Sunday, September 13, 2009

know your rights

i helped with a youth event this evening, a concert at a local public park. i had already planned on doing so, but our youth pastor asked me to take photos of the event (a friend before this call asked if i could do a commission for him ;). i went about taking photos, and towards the end of the night i went at this shot, seeing that the lights were interesting down the path and the concrete walkway with two young woman sitting and chatting. A moment to capture, with lines that help draw the eye. i took several shots, trying to get it right. After a few shots, a woman approached me, asking "what are you talking photos of?". i found it a little odd that she was asking me, but didn't care a great deal "those girls," i responded. she asked again, "did you ask for their permission?," to which i responded frankly, "no."

She went over to the girls and spoke with them, and i was a little flustered that this stranger was ruining my shot - taking away the honesty and alerting them to the presence of someone watching, effectively ruining the shot. Any photographer will tell you that taking shots without people aware is best, so that you can get a "real" shot, if people know that they are being watched,they become actors, pose, and alter their behaviour; making for uninteresting, and rather boring shots.

She came back to me and accused me of taking innapropriate photos, and asked me what right i had taking these shots. i explained that i have every right to take photos of whom i please, without permission. She was maybe a foot away from my face, and she wasn't just pointing out, but trying to pick some sort of fight. She went on, threatening to call the police. i told her to do so, and she started saying i was threatening her - that i was bigger than her, and that i was in her face ",STEP BACK, STEP BACK!," she yelled in my face several times. i was defensive now, and completely out of my comfort zone. Having a random woman tell me, in a nutshell, that i'm a paedophile, that i'm threatening her when she's yelling at me, and that i need to step back when she walked up to me. i wish i was more calm and collect, but i fired back "You walked up to me! you are in my face, and you are telling me that i'm taking upskirt images - which i am not, everything i am doing i have the complete right to be doing, i have the right to take these photos, infact i was invited to take these photos." She told me that she was warning me and that i wasn't wise. she asked me for my name, which i gave to her, and gave me hers "pleased to meet you," and she shook my hand.

Talk about odd.

i know the one girl in this shot, and i doubt that she would have minded this shot in the least. Even if she had minded, i do have the right to take these photos. That is not to say that i wouldn't comply with some ones wishes - i don't mean to cause strife. However, this woman has no connections to the two photographed that i know of, and she didn't assert herself as anything of the sort. She was simply stepping into a matter that had nothing to do with her, and trying to cause some sort of incident. i wish that i wasn't so defensive, but i know that i didn't do anything wrong, and do not regret this shot (or any of my shots, for that matter).

She went off to talk to Jim B., the youth pastor - and that was the last i heard from her. Jim had no issue with me, and i didn't think he would.

So, i would like to say to you that take photographs, and esp. to you, like myself, that are photographers - Know your rights! Know that you can take photos of anyone you please, whether police or stranger or friend. That you do not have to delete your photos, that you do not have to hand over your equipment, and that you cannot be detained by a person for taking photos. If you are on public property, the law protects you. Don't be a pain and take advantage of people to make them mad - but know that if you so choose to, you can. It is not terroristic to take photos (i read recently that photographers are accused of being terrorists for taking photos that could be "intelligence" - you have the right to these shots!)

you might want to consider bringing this around in your camera bag The Photographer’s Right

do a search on Google for "photographers right" and read up!


Flann said...

Actually when I started reading this, I thought that maybe somebody called you a terrorist, apparently it wouldn't have been a stretch. Sorry that you had this experience Dan, hopefully that doesn't happen to you again.
Also I'm going to print that sheet off, I've actually read through it before, but now I think I will have to print it off.

Dan D. said...

i'm afraid that this will happen again, as i shoot more, the chances rise.

Brenda L. said...

Ooooh, my blood just about boiled when I read about your experience. I have no tolerance for people who butt into other peoples' business, thinking they're 'doing something good' when there's obviously no danger. This woman sounded like she just wanted to start an argument. If her concern was truly with the girls' safety, she wouldn't have gotten so belligerent.

I would have offered to call the cops. Pulled my cell phone right out and called them, because by law there is no restriction about photographing people as long as they are on public property. And as for the photos being 'inappropriate'? A simple review of the photos on the camera would have shown police there was nothing inappropriate at all.

People like that lady need to get a hobby that doesn't involve harassing photographers on public property.