I'm a Street Photographer, Not a Pervert . . .

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Ming Rider, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    . . . This just happened to me literally an hour ago.

    I was sat on a bench in Preston (UK) city centre, enjoying a well earned break from a days Street. Even when having a rest, the old Street Photographers eye is still working. Whilst munching on a Greggs Chili Beef pasty, there was an elderly couple on the bench opposite and showing that they were still very much in love with each other. I took a picture of them. Then an old man came along wearing a trilby hat, looking distinguished. I took a shot of him.

    Then, what I can best describe as Vicki Pollard arrived, replete with the mandatory children. One of them began running towards the back of the bench and leaping high in the air over it, between the older people. "That would make a cool picture" I thought. He did it countless times, though each time I got ready to take the shot, he didn't jump. I made three attempts and gave up.

    Five minutes went by, then they got up to leave. Next thing I know, she's shouting "you're a sick pervert for photographing my kids" and that she was going to call the police. I remained calm and assured her that I wasn't a pervert, that 'perverts' don't use 1500 quid Leica kit and that I would stay here and wait for the police to arrive. She repeated that I was a pervert and that she was going to call the police. She left with her ill-fated children, one of them giving me the finger.

    I waited 10 minutes while I drank my tea but no police arrived.

    I feel physically sick and am left with this thought that what I love doing is now (somehow) dirty.

    The uneducated and misinformed 'masses', via the gutter media such as 'The Sun', 'The Mirror' and ITV News, are destroying the oldest and most honourable form of photography in existence.

    I'm writing this on the train as I make my way home. This is the first time in 10+ years of Street that I have experienced this. I feel sick to the core, am struggling to tell myself that I should take the rough with the smooth and that tomorrow is another day.
     
  2. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    ^This.

    I have been amazed as I've got older at how many people have a screw loose. You are bound to find adverse reactions doing street photography.
     
  3. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Sorry to hear, keep your head up, you just ran into the wrong folk on the street. I know you are a class act, I enjoyed your Youtube clip re Rodinal and know that you mean well as a photog...don't take it personal re what she said.
     
  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    There are no limits to depth of people's ignorance. Be glad you are more thoughtful and better informed than the ultra nervous person who, in my opinion, accosted you.

    Doug
     
  5. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Sign o' the times, but fortunately not quite the norm..yet. I'm sure that while she was paying attention to you, there were probably twenty other "photographers" with their cellphones, snapping away, and with pictures of her kids all over facebook and instagram within seconds. Just silly.
     
  6. pstake

    pstake Member

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    It sounds like that woman has some kind of emotional problem or maybe she's just perma-paranoid because she's over/under medicated.

    I've had adverse reactions when shooting street. It's part of what makes the form so difficult to do well and it's a big part of the reason not everybody does it. But that woman clearly went above and beyond to create turbulence where none was needed nor called for. Your actions as you described in no way warranted being called a pervert.

    Cheer up! Don't let some stranger's toxic words poison your art. I'm sure this is much easier said than done!

    Anyway, really sorry to hear about it.
     
  7. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I've had this happen when I wasn't even taking pictures. Only just had the camera while sitting on a bench.
    I was walking all day and stopped to rest. The camera shutter was locked and the lens cap was on.
    There are just people who are THAT stupid.

    Blow it off. Screw them. Move on. Life's too short.

    In the future, you might find it helpful to talk to people.
    Engage your people when practical and possible. Just talk to people about the weather or sports or what-have-you when you're not shooting.

    Lone guys who sit on park benches are creepy. Guys who talk to people, who people see you talking to others, are social.

    If you don't want to do that, bring a book and read it. Actually read it where people can see you reading it.

    Bill Cunningham made (makes) his living shooting photos of strangers on the streets of New York.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Cunningham_(photographer)

    Some people would definitely perceive him as a creepy, old man shooting pictures of strangers but I don't know very many incidents where he had problems. I say it's because he engages his subjects and talks to people. People actually come up to him and ask to have their pictures taken.

    Bill rides up and down the streets on his broken down, old bike wearing shabby clothes. He just hops off the bike and starts shooting people's pictures.
    But, instead of being accused of being a creeper, people invite him to their society parties and give him journalism awards.

    Watch the trailer. The guy is amazing!
    http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/billcunninghamnewyork/trailer.html


    Second piece of advice: Be recognized as a photographer.
    Carry business cards and hand them out. (Where practical and safe to do so.)
    Go to the same places. Become a "regular." Let people know who you are and what you do.

    I go to a place on the beach called "Sunset Point."
    I've shot hundreds of pictures there and have made lots of prints.
    Most of the people who also frequent the place know me as "that guy who still uses film."
    I walk out on the beach and people wave. I know people by name.

    Nobody there, not even tourists who have never been there before would question me because I look like I belong there.
    I can shoot pictures of kids and girls in bathing suits all day so long as I don't make a nuisance of myself.

    The last time I was out there, a mom, a dad and their two kids came out on the beach. Right about sunset.
    Dad had a Canon digicam.

    I was talking to this other woman whom I had never met. We were BS-ing about photography and what a great location this was for shooting pictures.

    Dad and the kids walked by. He wanted to get some pics of his kids in the sunset. He couldn't get the kids to stand still long enough.

    I came over and told the kids, "Hey! Go climb up on top of that sand dune so Dad can take your picture!"
    The kids climbed up the dune. Dad started snapping away. I snapped a few. The other woman snapped a bunch.
    I never met any of these people in my life and probably will never see them again but not a single person complained.
    Matter of fact, we all smiled, chatted for a minute longer, shook hands and went home.
    (Too bad those pictures were in the camera that got stolen. :sad: )

    It's all about the way you act in public. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2013
  8. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

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    OP...35 years ago in a park in L.A. I was hassled something like that. Kids are great subjects to shoot. But it is a problem in this day and age. Glad you stood your ground. as long as we are legal, nothing to worry about. (although there is always the crazy person and odd circumstance we may deal with.)

    Good luck and keep on blasting away.


    ...and yes we are always looking for the next shot!
     
  9. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

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    YES! It was a very good DVD, got it from my library
     
  10. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    there seems to be a bit of a vogue at the moment on camera forums to diagnose people as having drug and/or alcohol and/or mental health problems purely on the basis that they object to having their photographs taken without first being asked.

    What Ming Rider experienced is really quite unpleasant - as his reaction testifies - but none of us are in a position to make moral (or pseudo-medical) judgments about the person who inflicted it on him. We have no idea what provoked her reaction.
     
  11. ndrs

    ndrs Subscriber

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    What did you expect from a Vicky Pollard? She has probably already forgotten about you and your feelings make you superior of her.
    However, I feel really sorry for the poor kids of the pollardian masses...
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Sympathy from a fellow Brit. It has not yet happened to me, but it probably will. The other day a woman at work told me she was photographing her child at the sports school day and was told she wasn't allowed t do that. She said f*** off, as I don't need permission to photograph my own child. Such is the mad society we now live in.
     
  13. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    Cheers Guys,

    Your comments are very comforting and I feel it's like having a group of mates rallying round. :smile:

    I don't tend to photograph children as a rule if I can help it. With this situation, I thought it would be a really COOOOL shot. What probably made it worse was that I didn't get it in 'the bag'. :sad:

    I suppose my biggest failing is that I tend to see the best in people (until they show otherwise) probably because a few of those close to me in my formative years were anything but 'the best'.

    I saw a kid leaping (and annoying others), Vicki 'Daily Mirror' Pollard saw a paedo'.

    You're right though, I must put it down to experience. So tomorrow, instead of processing film (no salt :wink:), I'm gonna jump on the train to Lancaster and put the gremlins to bed. :smile:

    Thanks for the link. That DVD looks really good.
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    She cannot control her own life. She cannot control her children. Therefore she took her anger out on you.

    I do not know your laws, but you probably could have called the police and had her cited for harassment.
     
  16. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    I think the problem has always been the same on both sides of the pond and we're both waking up to it at the same time. Though maybe Europe slightly earlier as until recently, Americans thought the USA was the 'dream' ? Apologies if I'm wrong.
     
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  17. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    For sure, people have been fined/jailed for twittering/facebooking less.

    That was why I was so willing for her to call the police and wait for them to arrive. Then maybe she would have had an education in where the law stands and not the law according to 'the Sun' etc . . .
     
  18. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Just bare in mind that you'll only get this reaction from that type of person in this country. But I'd say just try to avoid photographing kids in the UK at the moment - even if you do feel strongly about it, it's not really worth campaigning for.

    I've got a feeling some people here will be repulsed by this idea, but... this can't be emphasised enough for street photographers - dress up a little bit. A summery smart/casual pale coloured shirt, slim fit black jeans and chukka/desert boots is a good 'blend-in' look at the moment. Street photography is a social activity. Treat it like a street party at which you're the official photographer. Your appearance and confidence because of it is everything in this situation and exudes a casual authority about what you're doing. A hoody two sizes too big, baggy jeans and walking trainers, of course - you'll be lucky to get to the shops for a pack of ciggies without someone shouting tramp, never mind take people's picture.

    I'm sure nobody ever screams pedo at Scott Schuman for example (the Sartorialist).

    Clothes are an important part of photography often not given enough thought - whether you're photographing windswept landscapes or weddings, it certainly matters.
     
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  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    How old was this child who gave you he finger? That would have made me more upset than the weird parent. Talk about lack of respect!
     
  20. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    Batwister,

    My attire today was brown walking boots, dark blue jeans and a black 'Motorhead' tour T-Shirt.

    Yes or No?
     
  21. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    I'd say about 8 or 9 years old. What future does this little oik have? If I'd done that when I was a nipper (I wouldn't have dared), I wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week. Ouch !!!
     
  22. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    Just what are our rights in the USA in regards to public photography?
     
  23. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    It's legal. Just don't let law enforcement or the general public catch you doing it...

    Ken
     
  24. batwister

    batwister Member

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    No. I don't like Motorhead...

    But seriously, always wear a shirt and a cheesy grin.

    087da5a0-ab9b-4712-b1fd-f8b71d1721ce.jpg
     
  25. Ming Rider

    Ming Rider Member

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    Thanks. Now I've gotta wipe the Pringles off my iphone. :D

    So I should go for the Gok Wan look? :sad:
     
  26. batwister

    batwister Member

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    All I'll say is, when confronted by these characters in future, just ask yourself; "what would Gok do?"

    To conclude, you go girl.