Why are photographers treated with distrust?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by John Orrell, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. John Orrell

    John Orrell TPF Noob!

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    Do you find this also?

    I was out and about in a local park yesterday called Stanley Park. It's got a boating-lake, the usual flower-gardens (giving suitably barren shots this time of year), a fountain, big stone sculptures, a wood, tennis-courts etc. Basically, all the usual stuff you find in a big park.

    I thought it would be great to take my 35RC round there and rattle off some test shots, seeing that I've loaded it with Ilford Delta 400 B&W film. The weather was a bit dull and grey, ideal for B&W I find because there won't be any harsh, featureless shadows.

    Why is it though that other people around you stare at you like you've got two heads, just because you're taking some photos on your own, like you're some kind of freak? Perhaps it's the sign of the times and is caused by the general mistrust everyone has in each other these days. There was a perfect photo waiting to be taken of two young boys fishing on the bank of the lake. I framed up the shot and they noticed me and I thought "no, I better not: their parents could be nearby and the next thing I know I could be sleeping in a prison-cell having been accused of stalking their kids". Am I just paranoid?

    I'll post some of the photos I did take when I get the film developed.

    What do others think?
     
  2. John E.

    John E. TPF Noob!

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    It's a horrible shame, but we live in paranoid times. I do not take pictures of kids unless the parents are nearby and then I ask their permission.

    Many people do not understand the joys of photography and cannot understand why a person would take a picture of a tree instead of a snap of a relative. I live in a very small community and I get weird looks all the time .Most people are just curious and/or looking for a little gossip.

    I have learned not to worry about what others think, if they want to laugh at the silly position I am in inorder for me to take the picture, then I provided them with a little free entertainment, no big deal.
     
  3. Lepospondyl

    Lepospondyl TPF Noob!

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    It's the nice thing about where I work. Almost everyone there carries their camera with them all the time. I've been at the zoo, setting up to take pictures of a caterpillar or something, and people look at me like I'm weird for not just shooting the animals in cages.

    I go for a walk with my son on a little nature trail in town, and shoot 256MB of pictures. People look at me weird, but they're the ones that buy these pictures and put them on their walls, aren't they?

    A bunch of kids at the beach were mocking me because I was laying on my back in the wet sand (not in swimming gear) with my camera to shoot photos of the gulls. They turned out great and I'll post some soon, but they didn't understand because they can't. They're not photographers.
     
  4. Jamie R

    Jamie R TPF Noob!

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    Come on John - everyone knows that post Sept. 11th that shooting in a park with anything resembling a digital camera automatically makes a photographer equate to a pervert. Just kidding. Maybe not - the papers indicate that every type of photographer is likely to get arrested.

    Maybe it's the privacy laws bite back attitude in the States and western countries. I usually get arrested at airports when I travel abroad because Customs are a little ignorant about the rocket launcher thing strapped onto my back. When I explain it's a tripod, their expressions usually fall flat. The spirit levels and contraptions around the geared ball-head make it look too sophisticated. And oh boy - wait until they see what's in the aluminium metal suitcase! Huge lenses; infra-red film; big big complicated Sekonic flashmeter and flash strobes. I missed my flight by the way.....

    Out on the field, with a large format camera and traditional dark cloth over my head, most people are very courteous. The older folk stop me and tell me that their military barracks used to have one when they joined, and had powder flashgun going with the photographer operating a viewcamera. Photographers tend to be very courteous when they run into a large format camera user. The younger folk laugh and point. Even dogs woof with excitement and ask for their mugshots, playing skittish around the camera as I fail to track them within 15 minutes trying to do a quick snapshot of a dog. Thieves and robbers usually need to ask for help just to try and run away with such a large format camera so they don't even try mugging. Besides, nobody wants to mess with you if you've balancing a can of sodium hyposulphite in one hand and waving a cable release with a long prong on the other like a lunatic. Younger kids usually find it enthralling and say: "look daddy! That man's camera is way bigger than yours!! And the suave city slicker out for the weekend in his Barbours will brush by looking e embarrassed and curious as he wears his teeny weeny dinky cute like plastic silver digi-cam like a bracelet - you know - the type that gets you arrested for spying on people ;)

    After writing that, you see why I get arrested? The digital police are out to get us! ;P
     
  5. paul rond

    paul rond TPF Noob!

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    Mistrust is not what people think at all. I think it's just being curious. I shoot an RB67, a monster of a camera. People see me point that at them and they duck thinking it's an X-Ray machine. But when I am getting into a subject, I find an audience of folks just wondering what I am looking at and are trying to imagine what my pics will look like. Many people don't see the world around them and when you find something interesting, they want to know what they've missed or just think your stupid for finding that caterpillar so interesting since they would have just squashed that bug into the pavement.

    As for shooting kids in the streets these days, it is dangerous with everyone's paranoia so high. All a kid has to do is say you tried anything or looked at em wrong and you are off to jail, then left with the mess of straightening your life out once you've been fingered as a monster, no matter if you are guilty or not. If you are in a play ground, shoot the parents first, then shoot the kids with their permission or knowledge you are just taking pics for fun. I offer them my e-address so they can see them and if they'd like a copy I'd sell em a print at cost.

    Here in NYC since 9/11, you have to expect someone to question your activities with a camera. I've been asked by cops why I was taking pictures of a bridge or the tram as well as told not to take pictures of City Hall or other City buildings. I had to show them ID and almost prove I'm not a terrorist. Take a pic of a cop with a donut and you might get a gun shoved in your face as if they have something to hide. Subway photography will soon be illegal with new legislation being reviewed. I wonder if photography in public will become illegal altogether?... you may have to file for a permit as is the practice in some countries. This will be the most under documented times in all of history. Well, I guess it's back to drawing n painting or are there laws about that too?
     
  6. Shutterbug

    Shutterbug TPF Noob!

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    I ignore them. The point is that I know what I'm shooting and I don't shoot things that are wrong, so if the people around me don't like it, too bad. The way I shoot things involves instant reaction to things, so I don't have time to wait and think about that other people think.

    Also, I'm a real kiss @$$ so I can get my way out of any situation :)
     
  7. ajmall

    ajmall TPF Noob!

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    i feel that the publics impression of you if you have a big camera and lens is that you're scum of the earth paparazzi out to take the most horrible mug shot of a celebrity u can and sell it to the tabloids.

    i think privacy has become a big issue in the past few years. everyone is so suspicious of each other its getting silly! some of the best photos ive seen have been candid and its a shame that you can be regarded as a perv or freak by pointing a lens and pressing the shutter at someone...

    strange to think how you can walk about anywhere all day long with a video camera pointing in front of you and no-one will look twice.
     
  8. celery

    celery TPF Noob!

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    It's funny that we live in a time when images are a part of everyday life.

    TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, photographs . . .

    Yet at the same time, don't people know that the pictures have to come from SOMEWHERE?


    My suggestion if you're being bugged while taking pictures in public, is to get some business cards printed up, and if anyone bothers you. Pretend like they're a potential client and give them your card and say that if they ever need family portraits or some fine art photography for their walls to contact you.

    People are worried about pervs. But if you act and treat others professionally, I don't think many will bother you.
     
  9. John Orrell

    John Orrell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your responses. I had to laugh at Jamie R's response: perhaps you're right Jamie and I would have got more approving looks if I'd set up an old wooden tripod with a big 5x4 field camera on it instead of my tiny Oly 35RC :lol:

    Definately sad times in which we live when an amateur photographer can't shoot what he thinks will make a good photo without getting himself labelled a terrorist or paedophile. :sad anim:
     
  10. cbrdave1311

    cbrdave1311 TPF Noob!

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    I almost started this post a few days ago.
    I was in the park walking my dog during the day. Maybe five old people at the park. I took my zoom lens to get pictures of the deer. Of course my dog startled them. But people look at me like a weirdo because I have a camera. It miles of wooded trails not a playground.

    Then it hit me "Who really cares" People mind your own business. If I took a picture of them I would ask first if not mind your own business,

    in general people are pretty stupid and like to call the police so they feel important and trust me the police think they are idiots.
     
  11. John Orrell

    John Orrell TPF Noob!

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    Of course the underlying problem is that on the whole people don't appreciate photography, just like what Cruzin and Lepospondyl were saying earlier in this post. They cannot fathom why someone would want to take a photo of a bent old tree (they'd be even more bemused if they knew I was shooting B&W) and just see cameras as something used to take cheezy snapshots of relatives and friends in forced poses. Yet as Lepospondyl inferred, they've probably got a similar picture hung up in their house in a 16x10 frame, which they either bought for $100/£100 from a store or - get this - maybe even paid a "professional" photographer to take for them!
     
  12. will965

    will965 TPF Noob!

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    It's because everyones jealous of our coolness 8)
     

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