When people think you're a monster

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by KillRamsey, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    An article from petapixel about a professional snapping a pic of a sunset out his car window and nearly being beaten up for it. This one hit me especially hard, because not only is that Trader Joe's less than a mile from my house (the Whole Foods in the background is where we get most of our groceries, I can't count how many times I've been to this spot in the last 7 years), but I just met this man's wife two weeks ago. I was asked to shoot some casuals for a neighbor running for city councilor, and she brought a friend with her. The friend mentioned that her husband was "a somewhat well-known photographer," and when I got home I looked him up. She wasn't kidding.

    At any rate, I am disgusted. The idea that if you've got a camera and a kid is in ANY part of your shot, you're automatically a pedophile, stems from the new age of paranoia / vigilantism from modern evening news programs. If it bleeds, it leads, so we're all now terrified of each other.
     
  2. In a world where people are constantly taking pictures.
     
  3. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    There's always been raving lunatics amongst us. There are just more of them now. And I'm sure Red Van Man had good intentions. That's the hard part. You can't really blame RVM and obviously you can't fault the photographer. It was all just bad timing.

    And man, that news video about "street photographers" was maybe even more disturbing. Seeing street photography and how the shooters work from a misunderstood point of view really does make them look freaking creepy.
     
  4. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I'm not ready to give the guy a pass under "good intentions." What he did (traffic maneuvers, threats) was incredibly dangerous and unwarranted. What exactly did he think was going to happen?

    ...and the answer, of course, is "he didn't think. period." And that's not ok.
     
  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I'm not gonna "give the guy a pass" either, but think about that television news spot. Try to imagine yourself not as a photographer, but as one of the 95% of the population that knows nothing about photography. Now think about the scenario in that parking lot. Some middle-aged dude hiding in his car aiming his camera at some kid walking through a parking lot. There is NOTHING there to photograph (thinking as an average Joe). He's OBVIOUSLY some perv.

    No, being a vigilante is certainly the wrong thing to do. If he really thought he saw something dangerous going on, he should get the plates and call the police.

    What if he WAS a perv.....and what if he were surreptiously shooting photos of YOUR daughter and sharing them with depraved strangers all over the internet. Now imagine that those photos have GPS coordinates in the EXIF......what if something happens next based on that?! The guy was obviously a little paranoid. But in this day and age, I guess I just understand a little paranoia.
     
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  6. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I guess my reaction would've been a little calmer, or so I tell myself anyway.
     
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  7. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    When I read it, I thought to myself "Why do I never get this? What was different about him? ...His mistake was sitting in his car." You look 4000x creepier sitting in a car, shooting out a window. Makes it look like you're planning a quick getaway.
     
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  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Wow. I generally shoot alone and pretty discretely because I find I get better results that way, not so much to avoid detection. Maybe I'll add that to my unconscious list of reasons for shooting how I shoot. I've never taken an exploitive shot in my life and, if I find one that looks like it could be easily misconstrued to be one, I just trash it and don't process it. But I do have a number of shots (very small percentage, but a decent number by now) of shots with kids in them and shots with women in them (not such a small percentage since they're half the population!) and some of the women are even attractive (again, representatively small percentage). And I'd rather not be accosted for this activity that I enjoy so much, so maybe the way I shoot has extra added benefits I'd never really given much thought to before. Maybe the guy who wrote the article should have contacted the reporter and shown him some good street photography and see if that changes his opinion at all... Probably not, but you never know.

    I was stopped and questioned once by a Homeland Security guy when I was shooting in the subway pedestrian tunnels under downtown Philly. I didn't have any problem with that and, once he asked a few questions, he didn't either. So far, that's as bad as it's gotten...

    -Ray
     
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  9. Richard

    Richard SC Top Veteran

    564
    Feb 1, 2013
    Marlow, UK
    Some years ago we took a short holiday in a coastal town in England. One evening my girlfriend was taking a bath in the hotel before we went out for a meal. It was a gorgeous evening with the kind of low sun you wait all day for, so I took the opportunity to go down onto the beach with my camera to photograph the boats and fishermen's gear. So far so good. Walking back to the hotel, I came across a small boating lake where kids and their parents were playing with little sailing boats. It was a terrific photo opportunity - the happy children playing with brightly coloured sailboats on sparkling water in the low evening sun. Lovely.

    I took a couple of shots, not in any furtive way but openly as a tourist would (I was a tourist, basically) but as I did so I picked up a wariness from the adults and suddenly realised how this might look to an outsider. A single guy taking pictures of kids without permission. Not good.

    So looking as innocent as I could muster I wandered off to take some more pictures of pebbles and lobster pots.

    Perhaps I'd been a bit naïve about this business beforehand, but I found the experience rather depressing as I realised that you just can't take pictures of random children without their parents' permission, with the clearest of consciences and the best of motives (neither can you go and ask permission without ruining the moment and getting into a potentially awkward conversation). I hated how I felt when I got those suspicious looks from the parents and it seemed such a shame that a whole photographic subject was off-limits now, unless one was clever and stealthy and did the things the bad guys did.

    Thinking about it now, it doesn't bother me particularly that I can't take innocent pictures of children any more (except friends and family) but it does bother me that nobody else can either.

    -R
     
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  10. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I've had a few parents ask me about the camera, usually friends of friends at a party, but only because they want me to email them pictures. Happened saturday. Maybe I don't look creepy?
     
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I don't think there are any more raving lunatics out there, they are just more vocal. Media outlets and governments have gotten it into peoples heads that anyone with any kind of photo equipment and taking pictures of kids, women or buildings are some kind of deviant or threat to homeland security.

    The best thing is to have an open dialog and be completely open about what you are doing. There are some people, like expressed in the article, that just won't listen to reason. The act of taking a photo in a public spot is not in and of itself a criminal activity and I would bet cash money that this guy blocking a car and potentially assaulting someone as he did falls more toward the illegal activity than the photographer. It is very close to illegal detainment, and if any threats were made potentially assault. Had I been the photographer, I would have called the police myself and told them about the situation once the guy got out of his car and came toward me. They would have gotten his car description, license plate number and physical description from me.

    There is a reason that the systems are put in place. As an outside, unbiased figure of authority, the police responders are better equipped to handle these emotionally charged "do gooders". There is a fine line between when a person should step in and physically do something and when they need to just report suspicious activity.
     
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  12. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    The guy who went ballistic was wrong. He could have walked over and asked the question, but something in his brain, some extreme paranoia went off and got him into action. Now, most people who are that paranoid are the fearful and shy types, but this guy was pananoid and Type A at the same time. What does that say?
     
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  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    540
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    He was THE danger in that situation. Mr. Ballistic escalated a situation that need not have been escalated. There was a better way to handle that, and he chose the low road of thuggery.
     
  14. PJacobs

    PJacobs SC Veteran

    354
    Apr 7, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Paul
    Pff sadly stuff like this can escalate quickly (nowadays). I never came close to a situation like this, but I am pretty consious I think. I also think the situation would not have occured if he had shot with his iPhone: looks more like taking a snap-shot (which he was doing!) to non-photographers.

    Reading the article (the 'P word'. It’s the word that, once thrown out there, forces the accused into an almost indefensible retreat. Used impulsively, its intended effect is both shaming and chilling, and it works every time); makes me think about the film Jagten (2012; which is very good btw!). It showes a good example of how situations like this can get out of hand, even when there are 'normal' people involved from whom you expect to be able to handle the situation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
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  15. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    I'm not a street photographer. For one thing, I'm not a people person. I am not that interested in taking pictures of people doing whatever it is that they do on the street. Just not my thing, really. My girlfriend is a people watcher. Loves to sit and watch people. If she had an eye for photography, I think she'd enjoy it.

    At any rate, I went to a graduation. My good friend's daughter was graduating high school. They asked me to take a few casual photos outside of the arena afterwards. Shes a pretty girl, and most of the photos I took were of her with family and friends. I made a few shots because the lighting was good, the opportunity was there, and it looked like a good artistic moment to take a photo of her. I have similar photos of my friend and his wife in similar context. After going back through the photos, I thought to myself, "wow, what are they going to think of these". The photos were all in good taste, such as her crying before hugging her mom and having a good laugh with a friend right before she hugs her friend. But I'm worried my friend my think I'm some sort of creepo dude. Then again, he might love the pictures. Its such a balancing act these days.
     
  16. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    That's amazing - taking the photos at the friend's request, at an appropriate event, out in the open, and still a worry that some might not look appropriate. In a case like that, I'd follow the First Instinct Rule - if it looks possibly questionable, like too much focus on certain body parts, suggestive poses, or anything that "dirty minds" would leer at - I'd just delete it and say nothing.
     
  17. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    I'd add to the previous comment that when certain things that are not under your control are nonetheless present in the photos, i.e. low-cut uppers or short-cut lowers, I'd still lean toward deleting anything where a doubt exists. If that would mean too many deletions, then it's probably not a good subject.
     
  18. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I've deleted a few over the years that were unintentionally revealing. You get back to your screen, open the pics up, and whoops, something's showing that you didn't notice at the time. DELETE. And if you've got a younger (teen, generally) girl looking in any way provocative, it's usually pretty dicey as well.
     
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Right to all. So as with anything, it's up to each of us to use our discretion and best judgement in terms of what photos to use, but none of this suggests we shouldn't be out there shooting, whether by those asking you to shoot an event, or those of us who enjoy shooting on the street and documenting the 2015 slice of life. I'd love to sit down with that TV reporter and educate him a bit, and show him a bunch of street photographs, and explain what it's about. But I suspect he doesn't care - there are no rating points to be grabbed that way and that's their strong bottom line...

    -Ray
     
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  20. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Nope. That would be time wasted, sadly.