Your camera sits patiently, ready for the perfect shot. But your subject would look so much better doing [fill in the blank].

Should you ask them to add action to the scene? No, advises Assistant Editor Mike Teegarden.

Never ask a subject to do something for a picture. Instead, photograph what they do.

“You do not ask people to do things for you. You find out when they are doing something, and then you photograph when they are already doing it,” explains Mike. “If you ask a photography subject to do something for you, they’re performing for you. If they hurt themselves in the process, you could be liable.”

Mike knows of at least one anecdotal story where a photographer asked a woman to walk through a puddle with an umbrella in a rainstorm. The puddle turned out to be a raging culvert. It sucked her in and she almost died. The photographer was sued.

A problem can be as simple as saying, “Could you climb up that ladder and do that thing for me?” And as they climb the ladder they fall. The attorney can say, “You asked them to do it. You’re responsible.”