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What do you do if you get caught?


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This debate of 'Do I ask permission or not?' is a question I ask myself everytime I find myself in a situation when an urge to shot, whatever it may be.


There are no rules in street photography. I once had

1. an angry mum lashing out at me for 'taking' (I was only framing then .. did not press the trigger) her infant daughter at a public wading pool and

2. a chief priest who ask if I could send him a copy

3. a not-in-uniform inspector in downtown Kuala Lumpur threatening me with arrest for taking pictures of him and his men handcuffing 'illegal immigrants'.

4. a traffic police in HangZhou working much harder .. later asking me if I am from the press. I told him no and said he's doing a good job. He went back to his post and let me take close up shots.

5. Fifty security guards in Shanghai and one very stern captain.

6. A friendly monk permitting photography in a temple despite a clear sign 'no photography allowed' outside the door.

7. Lovers on park benches in the evening

and many more


You just stand your ground and insist it's a public place and you will continue to shot, in some situations telling them if they don't like it they can get out of my camera's sight. If the place is on private grounds you explain why you find them or the place an interest to you. 8 out of 10 times you find they will leave you alone.


I carry a 12inch gurkha army knife in my back pack, originally for hacking through the rain forest .. so far have yet to rely on it for protection against assault.


The thing to remember, street photography is an adventure itself. If you are afraid then give up steet photography and stay with landscapes, even then 'ever tried to asked a lion in the open safari for permission?'. You read the situation and adjust. Remember you decide the rules. Size the situation to decide if you stand your ground or in my case of the fifty secruity guards I gave a thumbs up sign and walk friskly away from the scene.

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Johnathan, I think the incident you describe sounds more like a case of obnoxious or rude behavior than threatening behavior, but I'm not one to see a threat around every corner. There are as many ways of doing street photography as there are street photographers, and some people may use methods that I wouldn't. That doesn't mean I'm willing to pass harsh judgements against them.<P>


If someone is presenting an <b>immediate physical threat</B> to me and/or those I feel I should protect, then I'll defend myself or them with whatever force I consider neccessary (which I'd hope is as little as possible). The kind of "threats" described in this thread would be much better addressed by notifying the police and letting them make a determination of whether physical force is justified or legal action is needed. If someone as belligerent as Jay claims to be came at me with as much force and determination as he describes, I would have legal justification to smash his head in with my camera.

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Mike, thanks for highlighting the distinction between obnoxious or rude behavior, which legally we all have to put up with, and threatening behavior, which we don't. I basically agree with you on that point.


However, I would like to raise some follow-up questions.


First, is the line between mere obnoxiousness and true threat always easy to draw?


Second, does the line change when children are involved?


Third, when does mere obnoxiousness rise to the level of harrassment? After the first close-range flash? The second? The third?


Again, I'm not trying to negate street photography, nor do I have a problem with popping fifty flashes in the face of public figures engaged in newsworthy conduct.


I just feel that every social interaction is a balance of rights. From your posts and photos, I imagine you would set the balance about where I would (in other words, in exactly the right place!). My concern is with those who are less sensitive to the reasonable sensibilities of other people.

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<<If someone as belligerent as Jay claims to be came at me with as much force and determination as he describes, I would have legal justification to smash his head in with my camera.>>


You'd have as much chance of doing so as you would legal justification. Zero.




<<Another Bob , aug 01, 2004; 06:16 a.m.

"fool thy name is Brad"

Jay, if you have to resort to this kind of thing, then you've already lost the argument. The problem is, we can give you the information, but it's very clear that no-one can give you the understanding.>>


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And the only form someone with your lack of originality is capable of.

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<I>Kevin Mendenhall , jul 31, 2004; 03:43 p.m.: "If you're bored, Jay, why not try photography as a hobby?"</I>

<P>Kevin, This is the most blasphemous statement I have read. Jay is fast approaching 10,000 posts, must be a photo.net record!

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<I>Brad that was lovely. However, I have it on good authority that the big guy from Florida

is, along with all his other talents, a Haiku master. So watch this space........</I><P>


Thanks Boris. But not to worry about Haiku Master Jay - he missed several essential

elements in his lame attempt. <P>


Kind of funny - his often self-touted superior intellect yet again comes up on the short

end. Some things never change.

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Brad, I have to admit I was kind of disappointed with the big guy's

failure to understand the the basics of haiku. That said I'm

meeting up with him this coming weekend, so I'll try and get to

the bottom of his dismal offering - my hunch is that he was just

messing with us.


Jay has also asked me to put in an appeal for his many fans at

photonet to sponsor the annual Manatee Madness Festival.

Every summer, me, Jay, and the classy guys from the country

club, get together, sharpen our harpoons and lay waste to

Florida's manatee menace. Each year the festival raises funds

for a different charity, and this year we've chosen to give to Lens

Trauma. Lens Trauma exists to provide therapy for the many

innocent children who every year have their lives destroyed by

street photographers and their grotesque hit-and-run tactics. So,

Brad, Ray, and grant, here's your chance to give something back

and atone for the many young lives you've blighted with your

selfish behaviour. All we're asking for is $10 for the head of every

harpooned manatee.

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  • 1 year later...

My Goodness!!!


Where I come from, just outside D.C. we've just celebrated our 154 homocide of the year. It's not over yet, still the merry month of December.

Anytime someone wants to aim their camera at my children, Have at it!! Just leave your guns at home!!

The people who do these killings would just as soon shoot with a gun as a camera.

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