Ever been harrassed whilst photographing?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by willma88, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. willma88

    willma88 TPF Noob!

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    This year, there has been talk of photographers being unfairly treated when taking photos out in public by security guards, police etc. What are your opinions of this matter? Personal stories to share?

    Cheers
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    No personal stories (yet/knock on wood) but I do believe sometimes photographers bring stuff on themselves.

    Looking from the outside, it's hard for a photographer to not look suspicious :lol:
     
  3. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

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    People Think they Know Law, And because the Law tells them they have the right to Privacy, they then think that means that when they walk around in public places that they cannot be photographed without their permission being obtained

    where infact the only place you have a right to privacy is in a Private place E.g. Your home, Private grounds (e.g. a private member only golf club)
    However, there are Acceptions to those rules sometimes

    Even a Public school CANNOT stop you taking pictures of the students / teachers whilst on the site as it is a Public Place, it is just deemed respectful not to do so, and im sure if you did, they could convince courts your a Pedophile or something...

    The only time you need to obtain permission from someone in a public place is if your planning on selling the image (unless you claim it as Editorial in which case no agreement / model release is needed, im about 90% sure of that)
    However if the person isnt clearly distinguishable (Shows just their back or they are a blur or are wearing glasses etc... anything that will mean people wont notice them) you dont need any type of release no matter what you plan to do with the image
     
  4. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    i have been asked to leave several locations.
    it was the tripod that resulted in that request. As long as i was hand holding a camera it didn't make any difference.

    interesting, one time it was at a cemetry.
     
  5. Bravotwofive

    Bravotwofive TPF Noob!

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    I have been told that I could not take pictures of my daughter on the school playground. Perhaps this is the perception thing, perhaps not. I have not yet pushed the issue as it is not time for me to pick that battle, but I am sure I will sometime.

    More recently (2 weeks ago) I was shooting at midnight in a backwoods town of about 100 people when the bar closed. I was outside in the town square with all the gear set up when I heard "oh **** there he goes again". I turned around to see a drunk with dirty clothes, shaggy hair, and rotten teeth falling out of his head stumbling toward me. "What the *&$^ are doing?" was the first words out of his mouth.

    Lets see a tripod, a camera, some lights.....wait, wait I know this one!
    I am baking fudge Brownies! At least that was what I was thinking in my head. Well wanting to be the consummate stranger in town, I tried to explain in a calm voice, inquire to whether he was from the town, and generally be overly nice.

    "I am fourth generation, what the $&^@ are you doing? was the reply.

    Since I have learned that you can't argue with a drunk, and you can't fix stupid, I thought it more prudent to try and protect my thousands of dollars of equipment, and quietly leave.

    The whole time he is repeatedly mumbling his slurred, and drunken refrain. "What the #^% are you doing". And getting more and more in my face, and closer to my gear.

    Now there was a time when I would've dropped this guy like a bad habit just for being rude, and stupid in public. Age and wisdom gives you a slightly different perspective. And like they say, again "You just can't fix stupid".

    As I was putting the last of the gear in the truck, watching this guy on one side of the square, and his buddies on the other, trying to watch my back at the same time, and get ready to leave I look up across this small town square and I see a cop car. Window down, cop inside, eating a donut, and watching us the whole time. I only know that when I looked at him he was setting there with a smile on his face, and an expression of "this is better than HBO".

    I was glad I had already got the shot, and needless to say I shot out of town. I need to go back for some follow up work, but I think I'll take a couple of people with me just to watch my back next time.
     
  6. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One time nearly pounded the tar out of someone.

    One of my biggest pet peeves in life is being accused of something I have not done. I used shoot a lot from the gazebo at one of the handful of city parks here in town.

    Some of the stuff I have shot from that spot, It's nothing spectacular but just to demonstrate the shots I take there.

    the park

    the kids

    A penguin attempt

    Now that said, I was approached by some one and his friend wile I was turning in film the other day. Right there in the store he tells me,

    ...Um Well, No I am not goin to jail, this much I know, But it irks me that he thinks this is going to fly. I have not been photographing his house, I have no reason to, even if I did I would not hide. The fact of the matter is this stupid drunk thinks he is going to have me arrested for illegally photographing his place of residence from a city park, what the hell. He has got to be hiding something, but truthfully I don't give a rats ass what.

    Well My response to him was a simple
    then I personally went down to the police department and told them that he may come calling at some point in the near future.


    I wanted to beat him to within an inch of his life but... I think I'll wait untill the police tell him there is nothing they can or will do about it.





    A second time I had the police called on me for having a camera the size of New Jersey in a public park where lots of little girls where playing in their sunday best.

    As I have stated I am a child care provider and when the two kids I supervise asked to go to the park I saw no reason not to (they need the exercise). Upon arriving at the park we find there is a church gathering being held in the park. K it's a public park right across from the church, what ever. There where aproximately a dozen kids there (not including the two I brought) the majority of witch female. The two I had began to play as they had planned, I sat down and began changing the lens on my camera swapping the 400mm for an 85mm. Normally I would stand under the little gazeabo at the top of the hill but upon my arrival it was full of kids so I stayed out.

    It did not take long for the adults males of the church group to begin posturing between myself and the kids, I kindly asked what was going on down there (glancing across the park), He told me and invited me to feel free to come down and have a bite to eat. This I respectfully declined, To put it bluntly I want nothing to do with their beliefs, I just don't buy into the whole "Church" thing. He then proceeded back down to the rest of the gathering and took the kids with him. After about five minuets or so a second man approched me, He offered me a CD....well at this point I figured if they're offering bribes of food and then now a compact disk, it's time to get the hell out of dodge...they are not going to be comfortable untill I either leave or join them. So I Change my glass again, (I can't put the 400 in the brief case, it won't fit.) and coax the two I brought to go to another park. They agreed quickley, it seems they don't like large gatherings either.

    I got fifteen feet from where I was sitting when I saw the police cruser come around the corner behind me....I knew full well what he was there for. When he pulled up beside me I looked at him and kinda chuckled and shook my head and told the kids to hold up because he was going to want to speak to me.

    We've got some smart cops around here, I could tell just by the look on his face he did not want to talk to me but a job is a job and he had to. He came around the front of the car and I said "Your are here to talk to me arntchya" He sais "Yeah we got a call" I told him I was not suprised. That one cought him off guard and he asked if I saw them call, I said "no....I am a photographer and a child care provider, In this day and age photographers get this a bit and as a child care provider I am also in the position where I have to assume the same thing when I see it. I know exactly what what they are thinking and I understand it" After that he took down the standard information Name, address, drivers licence yada yada.

    After he had what he needed to do done he asked about the capibility of the lens I had on the camera and I gave him a what I feel was a perfect description :D about idealy framing a building a quarter mile away, and then we headed our seperate ways.


    The only part about the whole thing that sucked was the fact it sucked up so much time I had to take the kids home instead of the other park they wanted to go to, and on top of that I had to explain to them why the police wanted to talk to me. Trying to explain this concept to children is difficult because I can't exactly tell them that people think I am a sexual preditor, thankfully their mother was nice enough to help out and kid friendly it as the "Stranger Theroy" and it was up to me from there to explain how it effects Photographers and picture taking.
     
  7. CygnusStudios

    CygnusStudios TPF Noob!

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    One common theme with photographers who have issues with law enforcement is the argument of who is right. The stories that get the most press often showcase this to the extreme.

    Being right does not guarantee you that you will not be sued, arrested, detained, asked to leave, or removed from a location. The key to all of these is having enough common sense to know a losing situation when you are involved in it.

    Cops do not know all of the laws regarding photography. They know that someone called them or they saw you doing something that they perceive to be wrong. Most of the time all they want to do is get you to leave and go about their business.

    This seems to be where things go wrong. In most states it is the law to comply with law enforcement. Whether they are right, wrong or otherwise isn't the point at that moment in time. I know that a lot of people will stand up and state their rights and argue but the fact remains, these are the people who make up the vast majority of these types of stories.

    Now if I were getting that once in a lifetime shot worth millions of dollars, I would gladly argue, go to jail or whatever. However, 99% of the time it is far easier to say thank you, pack up the camera and get the shot at a later time. No harm, no foul.

    I have been asked dozens of times by cops that want to know what I am doing, and even a few times have been asked to leave the area. To me it is not a problem. These were not once in a lifetime shots. Now I could have easily argued my rights, but what would it have gained me? Is the cop going to thank me for educating him/her on the law?

    For those who choose to argue with the cops or others about who is right or wrong I have a question. Does your lawyer give discounted rates when you are right versus wrong? Mine charges the same amount, and I would easily choose to leave before paying that fee just to prove I was right.
     
  8. Bravotwofive

    Bravotwofive TPF Noob!

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    I agree with a lot of what you said. I am however thankful that those who were responsible for allowing us as a nation to have civil rights do not agree with you.
     
  9. CygnusStudios

    CygnusStudios TPF Noob!

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    Even the wise founders knew when to pick their battles. There is a time to stand and fight and a time to retreat. Knowing the difference is the key.
     
  10. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    I've had people say "Paparazzi" while I was shooting a tower on Tower Beach here in Vancouver at night. I think they were high. Does that count? (I wasn't even shooting them. :lol: )

    You make a good point, Cygnus. The key is definitely is to know when to pick your battles. I'm personally more annoyed with security guards standing on public property and telling people they can't shoot. That's just wacked. I'm even more pissed when police try to prevent a photog from leaving with their images of, oh say, how the police just shot someone and killed them. Sure, it's probably a really nasty experience for the one who pulled the gun, and the cops probably aren't happy that it was caught by a photojournalist, but arresting them is a little nuts. (A photojournalist was recently, well, essentially assaulted by police, had his camera confiscated, and was arrested for taking pictures of just such an event. That's just f'd up. Such a time is when it's important to stand for one's rights, which he, and the media, certainly did. Very loudly.)
     
  11. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I love these threads, the stories are just awesome. :lol:

    Fudge brownies. baahahahhaahah... Classic.

    I get stopped and questioned CONSTANTLY. Why? Well, lessee... I run around with lots of camera equipment shooting pictures of buildings. Hmmm... I must be a terrorist!!! :lol:

    It's good to know your rights and on the VERY rare occasion someone has gotten bristly with me, I've actually handed them a copy of photographer's rights and informed them that they are more than welcome to call the cops. "If I'm still here when they get here, we can all have a laugh about what a waste of time that was." (yes, I do get a bit smarmy with them if it goes that far)

    HOWEVER... I've found that generally it does not. I just smile, make a joke usually along the lines of "I wondered how long it would be until building security came out and said Hi!", and then explain that I'm a real estate/architechtural photographer and this is just what I do for a living.

    If I'm shooting a building for a job, I say so... if not, I just say that I thought the building was cool and wanted to get a few shots.

    Oftentimes, I try to strike up a bit of a conversation with them... if it's clearly someone responsible for the building, I ask them what they do there and tell them I've admired the building for a while... I've found a key phrase is "It must be nice to work in such a nice facility." This is kind of building-specific here, but the key is to make the conversation about them and something THEY are interested in, vs. being about you and "just what the hell are you doing here with that camera?"

    I have to say that this approach completely diffuses 99% of these discussions, and sometimes even results in an opportunity to get some sweet pictures from spots I didn't think of or wouldn't have had access to without that person's involvement.

    BTW, these interactions are always fun IMO. One time I had a cabby yelling at me from the road while I was standing off to the side. I couldn't figure out what he was up to and was frankly concerned the man was going to run me down. Finally he pulled up next to me and rolled down his window and started insisting that he was here for his close up and what movie was I shooting because he was going to be that movie's very biggest star. Absolutely hysterical.
     
  12. DSPhotography

    DSPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Only time I've been harassed was while doing a shoot with a friend of mine who'd offered to model for me. We were doing some shots on a train tressel bridge and this bum kept walking under the part she was on (trying to look up her dress), then when he failed at that, he started threatening to call the cops if we didn't stop taking pictures. And then said "But if you give me a dollar, I won't". My reply to him was "Why don't I call the cops and tell them someone is drunk in public and harassing us?"

    He left after that.
     

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