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The worrying state of photography

Discussion in 'Back Room' started by OzRay, Aug 31, 2014.

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  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Here's an interesting article, which is something that I completely understand and was a concern for me in my news/sports days: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...831bb8-2c6c-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html. I'm not sure if I quite agree with the author's conclusions, racist or otherwise, but the issue is very real regardless when it comes to photographing children and teens.

    When I started covering news and sports for the paper I worked for, none of the photographers were issued with IDs of any sort. This worried me greatly and every time I had to cover an event that included children, I went to great lengths to explain to parents who I was and the paper that I worked for, in order to provide some degree of comfort to the parents. It was after one event where I did this and one parent pointed out a pretty scruffy looking photographer from another paper (I assumed) and raised concerns about them not identifying themselves when they were talking photographs of young girls playing softball. I was apologetic and explained it was a frustrating thing for me, considering all the concerns about today's problem people.

    That day, I raised the issue with the paper's chief editor and said that something had to be done and we needed IDs so that we could genuinely prove who we were when going to such events. He agreed and within a week or so we were all issued with IDs. I have no idea why this wasn't the norm already, but it appears that everyone accepted the fact that if you were going about with a professional looking camera, everyone would assume that you were working for who you said, or weren't even asked. The fact that anyone could afford a professional looking camera nowadays, meant there was no guarantee who was behind the camera, without a proper ID.

    Unfortunately, I don't think that things are necessarily improving, as people keep becoming more and more 'paranoid' about all forms of conduct by anyone with a camera. We are still fairly fortunate in Australia that we tend to have a more relaxed attitude and greater trust, but the pendulum is slowly swinging in the same direction as in many other parts of the world.
     
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  2. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    662
    Jul 1, 2013
    Moral of this story: instead of arguing with a servant of the state, get his credentials and file a formal complaint. You will not win with them at the "scene of the crime."
     
  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I guess my point is that this individual case represents just one aspect of suspicion about photographers nowadays, it could just as easily been a member of the public reporting something similar to the police. This sort of thing is always at the forefront of my mind when I'm out and about taking photos.

    Once when I was in the Grampians (Victoria Australia) taking photos, I was walking back to camp along one of the tracks that followed a river and was coming from a higher elevation to ground level. Below me were a group of women with kids playing in the river and when they spotted me with my tripod and camera slung over my shoulder, they immediately stopped what they were doing and two of the women started to parallel me while I was walking down. I had never experienced such a thing before and I felt that if I'd actually been within range, I reckon they would have started throwing rocks at me, such were the glares that I could see just before they disappeared from view as the paths separated.
     
  4. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Yep, I think i mentioned it in another thread earlier - just having a camera (off, lens cap on) was enough to get followed for several blocks in a car then given a full on 5 minute pigging by a cop. 2 blocks from my own house for having a camera and being within a few blocks of a school and a daycare centre. Other than just, you know, being laughable to begin with, what really amazed me was -

    1) I hadn't even used the camera in the entire time from them seeing me to following me to stopping me

    2) they showed no interest in seeing what was on the camera when I offered

    3) something I only noticed later - they took no notes on this at all

    Which you know, while I don't mouth off to cops as a general rule, it was hard to avoid thinking how truly mediocre that was as policework - I mean, if I was actually doing something bad, where exactly would they go from there? It more came off as being desperately bored and looking to make themselves look at all useful.

    It's a really strange split on it though - like - on one hand, fortunately, now people are aware that there are such things as paedophiles who hide in plain sight and that it's probably an idea to keep some awareness of them in mind around kids. On the other hand - this idea that it is somehow an accusation that you can pretty much fling around at any person carrying a camera seems like it's maybe a little casual for something so serious? I mean - just as a lifestyle choice - accusing random strangers in the street of being pretty much the worst thing that exists seems like a really good way to eventually run into someone who takes strong exception to that, and hands out some free dentistry?
     
  5. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    788
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    It's the automatic assumption of guilt that I find the most repugnent. I'd like to be able to rock up to a random sporting oval to shoot some photo's to practice sports shooting techniques but in this day and age I'd be automatically considered some sort of pervert.....
    I'm actively looking at offering services to local sporting clubs just to get clearance.

    I personally think this has gone too far!
     
  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Approaching sporting clubs and doing what you suggest is probably a good idea, they can watch you, vouch for you and get something in return. Or you can still go to pretty much any regional football match (whatever the flavour) and take photos of the game without incurring major angst and get some good experience at fast action. Many regional teams would love to have someone cover their games, as they usually don't get much in the way of photos and it'll mean that you'll get in free for most games. And if you have a Facebook page where you can put the photos, they'll be even happier. You'll learn more if you practice at this level than say junior games, where much of it is slower and less intense, and you won't have to contend with suspicious parents.
     
  7. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    442
    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Richard
    I don't understand what the problem is, if you're shooting a scene in a public place. The story linked by OP, and piggsy's tale, show that we have too many cops with too much time to suspect wrongdoing everywhere.
     
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  8. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    788
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    About 6 years ago (E300 - 70-300 time) the partners boys were playing U13 and U15 rugby league and I spent the year taking photo's at matches and carnivals, I ended up finding the older players easier to photograph as they tended to be more predictable in movements. Tracking moving subjects that have random movement is something i need more practice with and is one reason I struggle with BIF's :)
    With the new E-M1 I want to go back and shoot some more sport as it is a highly capable instrument to capture the moment.
    Being in the ACT we also have a "working with vulnerable people" goverment clearance as well.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I experienced similar occurrences on several levels. Threatened by police... Even as a stay at home father, I would get a similar reaction at the playground if I had a camera around my neck.

    I've always thought this was a screwed up prudish behavior was isolated to the US...


    PS> For the US, http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf
     
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Once you go to the senior games level, the action becomes much faster and more demanding of your skills. A lot of sport is predictable to a certain degree and that's what needs to be learned, so that you can anticipate when and where the action is likely to happen. I got better and better at AFL when I started to learn and anticipate the likely moves and direction of play. That applies equally to things like BIFs. Those who get great shots learn all about the birds and their habits, locations etc, bring along a bucket load of patience and prepare for the shots, which gives them a reasonable degree of expectation of what's likely to happen. Spend less time trying to master random movement and master predictable movement, and your success rate will escalate significantly.
     
  11. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Australia has some pretty clear cut rights for photographers as well: http://4020.net/words/photorights.php, but like elsewhere, authorities on the ground aren't always aware of these and so it becomes your word against theirs.
     
  12. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    Just a reminder about the Site Terms of Use.

    Discussion of politics and religion is not allowed anywhere on the site. This includes discussion of photography-related politics such as photographers' rights*. Note that posting photos containing political or religious content is allowed. Only the discussion is not allowed.

    *As much as we'd like to make an exception for "photographer's rights", this is a topic which in the past has several times degenerated into frank politics with members talking about governments being fascist, conspiring against the people, etc. Lots of moderator time and energy was consumed. It is hard to draw a line between when a discussion of photographer's rights is apolitical and when it has has veered into general politics. We have only a few moderators, each with full time jobs, and we've made the difficult decision to exclude these discussions altogether in order to limit the work for our volunteer mods who do a lot for the site already.
     
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  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I would have thought that this sort of discussion couldn't be construed to be about politics or religion, but is a discussion about facts and the legal rights and obligations of photographers, of which every reasonable photographer should be aware. The world is changing in many ways, for better or worse, and it certainly helps to understand applicable laws etc. Note that many members here travel overseas, they even come to Australia, and want to take photographs while visiting, so understanding rights and obligations can be pretty important. As just this discussion has revealed, things can be dramatically different, in different countries, when it comes to what you can photograph or what may bring you unwanted attention. Being aware of such things, I think, is a good thing.

    I just wanted to add, that while it's important to understand the laws under which you can do certain things, what's also important is having a feel for people's perception on what you are doing. People in different countries often view these things differently, so when travelling, having a greater understanding of activities that can bring you to someone's attention could be a life saver. While in Bali many years ago, I made a pointed effort to ask the manager running the hotel where we were staying, as to what might be acceptable to photograph and what might not. This was especially important when they were conducting a blessing of a new building ceremony, as there were kids running about that invariably wanted to be photographed. I did the same with locals on the street, always ask their permission or indicate by sign language what I was after, especially because some of the shots were very pointed.
     
  14. felipegeek

    felipegeek Mu-43 Enthusiast

    113
    Jan 8, 2014
    Miami, FL
    Felipe
    I agree that the topic is important and is not political or religious in nature. It should be left to carry on. The issue is about the perception of people with cameras, especially men when around children and how to deal with it.

    I have three girls separated by a few years each. I have quite often gone to a park to get photos of them playing over the years and have many times been given the steely eye by other parents. I can't say I blame them. I tended to be suspicious of the same as well. In my case if it looked like the photographer was with their own children I would give them a pass and not think about it any further. When I was shooting I did my best to not include other kids in the photo where it was possible to exclude them. This of course leads to missing interesting compositional opportunities when they arise. It's simply the state of things and I live within it's confines as to do otherwise would do nothing but invite needless trouble.

    It's a shame that this is what suburban society here has become but trust is hard to have and build when you don't even know your neighbors and kids don't play outside on their block. It's quite different from when I was a kid 30+ years ago.
     
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    .
     
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