Douchey. Sometimes a word just fits. A brilliant LA photographer—a woman—was the first person I ever heard use that term to describe another photographer. “He’s kind of douchey,” her voice trailing off as she squirmed uncomfortably in her chair.
We’ve all met them, we’ve all heard about them, and sometimes, we have to work with them. With a bit of homage to the brilliant riffs on rednecks, here are ten vivid examples of douchey photographers from both personal experience and the first-hand accounts of friends and colleagues:
- If saying to a model, “Just undo one more button,” seems like a good way to get your hormones raging, you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you scour the web looking for innovative photography that you can screen grab, use on your website, then try to pass off as your own, you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you find yourself adopting a French accent and uttering the phrase, “Make love to the camera,” you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you’re doing coordinated event coverage with other photographers, but decide to leave early to get your pictures into the editor’s hands in order to have the best chance at getting good play or sales for yourself, you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you sabotage the camera of a fellow photographer at an event where you’re both working—say, by changing the menu system to Russian or disconnecting a remote cable—you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you’re part of a gaggle that’s covering a red carpet event and relish the idea of taunting a celebrity with the phrase, “Wow! You’ve put on a lot of weight,” in order to elicit a response for your particular camera lens, you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you regard the photo crew as servants to your vision, neglect to feed them, and refer to them using the possessive adjective “my”—as in, “my” assistant, “my” stylist, or “my” make-up artist—you might be a douchey photographer.
- When shooting a wedding, if you have one eye trained on the bride and groom, and one eye trained on the unattached bridesmaid you plan to nail after the reception, you might be a douchey photographer.
- If you’re covering the arrival of Air Force One carrying the the body of the President of the United States, and for this day you’ve chosen to wear what amounts to workout pants and a tank top, you might be a douchey photographer.
- When the buzzer sounds, the race ends, or the final out is recorded, if you rush the scene and block every other photographer at the event—all the while planning to feign ignorance and false remorse—you might be a douchey photographer.
The term “douchey” has usually been reserved for lobbyists, members of congress, and certain kinds of lawyers. The idea that it’s now used to describe photographers should be seen as a canary in a coal mine. The above behaviors matter a great deal in the way photographers are perceived—particularly if you’re the next photographer who finds himself in any of these situations. Photographers require trust—from subjects, models, publicists, security personnel, clients, and even from other photographers—in order to do their jobs well. Damaging that trust harms not only the individual shooter, but the profession we all love so much.
Joey Terrill is a Los Angeles-based photographer with clients that include American Express, Coca-Cola, Disney, Golf Digest, Major League Baseball, Red Bull, and Sports Illustrated. He teaches workshops and speaks at seminars including the Summit Series Workshops, WPPI, Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, UPAA Symposium, World in Focus, and Nikon School.