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What do you do if you get caught?


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I was looking over my camera one day on the subway. A guy came over and began to threaten me for taking his picture. When I wordlessly flipped open the camera to show there was no film in it, he kept right on threatening. He was looking for a fight that day, and one excuse was as good as another. People like this are out there. They walk around having fantasies about how they are going to half kill, hospitalize, cripple, etc., the next guy they can find an excuse to fight. Such people belong in asylums, but they are running around loose. Sooner or later--let us hope sooner--they pick on the wrong man and end up in the morgue. Moral: if you live by the sword, you'd better carry a big one, because all the swords will be out for you.
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Allen: No point in discussing anything with you until you sober up. Mate.


Randy: There's a world of difference between someone with a chip on their shoulder looking to kick butt, and someone defending his minor children. With each court case the rights of perpetrators expand while those of victims contract. I believe my young daughters have the right to enjoy a walk on the beach or an ice-cream at Carvel or a romp on the swings without some strange man pointing a camera at them and snapping pictures. Do I belive every guy who would take their picture is a pervert? Of course not. But if I tell him "No" and still he persists after seeing that I am a very large very angry guy, it's going to go a long way toward me suspecting that he probably is up to no good, even if in reality he turns out to be just someone convinced that his right to take photos of anyone in public absolves him of any need to be concerned for the wishes of others. And I'm

going to stop him from getting the chance to use those pictures, and I'm going to take my chances in court if that's where I land. Perhaps it's about time that a new predecent is set. Concensual sex becomes rape after the woman says "No." The right to photograph in public should become assault after the subject says "No."

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I agree totally with Jay. (Did I just say that?)


His instincts concerning his daughters are absolutely spot on. I would not dream of attempting to photograph other peoples children and I would want a bloody good explanation from some stranger in the street who was trying to photograph mine. (I have 2 daughters)


If they insist/persist after being told not to then it IS interference. I would hope a polite but firm "no" would be enough.

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To Jay: Your threads hear are just another example of your arrogance and inablity to remain silent on a topic you addmittedly no nothing about. Entire libraries of photography books would not exist if your ridiculous philosohy prevailed. I guess you just can't keep from responding even when you're ignorant about the subject matter. It definitely detracts from those posts where it seems you might be making a intelligent equipment comment. Stick to what you know!
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As if anyone on this forum, or any street photographer I've ever heard of, trails along after subjects, snapping away, over the protestations of the subject?s legal guardian. Right... I think someone paparazzi fantasies are getting a little out of hand.
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Trevor: "I would not dream of attempting to photograph other

peoples children........"


If the worst thing that ever happens to a child in the course of

growing up is being photographed by a stranger then they've

been fairly fortunate. Would the world's children really be safer if

they'd never had to confront the prying lenses of HCB, Marc

Riboud, Gene Smith, Gene Richards, William Klein, Willy Ronis,

Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Davidson, Susan Meiselas, Sylvia Plachy,

Alvarez Bravo, Salgado................?

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>Jay . , jul 28, 2004; 09:45 p.m.


>after seeing that I am a very large very angry guy


Yawn. You aren't going to do anything but remain angry, lard ass. I'll take your picture

whether you like it or not and you won't do ANYTHING about it. Got it? Go back to

being a second-rate Puts and quit talking about what you know nothing about--

actually taking photographs.

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Boris, please do not try to convince me that I should not act in my children's interest when necessary.


Any parent will tell you that instinct has more to do with it than law or whether HCB did it or Jay's opinion or your opinion or famous street photographs of the past or whether its 'art' or whatever.


It is a very basic protective thing and people out with their children WILL get protective whether the wannabee HCB likes it or not.


People should use common sense and common courtesy when photographing the public. Its not hard to do.

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Trevor, it doesn't surprise me that you feel protective towards

your daughters, but, would you really feel that they'd been

violated if, say, grant or Ray, photographed them unawares?

Would you be happier if the list of photographers I gave had

never photographed children? Something strange seems to be

happening in US (and probably UK) culture, where it's imagined

that there's a paedophile waiting around every corner. The really

sad fact is that, statistically, the most likely abuser of a child is a

member of of it's own family rather than a shabbily dressed


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Boris. I understand that and it is true that the danger from random attack is miniscule compared to the everyday threats like getting run over on the way to school but we all live in the same society (the photographer, me, you and my children and yours) and it would be arrogant for a photographer to completely ignore the fears and suspicions society has (even though we all may know the actual statistics often fail to support our fears).


Arrogance is, unfortunately, a trait amongst many photographers. They are "beyond the herd" somehow special and "apart". The vocabulary of the photographer reflects this...


Shoot, capture, nail, take, grab... etc


All are suggestive of violence. OK that is too paranoid maybe but we are all (yes, even the homeless and the drunks and the nutters) individuals and not just 'specimens' under the photographers lens or drive-by photo mugging victims. I think the photographer should always consider him/herself part of the crowd in these interactions and not above it, god-like.

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"Personally I could never quite understand how the absence of compassion for others could possibly coexist with an artistic soul in the same individual."


Taking pictures of people is often driven by compassion - I think Winogrand would be a prime example of this. If a photographer is committed to portraying the human condition, then this may require making images that go beyond mugshots of consenting models. The viewer may well need to be equally compassionate in order to get the message as well - Witkin comes to mind.


Jay's infantile boasting about his capacity for completely uncalled for violence is routine on this list. 250 pounds, 6'6", ex-marine, etc etc. If he had really met and beaten up Winogrand or Friedlander or Frank, he would be remembered only as a criminally violent fool. Those photographers, on the other hand, are remembered for having cast light into the darkness of modern life - darkness exemplified by the violence Jay and his like advocate. The fact that he has several fishtanks full of cameras makes it only the more sad that he doesn't understand what photography has the potential to do.

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<p>An awful lot of testosterone (or something akin to it) coursing around

the bodies of the apparently male contributors to this thread. I guess

that meanwhile the wymmyn are just away from their computers, taking

photos. Still, it's been worth it for some good photos above, not least

the two

urinal shots.</p><p>Meanwhile, a question for Tony, related to his/your

explanation above. What's your rate of moderate success in hip shooting

with your 15mm? Let's suppose that you've just loaded your camera with

a 36-exposure film, have screwed the 15mm lens into it, and take a stroll

down whatever you find an ideal route for hip-shooting with it. You're in

no rush, and take your time: for one shot in half a dozen or so you

realize as you're pressing the shutter, or just after you've pressed it,

that you've made a mistake, but you have <em>some</em> thought of at

least mild success with the rest. Right then: as you look at the contact

sheet, how many of the frames deserve a second look? And how does this

number compare with the number that you get when you use a slightly

narrower lens (21mm? 25mm?) in a similar way?</p><p>I must confess

that I've rarely tried to use my 15mm in this way. I <em>have</em> tried

so to use my 25mm and my results have generally been crappy, even by

my abysmal standards. And while I used to love using the 15mm lens in

other ways, I generally hated the results: if everything wasn't just right

they'd scream "ultrawide gimmickry!" Your tips -- in addition to the

obvious "Practice! Practice!" -- would be most welcome.</p>

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Trevor: "Arrogance is, unfortunately, a trait amongst many



Yes, arrogance is a fairly common trait in photographers, and,

when it comes to talented photographers, it's almost a given.

There's very little worthwhile "art", photographic or otherwise, that

could have been produced without a large dose of arrogance.


"Shoot, capture, nail, take, grab......All are suggestive of violence."


I share your distaste for these terms. Having said that,

testosterone fuelled fantasies seem way more prevalent with the

average amateur on photonet than they do in the world of

working photographers. I can live with the word "shooting", but it

borders on the farcical when people here begin debating

whether a Leica is a more potent weapon than a Nikon. Can you

imagine Nachtwey arguing with Salgado over whether an EOS1v

is more lethal than a Leica R6?


".......we are all.......individuals and not just 'specimens' under the

photographers lens........"


True, we aren't "just" specimens, but it doesn't automatically

follow that when we are specimens under the lens that we must

by definition be violated victims.


ps I didn't mean to suggest earlier that either Ray or grant are

sartorially challenged..........

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As I understand it, the law says you are free to take pictures of people in public unless they ask you to stop. If you then persist, you are committing a crime: harassment. You are also turning into the kind of bully I was talking about above: someone trying to provoke conflict.


I thought we were talking about pictures of ourselves; but re-reading the thread, I see that the ground shifted to daughters. If I were in some unusual circumstance with my daughters--at a nude beach, say--I can imagine not wanting photographs. Otherwise, I would see a stray photographer as harmless. My daughters might even be flattered by the attention.


Years ago, I snapped a picture of a teenage girl at a beach. I didn't do it furtively, and she noticed. Soon, she was standing on her head (literally!), dashing through the surf, and striking glamorous poses. I kept clicking until her mother went over and said something to the girl; then I stopped and she stopped. The girl and I were entertained by the moment, and no one was harmed. No, I never printed the shots.


To be fair, I must report that this incident occurred more than twenty years back. The emergence of the Internet and the various "candid" pages on it make for a different atmosphere. We are both more and less tolerant about being photographed in 2004. The ground for public shooting is trickier, and I do not pretend to have the unspoken rules all figured out. If you do, post them quickly!

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<p><em>the law says you are free to take pictures of people in public

unless they ask you to stop. If you then persist, you are committing a

crime: harassment.</em></p><p>I take your word that this is true where

you are and I'm fairly sure that it or something like it is true where I am.

But different people are in different parts of the world, which have

different laws. Another likely problem is the definition of "public" (and

the erosion of the unambiguously public via the increasing importance of

arguably private shopping malls and the like).</p>

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Yes I am partly guilty of the 'daughters' theme taking hold. My mistake was to jump to the part of the thread that was getting edgy and one of Jays previous updates had him talking about his kids. It is only now that I have 'got' the whole thread. Sorry Matt.


I would suggest an essay on this very subject by Don Mullin in his 1987 book 'Perspectives' (ISBN: 0245543686 pub. Harrap). For such an experienced (too experienced for his own good!) war/documentary/press photographer it was refreshing to read his thoughts on the morality of his job but particularly his feelings concerning the photographing of ordinary people in public spaces going about their (often desperate) lives.


I will not try and tell you what he wrote as I could not do it justice but it is well worth getting the book for the essay and, of course, superlative documentary photography.

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