Take Nothing But Pictures: A Conduct Reminder for Photographers


One of my outstanding photographers Stephanie was sharing the saddest thing yesterday on Facebook. She was going to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens to renew her photographer’s pass. Seeing as it’s one of our city’s loveliest locations, many local professionals bring their clients here to capture special moments. While Stephanie was there, she got to talking with a groundskeeper.

They discussed the most appalling stories about the conduct of some photographers who had been using the grounds. She could tell they weren’t exactly among her professional colleagues but more the “Oooh, I got a camera for Christmas! I’m going to sell photo sessions!” variety. In my opinion, if you have the tools to do something you love, do it. If you can share your talent and make some money too, do it. But must you be so disrespectful?

The offenses include (quoted right from Miss Steph):

– tearing up flower beds to use the flowers as “props”
– having their subject throw glitter or confetti up in the air – no, the gardens do not have a giant lawn vacuum to clean that up.
– doing a “cake smash” (place birthday cake in front of 1-year-old and let him/her “smash” it) and leaving a mess – oh, and when you use one of the stone benches, the food coloring in the frosting stains it;
– leaving behind balloons, either caught up in the trees or lying deflated/popped along the pathways

It is $100/year to purchase a  photographer’s pass to the gardens. Unfortunately, the gardens can get short staffed on weekends, so it’s hard to police the freeloaders who come in with cameras and shoot as they please. According to Steph, even if they had paid for a photographer’s pass,  that does not give one the right to run around carte blanche and trash the place.”

Stephanie closed with a simple request. Try to be professional, try to be civil. It’s Dogwood season in Knoxville, a sacred time to be a springtime lover. We host festivals, concerts, tours, and galas celebrating Knoxville’s beautiful blossoming Dogwood Trees. Of all seasons, now is the time to treat our parks and gardens with that old cliche, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” And please, keep your balloons secure, your cake cleaned up, and your jumbo glitter at home.


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