Even when photographing in the middle of very rural areas, people stop and ask what I'm doing. While photographing a stream from the road bed above it, a guy asked me if I were a surveyor. I assured him I wasn't and that what he was looking at was a camera on a tripod, but I must not have entirely persuade him. He launched into a four or five minute tirade damning NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the horrible effect it was having on the local onion and vegetable farmers. He was sure I was surveying the planted fields for greedy land developers eager to snatch the land out from under the struggling growers. From then on, I've kept a portfolio of several mounted prints nearby to reassure the threatened that I'm harmlessly artsy and absolutely no threat to hearth, home or the national interest.
I've noticed a change in people's attitudes locally regarding me and a camera! For a couple of months early in the year it became a common sight to see me with a digital camera dashing around, stopping suddenly, snap an image then continue onwards only to stop again shortly later.
Quite often, people would notice me and start larking around where I was shooting...pulling faces, waving etc...
Now I only use a 35mm SLR, people somehow seem more reluctant to get in the way and will go about their business normally, or even stop walking if I'm shooting or try to crouch under my line of sight, and crab-walk along!
They regarded the digital camera as a toy and treated it accordingly, but the SLR seems to give me more credability in their eyes.
P.S. By the way, even if you're on public property, taking photo's around an airport isn't a good idea without permission!!! Being nose to barrel of a machine gun is an incredibly effective laxative!
Yeah, thanks for that Messrs Blair & Bush! *^$"ers!
Originally Posted by kaishowing
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I haven't tried any street photography yet, i would love to though but i am worried about the response from people.
A certain amount of scare mongering by press and government (terrorists round every corner, no-one is safe i tell you, no-one) and reaction from the hard of thinking (an hereditary problem in deepest dark Norfolk) has so far put me off.
Don't be put off by it!! They have had enough small victories in as much that our lives have changed. If they stop us feeling free to do something as harmless as following a hobby or interest, thats another victory for them!
Originally Posted by sparx
Go for it!
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I had an incident recently when photographing a run down area in Brighton for a college project. Apart from the curious looks ("what's he doing photographing that for"?), I had one shop owner come out and ask me what I was doing, I told him politely, but he was having none of it. Not believing I was a student because I had an new mid-range SLR (I was part-time), he accused me of working for some secretive government organisation that had nothing better to do than take pictures of second-hand shops, then complained about the amount of taxes he had to pay, getting more and more heated he finally threatened to call the police! I eventually told him where to go.
On another project I was moved on several times at railway stations in London by staff. You do actually need a permit from Railtrack (or whoever it is now), which takes ages to obtain, to prove you are not a terrorist recce'ing the place.
It's unfortunate, but we live in a paranoid society these days. I wouldn't even dare to take pictures of kids on 'the street' for fear of being lynched from the nearest lamp-post*. I think I will replace the slr with a rangefinder in future.
(*for those of you outside the UK, a few years ago a Paediatrician's house was fire-bombed by an angry (yet illiterate) mob of locals!!)
Last edited by Snapper; 07-13-2004 at 09:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Here at the beach, it seems to depend on the camera. 35mm draws very little, if any attention - lots of tourists have them. When I'm using the 4x5 Speed Graphic, people get out of my way and stand back a respectful distance, cops and firefighters let me get close to the action. Folks must still associate them with Serious Newspaper Work.
The 8x10 attracts the nuts. In a public area, they seem to wait until I'm under the darkcloth to walk up, tap me on the arm, and say, "Excuse me. Excuse me. What are you doing?" Before I learned better, I tried to engage these interrupters in polite conversation. Now I use my own version of Francesco's trick - I come out from under the dark cloth waving my arms and shouting "I don't speak English" in Serbo-Croatian. That usually frightens them away. (I'm working on Mandarin Chinese as a backup.)
One woman was persistent. I finally frightened her away by saying, "Listen lady. I'm a lawyer. If you don't leave me alone, I'm going to sue your ass off." That got rid of her.
I think I'll try Aggie's way next.
I think Aggie’s method is great. I wish I had the nerve to try it. I’ve had a couple of incidents. The first was on a mountain in Virginia: there was a tree growing from a rock ledge in a very unbelievable way so I thought a picture might be interesting. While setting up a 35mm Nikon, a black SUV comes up and a couple of men(?) emerge, I was glad to have my brother-in-law along with his cell phone. They accused me of spying on private property and ask me un-politely to leave. I stopped my activity, leaving the tripod in place and called the state police immediately. I had no idea who these guys were. They claimed to be private security of the property owner but showed no ID. The police arrived almost instantaneously and engaged the two in jovial communication. They obviously knew each other. The cops told the SUV’rs that I was on public property and in Virginia, was allowed to photograph anywhere without permission, with obvious exceptions. The image was not properly exposed because between the time I set up and released the shutter, the light had changed and I was sort of shook up.
The second occurred on a public park path in Maryland. I had trucked the 4x5 gear onto a foot (bike) bridge for a shot of the swamp when a security person approached and asked the usual questions from one whom had never seen a LF camera in use. I had to dissemble the thing and put my hand through it before he was convinced it was not some subversion device. Fortunately I had a blank film holder for him to examine. He also looked through my lenses (??).
Question: “Can you still get film for that?” Answer: “No!”
Question: “I know quality when I see it. That’s a Hasselblad, isn’t it?”
Question: “Why don’t you just use a digital?” Answer: “What’s that?”
I love the smell of fixer in the morning. It smells like...creativity!
Truly, dr bob.
It would be hard for me to even list the number of interesting encounters Ive had while out shooting. A majority of them in the downtown area of austin.
Ive been threatened, cursed, hugged, spit on, screamed at, preached too, chased, ticketed, etc etc.
one interesting encounter in particular, once I was out with my old Olympus OM and an 80-200 lens taking street portraits of people and the city and I noticed a girl sitting under an awning. she was maybe a few years younger than I (22 or so) and had a sign that read ..... "hungry, pregnant, anything will help" I usually make a note of carrying alot of change and a few dollars with me when Im wandering the city for these exact reasons, but on this occasion I didnt. I stopped and asked the young girl if she wanted something warm to drink (as it was quite cold out) perhaps a cup of coffee or the like. she said she would love a cup of hot chocolate, no coffee as she was pregnant (quite responsible I thought) so I went around the corner and bought two cups of hot chocolate and took one back to her.
I asked her if I could take a few pictures of her and she agreed but immediately started off on a rant about how George Bush was the anti christ and how she was going to a rally the next day at the capital.
I thought to myself "why is this young girl worrying about the president when she cant get enough money to eat and nourish the young life inside her". seemed so pointless for someone in her place to be worrying about such things...... she should have been worrying about getting a job or finding shelter so she could provide for the child she was bringing into the world. it was a strange occurence to say the least.
I have never had a problem with anyone bothering me with a 35mm. I do have people who are also interested in photography sometimes stop and chat.
I also only get curious people coming up when I use 8x10 or larger. I think the size of the camera and the bellows makes a statement of hobbyist or artist.
With 4x5 I sometimes run into problems. People become suspicious that I am from the city government or IRS when photographing their structures. On the other hand I sometimes will employ a couple of traffic cones and a bright dayglo orange vest if I am working directly off a busy road. No one bothers me then. I believe they think I am probably doing some kind of surveying.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"