Monday, September 25, 2006

An Un-acceptable Pastime?

Most days I carry a camera with me, normally my M4P. Today was no exception, even though the rain was falling out of the sky I decided to put it in my back-pack (I cycle to work).
It rained all day, and for those of you who know the UK it was a grey, dull day; no photographic inspiration.
But on the way home I spotted something I found amusing, someone's jacket had got so wet they'd just put it in the bin.
Not a great picture but worth a go, so out came my spot-meter and camera, took some readings-urgh 60th at F2.8.
Just as I was about to transfer the settings to the camera I felt a tap on my shoulder, and as I turned a guy prodded me in the chest ' have you taken any photos of me', startled I just replied 'no' 'you better not you *unt', he replied.
Not wanting any confrontation I just tuned my back and took 3-4 shots of the bin not wanting to turn round, and hopped on my bike and went on my way.
After I arrived home I spoke to my wife about the incident, she was pretty shocked but suggested I leave my camera at home or only shoot landscapes and the kids.

I'm not going to stop shooting in the towns; but one thing I have noticed, photographing public places is no longer acceptable to the general public. Twenty years ago what was considered to many to be a harmless hobby is now viewed with distrust and disdain, indeed most think you are acting illegally when you shoot a street scene.

It saddens me that i now have to look over my shoulder and it could be that someday someone will take it upon himself to stop my 'anti-social behaviour'.

So I'm a bit down today and there will be no images in this post


Charlie Wood said...

I would agree with you here, I have not had this happen to me yet, ( did get puppet man in Norwich make some sort noise at me) but the media has certainly changed peoples perceptions of people using a camera in a public place. Go into any town these days and you are being filmed all the time. get your self a scanner and you can hear the people behind the cameras. I am glad to hear this hasn't stopped you shooting but It can ruin your day. I use a very beat up looking Nikon FE for SP or my secret weapon is an old TLR or a folder, most people don't even recognise them as cameras.

Worcestershire Turnip said...

You're most likely these days to be accosted by a "Community Support Officer" thinking you are a terrorist. I do a lot of street photography for a site called GeoGraph, but I use a very small camera that's not very noticeable and I try to exclude people from the shots.

In the Amateur Photographer magazine there are frequent reports of people being stopped in towns when photographing.

It's sad that this is what we've come to, but we are living in a surveillance society with a lot of paranoia around.

Photo–Smith said...

I'd wondered if that might happen, I tend to use old camera like my 1933 Zeiss Ikonta so most people aren't even aware of the camera. But hey that doesn't make it right that the media make photographers into bogey men-having a camera doesn't make you a criminal.
Take care-keep shooting!

Erwin said...

In a similar vein, I've been 'attacked' by the lady of a house.
Just to give you the setting of the stage.
My wife and I are looking to build a house and so for the last year and a half or so I'm taking pictures of interesting houses I see.
Being a camera nut, how else I would have ended on your site?, this is often a Kiev 6C.

That particular day we where on a bicycle stroll and the house caught my eye. Since I had been shooting earlier on the stroll, I needed to reload the camera. While I was doing that the lady of the house came running out, shouting "Why are you taking pictures of my house? What are you doing that for!!!!"
Even after explaining to her that it was simply because we liked the house and that we eventually could use the picture to show an architect "This are some pictures of houses and styles we like", she would not believe me and she kept on saying that she was not willing to sell the house.
Probably thinking I was some kind of rouge real estate agent.

Worcestershire Turnip said...

You have my sympathy. I was photographing a post office for the GeoGraph site. I didn't have a lot of time, as a friend was picking me up shortly in a place he couldn't park. There was a car parked in front of a building next to the post office. To get all the post office in, I had to stand some fair distance away. After I took the photo, I turned away to walk to the pick-up spot. Suddenly I heard a woman screaming at me "Why have you photographed my car?". I thought the best course was to ignore her and keep walking. She was parked on double lines but quite possibly her car wasn't taxed & insured. In the photo on Geograph, a small section of the rear end of the car can be seen. It is impossible to identify the make or model, nor can any of the number plate be seen.

Unfortunately taking photographs in towns can be a hazardous occupation. Even in the countryside you're not "safe". Take a scene which includes horses and you're likely to get the hysterical owners go berserk.

If I had my time again, I'd probably take up stamp collecting!