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street photography + harassment...
Old 03-28-2012   #1
MVCG
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street photography + harassment...

So I was out on Sunday with my M6 and 24 Elmarit and noticed a character dressed in some interesting clothes so decided to take a hip shot as he was crossing the street. I mostly shoot "hyperfocal" so didnt need to adjust a thing with this lens.

We crossed paths shortly after and were on opposite sides of the street. We were both coincidentally waiting (me for my fiance and him for the bus) although he kept on looking at me with an intense stare. Shortly after he decided to cross the street over to me whilst I was on the phone and stood in front of me somewhat aggressively. I was concerned so cut short my call. He asked me to stop taking pictures of him and to delete the shots I had taken (1). I admitted to him that I had indeed taken a picture of him as I was crossing the street as I thought his outfit was interesting but I couldn't delete the picture as it was not a digital camera. He became rather aggressive (although "sort of" polite) saying that this was rude and that I should have asked him, to which I said, "ideally, you are right, however, had I of asked you, would you have said yes?", I told him I was a street photographer who liked to capture people in their natural environment and I would be happy to send him a print of his picture. He didn't respond but was very dismissive at this point and started crossing the street although kept looking at me for quite a while until his bus came...

My question is to all you savvy street shooters, what should our stance be???? On the one hand, I know I am legally allowed to take pictures of anything I like on the street but how do you handle these situations??? This really puts me off street shooting and has tainted my confidence...
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Old 03-28-2012   #2
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You handled it well. But this scenario is bound to happen from time to time and you just have to handle each confrontation differently but politely.
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Old 03-28-2012   #3
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Don't worry about what people think, just take the photo. You dealt with it as you should have, the guy was just a hot head.

Situations like this will always suck but they're a part of shooting street. I feel the same after any confrontation. I drink when I shoot though, so I usually forget about it soon enough.
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Old 03-28-2012   #4
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If a brief cordial reply from me does not diffuse the situation, I simply tell them nicely to "have a nice day" and walk away. No one has ever pursued me. If someone ever does, I will immediately call the police and ask for help.
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Old 03-28-2012   #5
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That's a toughie. If people say they don't want their photo taken, I don't shoot. But if they protest after and not before? I dunno--never been in that situation. I guess it's up to you.

But from a legal standpoint, I think he's out of luck. You can (as of now, at least) photograph someone in a public place.

Damn, it's sad that photogs are so often perceived these days as The Enemy.
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Old 03-28-2012   #6
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I say you handled it very well. I've been in a similar situation once and the person I took a photo of insisted I delete the photo. I told him I can't since I am shooting film. I just apologized and he calmed down at that point. Had he harassed me, I would have called the cops for assistance. Like you my confidence kind of faded with street shooting but I keep telling myself to just grow bigger balls
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Old 03-28-2012   #7
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Based on recent patterns in recent threads, if you call for police assistance, aren't you just asking to get arrested?

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Old 03-28-2012   #8
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I explain and listen once. After that it's a 'can't help ya' stance from me...
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Old 03-28-2012   #9
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...be short and sweet. No dialogue is needed -that's when things escalate. Acting a little crazy always helps too -throw in some twitches, start talking to yourself while pacing and staring at the ground. Even a "j'excuse monsieur, je ne parle pas englias" can kill a potentially uncomfortable situation. These will also throw in some style into your street shooting. "Hey, it's that crazy French street photographer again that talks to himself!"..."yeah, we should check out his photos, I bet they're insane!".
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Old 03-28-2012   #10
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I am teaching my oldest child a bit about photography, including how you can find interesting people and things to shoot almost everywhere.

Sometimes when angrily asked what I plan to do with a photo I've just taken, I say something like, "Well, if the photo comes out at all, the first thing will be that my 10 year old, who's learning photography with me, is going to look at it and tell me how I could have improved my technique."

It's as true as it is effective.

I think it makes sense to think ahead of time of several different (and truthful) responses, because it is hard
to come up with them sometimes in the stress of the moment.

Offering to send a photo sounds like a good idea.
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Old 03-28-2012   #11
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If you got off a "hip shot" I assume that it was not obvious that you took a photo? In that case, why not tell him you did NOT take a picture, you were just "adjusting your camera"?

Randy

P.S. I have been waiting to try out this line: "I only take photos of INTERESTING people..." ;-)
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Old 03-28-2012   #12
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Not to be mean but whenever I hear stories about confrontations like this, I think the photographer is the one responsible for the situation. I don't think one can assume that the subject would definitely say no when you ask politely. It's not an excuse for taking a shot of someone without permission. The most ideal situation is when you take a candid of someone and that person doesn't notice. But if he does and feels enraged by what you just did, then the fault is on you.
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Old 03-28-2012   #13
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I have been accosted a number of times. I do whatever it takes to diffuse the situation. I have on occasion followed Randy's approach, and lied about taking a picture. On another occasion, when pursued by a gentlemen who accused me of taking HIS picture, I answered (truthfully) that I was instead taking a picture of an interesting sign over a shop, and if he was in the picture it was pure coincidence (that seemed to mollify him). You may get some mileage by saying that you weren't taking HIS picture, you were shooting something else instead and if he happened to be in the picture you took well,,, too bad. If someone indicates that they don't want his or her picture taken, I generally won't press the shutter, but if it's an objection after the fact, well it's not illegal to take someone's photo in a public place, at least not in the U.S.
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Old 03-28-2012   #14
StevenJohn
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If all candid portrait subjects were asked before the portrait were taken, it would sort of defeat the meaning of candid. The photographer did the best he could here. It's the nature of the game.
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Old 03-28-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenJohn View Post
If all candid portrait subjects were asked before the portrait were taken, it would sort of defeat the meaning of candid. The photographer did the best he could here. It's the nature of the game.
If it was really a candid, the subject shouldn't have noticed that his/her photo has been taken. If he/she somehow knows, then that means you are flashing your camera in front of the person and it's not a candid anymore.
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Old 03-28-2012   #16
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Yep. you handled the situation very well. Very tough thing to do.

My only thing to say is; it looks extremely suspicious when shooting from the hip. It can make you look like you are a pervert as you are trying to hide that you are taking a photo.

I try to be upfront as possible, holding the camera to my eye to take the photo. I have only been hassled once from doing this.
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Old 03-28-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jubb Jubb View Post
I try to be upfront as possible, holding the camera to my eye to take the photo. I have only been hassled once from doing this.
That's exactly right. Trying to hide your camera would only make you more suspicious.
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Old 03-28-2012   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
If you got off a "hip shot" I assume that it was not obvious that you took a photo? In that case, why not tell him you did NOT take a picture, you were just "adjusting your camera"?

Randy

P.S. I have been waiting to try out this line: "I only take photos of INTERESTING people..." ;-)
Agreed. Tell him you have no idea what he's talking about. If he persists, take out you phone and threaten to call the police. He'll leave, trust me.
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Old 03-28-2012   #19
Bob Michaels
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Toad View Post
Based on recent patterns in recent threads, if you call for police assistance, aren't you just asking to get arrested?
Absolutely not. Now one must be cordial and non-argumentative with the police but in the US 99% of the policemen understand the rights to photograph. The remaining 1% will call a supervisor for clarification before arresting someone.

Also remember if one is walking away and is being pursued by a stranger, any questions about prior photographs become meaningless.
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Old 03-28-2012   #20
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Thanks guys, its happened a couple of times to me, either bad luck or bad form, whatever the case, it really is disappointing.
We live in a world where trust and civil decency are seemingly harder and harder to come by, especially in a bg city like London. I stand by my beliefs and will always respond courteously and honestly and hope one day, when this happens again, to be pleasantly surprised I will not however, give up my street shooting as a consequence.
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Old 03-28-2012   #21
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somewhat related question: would the the reaction have been different if a TLR been used openly instead of a small format camera ?
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Old 03-28-2012   #22
Mr_Toad
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Clearly, you are left with no other option.

You must immediately purchase a Fuji X-Pro-1 (with all the lenses).

...thus equipped, you may immediately dispatch any image that your subject finds offensive.
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Old 03-28-2012   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
somewhat related question: would the the reaction have been different if a TLR been used openly instead of a small format camera ?
No, it has nothing to do with the size of the camera. It's the photographer.
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Old 03-28-2012   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Araakii View Post
If it was really a candid, the subject shouldn't have noticed that his/her photo has been taken. If he/she somehow knows, then that means you are flashing your camera in front of the person and it's not a candid anymore.
That is not always true. If you are close to the subject, they may become aware after they hear the shutter noise, so you can get a true candid. At other times, they may look your way as you are lowering the camera and guess you had already shot a photo.
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Old 03-28-2012   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
somewhat related question: would the the reaction have been different if a TLR been used openly instead of a small format camera ?
Anything that could be construed as "stealth photography" scares me. When I photograph someone, they know it for sure. I always feel more confident knowing no one will ever discover I was trying to photograph them without them knowing it.
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