how to deal with suspicion, anger, and the law

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by uci2ci, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    While most everyone has been nice to me since i've started photography, I've ran into some issues recently of people being suspicious/angry/scared of me and my camera. I've had people get very angry at me because my lens was pointed somewhere in their vicinity...not even at them, but somewhere around them. Just this month, Ive had a guy run out of his house and curse me because my camera was pointing at the powerline above his house. A lady thought I was taking a sleazy pic of her from..... im not kidding.....a cross a bridge (see my flickr for the bridge) with a 14mm+wide angle converter. On thursday, I had cops roll up on me because I looked "suspicious" It wasnt some casual "excuse me sir, what are you doing?" kind of deal. It was tires screeching, hands on gun holster, running towards me, "dont move!!!" kind of a deal. I know the law, and I keep it cool with everyone I've managed to bother. I usually stick around and try to talk to them or atleast take in their verbal assult. But a part of me want to just flip them off and walk away......because I didnt do anything wrong.

    I want to know, whats the best way to deal with these kind of things?
  2. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Just my point f view, but I think we need to realize the the concept of personal space doesn't end just because you have a camera in your hand. Neither does a persons feeling when they perceive their personal space has been violated. Sticking a lens in their personal space is perceived as the same as physically violating their space. And yes I am fully aware of the law, at least in the US, and the expectation of privacy. But remember just because we can doesn't always mean that we should.
  3. super8man

    super8man Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    I really don't have an answer (since there are so many viewpoints one can take) but one day, google-glass will pretty much make posts like this obsolete. With the ubiquity of phone cameras, everything gets recorded.

    Perhaps there's a racial thing going on? Or perhaps you are simply suffering from being "young" and old people are not feeling comfortable - for whatever reason, it really does not matter.

    But when it looks like you might get accosted for simply using your camera, I would recommend you quickly pop the memory card out, and preferably, replace it with a "fake" one so you can keep your shots.

    Again, once we create decent cameras that can upload to flickr upon exposure, all you are left dealing with is people that don't understand the "Barbara Streisand effect" and how it can equally apply to not-so-famous people as well.

    PS - it would also be useful to send 8x10 glossies of the backyards of everyone who says you can't take pictures...courtesy of google of course. LOL
  4. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA

    I understand and I agree, but my concern is with the best way to deal with someone whos thinks their personal space has been violated. I rarely shoot people, besides family and friends. Alot of guys here shoot street, and Im sure theyve had more of these encounters than me. I want to know how youve learned to avoid these situations or how yiu deal with it once "the crap hits the fan" .
  5. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    I walk tall and tread lightly. I also never photograph someone without their approval. One of the reasons I love landscapes and wildlife. :) 

  6. rnagoda

    rnagoda Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    Sucks man, but you have to suck it up. If you are personally invested in what you are doing and it is important to you, then keep doing it. Cops will be ... "cops" ... people will be idiots, etc.. You can't change any of that, sadly. I'd love it if cops acted like human beings and treated others the same, but that's not about to happen. I'd love it if people realized that being out in public is being out in "public" and that word has meaning. But that's not about to happen either.

    Photographers have dealt with this for a while. There are places where photographers receive little grief and places where they receive more than they ever should, even more than what you describe. If it's important to you to be a free person and to take the pictures you'd like to take, then keep doing it. Just know that the world is far from perfect and part of what you do is deal with these kind of people and these kinds of incidents.

    Keep shooting! :thumbup:
  7. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I think we are (all) in "developed" countries living in a "brain-washed-mass-paranoia" constantly. NOT everyone that carries a camera is a paparazzi, child abuser, thief, government spy, etc. we just need to chill out a bit. If you are not doing anything wrong, explain so, if he/she is not doing anything wrong then why feel "violated"?.

    If you have a shaped cut tree in the front of your house, OBVIOUSLY you are going to attract photographers, or walking-by-snappers right?. If you dont want to feel "violated" dont cut your trees with a shape.

    same goes in the streets, if you live in a city where all colors are muted, and you see a he/she walking with flashing colors, obviously you attract photographers, and people attention, right?. In fact, if you dress, act, and do something bit "different" from the world around you, you will attract attention right? then why feel "violated" if someone snaps a picture from your car/house/tree/clothes/actions/etc.

    Not everyone on the streets wants to do harm. and i cant live thinking otherwise. its going to drive people crazy.


    anyway, i was recently in LA, and i shot a little bit, inside and outside different places, luckily i didnt got, deported, assaulted, in jail, sued, etc.

    theres a reason why a lot of photographers dressed in black, used small cameras, and act normal. And not like an undercover spy hidden behind a trash bin in the back alley. if you know what i mean.

    BAXTING Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Los Angeles SFV, CA
    I have had plenty of problems in LA, but it's home :smile: . Most of my trouble has been with law enforcement and just because most of them these days are so wound up me thinks. I always try to not take it personal, but it does get upsetting from time to time. I have plenty of friends who work law enforcement and they insist I name drop if I am ever approached, but I think everyone should be treated equal so I never have. It does help if they are present and you ask them if its ok to shoot or be there even if you think its totally pointless. They may have had bad experiences with paparazzi and they usually appreciate you acknowledging them.

    The general public is something else. I'd recommend to think what you could have done differently to avoid a like situation in the future. If you really think there was nothing you could have done differently then don't let it get to you. The more people you are around, the more likely you are to end up in a confrontation. Although new to the hobby I've changed a lot of my shooting style over the last 12 months. As long as I keep moving Im usually ok. Most people I find easily get offended and are quite nosey, but often too lazy to keep up with me if Im moving. I try and avoid making eye contact much, but always smile and nod if I do. It's hard to get mad at someone who acknowledges you and smiles.

    That being said I'd guess I'm not as experienced as others, but I always approach and try to leave the situation with a positive attitude. It helps me sleep at night and I don't have to add anymore names to my list.

    If you know you are risking confrontation, make sure you get the shot or else it's for nothing. I'm not saying look for trouble, Im just saying get the shot and be as respectable as possible.

  9. Dalton

    Dalton Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2010
    Portland, Oregon USA
    Dan Ferrall
    Curious about the wheels screeching, hand on holster thing...

    Did the police officers explain why they had their hands on their guns and had stopped so suddenly? Where were you when that happened? Had there been a recent crime committed in the area?

    BAXTING Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Los Angeles SFV, CA
    Hi Dalton,

    My experience.

    This sounds innocent enough, but here the cops ask the questions. Not the other way around. : Biggrin: It behooves oneself to know this when approached by LAPD.

    In big cities and especially in certain areas there is always a recent crime being committed. Unfortunately we have had some recent random shootings here in LA which puts everyone on edge. Even a cop who went rogue, but thats another story. I think this is just part of reality here in LA. I don't think bad of it because it is normal to me. The cops here deal with the worst of the worst so they are not always friendly when responding to call or a suspicious person.
  11. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks everyone. I'm not going to allow these things to deter me from shooting; They are still rare occasions and I guess they just come with this hobby.

    BAXTING, great tips....i'm going to keep them in mind when Im out shooting. Thinking about it, i can fault myself for not being on the move. I tend to "loiter" a bit, if you will.

    Dalton, I was near Hermosa Beach, CA. I'd say a middle-high class part of LA. A lot of foot traffic there however. The beach is dotted with homes along the coast. I didnt bother asking why I was under suspicion, the event took all but a minute. I had my wallet in the car, no ID in my pockets, so i kept my mouth shut. I just told them im a photographer, scrolled through some of my pics, and they smiled and left. I think either a neighbor called the them thinking I was up to no good, or like you said a crime was commited near by or they though my long lens was a weapon.

    Edit: LOL Baxting pretty much nailed it with LAPD. Although the beach city cops dont do much but hand out DUI tickets. There are cops that rotate within the departments, going from LAPD to Hermosa/Torrance/El Segundo you dont know what to expect
  12. GeBathan

    GeBathan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 11, 2012
    Los Angeles CA
    next time give me and Baxting a call so we can all shoot together lol
  13. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    I once was in a fight because a guy thought I was photographing him and just went mad, even though I had not even been looking in his direction. He didn't want to listen to me and didn't want to look at the pictures (of birds). In Ukraine, I'm usually totally cool because I'm a well-connected journalist and cops there usually know better than to mess with journalists. In the US, I'm just another foreigner so I try to stay out of trouble and don't even point my camera in the direction of other people.

    By the way, Sam, the pictures in your Flickr photostream are great, especially macros :2thumbs:
  14. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I personally have never had an issue but know several who have. I generally shoot non-people{just about anything else}. But when I do I usually ask first and will show them the pics when done. Also if anybody ever takes issue I will delete the shot{never had too}. I have had a person or two give me a dirty look but after I show them the shot they lighten up.

    A lot of it is where you are and I would suspect that LA would be a area more likely for a photographer to run into problems.
  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    From what you've written here it sounds like you yourself with your current camera & lens look abnormally SUSPICIOUS, and you should do something to change that immediately.
    I'm not advocating justice for innocent photographers : I am telling you what you can do. I expect to be alone in this.
    Life isn't fair, there is no Karma, bad guys don't get their just desserts, good guys don't get the girl.
    If you do not look suspicious or sleazy you won't get this kind of extreme hassle, at least not to this extent.
    Hey, post a picture of you on a bridge with your 14mm & wide-angle convertor so we get the picture :thumbup:

    Change of clothes, hair, camera ... that sort of thing. No Hoodies, no dark anorak, no beard, no photographer jacket with all the pockets. No tripod.
    White hat, silver retro camera, short lenses, old age, big smile, white hair, friendly fat dog. You get the picture.
  16. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    I guess it pays to think about how you feel if a random person starts taking shots of / or around you.
    I know I wouldn't like to be photographed like that, I wouldn't spiel abuse at the person but maybe ask what they are doing.
    But put yourself in the other shoes to appreciate the other side of the camera.

    From the examples though it sounds like the folk complaining weren't even close to the photographer so a strange over reaction from them.

  17. Mix

    Mix Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2013
    Here's a good one. London street photography "Stand your Ground".

    [ame=]Stand Your Ground - YouTube[/ame]
  18. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I don't take abuse from anyone, including the police. I will obey a police order without question but I'll file a compliant if I know I'm entitled to be there. And I have, more than once. I occasionally get a polite question at the kids sporting matches and as long as they are polite, I have no issue with the question. I'll answer truthfully and confidently.

    As for loosers with an attitude, I'll silmply say that if they have an issue to call the police. I let them know that if they touch me or my camera that it constitutes assult and I will defend myself. I never show images to anyone. In Australia, not even the police can delete/view images without a warrant. I'm fortunate to live in a country where personal weapons are illegal and very rare. When I've travellled in the third world I've always been very careful to get the locals on side.

    My personal tips are to not skulk around. If you're not doing anything wrong why hide. I carry cards with a disposable email on them if people feel the need for ID. I also have a sheet that clearly lays out the legal position where I shoot, in point form. I've shown that to people including the police and it usually gets them to just go away. Mostly though, I just don't do anything illegal and I don't photograph kids without their parents permission.

    If you live in OZ this site is invaluable.

    4020 Φ NSW Photographer's Rights

  19. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here is the said bridge.

    playa del rey by sam2c, on Flickr

    Imagine a jogger on this bridge accusing you of taking candid shots of her from this range and from this point of view. Yes, I was using a tripod. Yes, I was wearing a hoodie, but with the hood off my head (this isn't Florida, so we're free to wear hoodies anyway). I dress like every other guy from South Bay....I just happen to have a camera as well. But I don't think I should have to imitate Colonel Sanders just so I can shoot some birds and maybe a bridge or two ;) 

  20. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    LOL Yeah, I'm sure Gary will want in too. We can all go and "terrorize" LA together
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