass with the camera strap wrapped around his neck should be the first slide in any wildlife photography course. Lesson 1: When a grizzly bear comes after you, leave everything behind and get away as fast as you can.
In dangerous situations some photographers are tempted to try and salvage what they can while they simultaneously attempt to escape. But no camera or tripod is worth ending up as a bear's breakfast.
A Head for Heights
A total lack of acrophobia (the fear of heights) is an essential characteristic for those who hope to work in certain professions, for instance, roofing large houses or cleaning windows in skyscrapers. But perhaps indifference to heights might also be a valuable skill for photographers, particularly those who like to shoot dramatic cityscapes. After all, no matter how advanced drone photography has become, drones can never replace the artistic taste and unique point of view that human photographers have.
Was someone crazy enough to accompany this guy to this height in order to shoot him, or did he shoot his own image in the reflection of a mirror or window, making this an early example of a selfie?
Swans themselves don't seem too easily startled by the presence of humans, so what exactly is this patient photographer trying to get a shot of? Possibility 1: He's a paparazzo cleverly staking out a lakeside wedding of some celebrity. Possibility 2: He's photographing Nile crocodiles (hopefully they aren't particularly fond of swan meat). Possibility 3: He's not a photographer at all, and he's simply taking a very natural approach to camping.
Possibility 4: He's actually a wanted criminal attempting to escape capture by disguising himself as a swan and hiding out on a lake until he's no longer on the radar of law enforcement.
Froggy Doesn't Have Long to Live
Either this photographer is so professional that he can move with incredible, silent stealth; or this is the most oblivious frog in the history of amphibians and it is completely unaware of the photographer's presence. If the former, give the photographer a big pay raise. If the latter, unfortunately it seems like the frog might quickly end up as lunch for some hungry duck. That, or on a plate at an upscale French restaurant.
Maybe this gorgeous frog is so used to be photographed that it doesn't even bother anymore with trying to run away from snapping cameras. Once you've reached a certain level of celebrity it just becomes an everyday fact of life.
On first glance this might look like a very tense moment that could have quickly spiraled into horrific violence, but it actually may have been totally calm and consensual. After all, if the soldier really intended to shoot the photographer, why would he have posed that way? But then again, why would any soldier pose for a photo while in the line of duty? If it's not posed and the photographer actually kneeled in front of the crosshairs, he certainly deserves an award for bravery.
Whether the moment was genuine or staged, let's hope that the photographer pictured here at least offered to send the best of his photos to the soldier. One of them might make the ideal LinkedIn profile photo!
Don't Forget Your Work Bag
Aside from acrobats and professional athletes, most people probably don't take the time to stretch before going to work. But photographers (and, for that matter, models) never know when they might need to contort their bodies into super uncomfortable positions in order to land the perfect shot. Hopefully this dedicated pro did some yoga that morning before she left her apartment. The last thing she needs in this moment is for her leg to cramp up, or for her back to scream out in protest.
Impressive flexibility aside, she also deserves praise for her bold choice of clothing. While it may not be the most practical or comfortable choice, the persimmon-colored belt looks terrific against the grey street.
Just Taking a Rest Here
Birdwatching (and bird photography) has a number of dedicated participants worldwide. Some birders are so ambitious that they apparently might even put some seeds in their hair in order to catch the attention of a particularly beautiful bird. Just make sure you're ready for when the bird lands: In this case it looks like the photographer's camera has an exceptionally long zoom, so assumedly he'll be satisfied with an extreme close-up of, say, the bird's beak.
For this man's sake, let's hope the bird was satisfied with how the photos turned out. You never know when an unhappy client might suddenly start pecking your head in anger if your shots were unflattering.
Ask Before You Click
In this social media-crazed era of Instagram and selfies, we're all so accustomed to having our photo taken that it's hard to imagine anyone, or anything, who absolutely refuses to be photographed under any circumstance. But this massive bird of prey apparently wasn't ready for picture day, and communicated that to the photographer in no uncertain terms. And really, aren't the raptor's actions justified? Who knows how many field mice the photographer scared off, mice which could have made a perfectly nice lunch for the bird.
Generally speaking, birds of prey aren't known to attack humans unless provoked. So what exactly did this photographer do that crossed such a line for the bird? Shoot it from an unflattering angle?
Is the Camera Waterproof?
While most people flee from tsunamis and floods, daring photographers might actually try to get closer to these extreme weather conditions, sensing an opportunity for a spectacular shot that captures the unstoppable power of nature. But choosing to photograph these weather phenomena is clearly a gamble of big risk and big reward. While these enormous waves might make for spectacular images, they present life-threatening danger to anyone who approaches them.
While there's obvious aesthetic value in photographing enormous waves like these, it might be an instance in which remotely operated drone technology could accomplish approximately the same task, without the inherent risk presented to the life of a photographer.
Give Us a Big Smile!
Crocodilians often dine on fish, crustaceans, and small reptiles. But they also eat mammals when given the opportunity, particularly if said mammal is vulnerable, like, say, a small crouching child. For this kid's sake, let's hope the crocodile had already eaten that day. Though they may appear to be too big to move quickly, crocs are actually capable of striking rapidly and lunging surprising distances. They have the strongest bite of any land animal, and digesting bones poses no problem to their highly acidic stomaches.
This might make for a great photo, but it certainly doesn't make for great parenting (assuming the person who took this photo was one of the boy's parents).
Some Might Call Him Imbalanced
Visibility can be a double-edged sword. Having too much of it, particularly when you're standing (or straddling a branch) from a great height can make for a spectacular overhead shot, but it can also make you nervous and spoil your focus. On the other hand, wading through dark waters covered in lilies can make for an equally dramatic image, but not being able to see what's swimming around you certainly presents its own set of risks.
What do nature photographers pay for health insurance? Combine the extreme weather conditions, wild animals, and daring heights that they climb in order to get the right shot and they're probably looking at some very pricey premiums.
Venice is basically a photographer's paradise. Its dreamy canals, narrow alleyways, colorful characters, heavenly sunsets, and magnificent architecture (like St Mark's Basilica pictured in the background) make it basically like a Disneyland for adults. But it's also one of the most heavily traveled places in the world, so much so that birds are completely unafraid of the many people that walk Venice's streets day and night, hoping to catch a special image of what might be the most photographed city in the world.
The photographer pictured here is actually the iconic French actor Alain Delon. Would the birds have gotten so close to some random tourist without Delon's famed good looks? Hard to say.
For More Than the Military
While camouflage has indeed been used by militaries since ancient times, its association with army culture is only half the story. Camo is also incredibly important to the work of wildlife photographers and research zoologists, who might otherwise struggle to remain unnoticed while they move closer to the animals they're observing. In this wetland terrain it would be particularly difficult to snap close-up shots of a bird like this from a distance. Camo to the rescue!
This photo also emphasizes the incredible stealth that wildlife photographers need to accomplish their work without scaring off their models. The slightest movement from the photographer here might spook the bird. Could you remain so still under pressure?
Not as Dangerous as It Looks
Stingrays have a reputation for being very dangerous to humans, and interactions with people have occasionally been fatal—most famously in the case of Australian television personality Steve Irwin. But stingrays usually only attack humans when provoked or stepped on. Some stingrays swimming in touristic areas with frequent human traffic may be so accustomed to people that they can actually be petted and fed. Hopefully the ray pictured here was just coming up to the photographer to say hello.
This photo is also a great example of the classic photography composition style called the 'Rule of Thirds.' This holds that each image should be divided into three rows and three columns, with key subjects in the photo placed where the rows and columns intersect.
What's a Little Dirt?
It's fairly obvious by now that those who are afraid of heights or who struggle with nerves might not be well suited to nature photography. But sports photography requires a slightly different set of professional attributes. If you're obsessed with cleanliness and can't stand getting dirty, you might not be a good fit to shoot cycling races, for instance. Cleanliness is apparently of little concern to the brave young guy with the camera here, so he might have a bright future in this field.
Constructive though his hobby might be, do you think his parents were pleased when he came home covered in mud? Maybe they could be persuaded to forgive him after seeing the stunning reel of photos he shot.
Is Any Photo Worth Frostbite?
The next time you feel bored at the office and start daydreaming of a job where you get to work outside, consider these frightful conditions. Would you be game to go out and set up your equipment in a rocky landscape covered in snow? Photographers have to deal with extreme weather conditions, and in this case, they have to be able to operate a camera while their hands are shaking from cold.
While the photographer certainly doesn't lack committment to his craft, he could at least plan ahead a bit better by bringing warmer garments for days like these. A thin hoodie doesn't seem nearly adequate for these conditions.
Not for the Modest
Really, every great photo should come with a corresponding 'this is what it took to get it' shot. Not only do photographers need to be comfortable getting their clothes dirty and prepared to strike any number of strange poses in the line of duty, but they also need to be shameless enough to do their (often awkward) work in plain sight. Not everyone can handle being mocked by every passerby.
On another note, what exactly was this woman shooting that made her willing to get into such an uncomfortable position? The puddle itself certainly doesn't look worth the effort.
Shouldn't Every Wedding Involve a Castle?
An ivory wedding dress looks absolutely stunning against the green, yellow, and brown tones of a grassy field. But it looks even more spectacular next to a classic English mansion, reflected off a pool of water. And while many wedding blogs might insist that asking a friend to take your wedding photos is a great way to cut down on expenses, good luck getting a friend, no matter how close, to crouch in a dirty pond for you.
Let's hope the photographer was well paid for his efforts; he not only got his feet wet, but he probably needed a good massage the next day after squatting for a sustained period of time.
Are Those Your Work Shoes?
It's important to always dress in a professional manner when you go to the office. But what if your office changes every day, and on some days it's a muddy patch of rural farmland? In that case it might be a wise idea to change out the dress shirt, slacks, and patent leather shoes for a slightly more practical look—a look that you won't mind getting a little dirty in the event that you have to lie in the middle of a dirt road.
The final shot was worth it, whatever clothing may or may not have been ruined in the process. Composition and light are masterful (though it's a bit moody for a wedding photo).
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
For better or worse, social media has completely changed the nature of wedding photography. Wedding photos are no longer a matter of capturing how two people felt on the day of their union. These images that were once intended to be casually flipped through in your living room while you entertain family and friends are now automatically entered into a competitive sport. How can your wedding photos outdo everyone else's and go viral?
One way to catch everyone's attention is to rappel your way down into a cliff enclave. Just try not to ruin the dress on the way. And, while you're at it, be careful not to fall to your premature death.
In Any Other Situation He'd Be Arrested
It would generally be considered very, very poor form to sneak under the skirt of a bride's wedding dress. And in most scenarios that kind of behavior will get you quickly thrown out of the wedding party and onto the street. But what if you're a wedding photographer and you've noticed the outer layer of a bride's skirt is made of semi-transparent tulle? Hey, in that case, why weren't you on your back sooner?!
Now, did the bride choose the dress and the photographer happened to spot the opportunity? Or did the photographer have the idea for the shot and then the bride specifically sought out a dress with a layer of tulle? Which came first?
Quite a Before and After
It's really hard to believe just how far good lighting, good timing, and a bit of Photoshop expertise can go. Imagine this couple telling their friends and family 'Yeah, we shot our wedding photos in a parking lot', only to reveal what that ended up looking like in the hands of a highly competent photographer. Turns out you don't need to stand on a cliff or beside a castle to get a memorable photo!
Shouldn't all wedding photos be shot at Magic Hour—the last hour before sunset or the first before sunrise? It seems like scheduling to shoot at that time is half the battle.
Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter
Let's say you're a wedding photographer, and your clients want to incorporate flowing water into their photos, so as to capture the unpredictable flow of a couple's life that lies ahead of them on their wedding day. How sweet! The only problem is there are no beaches, riverbanks, or waterfalls within a 50-mile radius, and the young couple can't afford to relocate for the shoot. Fortunately that's nothing a little creativity and a humble agricultural drain can't solve.
It may lack the majesty of a seaside cliff or the breathtaking beauty of a Danube cruise, but this 'gutter shot' does have a charming sincerity that most overly ambitious wedding photos lack.
Don't Eat Before You Shoot
Do you easily feel dizzy? If that's the case you might not book this particular wedding photography gig. While it likely made for an incredibly memorable image, the process of getting the photo probably wasn't such a joyride. Imagine the regular degree of motion sickness you'd feel on a ride like this, then combine that with the discomfort of peering with one eye into a camera. Maybe a ferris wheel shot would have been a more practical idea.
How many rounds do you think the photographer managed before they needed to take a break on solid ground? Three?
What Are Friends For?
While many photographers prefer to work alone, you really never know when an assistant (or two) will come in handy. An alternative solution to this problem might be to use a ladder, but a ladder is less responsive to direction than two friends. And a ladder will hardly appreciate such a beautiful pink lemonade wedding dress and matching tuxedo. Just don't put too much weight on the hem of that dress!
Actually, was it really necessary to stand on the hem of her dress at all? Why didn't he just lift the hem up over his shoes? Seems a lot less likely to stain that way.
Fit for a Photographer
Good photography always demands patience, creativity, and a deep love of aesthetics. But there are some other, unexpected qualities that make the job easier from time to time. For instance, it won't hurt to have exceptionally well-toned arms and legs, in the event that you need to climb up a palm tree and hold yourself there for long enough to get the shot. And it also won't hurt to have a willing friend who doesn't mind touching your rear end for extra support.
Hopefully he got down from there safely. Otherwise his arms were probably covered in scrapes and scratches the following day.
Heavy Burdens for Strong Shoulders
Assistant photographers are hired to help more experienced, professional photographers research, plan, organize, and execute photo shoots. They dream that by closely observing the successful photographer they work for, one day they might have the skills necessary to fill that photographer's shoes, and perhaps hire an assistant of their own to take care of the less glamorous tasks the job demands. One of those less glamorous tasks might be, for instance, allowing your boss to sit on your shoulders for the duration of a shoot.
At least the shoulders in question here belong to what appears to be a very solidly built man. If this were the other way around, with the photographer pictured here serving as the assistant, the results might not be pretty.
Creating a Fake Breeze
Some dresses are destined to look beautiful no matter what the weather conditions might be on your big day. Others might benefit from the help of a little wind to lift them up. This A-Line dress—with its skirt fitted at the hips and widening down to the hem—needs to be fully 'inflated' to really show its true glory. Fortunately, even when there's no wind, there's still a way (provided your assistant is willing to crouch behind the bride for a while).
If you don't have an extra set of hands to pull this off, another solution might be to bring a wind machine. But renting that might be just as expensive as paying for extra human help for the day.
White has traditionally been worn at weddings due to its symbolic association with purity. But that all goes out the window when a bride and groom take a dip in the sea in an effort to add a little drama to their wedding pics. When wet, white cotton often becomes more or less transparent, which could make for some rather scandalous (though certainly memorable) wedding photos for this daring couple.
If the bride is indeed wearing her entire wedding dress, that also seems like it could be quite heavy and difficult to swim in. Fortunately she has help around if she starts struggling to tread water.
Don't Forget Your Rock Pillow
You never know when a nice, soft pillow will come in handy. It will help you get to sleep on long flights, and can serve as the perfect seat for outdoor concerts. But remembering to pack a pillow can also be a smart move for photographers; a soft feather-stuffed cloud of fabric certainly beats a hard rock when you need to rest your head on something for a low-angle shot.
The discomfort was worth it here: The bride's exaggerated veil is impressive from any angle, but when shot low to the ground its length gives her an incredibly regal quality.
You'll Want That Dry-Cleaned
One of a photographer's greatest assets is the ability to successfully blend in with a crowd. If you can move among a group of people like you're one of them, you're less likely to draw attention and more likely to get shots that are natural. With that in mind, it makes sense why a wedding photographer would show up to work in formalwear. At least, it makes sense until they're face-down on dirty cobblestone.
Then again, some ruined clothes aren't such a big deal if your photos were good enough to make the client exceptionally happy. The word of mouth will pay for at least the dry cleaning fees, if not a new (and better) suit.
A Different Kind of Wedding Shower
There are two very different schools of thought for what makes the best wedding photo: Should a photographer try to capture natural images of the bride, groom, and their loved ones in the moment? Or should they stage the photos in as creative and memorable a way as possible, so that the final images live up to or exceed the magic of a wedding day? This photographer went with the latter approach, and it was probably a smart move.
Hopefully the artificial waterfall slides right off the umbrella without splashing the bride's dress. A soggy bride is less likely to appreciate the effort that went into this production, no matter how cool the end result might be.
Careful Not to Fall Backwards
The depth and symmetry of a staircase can be a great visual component for a photograph. But it can also be dangerous footing for the person tasked with taking said photos. Here's a solution: Skip the risk of tripping by getting off your feet entirely and instead take the photo while lying down on your side. It may not be comfortable, but it's safer than stumbling backwards and falling down the stairs.
Though the overall effect is wonderful, one aspect of this image does feel a bit odd: Why does the bride seem to be hiding the bouquet from the groom?
Trash the Dress to Get the Photo
A wedding dress can be a very significant investment—Kate Middleton's wedding dress cost an estimated $300K+, for example. So it seems like an odd choice to potentially ruin such an expensive pile of fabric by, say, wearing it while you lie back into a muddy pond of water lilies. But this 'Trash the Dress' style of wedding photography, in which a bride intentionally places herself into wild locations that contrast with the purity of her dress, is actually very popular worldwide.
Fortunately most brides have the sense to schedule their 'Trash the Dress' photo shoots only after they've already had their wedding ceremony and reception. You don't want to be walking down the aisle with mud stains running down your train.
Photographers must have steady hands under pressure. But sometimes they also need steady feet under pressure, particularly when a bride's lacey, semi-transparent skirt is meant to catch the wind...but there's no wind to catch. Well, who needs a gentle breeze when you have feet to lift the skirt up? The flowing skirt for the photo on the left was the final touch to complement the peaceful land/waterscape, as well as the dress's provocative but elegantly plunging back.
It was a smart choice to mimic the length of the skirt on the dress in the left-side photo by wearing an equally dramatic veil for the image on the right.
A Cheeky Photo Indeed
Hoop skirts are an undergarment that permanently hold the bottom of a dress into a dramatic, dome-like shape. This gives the wearer the flattering but rather exaggerated appearance of a very small waist, and the style fell in and out of fashion for a period of several hundred years. Ultimately the skirts proved so impractical to move in that they dropped out of everyday use completely, but they are periodically brought back for fashion shoots and special occasions, as you see here.
While hoop skirts are usually thought of as an ultra-conservative and old-fashioned form of dressing, their modest reputation is certainly called into question when the woman in the skirt chooses not to wear underwear, and the photographer decides to shoot her from behind while she's lying on her stomach.
Angles and Eye Contact
While some newlyweds might think they need a dramatic setting to get memorable photos, simply shooting an image from the right angle can take an otherwise dull location (like a staircase) and give it brilliant dimension, mystery, and intimacy. Another key ingredient for good wedding photography? Engaged and comfortable models. The groom pictured here looks completely enchanted by his bold bride, who isn't afraid to look directly into the camera.
Fortunately the photographer standing on the stonework here will be caught by the branches of a tree if he gets too wrapped up in the photoshoot, loses his footing, and falls.