I'm a Street Photographer, Not a Pervert . . .
. . . 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.
"All I ask for is an M5 with a fast lens, a roll of HP5 and a street to shoot her by."
Originally Posted by Ming Rider
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.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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!
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. )
It's all about the way you act in public.
Last edited by Worker 11811; 07-06-2013 at 03:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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!
YES! It was a very good DVD, got it from my library
Originally Posted by Worker 11811
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.
Originally Posted by pstake
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.