Preface: This is another thread that I had intended to throw up much earlier, shortly after the incident below occurred (but, as often-times happens....).
As I have made mention in a number of other posts, I am in the midst - when time allows - of a two year-plus project, documenting life on Vancouver Island, shooting a host of diverse subject matter (if it looks interesting or photogenic, I may grab a shot or two...or more). And when I say diverse, I mean diverse: landscapes, seascapes, architecture, wildlife, portraits, festivals, sports, etc. The impetus? The effort is my swansong to Kodak's Ektachrome offerings. To that end, I picked up (okay, I've hoarded) some 700 rolls? - I don't really know the exact amount I accumulated because I purchased film over a period of several months - of E100G and E100VS in 35 mm and E100G in 120. At any rate, I digress. The following is the issue at hand, one which has come to the fore on several occasions during the course of the aforementioned effort.
Shooting surfers and boarders one bright and sunny day back in late October, this year, in Jordan River, BC (a rinky dink backwater on the Island's Southwest coast, I found myself in a bit of a heated discussion with one of the denizens of that town re my "right" to shoot these folks playing out in the Pacific. I was first asked if I was "from Jordan River," to which, motioning to the Burnaby dealership tags on my Honda, I replied in the negative. The individual then informed me that "people from here, wouldn't take kindly to being photographed." I then replied that "once you cross the threshold of your home, your right to privacy has been lost until you return home." He then proceeded to tell me I "couldn't just take pictures wherever you wanted." I suggested otherwise, to which he became increasingly agitated. When I mentioned that the average individual - living in a metropolitan region, mind you - was captured around 200 times per day on a host of surveillance devices, and that the "right to privacy" was an artefact of another age, a flush on his cheeks was in evidence. Further agitating him, I made mention that photography, in a public space, was protected under a host of legal statutes (freedom of expression, etc.), and that, absent commercial usage, photographers retained the right to display/use their work in any manner they deem fit. I was almost certain that the conversation was about to lead to fisticuffs when this individual turned, muttered a few obscenities under his breath, walked back to his SUV, grabbed his surfboard and headed into the water.
I thought about this conversation later on, wondering why this individual felt the need to be so confrontational. An aversion to photographers? An ignorance of the law? Then I realized the day of the week: it was Wednesday. Given the number of bodies out in the water, a perfect day for recreational pursuits, and the fact that the town has a fairly high unemployment rate...perhaps this is how some people in Jordan River (enjoying the largess of Unemployment Insurance) conduct job hunts? lol
So...the question: Have you ever been challenged on your right to photograph, when out shooting in a public space? How did you respond?