Will I be hassled in Paris if I try to shoot street scenes with a rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by SchwinnParamount, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    My wife and I will be in Paris for 10 days starting next week. We have never travelled abroad before and I am a little nervous about upsetting the locals with my camera. I've heard scare stories about tourists like myself being hassled by the local cops for taking pictures of street scenes. Is there anything to this?

    If there is, what is the best strategy to get my pictures and not get hassled. If there is nothing to the stories, I'd like to hear that too.
     
  2. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    I use a Mamiya C330s in Paris when we visit my wife's family.
    Never had any problems.
    In fact, as is usually the case, people are interested in 'old' cameras.
    I think it's when using a tripod you have to be careful but I've seen tourists using them and seemingly having no problems.
    Have a great time - Paris is a wonderful city for photography both for seeing exhibitions and as a subject.
     
  3. pekelnik

    pekelnik Member

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    Paris is full of tourists taking photos of every lamp post. You are way more likely to run into problems with taking photographs in the UK or in the US than in mainland Europe. The only places in Europe where you can get annoyed by security for taking photos are around US army bases and US embassies.
     
  4. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    You will be hassled, but not for taking photos. Watch out for the people selling all sorts around the principal tourist attractions, but a polite. no thanks is all it needs usually.

    I'm no expert on Paris but this is a decent restaurant I can recommend near the pont neuf http://www.auchienquifume.com/- a great place to retire to after an early evening boat trip?
     
  5. sandholm

    sandholm Subscriber

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    Not a problem in Europe (excluding UK), photograph whatever you want, be polite but otherwise you wont have any problem. I shoot with everything from a Leica to a 8x10 and never had any problem.

    When you are in Paris dont miss the Henri cartier-bresson museum.
     
  6. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    Ah, Paris (spoken with a French accent). I've been to Paris a couple of times. Never had a problem taking pictures. Keep an eye out for pickpockets though, just like in any city. The only thing might be that you will be mistaken for an illegal street vendor, taking pictures from tourists and selling them. As long as you can explain that's not the case, you'll be fine. Using a trypod is fine, just don't setup light deflectors or anything like that :wink:. A rangefinder doesn't look that suspicious.
    About the eiffel tower (you're probably going to photograph the eiffel tower): everybody goes across the river Seine to Trocadero garden, up to the palace steps, to take a picture of the tower. It's the standard picture you find in every postcard store. Why not take a side street and make a picture thrue a side street?
    The best way to travel is the metro. With the 2 and 6 you can go all the way around the city center, mainly above ground. North of the river Seine is the old city, south is more trendy. I don't know what your interests are, I might give you a few places you could visit. Have fun in Paris.
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Not a problem in Europe including UK.


    Steve.
     
  8. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    I lived in Paris for three years, and I did a lot of street photography -- never had a problem. Do watch out for scam artists who will try to take advantage of your presumed greed: you'll see someone walking toward you suddenly bend to the ground and come up holding a gold ring in their hand. They'll ask you if it is yours, or what they should do with it, the whole idea being that somehow they are "willing" to give you the seemingly expensive gold ring for a relatively small sum of money. Of course, the ring is fake, the scam artist palmed the ring that was never on the ground, etc. I used to just keep walking right past them.
     
  9. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I walked around in Paris with my 1ds mk II and various lenses and never had a problem, but I was mostly lurking around the "touristy" areas and snapping off photos of the typical stuff.
    I did the same thing in London as well, there I even photographed some street scenes, but I made sure never to point my camera towards the police in either city. :wink:
     
  10. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    I have shot many street scenes in London, and never had any sort of problem, ever. There are the occasional stories that over zealous security and occasionally a misguided policeman does sometimes try and prevent photography, but the chief of the police media advisory group has made it clear in public memos, that photography is unrestricted in public places. http://tinyurl.com/d6xmucn
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    And remember that in whichever country you happen to be in, there are millions of pictures taken every day with no problems which are not reported in the newspapers or on TV.


    Steve.
     
  12. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    There is this old guy usually sitting on the steps going up to Basilique de Sacre Coeur, feeding sparrows. He really don't like it when you take his picture. If you are going to take specific pictures of a person, always ask. No matter where you are.
    Also, taking pictures of police is never a good idea. It's a free country, yes, but that goes both ways.
     
  13. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Why not?
     
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  15. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I a sense, I can understand why people would photograph coppers in the UK, because of their cool hats.

    How ever, my impression is that if you do photograph the police, they may be irritated and start harassing you, asking why you are taking photos of security personnel and such.
    - It's probably legal though.

    I have photographed the police in my own town, Oslo, when Obama came over to get his debated peace price, the whole city was full of heavily armed cops, quite a sight.
    I've also photographed demonstrators and the police, but I suspect it is very important to stand in a place, where there is no doubt that you are not taking part in the demonstration in any way and be very visible while photographing. (I always make sure I use my white big-ass Canon 70-200 F2.8 L when I do that, as they simply assume that I am photographing for a paper or something :tongue: )
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It is.


    Steve.
     
  17. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    The RCMP in Toronto didn't mind his picture taken. Than again, he was on a horse with traditional clothes, with hat and all. More like a photographic opportunity than an actual policeman. No offence to the RCMP.
     
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    The story I'd heard about photographing in Paris was the whole "using a tripod=professional" thing. If you're not using a tripod, it's definitely not an issue. If you are, just be prepared to A: act the dumb tourist, and B: be able to explain in broken French that you're just an amateur on vacation. Be humble, polite, and apologetic. Dumb American plays much better than Ugly American. I've ended up having some very lovely conversations with policemen who've come up to me to ask what I'm doing when out shooting with a view camera. If you are shooting with a view camera, one of the surest ways to get rid of an overzealous cop who hassles you about what you're doing, not only be enthusiastic in explaining it, but offer to let them take a look under the darkcloth! If they're not a fellow hobbyist, they'll run screaming the other direction and leave you alone. If they are also a photographer, they'll take you up on it and you'll have made a new friend.
     
  19. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    You could be right about "tripod=professional" but also "professional=expensive". I think the police would want to warn you about people who want to take your stuff. A monopod would be less suspicious and easier to transport.
     
  20. amsp

    amsp Member

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    I beg to differ :wink:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2012
  21. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Is that also true if the chief of the police media advisory group isn't around and they are arresting and/or beating the crap out of someone ?.
     
  22. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I used a tripod and medium format in Paris a few years ago and had no problems. No issues in Rome or for that matter any where else except once in Munich photographing the BMW building as I was probably on their property.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  23. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    You should photograph the police, especially when they arresting someone or otherwise using force.

    We had a case last year here in Stockholm when a young man filmed a questionable arrest, and then the police (dressed in civil clothes) turned on the guy with the camera phone recording the whole thing. He was threatened and forced to erase the memory of the camera. Later, the film was restored and the whole thing turned into a public scandal. Don't remember thought if the policemen were punished.
     
  24. PhilippeBachelier

    PhilippeBachelier Member

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    Hello, I'm a Parisian living in Paris and a professional photographer. There's no problem in taking pictures. There are so many people taking pictures in Paris, since it's the most visited town in the world (14.8 milion international visitors per annum). About tripod, there are areas where you won't be allowed to use one unless you can show an official agreement from the City of Paris. For instance, inside the Louvre area, in public parks. If you need more information, send me a personal message.
     
  25. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    I spend one to two weeks each year in Paris. In the past twenty years, I have only had two problems when photographing. The first was when using a tripod at night in the Place de la Concorde. A police officer told me I couldn't use a tripod (I think). She was very nice about it. I nodded and took down the tripod. Not really a big deal. The second didn't directly involve me. My wife and I were on a food walk and one of the other participants was a very aggressive photographer. She got into peoples faces. One of the markets we visited had a number of booths run by African immigrants. The walk leader had told us that because of the sellers culture, they did not like being photographed. I photographed the stalls and asked permission before including a person in the shot. The other photographer got hassled. Frankly, she deserved it.

    Go to Paris and have a great time.
    Buy a museum pass to avoid lines.
    Make reservations for the Eiffel Tower--or walk up to the first level. I'm 54 years old and did it last month without too much effort.
    If you like the French trifecta (foie gras, duck ((breast, confit or in cassoulet)) and creme brulee) it doesn't get any better than Au Petit Sud Ouest, 46 Avenue de la Bourdannais in the 7th.
     
  26. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Relax. Take some pictures. French people are cool.