Photography in Public Places

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Steve Roberts, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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  2. pentaxgirl

    pentaxgirl Member

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    a long time ago i found a book called "photography: what's the law?" but it was written in the 70s or 80s and is surely outdated. i don't know if there are books like that now. i understand that people can be uncomfortable being photographed, but i balk at being told i can't take photographs in public places. where would garry winogrand or henri cartier-bresson be now if they had been yelled at for toting their camera around?

    oh and i will add- i was in chicago and took a photograph in an El station, and was told by the attendant that i wasn't allowed to do so for security reasons or something.
     
  3. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Had some private "security" person tell me tripods are not allowed in Trafalger Square - Something about needing a permit from GLC... My reply "Sorry mate, don't speak english."
     
  4. viridari

    viridari Member

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    A tripod is often used as a measuring stick here in the States to determine whether a commercial permit is required or not.
     
  5. Asmara

    Asmara Member

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    I was in San Diego on July 5th photographing an ordinary water meter attached to the hotel that was intriguing (to me) and the security guard raced over in her go cart and explained that I would need permission from the building owner....The funny thing was that earlier that day I had a nice conversation with another security guard at the same place who was a photo enthusiast. I had hoped to see him to report the insult and embarrassment but I had to return home.
     
  6. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    This paranoid trend in England really saddens me.

    I'm American and things are worse everywhere, but for what faults it has, I always thought of British culture as being saner in this regard. Instead, they've managed to marginalize public photography faster than any other western nation.

    On a lighter note and slight reveral, I've been doing more "street" photography (such as it is) locally here in rural Washington and a friend jokes that all kinds of locals probably think I work for the government and am spying on them. She's probably right, given the particular paranoid tenor of some of the locals. The really funny thing though? I do work for the government. I'm a Postman.
     
  7. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Looks like the current trend is to doubt everything and everybody. I am not sure if I really blame public for this behavior though. The Internet is full of scams and schemes trying catch people off guard. What we thought to be safe (banking) isn't. Something we thought "nobody would be crazy enough to do that...." has been done. On top of it, the difference between news media and tabloid has been so blurred that everyone is going for sensationalism rather than reporting with sanity and rationality in mind. A lot of things are so blown out - out of proportion.

    Such a sad world we live in.
     
  9. Domenico Foschi

    Domenico Foschi Member

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    To assume that the people in general have no part in this trend is not the right approach in my opinion. To claim so also means to believe that people's intelligence and power is limited. I have encountered many people who display a bad attitude toward me when I shoot, but also countless who or don't care or are fascinated by what I do.
    At the end it's everyone's responsibility to wake up and see things in the right perspective. Let them go to museums, to art galleries and see what photographers and artists at large do. We as photographers are out there taking pictures regardless of some risks involved. If laws or public opinion are against it, we will be the first to be hurt by it, but then the society in the whole will suffer the consequences as well.
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    That happens a lot around here in Richmond Va. One would get chase off with a tripod on a park.

    Jeff
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The tripod is normally an obstruction problem here rather than a question of personal or commercial use.


    Steve.
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Sometimes it is, but not everywhere.

    Jeff
     
  13. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Back in the '70s the Finnish photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen shot her book "Byker" in a classic 'street candid' style. But when she worked on "Byker Revisited" recently she set-up all her shots. Her rationale:

     
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  15. skyrick

    skyrick Member

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    I used a tripod for my Yashica 35mm and Crown Graphic at the Alamo in San Antonio this past October. A Park Ranger came up to me and asked, "Excuse me. Are you a professional photographer?" I told him no, and he replied, "That's the answer I was looking for. Thanks."

    Rick
     
  16. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    I was in Montreal last month, walking the streets recording, with a digital camera, the various appealing menus just to show my wife what was available to eat since she wasn't with me. I had no problem for several hours, until a guy ran after me after I had photographed his window, which had his viands listed. He said it was ok to photograph, but he wanted me to ask first, and after a very low key discussion, told me that it is illegal to photograph storefronts! Well, of course this is baloney. What's the difference between your storefront and Notre Dame Cathedral's store front? The only difference is that it's yours, and you are paranoid.

    Believe me, the last thing I want is a confrontation that can produce nothing but bad feelings, so I didn't say what I just wrote above. Instead, I just asked him whether he would like me to erase the image. "No, it's not whether you erase the image or not, it's just that you can't take pictures without asking". I'm not here to correct each and every person's misguided opinions, so I just left. Sure, he ought to know, but so should hundreds of thousands of others.
     
  17. Dave Pritchard

    Dave Pritchard Member

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    You might have told him that you were from "60 Minutes", and were going to enter his store with video cams blazing.
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You should have deleted him!

    Steve
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    What a dangerous hobby photography is! LOL

    What's the risk? Act sensibly. Ask for permission where it makes sense and peoples feelings or rights may be violated. Ask for forgiveness where it does not make sense, and forget about the rest. Everyday, we probably brake the law three times without even knowing about it. This is a bunch of hype, and I wonder how much of it is actually feed by photographers who try to make themselves look important. In western societies, it's still more dangerous to cross the road than to take a picture of a public building. I know, I've done it in most of them.

    40 years ago, Mr. Rogers was a friendly neighbor. Today, he would probably be a potential pervert (not having a job, or a wife and talking to young children without asking their parents for permission first). What has changed? Our society? Trouble is, we are that society. Let's change it back and give this nonsense no feeding ground.
     
  20. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    :smile:
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Thank you for commenting on my comment. I am afraid, you saw my comment in different light than I meant. Of course, people has everything to do with what's happening. After all, it's people themselves creates this trend.

    I also said nothing about making assumption about people's intelligence or power. Quite opposite actually. I was acknowledging people's ability to adapt to current situation when I said I do not blame people from reacting this way.

    I do not take a grand approach to my photography. I try to ask for permissions when practical when taking photograph of what is not mine. I do not take risks in sake of my art. It is a joyful event to capture an image, not an adventure.

    Of course, all this is my opinion and how I conduct my own hobby. It is not meant to contradict with yours or start or debate.
     
  22. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    If it's a hobby, that's one thing. If it's a profession, that could be another. Just doing my job, I have been literally attacked. It only happened once, but I thought I was going to get hurt. I was asked to leave a few places, but that's their business, if they really want to turn down mid five figures ($) in promotional value. I have a feeling that some of them regretted it when they told their boss what they had done, but they had to follow the rules, I guess.

    re: the Sirius comment. The guy who attacked me was deleted. I punched him out -- of the negative. With a punch.

    One aspect of this that has changed a lot is the demise of the consumer picture magazine. My job was to be unobtrusive, invisible if possible, so that the images would reflect real life. We could set up some shots, but generally didn't unless the subject was static. Now the magazines are so plasticized, there is not a lot of need for that kind of photography any more.

    I suppose it might have become a hobby for me by now. Maybe I ought to just accept it. But for some who work out there in the world, there can be dangers.
     
  23. C A Sugg

    C A Sugg Member

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    Which ones? The only one I've used a tripod in lately though is Belle Isle in James River Park. No problems. And Hollywood Cemetery (private) is asking for Fall foliage uploads on their Facebook fan page.
     
  24. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    Here in Paris we have been hassled for shooting in city parks for years, so tripod-leg-obstruction or terrorism wasn't the original motive for the restriction: money was. The logic is: "If he's (or she's) got a tripod, he must be a professional. If he's a professional, he must be making money. If he's making money ... WE WANT OUR CUT!" Thus, a special permit is required --available at city hall-- to photograph in a park. Or a monument. Or, certain buildings. Or ... the Eiffel Tour

    OK, the last item on the list is a joke. However, what is true is that the night-lighting on the Eiffel Tour is supposed to be patented or registered or something like that, so that —if you photograph it at night— you (technically) cannot sell the resulting image without permission and payment. I know this because I photographed the tower a millisecond or so after 11:59:59 on Decemeber 31, 1999, just as the very first fireworks of the year 2000 exploded behind the structure. The photo turned out well and I tried to sell it as a postcard, but the publisher evoked this problem and —though he liked the image very much—, told me that, due to the licensing payment, it'd be too expensive to publish. Subsequently, I met with the fireworks company itself and tried to sell the image to them. They weren't interested because they'd of course hired their own photographers for the New Year's event. However.., I learned that —while the image could not be sold as a post card— they could not prevent it from being sold as an art print. Whew.

    Back to the question of photographers being terrorist suspects: The terror-worries about the Eiffel Tour are no secret, however I can't imagine the French government preventing the millions of tourist per year from photographing it... they'd be shooting themselves in the foot. At the same time, don't forget that Paris has already suffered a couple of terrorist attacks (bombs in crowded trains), so I'm not completely against certain (reasonable!) safety measures. This doesn't seem to be a simple issue to solve.

    :
     
  25. Blacknoise

    Blacknoise Member

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    Its not quite as bad as people have made out over here, at least not where I live (but I haven't had any trouble down in London either). I've had one run in with the police, but this was largely my fault as I was walking through the open car park of the police station and took a shot without thinking where I was. Policeman was ok, just asked me not to do it again...

    The people I've had most trouble with are memebers of the public and private security firms. I was in the train station in Retford once and got stopped by some security guard and told that I'd have to delete my picture (the look on his face as he tried to find the screen on the back of my IIIf was priceless!). He then said he was going to confiscate my camera, I told him he had no legal right and he backed down.

    Both those ocasions, I was technically on private property anyway, so I guess there a little off topic. All I get in the street are occasional comments about my cool old camera, and the odd person giving me a funny look for taking there photo.
     
  26. Ric Trexell

    Ric Trexell Member

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    Camera-phobia

    I have never been stopped from taking a picture, but I have read many posts of people that have. The funny thing about a lot of these is that while many are taken with a camera on a tripod, thousands are taken with cell phone cameras. So if you were a terrorist, would you set up a large format camera in the middle of a park, or use a cell phone or a Minox to take pictures? Also, people don't seem to realize that you can take a picture with a 500mm lense a thousand feet away from an object and get a picture as good if not better than the guy with a point and shoot who is standing next to it. As for the guy that shot the Alamo, that is no doubt a federal historic site and just as you might not be able to sell photos taken in a national park, you might be prohibited from taking pictures there. However, again what difference does it make if you were taking photos there instead of standing 100 feet away and taking them with a telephoto? Part of this is just stupidity on the part of people that know little about cameras. Some also suffer from Camera-phobia. Ric.