Ever been challenged?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BradleyK, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    Preface: This is another thread that I had intended to throw up much earlier, shortly after the incident below occurred (but, as often-times happens....).

    As I have made mention in a number of other posts, I am in the midst - when time allows - of a two year-plus project, documenting life on Vancouver Island, shooting a host of diverse subject matter (if it looks interesting or photogenic, I may grab a shot or two...or more). And when I say diverse, I mean diverse: landscapes, seascapes, architecture, wildlife, portraits, festivals, sports, etc. The impetus? The effort is my swansong to Kodak's Ektachrome offerings. To that end, I picked up (okay, I've hoarded) some 700 rolls? - I don't really know the exact amount I accumulated because I purchased film over a period of several months - of E100G and E100VS in 35 mm and E100G in 120. At any rate, I digress. The following is the issue at hand, one which has come to the fore on several occasions during the course of the aforementioned effort.

    Shooting surfers and boarders one bright and sunny day back in late October, this year, in Jordan River, BC (a rinky dink backwater on the Island's Southwest coast, I found myself in a bit of a heated discussion with one of the denizens of that town re my "right" to shoot these folks playing out in the Pacific. I was first asked if I was "from Jordan River," to which, motioning to the Burnaby dealership tags on my Honda, I replied in the negative. The individual then informed me that "people from here, wouldn't take kindly to being photographed." I then replied that "once you cross the threshold of your home, your right to privacy has been lost until you return home." He then proceeded to tell me I "couldn't just take pictures wherever you wanted." I suggested otherwise, to which he became increasingly agitated. When I mentioned that the average individual - living in a metropolitan region, mind you - was captured around 200 times per day on a host of surveillance devices, and that the "right to privacy" was an artefact of another age, a flush on his cheeks was in evidence. Further agitating him, I made mention that photography, in a public space, was protected under a host of legal statutes (freedom of expression, etc.), and that, absent commercial usage, photographers retained the right to display/use their work in any manner they deem fit. I was almost certain that the conversation was about to lead to fisticuffs when this individual turned, muttered a few obscenities under his breath, walked back to his SUV, grabbed his surfboard and headed into the water.

    I thought about this conversation later on, wondering why this individual felt the need to be so confrontational. An aversion to photographers? An ignorance of the law? Then I realized the day of the week: it was Wednesday. Given the number of bodies out in the water, a perfect day for recreational pursuits, and the fact that the town has a fairly high unemployment rate...perhaps this is how some people in Jordan River (enjoying the largess of Unemployment Insurance) conduct job hunts? lol

    So...the question: Have you ever been challenged on your right to photograph, when out shooting in a public space? How did you respond?
     
  2. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    If it were afternoon, he could have been drunk or something. Probably sometime of some sort he wants to hide.

    People don't often mess with me. I'm perhaps physically imposing to strangers and use fewer words. I'd probably have told him yes I can take photos and looked him up and down quietly, and he probably would have left then. I suppose later in life I may not be so much this way.

    I did have a neighbor dress me down for setting up a tripod on "her" beach. She does it to everyone who spends time on her beach, so she was being consistent. Then she figured out I was her neighbor and was a completely more kind chatting with me but still wanted me to move along. Beach is a weird mix of private and public space based on colonial laws of a state we are not even part of now. I'd be allowed to duck hunt with a gun, but not photograph/relax, so most property owners usually err on the permissive side if you're not causing trouble.
     
  3. Pioneer

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    Yes. Usually it is enough to listen patiently and let them know you will try not to include them in your pictures if they don't want. But I did have a mother call the police on me once because she insisted I was not allowed to shoot photos at a soccer game, though lots of other mothers and fathers were. Since I was using my Pentax 645Nii and a tripod I think she felt justified in causing me trouble since I couldn't have been a parent or grandparent. If I would have been using a little point and shoot, or my cellphone, she probably would not have paid any attention. I think her major bug was that I wouldn't delete my pictures nor would I show her my images. Since I was shooting film that wasn't possible but I don't think she understood the concept of film. She became upset enough that she stood right in front of my camera. I was using my 120 macro at the time and I got a great, tight portrait of her face, and that certainly didn't make her happy. She insisted she had not given me permission to photograph her but I pointed out that since she was preventing me from taking pictures of my grandson in the soccer game I may as well get shots of her instead.

    The police arrived, explained to the nice lady that I had every right to take pictures of the soccer game, and also explained that since I was using film I would not be able to show her my pictures (I assume so she could personally "edit" them). Later on I did give her a nice 8x10 shot of her son kicking the soccer ball, which she did accept, but she still gives me dirty looks and this happened two years ago. On the day this all happened I just thought she was having a "bad hair" day, but I now think this is her normal attitude.

    Life goes on. :smile:
     
  4. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I had a shotgun aimed at me, once, while photographing a tree which was on a private farm. I was, however, not on the property.
    I was detained in the basement of the US Capitol, once, while waiting for the person who issued permits to get back from lunch, so she could tell the police I had a permit.
    One time, there was almost an international incident, while doing some work for a DC real estate management company. I was hired to photograph their portfolio, which included embassies, office buildings, and apartment buildings. For most of the buildings, I had to shoot interiors and exteriors. For a particular Middle Eastern embassy, I could only shoot from the street. Apparently, the security staff didn't get the memo I was coming (it was prearranged to avoid any issues) and saw me shooting the building. About 8 guys, with guns, came running through the gate, and forced me to my knees. While on the ground, a DC patrol car came upon the scene, called for backup, and before long there were about 5 other patrol cars there. After some discussion about jurisdiction (the security guys wanted to detain me inside the gates, and confiscate my film/camera), a higher up came out to say he had forgotten to mention that I was expected. The security withdrew, and one of the cops said, "If you had gone in, there isn't much we could have done, but they probably would have let you go, eventually..." Scary then, neat story now.
     
  5. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I take photos of trains. I get hassled several times a year. I usually just point out I'm on public property and if there's any question about that, I'll call the sherrif/deputy on my cell phone and we'll get their opinion. That always silences them, including local police. I refuse to get sucked into arguements with irrational people.


    Kent in SD
     
  6. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    Speaking of trains, I was recently hassled by a Chicago cop in the subway. No sense in arguing with a Chicago cop unless you enjoy body cavity searches.
     
  7. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    I got harassed for pointing my camera at a bank in Pasadena last summer. The man (an employee of the bank, dressed like a middle manager) asserted that it was "illegal to photograph financial institutions", even from the public sidewalk I was standing on. He hurried off to tell the police, and I walked away. I kind of wish I had stayed and argued for my rights, but I didn't.

    In my experience, most people are turd burglars.
     
  8. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    You need to use a press camera.

    The one time anyone mentioned my presence, was when I was out with my pressman.

    The other person with the "interested party", told him to relax. "It's not even a real camera, they don't use those anymore..."


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  9. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I find it so odd today. On one hand people have no compulsion whatever in photographing anything; their toenails, their breakfast, themselves destroying rock formations in State Parks. Then they post it online for anyone and everyone to see. But on the other hand if someone is taking their picture on the street they become offended that their privacy is being invaded. It is almost as if some people have completely lost the ability to think critically. If it isn't in a video game they seem lost and don't know how they should respond.

    But, to be completely honest, although I have had one or two confrontations in recent years, most of the time people either don't even pay any attention or they do everything they can to hurry by and ignore me.
     
  10. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    In 40 years since my first car (and independence), I've always had a pretty fair sense of being in my place or not, and don't recall of ever getting into trouble. By nature I tend to be one to avoid confrontation. Of course sometimes it has caused lost picture opportunities. But better that than trouble. In this particular day and time I believe people are more touchy than ever, so now I'm double careful. In the 70's I could sit in the rest area of a big shopping mall with my 35 and a 135 on it and shoot children to my heart's content for instance, and parents thought nothing of it. Try that now.
     
  11. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I was once photo'ing the subways there, and a cop started telling me I couldn't take photos. I pulled out a copy of the official CTA photo policy I printed from their website. When he continued to give me grief, I requested he call his supervisor. Supervisor came, asked me if I was using flash--no. Was I using a tripod--no. Were these commercial photos--no. Supervisor told the cop I was playing by the rules and should be left alone. Supervisor gave me his card in case I had any more trouble.


    Kent in SD
     
  12. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I believe if I was in a Chicago subway, I'd be asking myself why in the name of Pete I'd be there in the first place. :confused:
     
  13. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    I was photographing the Ambassador Bridge, (between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and was on the Canadian side), and after a few minutes, here came a rather bored looking guy in a car with the logo of a security company on the door.
    He got out and told me in a friendly way that I couldn't take pictures of the bridge's structure.
    For heaven's sake, I'd been at it for about 5 minutes and was finished anyway, but he didn't mention deleting the pictures I had taken. So after all this, it seems anybody can go ahead and take their photos, and then be told to go away. High security.
    One other time, a private individual started hassling me and I simply told him to call the cops. He spun on his heel and walked away.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2013
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  15. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Many years ago I was once detained by the army for shooting (film!) in woodland close to their base. I had no idea the installation was there, was only seventeen and they eventually let me go. However when I returned home many hours later via various friend's houses, there was a military vehicle waiting at the top of my parent's street, so they clearly took such events seriously.

    Last year one chap I know was questioned for using his mobile phone at a railway station! He didn't have his reading glasses and had to peer at the keyboard and they assumed he was taking a photograph. Strange times we live in.
     
  16. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Surfers are very territorial like that in Malibu also.
     
  17. Dave Clayton

    Dave Clayton Member

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    Just the same in the UK at the moment with getting hassled by police and private security. We took a trip to do a night shoot of the local steelworks in south wales, Stood on a public road not causing any obstruction shooting images on a 5x4 during the night. Up comes the security from the site gives us the no photography as its a class one protected site and is illegal to photograph,and starts telling us he will have to delete our shots and giving it the terrorism laws.
    Its become a farce in the UK the rights as a photographer have become so eroded after they bought in all the anti terror laws its making industrial photography impossible
     
  18. Randy Moe

    Randy Moe Member

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    Actual CTA policy

    http://www.transitchicago.com/business/photopolicy.aspx

    No flash, no tripod, don't bodder nobodys.

    I shoot without tripod all the time all over Chicago.


     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In 1977, at a Lou Reed concert at the Queen Elizabeth theatre in Vancouver.

    The stage manager kept rejecting my press pass and venue credentials and kept kicking me out of the stage-side "pit".

    And the road manager kept letting me back into the stage-side "pit".
     
  20. Randy Moe

    Randy Moe Member

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    This summer I shot a large outdoor fest.

    The 'pros' had the pit for 15 minutes and were shooed, I was just outside the pit, in front, much better angle too.

     
  21. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    Technically, the CTA subway is private property, and CTA policy is not friendly to photography on their property.
    Metra actually issued a memo about photography on their platforms, which they consider to be public, just asking that you not block traffic and even suggesting some good stations for trainspotting. I don't know their policy about photography inside their trains, which are presumably private property.

    Otherwise, I have never been hassled by a Chicago police officer when photographing on a public way (e.g., city sidewalk), but private security guards think they can stop me from photographing their building from public property. They don't notice that I wouldn't photograph their building from 6 feet away (i.e., on their side of the street or river).
     
  22. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

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    Most of the time I am very low key. One time on Sunset Blvd a young girl screamed her head off that I shot her. I had let my guard down ad as not low key. I just walked away and let her scream.
     
  23. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Once I was photographing a chunk of sandstone, with my crown graphic, at the far end of a public clothing optional beach. It was a cool and cloudy day - no sunbathers. 2 brave swimmers at the other end - much too far to tell whether they were suited or not. A fully clothed man approached and yelled at me, threatening " big trouble" for photographing at a nude beach. I offered a look through the ground glass (thinking he might have assumed a big camera was the same thing as a big telephoto lens), but he refused, and muttered angrily as he walked away.

    I've photographed at that beach often, but not pointed my camera at anyone. No one else has seemed upset. I've seen lots of digicams and cell phone cameras there.

    On a sunny day, I saw a family party, with an elaborate picnic, I'd have loved to photograph. The matriarch wore a sun hat and sandals. Her children and grandchildren (about 15 folks) were conventionally garbed in shorts, bathing suits, or summery dresses. Would have made an awesome picture, but I was too shy to ask and way too polite to grab a sneak shot. I've always regretted that I didn't ask.
     
  24. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    My best tactic has been to attack my opponents with a huge smile and a handshake telling them I'm an amateur and I love how they/their tree/house/property looks.
    Works like a charm.
     
  25. pasiasty

    pasiasty Member

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    Only once (if I remember correctly), in Canary Wharf, London - I was setting up lighting stuff around a model, when security guys came asking for a permit. They insisted the whole Canary Wharf was private area and commercial photographers needed a permit. There was no point in explaining the shooting was not commercial, because it might look like (for people who hadn't seen a real commercial one). We moved a bit...

    BTW: public vs. private is not always the right question: a space might be private (i.e. privately owned) and public (accessible for all) at the same time; or public (i.e. owned by state, municipality or so) and private (you should not enter uninvited). We should also remember that the law is usually internally inconsistent, and there are rules how to deal with this (e.g. 'lex posterior derogat legi priori', 'lex specialis derogat legi generali', hierarchy of acts and so on), and flocks of lawyers get hefty money doing this. Also (almost) no right is absolute, including freedom of expression.

    On the other hand, today's obsession with privacy is somehow sick and it seems media driven; the same media that violate privacy the most.
     
  26. KennyMark

    KennyMark Subscriber

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    When an undergrad student, I was shooting a recital being held in the chapel, as an employee of the school's PR department, with the writer in tow. We sat in the front row, off to one side, and I shot with the quietest body I owned, no drive, flash or tripod. I couldn't have been less intrusive or conspicuous while getting the shots requested. Afterward I was dressed down loudly and publically by a student for "upsetting" a flutist during her performance.
    While on a multi-day shoot for a bank's annual report, I was taken to many sites where the employee from the marketing department and I would enter the branch or office where we would meet the manager and explain our purpose and legitimacy in photographing the building, before we set up any gear. While I don't think it is illegal to photograph a bank building, it does cause stress among the employees (my wife is a bank manager now so I well understand this), and can result in being queried by the local LEOs about one's intent and purpose (everyone has a job to do, right?). The only exception to this meet and greet routine was in the case of a small community bank that was in negotiations with the larger bank for a merger/acquisition that the employees were not yet aware of, but the larger bank needed a shot of before the report went to print. In this case, we literally conducted a drive-by shooting so we wouldn't have to explain ourselves. That shot was as good as one would expect through the glass of a moving vehicle.