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Some crazy paranoia associated with street shooting

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by sokar, Mar 23, 2013.

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  1. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    I was recently shooting on the streets of a western city with my trusty EP1 around my neck and was confronted. It was not so much the confrontation, but the reasons for the confrontation and the story behind it.

    I usually shoot from the chest and rarely bring the camera to my eyes when shooting the streets. I will set hyperfocal distance, turn off the LCD and shoot away without getting in anyone's personal space. This day was no different. On this day I was standing alone and was approached by a police officer on a pushbkike. He accused me of taking lewd photos of people. I was astounded at the accusations and immediately offered him my camera to check every photo on the SD card. He then stated that the accusation was about me using my phone to take photos?? I responded enquiring why I would use a phone to take a photo when I have a camera hanging around my neck.

    The background to this was that somebody had observed me aiming my camera at the ground 8 feet in front of me to set the hyperfocal distance. I must have then checked my phone to see the time (I do not carry a watch) and walked away to continue shooting from the chest. I offered both my phone and my camera to this police officer so that he could check everything. He did not bother to look.

    The issue I find annoying is that not only did I do nothing wrong in the first instance, that he did not even want to check the photos I had taken to prove or disprove the allegations he was making. He refused to advise who had made the complaint. After a discussion with him, I confirmed my rights to take photos in public areas and asked again why he had challenged me in the first instance with no factual evidence or complainant, and no intention to prove or disprove the alleged offence. No suitable answer was provided.

    This is crazy paranoia that indicated to all around us that I was at fault in some way for daring to have a camera. Regardless of the issue of a false complaint, it was myself that was accused in public of lewd behaviour. Was there an apology? Of course not.
     
  2. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    292
    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    That's a load of BS that, unfortunately, we as photographers have to occasionally put up with. Sad, really.

    My question would have been -- if anyone on the street was posing or acting in a lewd manner (whether or not you were shooting them), why aren't they confronted/accused by the police? If nobody was acting in this way, exactly how could you be photographing it? :confused:

    Glad that you got it cleared up, but I don't blame you for being upset.
     
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    That's pretty messed up. I'd have tried to get his badge number and filed a complaint with the Police Dept. Not to get into a discussion of what you're rights were or should have been, I'm assuming you were within them. At which point being falsely accused by a cop is pretty over the top. It's one thing if he just asked you a few questions and even asked to see your photos, but to actually accuse you of something ridiculous without any evidence of it or looking to see what you had been shooting? I'd be pretty pissed and would complain to the department.

    -Ray
     
  4. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    [ame=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4XQCc2uwKA]PixBoomBa - Shooting Strangers - YouTube[/ame]
     
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  5. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Any specific comment I care to make will violate TOS so instead I offer ask the officer "Am I being detained?" then walk away secure in the knowledge that those bearing false witness shall burn in hell for their sins. Fell free to PM for a rantfest.
     
  6. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    926
    Nov 6, 2012
    Canada
    People are especially paranoid nowadays. It's quite sad really.
     
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    You're lucky. If I were to politely ask the same thing of a police officer in my city I would be immediately be yelled at, threatened, attacked and beaten, then charged with "resisting arrest". The fact that he beat me to an inch of my life would be irrefutable evidence that I "resisted arrest", even though there was nothing to make an arrest for in the first place, and the entire beating was done with closed fist with no attempt to "restrain" anything, while I'm curled up in a ball as they beat me. Yes, I speak from experience... Police officers here are never left with "no suitable answer". Their fist is their answer, and they can attack whomever they want at will because the act of them attacking you is YOUR crime (officially called "resisting arrest"), which makes you a criminal and them a hero for beating up a criminal.

    I would never bring up my rights or the law to a police officer here. They do not exist. The only law is his will, because he's "the man in the hat, and the man with the badge". If you feel your rights are violated, complain about it after you've spent thousands of dollars in lawyer fees to spend a year in probation, if you haven't passed the statute of limitations. Police officers here are savage beasts who scream and yell and wave their fists to provoke you, and even if you give them no response it makes no difference. If they want to attack you they will, and once they've done so you must be charged for it or they'll lose face. Your life is nothing to be destroyed in order to preserve their personal pride and right to violence. They joined the force because they wanted to see some "action" (aka violence), so who are you to deny them that privilege by having human rights?!

    Sorry for the rant but I suffer from a lot of fear and trauma, for good reason.
     
  8. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Nasty stuff Ned. Ironically I live in Asia and the corrupt nature of the authorities there is well known. Having said that, I have never been approached or had any issues whatsoever. They have more important things to worry about and are not threatened by someone with a camera. They see it for what it is, somebody minding their own business! taking photos.

    Where this incident occurred there is multiple CCTV coverage so it would have been difficult for anyone in authority to touch me. It was daytime and there were many people in the area. I stayed calm but did not back down. I know my rights, and I know the limits of their authority.

    Upon reflection, I think this is a snapshot of the paranoia of western society and the need to have a rule for everything. I will be glad to return to the chaotic uncontrolled Asian environment where I feel more at home and can mind my own business; and others mind theirs.
     
  9. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    Thanks RT for the quality advice. I must remember not to ask if I can "shoot" somebody.
     
  10. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    So do you do this because you feel people are paranoid? Why not just bring the camera up to your eyes? & subsequently, would you feel comfortable bringing your camera to your eyes back home in Asia?
     
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I usually shoot from the chest, but only because I prefer a lower perspective for full-length people shots (from about 25mm-50mm it provides a less distorted view). :) When I was shooting people with a DSLR I was always going down on one knee to get the right angle. I'm usually shooting models, so comfort of being shot was never an issue.
     
  12. sokar

    sokar Mu-43 Veteran

    392
    Nov 30, 2011
    I use both methods dependant upon the location and the scenario.

    I use the chest method for closer shots (17mm lens) where I do not want people to change their behaviour due to a camera being pointed at them. I prefer to capture natural states of people rather than the posed look. Where more accurate framing is required, I will use the VF.

    I have found that as soon as you look at the camera or have interaction with the camera in any substantial way, the natural shot has sometimes changed; it is no longer natural.
     
  13. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I just opened that video for a few seconds but had to close it Jeff. I can't watch that kind of stuff without triggering massive trauma. I probably wouldn't be able to go to work tomorrow if I watched it through.
     
  15. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Your accuser was probably some mother out to save children worldwide based upon her own sense of right and wrong.

    Having been stopped a ton of times by police and security personal, I can feel for your frustrations, being accused of something so vile as sneaky lewd photos of people and the shame of having to defend yourself in public and finally the waste of time. Sorry you had to go through that.

    The cop must have been one of those cops who feels you can skip all that due process, jury, judge, crap just by looking into your eyes ... and apparently you passed. He knew going in he had nothing ... but when he looked into your eyes, heard your speech pattern and examined the size of your pores ... he'll know if you really are one of those camera-phone carrying sick-o's or not. (Actually, there is much science behind all that ...).

    I only get stopped for being a terrorist or a journalist. But I imagine having to explain to some bonzo, frothing at the mouth, mother that a child has no greater right to privacy than an adult, gotta be a real enjoyable experience.

    If you need more from me, just PM RobWatson.

    Gary

    PS- On the flip side ... Sadly enough, there are enough stories of real sick-o's out there taking lewd photographs of unsuspecting people of all ages, to make the accusations possible.

    G
     
  16. iGonzoid

    iGonzoid Mu-43 Veteran

    247
    Feb 6, 2011
    Tasmania, Australia
    My standard answer if someone in the street asks why I am taking pictures is: Because I am a photographer. I also carry a photo ID card given to me and authorizing me as the official photog for an online publication. Works for me. Like the recent thread on being robbed of photographic gear, the less your camera is visible, the less likely you are to be confronted. That's why I keep mine over my left shoulder, covered by my jacket. It is only out when I shoot.
     
  17. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    So when that happens, who do you call the police...? What stands out to me is that the third party bystanders had the nerve to tape the scene and then stand up to the authorities and tell them "No" when the police asked them to quit taping.

    Gary
     
  18. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    Sorry Ned, I feel the same. It really is awful to watch. I'm just glad that it was recorded. This has caused a lot of uproar and it's not over yet.
     
  19. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    I'm glad that they did. Throwing the poor kid to the ground when he is handcuffed is just appalling.
     
  20. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Transparency. It is necessary.
     
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