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Street Photographers gets Harassed ... Oh the infamy
Old 04-27-2012   #1
candidcameraman
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Street Photographers gets Harassed ... Oh the infamy

"I got harassed" oh... the drama of it all... I used to think I was entitled to everything I wanted right away without any compromise, I was king, I ruled... then I turned 8.

I get asked a couple of times a year, "Did you just take my picture?" to which I always answer, "Yes" ... and I am usually asked one of two things, "Can you delete?" and/or "Why did you take it..." I shoot street candids and street photography almost every day of the week, usually capturing anywhere between 10 to 20 different person a day.

When I am asked, I answer honestly and with a smile, I'll give you the best example, this gentlemen below, wearing a suit holding a skateboard ... photo op galore... *click* but that was not the image I captured, the image I captured was in lower light, he was leaning against a wall, eating a hot dog with one hand holding his board with the other...

When he asked, I said yes I did... short and to the point, no... "I have a right to" on my part, his answer was if I did, I did. I did not even try to evade it, nor did I hide the fact I was taking the image in the first instance. He asked why, "Cause I thought it was cool, you're wearing a suit and you have a board, it was a nice contrast." He then asked, "Can you delete it?" to which I then asked "Why?" He answered, "I am starting a new Job on Monday and I don't want it published in the papers..." Fair enough request, to which I answered, "I am not a journalist, most pictures I take I never actually use, if you want me to delete it, I'll delete it." ... I did, it wasn't like I was actually even going to use it ... Then he walked a bit with me and we talked... at one point I asked, "It would be cool to retake it here, as you cross the street, there is more light, I'll e-mail it to you." He said okay, I had him cross the street 3 times to get this one, he gave me his business card... I e-mailed him the picture and he loved it.

Are you that entitled to the image you capture... yes and no, do you have to sound entitled about the images you make, yes, if that's who you are... I shoot street candid and street photography for fun, it's my golf game. I thread lightly and nicely, it never pays to be aggressive or try to reason with people, taking pictures is a little like whale watching... if you miss a shot, or have to delete one, another will come up for air shortly, nothing is ever truly a missed opportunity or a lost chance.

No one has ever threatened to break my camera or beat me, perhaps because I never start off with - "I have the right to take the picture and keep the picture!" Pretty much everything in life is a negotiation, your freedom stops where other's people perception of their own freedom starts... Thread lightly, perception is reality

If someone wants to call the cops on me, I let them and that has happened once, I was right they were wrong, if someone wants to hold me against my will until the police gets on the "scene" no problem, I'll have them charged with "Forcible Confinement..." a criminal offence but first and foremost ... it is in my capacity to act as a gentleman to avoid getting to that point, with a smile.

The best way to handle such encounter is to keep your answers on point, a yes or no question only requires a yes or no answer, how does, "A person has no expectations of privacy in a public space, I can legally take your picture and there nothing you can do about it.!" fit anywhere in any such conversation... you want to diffuse a potentially explosive situation, you don't add fuel to the fire of who's right, who's wrong... in the big scheme of things it doesn't matter - whether or not you are packing heat, a smile combined with calm, honest and short answers are your best weapons.

Now on to more pertinent and serious stuff ... the picture in question, nothing which will win awards.



Of course you may be caught off guard on a bad day and someone could just rub you the wrong way and that's a completely different story.

Another example, at night and I am taking a picture of a laundromat, this guy steps into my frame as I am about to take the picture. He must have seen me, yet he stands there and doesn't move, then shouts, "HEY YOU! DID YOU JUST TAKE MY PICTURE!" ... I answer, "No, I was taking a picture of the laundromat..." he says, "You have no right to take pictures of people without their consent!" to which this time around I answer, "It is not like anyone can see you with those exposure settings..." ... "You have to ask, delete the picture!" Huh oh, unlike the first image above I deleted, this is actually a good image, I am not deleting it, "Sorry..." I say this time around, "I don't have to ask and I am not deleting it but I can show you the image." Which I did, "Oh... I guess you can keep it... but it would have been nice to ask." Every encounter is different, you might be having a bad day, they might be having a bad day... I just know I can run faster scarred than anyone angry.

How the situation turns out is really up to you... The important thing is to be honest and honestly all I wanted was the brightly light laundromat window at night without anyone in front of it ... however serendipity made it a better image.

I don't think there are any right or wrong reaction and ways to handle such encounters - it is part of the game. How you deal with it will often be responding in kind to how people approach you. If they want to call the cops, let them... you don't have to wait for them to show up and no one can hold you against your will.

By the way the laundromat image was made with an iPhone using the Hipstamatic app whereas the skater in a suit capture was made with pro-stuff What you use to make image can make a difference in how people react.

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Old 04-27-2012   #2
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Like the point of view. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-27-2012   #3
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i like both of the pics.
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Old 04-27-2012   #4
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Thankyou. I am sick of reading street photographers talking about all the "unreasonable" people they have met, and the various ways in which they have been "wronged" by these aggressive, ignorant people who aren't even familiar with H.C.B. When they recount their stories of what actually happened, I usually think - well actually, it was YOU being the unreasonable pr!ck, and this is from their own (no doubt biased) "version" of events.

Your approach seems fair and reasonable to me - without the remarkable sense of entitlement of so many others.
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Old 04-27-2012   #5
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Wow.a`street shooter' without a chip on his/her shoulder .Well written, good points made and i like the picture taken using the `pro stuff'
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Old 04-27-2012   #6
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When I am traveling in the colonies and find myself in a spot of trouble I just drop my Rolex and a couple twenties as I run back to the safety of the Range Rover.
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Old 04-28-2012   #7
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Bump, this needs to be seen.
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Old 04-28-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rover View Post
Bump, this needs to be seen.
Exactly. It's refreshing to get an alternative perspective on what
can be a difficult situation. Thanks for the advice.

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Old 04-28-2012   #9
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Seems a sensible approach to dealing with people. No point in being overtly aggressive and escalating a tense situation. The two photos were worth the effort.

Bob
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Old 04-28-2012   #10
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Very well put. Thank you
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Old 04-28-2012   #11
Gabriel M.A.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
Thankyou. I am sick of reading street photographers talking about all the "unreasonable" people they have met, and the various ways in which they have been "wronged" by these aggressive, ignorant people who aren't even familiar with H.C.B. When they recount their stories of what actually happened, I usually think - well actually, it was YOU being the unreasonable pr!ck, and this is from their own (no doubt biased) "version" of events.

Your approach seems fair and reasonable to me - without the remarkable sense of entitlement of so many others.

Why, yes, everybody who complains about this have a huge sense of entitlement.

Like Helen here feeling entitled to not being harassed by the police or this "unreasonable pr!ck" for being polite.
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Old 04-28-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikon Bob View Post
Seems a sensible approach to dealing with people. No point in being overtly aggressive and escalating a tense situation. The two photos were worth the effort.

Agreed. But one must remember that also some have anxiety issues, and as such have a harder time handling the situation. If anxiety spells "entitlement" and "being a prick" to others, I think those people have a problem.
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Old 04-28-2012   #13
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Quote:
"I got harassed" oh... the drama of it all... I used to think I was entitled to everything I wanted right away without any compromise, I was king, I ruled... then I turned 8.
Nothing quite like a condescending introduction. Way to go big guy. About what I'd expect from an 8 year old.

Everyone has their own experiences with street photography.
Others handle situations and express themselves differently than you. So what?
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Old 04-28-2012   #14
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Love both shots, but your philosophy is even more deserving of respect...
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Old 04-28-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel M.A. View Post
Agreed. But one must remember that also some have anxiety issues, and as such have a harder time handling the situation. If anxiety spells "entitlement" and "being a prick" to others, I think those people have a problem.
Granted not everyone handles similar situations the same way and not every situation can be defused using a non belligerent initial approach on the part of the photographer. I don't think there is much to loose by trying it first before digging your heels in. I don't recall using "entitlement" or "being a prick" in my post but since you brought it up. From the pov of doing photography as an enjoyable hobby, just because you are entitled to do something it may not be a good idea in some cases if you are the least bit anxious about the situation or it's outcome. That is a personal call and each to his own. As for "being a prick" to others it takes two to tango. It is just as easy to try the calm reasonable approach first and then switch to confrontational when all else fails. There really is no dealing with some people and that is what a judicial system is there for.

Bob
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Old 04-28-2012   #16
Gabriel M.A.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikon Bob View Post
Granted not everyone handles similar situations the same way and not every situation can be defused using a non belligerent initial approach on the part of the photographer. I don't think there is much to loose by trying it first before digging your heels in. I don't recall using "entitlement" or "being a prick" in my post but since you brought it up.

I was referring to a poster earlier on the thread. I don't think people really read threads in their entirety and this is where lots of misunderstandings begin.

I didn't think I had to qualify it as "you didn't mention this, but..." my bad.


All in all, I can see the point of view of the OP. But it got flawed with the very first sentence. Somebody could say that it smacks of a sense of entitlement of calling anyone who complains about being harassed an eight-year-old.

Different people have different experiences, and some have more control over the situation than others -- for example when being subject to racial profiling, police abuse, mere confrontation for the sake of confrontation --. If having an opinion and talking about it makes one have a sense of entitlement and the mind of a child younger than eight-years-old...then the OP is deliciously self-shooting in the foot.
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Old 04-28-2012   #17
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Here is some blatant "sense of entitlement" by eight-year-olds:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/leavemealone/discuss/

http://www.mediabistro.com/unbeige/a...-rights_b13707

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPSXIu9sVS0

http://boywithgrenade.org/2010/06/01...at-dc-airport/

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...arassment.html


Obnoxious kids.
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Old 04-28-2012   #18
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Something other people learned when they reached the age of 8: someone asking to take it outside while they're smiling is very creepy.
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Old 04-28-2012   #19
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Gabriel M.A.

I knew a previous poster mentioned it having read the entire thread. I chose to answer it from my pov is all.

candidcameraman

I hope my post did not come across as suggesting digging your heels in first was a sensible approach only that it may be necessary when all else fails. From what you say we are of the same mind on that. Each encounter is different.

Bob
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