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  1. #1
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    San Francisco photo expedition

    I'm planning a walking tour and photo expedition to San Francisco in September, but as my trip approaches, I keep coming across more and more stories like this:

    http://www.lbpost.com/life/greggory/12188

    and this:

    http://www.local10.com/video/28263478/index.html

    Interestingly, while I tend to shoot architecture and urbanscapes, I actually took some pictures of a mother and daughter at a playground when I was last in San Francisco a couple decades ago. You can bet I won't be doing that again.

    The last time I was in New York I was harassed by a building security guard who told me to stop shooting pictures of a Manhattan office building from the sidewalk out in front. As we all know, being in the right doesn't necessarily protect you from someone who insists you're wrong.

    So, while I've been excited about the upcoming trip, I now find myself dreading a encounter with someone who is anxiously trying to prevent the next 9/11 by challenging anyone with a camera. Are the days of artistic cityscape photography behind us? Is it worth the hassle anymore? Even more importantly, I'd be interested in what kind of experiences people have been having in San Francisco lately.

  2. #2
    BradS's Avatar
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    I really, really strongly doubt that you'll have any issue anywhere in San Francisco Come and enjoy or wonderful city.

  3. #3

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    Long Beach is a place with a strong military presence and history. I imagine that this affects police behavior and attitudes, and that the locations where a 'diligent' officer could use their power expand immensely in such an environment.

    It's been 5 years or more since I've had any building security approach me in San Francisco. Know your rights, know when you are on public land, know to ask them if you are on their property. Beyond a little mental preparation, I'd be really surprised if you have any problems. I do both birding and photography across the city, so I often have both binoculars and a camera while in port areas, near schools, parks, etc.

    As a matter of course, I do not shoot children in public without explicit engagement and permission from an adult. If I was going to photograph at a playground, I would engage parents and such beforehand, etc. It is a drag, of course, that such paranoia has become accepted, but in this case I go along with the dominant mood.

    San Francisco is full of tourists. People have cameras everywhere. If you ever feel that someone is confronting you needlessly, go into 'innocent tourist' mindset and it will all be fine. If you have a Southern accent, even better! Play it up. When I want to shoot in the street downtown, I put on a touristy outfit, and I can do almost anything. Wear a sweatshirt that says 'San Francisco' on it and you have the closest thing to diplomatic immunity you will probably ever experience.

    Depending on what kind of camera you are using, learn a bit about various neighborhoods. There are few truly dangerous areas, but there are places where I don't like being alone carrying a few hundred or thousands dollars worth of easily-transported materials.

    Tons of 'youngsters' (20-30 year olds) think film is cool. Most conversations will be about your camera, film, etc., not about whether you should be arrested or not. Be respectful of parents' concerns, be curious and polite to others, and have a good time.

  4. #4
    tjaded's Avatar
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    Don't worry about San Francisco, I don't know of anyone having any problems at all. I know hundreds of local photographers and have never heard of any problems. Just bring a sweater, we never really got a summer this year! If you do come to SF, feel free to stop in and say hi:

    https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Gl...19199231470385
    --------------------
    "Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it." -Paul Strand

    www.glasskeyphoto.com

  5. #5

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    tjaded, remind me to tell you some stories next time I see you, including just a block from your shop. If nothing else, you'll be reminded that one should never say never

  6. #6

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    San Francisco is geared for tourists with cameras and has a fine tradition of the arts. Very different from Oakland which has a tradition of higher crime and hardly any tourists or photogenicity in comparison. I never had a problem in SF, but even that is not much of an anecdotal data point.

    Long Beach is hundreds of miles to the south. The police chief there is inviting lawsuits and litigation for violation of the Bill of Rights. I hear southern California would be very nice except for the simian infestation.

  7. #7
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjaded View Post
    If you do come to SF, feel free to stop in and say hi:
    I may do that. Do you sell film? I plan to ship my film out to the hotel and then ship it back, but I would like to have a backup plan in case the film gets lost.

    I assume I would be walking up Market street to get to you. Is that a pretty safe area? My past experiences in SF have been all good. I have always traipsed around (usually sticking to Market Street and areas north) feeling pretty safe.

  8. #8
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Daniel View Post
    If you ever feel that someone is confronting you needlessly, go into 'innocent tourist' mindset and it will all be fine. If you have a Southern accent, even better! Play it up. When I want to shoot in the street downtown, I put on a touristy outfit, and I can do almost anything. Wear a sweatshirt that says 'San Francisco' on it and you have the closest thing to diplomatic immunity you will probably ever experience.
    The sweatshirt sounds like an excellent idea.

    Depending on what kind of camera you are using, learn a bit about various neighborhoods. There are few truly dangerous areas, but there are places where I don't like being alone carrying a few hundred or thousands dollars worth of easily-transported materials.
    Any advice you have in that regard would be greatly appreciated. I plan to make a map showing the Starbucks, Fedex places, and film stores. It would be nice to be able to mark up a map with areas to steer clear of. I was stationed on Treasure Island in the 70s and have been there a few times since, doing the walking photo expedition thing, but places change over time and, while I plan to stick mostly to the core of the city, I won't be focusing on tourist areas like Pier 39, etc.

  9. #9

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    San Francisco has a coffee house on almost every block, almost all of which have free wifi and bathrooms. You'll find some parts of town have no Starbucks at all.

    As to where to avoid, I think this depends on a combination of what equipment you will be carrying and what your comfort level is. What kind of things do you want to photograph, what times of day do you shoot, and what equipment will you be carrying? For example, there are few blocks in the Tenderloin where I would hesitate to use a view camera in the early morning without someone along to keep an eye out when under the dark cloth. I've been told a few different store clerks to watch my TLR in the Haight-Ashbury (Upper Haight), which shows how well I can pass for a tourist when I want

    Well, this is all minor and not meant to make you fearful at all. It's America, it's a city that has yet to clear out everyone making less than $150,00 a year despite the best efforts of a certain sector. It's hard to know what advice to give someone. People have different expectations and different types of street smarts.

    You might check with tjaded at Glass Key and see if buying the film here makes sense. Save shipping it out, just pick it up from his fridge when you get here?
    Last edited by Dan Daniel; 08-15-2011 at 11:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    After dark you need to be a bit careful about some neighborhoods. Also, watch out you don't get run over by the traffic!

    Jon
    Mendocino Coast Black and White Photography: www.jonshiu.com

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