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Frank Jackson on Street Photography I am happy and excited to announce a new RFF forum on Street Photography mentored by Frank Jackson, one of the best producers of analog B/W prints I have ever seen. His shows include the Open Shutter Gallery, Heriard-Cimino Gallery, and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. His images are in the collections of Smithsonian Ogden Museum of Southern Art, California Afro American Museum and Xavier University New Orleans LA. He has worked for or has been featured with Visa Card, Xerox, UCLA, Eric Owen Moss, Architect, Hasselblad Forum (cover),Gordon Parks, Muhammed Ali, Million Man March Wash. DC, Lionel Hampton, jazz legion photographer , 1995-2002, Stevie Wonder, B+W Magazine (British version) twice, Rangefinder Magazine, Dahon Bicycles, Arelli Wheels, Real Product Design, Automobile Club of Southern California. Frank's online images are at fotographz.500px.com and fotographzfrankjackson.tumblr.com . "While on this diverse photographic journey…I have to say during this whole time my love for fine art black and white photography kept growing. I always found time to shoot in different cities and my own personal work…this has sustained me through some very tough times. As of 2012, with the help of a very good friend I maintain a state-of-the-art dream darkroom. The darkroom helps greatly in the on-going practice of understanding “the light”, being able to process film and print drives me to keep my digital photography “organic”. I’m curious visually and shooting what’s, what on the street feeds this curiosity. Everyday I walk out my front door to “see” the world with a digital camera, a film camera, the “cup” and an open mind (mostly).

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The world has changed Street Photography
Old 11-18-2015   #1
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The world has changed Street Photography

When shooting out in the street, I have noticed an increase in tension from 3 places.
1. Feel like Police in general are on edge when shooting.
2. Feel like random subjects are less accommodating and sometimes just not accommodating at all.
3. Feel like business owners are more restrictive about photographers.

I have been shooting "the street" for 40 years, so of course, I have seen this before. But it now it seems increased. Recent events over the last 15 years, seems to have changed everything. maybe I am wrong.
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Old 11-18-2015   #2
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The internet changed it in a big way. People are worried their image will be online yet 90% constantly post "selfies" with their location info.
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Old 11-18-2015   #3
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The internet changed it in a big way. People are worried their image will be online yet 90% constantly post "selfies" with their location info.
LOL, the other side of the problem, yes.
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Old 11-18-2015   #4
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The so called supposed "terrorist" and "paedophile" around every street corner and the ever growing militarization of police has greatly contributed to the increased tension phenomena.
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Old 11-18-2015   #5
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World is different... and I'm clueless about SP in USA (which isn't entire "World" for me).

In Canada, where I'm... If I ask to take picture sometimes people will asks if it is for Facebook, they seems to be not into been published on FB. But some, once they see me with camera, are willingly asking if I'm newspaper guy And I'm having hard time to say "No".
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Old 11-18-2015   #6
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Parents are creepy these days.
I had a mom give me a foul look and shield their kid when I lifted my camera to take a picture of my Girlfriend at Pike place last week.
Is it really so close in a parents mind that they are in reflex mode?
My GF has kids. When she noticed the woman she actually said sorry.
I grilled her on it.. She said she would have reacted similarly.
She actually did not realize how offensive it was to treat another human like a criminal.
It turned into a horrible awkward afternoon.

My parents never had such suspicion when I was a kid.
I think the constant fear mongering and speed of communication makes our world scarier.
At some point we'll all have to chose to be less afraid in order to take back the sense of safety.
Yes there are real threats but there are even more exaggerated ones.
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Old 11-18-2015   #7
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Alex Webb photographed for years in one of the most dangerous places in the world, Mexico US border.

So, as crude as it might sound, a street photographer must have guts and determination if his to create art out on the streets...

If it was easy, anybody could do it.
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Old 11-18-2015   #8
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I've been asked which newspaper I work for and whether the pictures will end up online, very often I smile, I say I don't have a facebook and I shoot film which requires dev and scanning. I don't know if they really believe it but for now it works.

If someone reacts angrily or aggressively from the start I just ignore them, no point arguing, otherwise I try to look friendly, confident and calm. If you start believing you're doing something reprehensible people can smell it off you
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Old 11-18-2015   #9
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It's been going on for a while now.

I remember my late father commenting on this more than 10 years ago and its only intensified since then. He used to be a newspaper photog at one time and he'd often say that such photography was rude in that not everyone was happy about getting their picture in the paper, e.g. pictures on courthouse steps, arrests, victims of crime, fire, etc.

But it's way beyond folks simply being embarrassed now.

The police are on edge because they see photography and video as a threat to their jobs and criminal prosecution.

Business owners also see photography and video as a threat for liabilities, both real and imagined.

Ordinary folks are wary because they identify with celebrities who are shown to be stalked and hounded by paparazzi. Consequently, there's an irrational perception of a right to privacy even in public places.

Therefore now, basically anyone doing candid image capture outside of a tourist zone is seen as doing something threatening and menacing.

As we know, photography and video's only real threat is to show how things actually appear, but not a lot of people like that these days.

I believe the way to push through this evil condition is through more photography. The unstoppable prevalence of camera phones will do more to protect photogs than the law is certain to do.

It's just going to take a generation for the culture to acclimate and for the two-legged cockroaches who count-on pushing people around to be driven further into shadows.
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Old 11-18-2015   #10
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More and more people use cameras -- the sale of cell phones with cameras is way, way up -- and a certain percentage of these "cameraperson" are creeps. Then the Internet is there, advertising bad photography. I understand people who look down into TLRs have very little trouble on the street. Progress ain't always...progress.
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Old 11-18-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post

My parents never had such suspicion when I was a kid.
I think the constant fear mongering and speed of communication makes our world scarier.
At some point we'll all have to chose to be less afraid in order to take back the sense of safety.
Yes there are real threats but there are even more exaggerated ones.
Instant news and instant access creates a world were there is a bad man behind every tree.
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Old 11-18-2015   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
Parents are creepy these days.
I had a mom give me a foul look and shield their kid when I lifted my camera to take a picture of my Girlfriend at Pike place last week.
Is it really so close in a parents mind that they are in reflex mode?
My GF has kids. When she noticed the woman she actually said sorry.
I grilled her on it.. She said she would have reacted similarly.
She actually did not realize how offensive it was to treat another human like a criminal.
It turned into a horrible awkward afternoon.

My parents never had such suspicion when I was a kid.
I think the constant fear mongering and speed of communication makes our world scarier.
At some point we'll all have to chose to be less afraid in order to take back the sense of safety.
Yes there are real threats but there are even more exaggerated ones.
Treating our kids as helpless would-be victims does them a grave disservice and helps them to feel paranoid and vulnerable. The idea that any interest in the image of a child must invariably be prurient in nature speaks to the disgusting extent to which our culture has sexualized the very young.

There are real threats, sure, but who wants to go through life fearing them?

Anyway, I don't photograph many strangers anymore. I miss it, but I also don't want to hurt or frighten anyone.
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Old 11-18-2015   #13
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As much as the above points are true & have a chilling effect on street photography, I often feel that an even larger issue is that in many places, people simply don't participate in much "life" on the streets these days. Walking from retail store to retail store, face glued to phone, dressed like a slob - what is there to photograph?

This picture...

...will never happen again not because parents are paranoid about photographers, but because parents don't allow _any_ unsupervised activity - and recent "free range" parents keep getting arrested or visited by DSS.

The paranoia, apathy, and disengagement that characterizes 21st century life is eroding public photographic opportunities (and so much more of our social fabric) long before the about-to-take-the-picture moment wherein one holds back because of immediate tension.
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Old 11-18-2015   #14
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I photograph on the streets of NYC a lot. Most of the time when someone is upset at me, it is over an inanimate object such as store front or store window. Most of the time, people leave me alone. I generally don't photograph kids or families that I don't know. It just isn't worth the trouble and I understand their side of the issue. There is plenty of other stuff to photograph. That's my choice though.
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Old 11-18-2015   #15
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Treating our kids as helpless would-be victims does them a grave disservice and helps them to feel paranoid and vulnerable. The idea that any interest in the image of a child must invariably be prurient in nature speaks to the disgusting extent to which our culture has sexualized the very young. There are real threats, sure, but who wants to go through life fearing them? Anyway, I don't photograph many strangers anymore. I miss it, but I also don't want to hurt or frighten anyone.
You're absolutely correct. It does a our kids a huge disservice.
The world is a place of wonder. In reality there are very few dangers.

I should be clear on my first post. My Girlfriend apologized to the creeped out woman not to me on her behalf.
Our later conversations revealed that in general, moms she knows behave just like this woman.
It's sad and terrible. I feel sick from this.
How will we have leaders in the future when their parents teach them the world is all predators?
A future of hawkish militarism? Is that where we are going?
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Old 11-18-2015   #16
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...
Yes there are real threats but there are even more exaggerated ones.
I'm with Andy regarding what's going on out on the streets. And I would add that in actuality, there are almost zero threats involved in me taking someone's picture on the street. I have no problem at all in someone taking my picture in a public space of any kind. What is the absolute worse thing that could happen with my picture? Being put up on the web? Some rangefinder nutcase posting it in a thread on Rangefinderforum.com?? If someone uses a picture of me to somehow defame me, then I have grounds to sue them and I'd be happy to take their money! :-)

So, in my opinion, there are practically zero REAL threats to anyone having their picture taken on the street, and any of their concerns are clearly exaggerated.

Can anyone here come up with a REAL concern someone might have legitimately have about having their picture taken in a public space? (Other than maybe being caught with 'the other woman'?)

Last edited by Jamie Pillers : 11-18-2015 at 10:30. Reason: correct text error
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Old 11-18-2015   #17
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I find it odd that in this day and age of almost everyone has a photo taking cell-phone permanently glued to their hand and face, that people get upset at someone pointing a Leica or Zorki or a Rollei TLR in their general direction.
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Old 11-18-2015   #18
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Can anyone here come up with a REAL concern someone might have legitimately have about having their picture taken in a public space? (Other than maybe being caught with 'the other woman'?)
It could be as simple as they don't like to have their picture taken by an individual they don't know? It could be someone who isn't doing something they should be doing. There could immigration concerns. I'm not saying these are real, but people are not thinking that we photograph for fun because most people don't care about this aspect of photography. Sure, we are allowed to photograph anything we want in the street here in the US. However, think of the other side of the coin... do you think they are thinking in their heads that we are trying to make great photos / Art? Probably not...the NEWS makes sure people are paranoid. Just try going to a suburban neighborhood and sit in your car outside someone's home you don't know... what will happen?

I like to photograph in public. However, I understand there is another side to it all and try to respect people's concerns whether real or not.
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Old 11-18-2015   #19
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as much as i love 'street' photography, harpo said it best, in that there is little 'real life' happening on the streets these days. the world of hcb etc is long gone now...kinda sad really.
for me, the idea of shooting people on the street has been losing it's appeal more and more...i have been thinking about what i would like to photograph now so have been thinking about what i like...and people are way down on the list these days.
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Old 11-18-2015   #20
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Complex topic, that I have little to zero experience.
But this one case.
Long long ago, I was taking a photo of a 6th grade class where I had just done some "Mr. Engineer" airplane demos. One boy came up and said his mom told him never to let a picture be taken of him "Because her ex-boyfriend said he would kill them if he ever found where they lived".

I agree with the statements above about unfounded paranoia, but once in a very rare while, the fear of photographs is justified.
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Old 11-18-2015   #21
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as much as i love 'street' photography, harpo said it best, in that there is little 'real life' happening on the streets these days. the world of hcb etc is long gone now...kinda sad really.
for me, the idea of shooting people on the street has been losing it's appeal more and more...i have been thinking about what i would like to photograph now so have been thinking about what i like...and people are way down on the list these days.
I disagree Joe, there is still lots to photograph on the streets.

It just has been made socially more difficult than it was in the past, thats all.
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Old 11-18-2015   #22
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Complex topic, that I have little to zero experience.
But this one case.
Long long ago, I was taking a photo of a 6th grade class where I had just done some "Mr. Engineer" airplane demos. One boy came up and said his mom told him never to let a picture be taken of him "Because her ex-boyfriend said he would kill them if he ever found where they lived".

I agree with the statements above about unfounded paranoia, but once in a very rare while, the fear of photographs is justified.
Oh man, that is terrible. I guess it's getting harder and harder to disappear...
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Old 11-18-2015   #23
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Complex topic, that I have little to zero experience.
But this one case.
Long long ago, I was taking a photo of a 6th grade class where I had just done some "Mr. Engineer" airplane demos. One boy came up and said his mom told him never to let a picture be taken of him "Because her ex-boyfriend said he would kill them if he ever found where they lived".

I agree with the statements above about unfounded paranoia, but once in a very rare while, the fear of photographs is justified.
That is one freaky story.
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Old 11-18-2015   #24
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I disagree Joe, there is still lots to photograph on the streets.

It just has been made socially more difficult than it was in the past, thats all.
i'm not so sure about that...when i was a kid growing up in nyc, we had tons of time outside without parental supervision...as teens we left the house in the morning and came back for supper...roaming the neighborhoods on our bikes...i don't see any of that today...
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Old 11-18-2015   #25
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i'm not so sure about that...when i was a kid growing up in nyc, we had tons of time outside without parental supervision...as teens we left the house in the morning and came back for supper...roaming the neighborhoods on our bikes...i don't see any of that today...
Other than less kids and teens around now on the streets, there is still plenty of other persons and things and happenings to photograph on the streets.

We as photographers have to develop (no pun intended) thicker skin than before and feel out our surroundings a bit more than before and use more tact than before, that is all.
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Old 11-18-2015   #26
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Ah, les Anglo-Saxons...

Doesn't happen much outside the USA and the 51st state -- England.

Very occasionally a problem in Paris. But not, as a rule, in the civilized parts of Europe.

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Old 11-18-2015   #27
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Other than less kids and teens around now on the streets, there is still plenty of other persons and things and happenings to photograph on the streets.

We as photographers have to develop (no pun intended) thicker skin than before and feel out our surroundings a bit more than before and use more tact than before, that is all.
my skin is pretty thick as it is...maybe i've just soured on people in general but the streets seem to suffer from stagnation...maybe it's just my city...
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Old 11-18-2015   #28
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i'm not so sure about that...when i was a kid growing up in nyc, we had tons of time outside without parental supervision...as teens we left the house in the morning and came back for supper...roaming the neighborhoods on our bikes...i don't see any of that today...
That's completely true... but there is still adult life on the streets. It's just different.
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Old 11-18-2015   #29
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my skin is pretty thick as it is...maybe i've just soured on people in general but the streets seem to suffer from stagnation...maybe it's just my city...

Souring on people could be just a phase that we all seem to go through, it will most probably pass.

Sure, a large city like Toronto or New York or London will give us more choice and potential for photography as opposed to being in a Hooterville type of town.

I think that doing mostly people-less photography in a city with a large format camera, ala Eugene Atget, despite the technical and logistic difficulties is probably socially easier now than doing the HCB or the Robert Frank thing of 60 years ago.

And even back then Robert Frank was picked up by the police in the American South for being a suspicious swarthy looking foreigner snapping away on the American street with a 35mm RF camera.
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Old 11-18-2015   #30
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Ah, les Anglo-Saxons...

Doesn't happen much outside the USA and the 51st state -- England.

Very occasionally a problem in Paris. But not, as a rule, in the civilized parts of Europe.

Cheers,

R.
In Spain (Andalucia to be precise) photography is greeted with suspicion but its not that civilised here!
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Old 11-18-2015   #31
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In Spain (Andalucia to be precise) photography is greeted with suspicion but its not that civilised here!
Never had a problem in Catalunya. Or for that matter in Euskal Herria. Or come to think of it Navarra.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-18-2015   #32
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Ah, les Anglo-Saxons...

Doesn't happen much outside the USA and the 51st state -- England.

Very occasionally a problem in Paris. But not, as a rule, in the civilized parts of Europe.

Cheers,

R.
That is good to know Roger, even Ringo Starr was given a difficult time parading with a Pentax SLR in the Notting Hill district of London 51 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIvEc4yhdpM
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Old 11-18-2015   #33
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Never had a problem in Catalunya. Or for that matter in Euskal Herria. Or come to think of it Navarra.

Cheers,

R.
No, neither have I in those regions. Andalucia is a different matter.
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Old 11-18-2015   #34
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No, neither have I in those regions. Andalucia is a different matter.
Thanks for the warning. I wonder why Andalucia should be like that.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-18-2015   #35
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It could be nostalgia or maybe rose colored glasses, but it did seem easier to photograph on the streets twenty years ago when I lived in NYC. I think the easiest place to photograph people, and I regret that I didn't do more of it, was when you're at University. At least when I was there in the 1970's and in grad school in the early 1980's. It was all great fun.

I miss that. Trying to photograph now days at University, I would just be seen as a creepy old man.

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Old 11-18-2015   #36
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Shooting on the streets of New York for the last 10+ years I haven't noticed any changes.

Everyone is so caught up in their own worlds or has their face stuck in a cell phone that nobody really cares what anyone else is doing for the most part.

I find that as long as I'm relaxed when I'm shooting and feel like I have every right to be doing it, nobody hassles me.

If I'm feeling a little reticent or am being sneaky, people pick up on that vibe and get defensive.

As to things being somehow different now on the street, less happening, I think that just sounds like grumpy old man talk.
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Old 11-18-2015   #37
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It could be nostalgia or maybe rose colored glasses, but it did seem easier to photograph on the streets twenty years ago when I lived in NYC. I think the easiest place to photograph people, and I regret that I didn't do more of it, was when you're at University. At least when I was there in the 1970's and in grad school in the early 1980's. It was all great fun.

I miss that. Trying to photograph now days at University, I would just be seen as a creepy old man.

Best,
-Tim
Daido Moriyama is 77 and he looks very dignified and yet hip.

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Old 11-18-2015   #38
megido
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Thanks for the warning. I wonder why Andalucia should be like that.

Cheers,

R.
Not a warning or problem as such but I have noticed a definite air of suspicion towards photography ( outside of general tourism) here.
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Old 11-18-2015   #39
rfaspen
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I feel for f16sunshine (Andy). I am extremely offended by people who assume me a creep. I've had the over-reacting parent thing happen to me too. More than once. Odd too because I often had my own child with me when it happened. Now, when I have the presence of mind to do so, I react to them similarly with a look of utter digust and mistrust and sometimes a gesture of shielding my child from them. Rarely do these clueless people get it. Luckily, my wife would agree; over-reaction based on sensationalist fear spread by fear-mongers. We desperately need more critical thinkers in society.

I also find it odd (posted above) that photographing with a camera (Leica, TLR, SLR, Speed Graphic, whatever) is viewed a much more suspicious activity than photographing with my phone, which is met with little if any notice. Now, the newspaper question comes up from time to time and I've learned to exploit the situation: Sometimes I'm photographing for the local visual arts society, sometimes its for an institution (such as the university I work for, and not necessarily untrue), or even "I'm a freelance photographer" has left my lips, but that was years ago.

Perhaps its my profession (scientist/statistician), but the true risk to our children, and even ourselves (in the U.S.) is much more often things that people are ignorant of and....ignore. Pedophiles, kidnappers, and mass murderers are the least of their concerns. Listeria, Salmonella, and Tetanus; bleach under your sink, pills in your cupboard, the stove, and dogs. Those are genuine risks to our kids. I don't know the actual ratio, but the odds of being photographed by a pedophile relative to being attacked by the neighbor's dog has to be something like 1:950,000 or so.
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Old 11-18-2015   #40
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It's human nature: I don't think it's changed alot. A stranger you do not know is pointing a camera at you. It's unusual and for many it's threatening, for a gamut of reasons: personal shyness, to defense of space instinct. A CTV or even cell phone is less so, but many don't like those either. In Japan the Cell phones must click loud when shooting to warn people. That rule is not created in a vacuum, it reflects the way many feel. Today I had a photographer give me a hard time taking her picture, and I know her 30 years!

HCB delt with it enough to go on about his tactics.

It may be our right to take a picture (USA anyway), but it's their right to tell us how they feel about it. Get over it, or limit your shooting, or just wring your hands I don't think it's worse but I promise it won't get better LOL

For those who don't want any confrontation, but are dying to shoot some live people, public events are pretty good:


Ready for the Parade by unoh7, on Flickr
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