Best stop there..

Well without sounding like a parent and saying things like; "This Country has gone to the dogs." (which I firmly believe). It really angers me with all that is going on in the world that the police and the like have the time to bother photographers who are being harassed more than ever as the paranoia in this country grows by the day.
In a time of unjust wars, financial ruin, and if you are to believe all the news hype, some climatic change which gives way to all kind of excuses to put up prices in the name of the planet and its cosmos, it would seem that photographers are being targeted like never before and what a flaming waste of time.
The BJP have been very good at keeping photographers up to date with photographers that have been shat on by the police for simply pointing a camera at a block of concrete. Read more here.
I usually take a side step with things like this as it just ends up making me so angry. But tonight I had a really 'silly' situation which was just down to straight forward paranoia. I was heading back from another 'walking in the dark wilderness with my camera thinking about what I might have for din dins,' when I noticed a rather nice shadow of a tree on a block of flats four stories high. In the top flat window there were some red fairy lights in the shape of a train about 60/70 feet (I guess) from where I was standing. As I was almost directly under the block of flats (on the public footpath) there was no way you could see into the 'penthouse' window. I composed the shot and counted to 120 using my usual 'Fat Elephant' technique as you do. A few minutes later a woman in a car pulled up beside me and asked why I was taking a picture of her flat. I explained (tried to) what I was doing and reassured her that there was no way I could see into her flat (in fact if you crossed the road and climbed a tree and got out your most powerful binoculars, you still wouldn't be able to see through the window the size of a small coffee table). It was simply a picture of some fairy lights and the shadow of a tree (I should point out that the other windows all had shut curtains and I would never point a camera into an open window as I would see it as an invasion of privacy..) So then the husband came on the scene threatening all kinds of scenarios and the fact that because he had kids he would have to call the police. It was as if I had somehow scaled the front of the building, entered the flat and become some kind of pervert. I totally understood his concern but what made it worse was that he wanted to see what I was taking a picture of and believe me at this point I wish I was shooting digitally. When I said it was film he thought I was lying and I had to physically show him. Its hard for me to see other peoples views sometimes as I will always think photographically. But I knew even if he called police I had done absolutely nothing wrong, but even so it wouldn't of ended well. I had not trespassed, invaded anyone's privacy, and was well within my rights. Stupidly I had no ID which I normally have... So on and on it went and the guy was obviously quite upset as he wouldn't listen to a word I said. Eventually I got him to call my cel phone so he had my number and that seemed to ease things up a bit. The sad thing was that I thirty seconds walk from my house, he was almost a neighbour, but what saddened me the most was the paranoia from these people, they thought I was some kind of criminal just like the guys that are being arrested going about their business with a camera. What is it that makes it ok to look, but not record?
People will never understand why we take pictures of anything until they see it in print (or on the back of a camera) and even then they probably still wont. Photographers have become the cyclists of the public footpath. They are seen as a menace, and why, because apparently we are breaking the law.... Absolute toss!
I best stop there....


JohnD said...

Well despite my parlous health I felt the need to respond to your diatribe. It's time you photographer type johnnies realised you can't go pointing your instruments at ordinary citizens (and their properties) whenever you feel like it. Good grief we fought a war to keep this country free from people like yourself. Have you no decency? What kind of world would it be if we all pointed cameras at each other. All I can say is a damn good job we have all those nice CCTV cameras keeping an eye out for people like yourself, otherwise none of us would feel safe in our beds. I trust this incident will mark an end to this abberrant behaviour and see you photographing more appropriate subjects in the future. No more of this lurking in the dark, what about a pretty bunch of flowers or a kitten, something nice we can hang on the wall. Thank you for your time. A concerned citizen.

marcus doyle said...

When the police raided my house they found my secret stash of 'Kittens In Hats' photographs. I was told I had to destroy the images as I had not gotten permission from the parents and they were considered indecent, especially the one in the balaclava.

I was so relieved they never found my Kittens In Glass Jars collection..

Brenda said...

Quite a scary incident, though. They must have been really rattled to take on a bloke of your physique: what do you think were hiding up there?