How to deal with people who don't like photographers?

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
507
576
I've been running into an issue lately where stepping outside the door of my own home (in suburban Oregon), I get waylaid by random neighbors I don't know (always women in their 40s - Karens, in the parlance of the day) who interrupt me taking photos on the street and ask me my business. I explain that I'm a photographer and that I live in the neighborhood and they just look at me unmoved, waiting for me to . . . I don't know . . . apologize for taking photos of the street? It's irritating to be made to feel like I don't belong in my own neighborhood. I want them to stop bothering me.

How do y'all deal with people who are hostile to photographers?
 

AlanF

Stay alert, control the camera, save photos
Aug 16, 2012
6,677
5,522
I'm fundamentally in agreement with you, which is why I started this thread - I know I'm legally in the right, so I'm certainly not going to stop shooting, I just wanted advice about how to handle people who don't like photographers. This has happened to me multiple times, often seconds after leaving the house; people must see me through their window (??) and then just come out and and start hollering from their porches.

I ask this question especially because these are people who live near me. If I were doing street photos downtown in a city, it would feel different.
It's a question of "How to win friends and influence people". You can treat it as it is my right and I will fight for it, and probably make everybody unhappy or you can be nice to people, explain that it is a beautiful neighbourhood or scene and you would like to record the memory and ask them if they would like to join in. Also having a discreet reportage camera rather than large gear helps. We have obligations as well as rights, and respecting others is being part of society.
 

ValleyofCarbon

EOS M50
Jan 28, 2020
34
46
If you want to start a fight, then that’s a good way to get going.
It is the law and it is on the side of the photographer in the case of public land. If you give up your rights and curl up in a ball, then you are relinquishing your rights as a citizen. I for one won't stand for that. As a street photographer in public you would never be able to operate if you turned tail whenever someone balked. You don't have to be rude about it but I would definitely make known what is legal by law. How you proceed from there is all fair game. I personally will always fight for my rights as a citizen of the US. Especially in my own neighborhood. Worst comes to worst tell them to call the cops and then you'll truly see who is on the right side of the law.
 
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stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,571
485
Davidson, NC
Over the last couple of months I have rented the 24mm TS-E lens and later the 17mm. I've taken pictures in my neighborhood and on the nearby campus. With more people at home these days, I've talked with neighbors more than usual. If anything, people expressed curiosity about how the lens worked or what in particular I'm interested in doing with it. One couple was walking down the other side of the street, and they began asking me more detailed questions about the lens. It turned out that both are engineers and have at least some interest in photography. I asked them where they live, and it turned out they are my new neighbors diagonally across the street.

I did get an interesting question from Eric, the Belgian who lives across the street. With the 24mm I had taken an extended panorama of my house and environs by shifting the lens in every direction at 30º intervals (the stops on its rotation) and stitching 17 or so shots together. I decided to do the same thing with the 17mm for comparison. Eric and their young son were out batting a ball around. He asked me if I was selling my house. He had seen me out shooting the pictures before, and I guess with the tripod both times it looked like I was pretty serious about it. It seemed a reasonable question to me.

I guess there are neighborhoods where people feel more threatened by someone with a camera than with firearms, but this isn't one of them. I'm sure there are nutty people everywhere, though. And I find the deer are threatened by anything you point at them and suddenly duck behind trees if I try to shoot them.

Back in the summer of 1970 I was in graduate school in Dallas, and my class was called off for a Friday morning. I decided to put my new 28mm lens on my camera and take the bus downtown. I enjoyed my day of shooting a wide-angle lens, a new experience for me, limited only by how much film I had taken along. What surprised me was my interaction with people. Nobody acted camera shy. I wasn't particularly trying to shoot people anyhow. I found at least people minded their own business, but some folks really wanted me to photograph them. Maybe because I had serious-looking gear they thought I was a pro doing something in particular. One lovely young lady posed for me beside a fountain. As she was being coy, so was I, and I never got a good shot. A muscular young black guy walked up to me and said, "Take my picture," which I was glad to do. He was disappointed that it wasn't about to appear in the paper or anything. But the picture was good enough that I think I still have an 11" x 14" print somewhere. Photographing people with wide-angle lenses is its own kind of art.
 

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
507
576
It is the law and it is on the side of the photographer in the case of public land. If you give up your rights and curl up in a ball, then you are relinquishing your rights as a citizen. I for one won't stand for that. As a street photographer in public you would never be able to operate if you turned tail whenever someone balked. You don't have to be rude about it but I would definitely make known what is legal by law. How you proceed from there is all fair game. I personally will always fight for my rights as a citizen of the US. Especially in my own neighborhood. Worst comes to worst tell them to call the cops and then you'll truly see who is on the right side of the law.
I'm fundamentally in agreement with you, which is why I started this thread - I know I'm legally in the right, so I'm certainly not going to stop shooting, I just wanted advice about how to handle people who don't like photographers. This has happened to me multiple times, often seconds after leaving the house; people must see me through their window (??) and then just come out and and start hollering from their porches.

I ask this question especially because these are people who live near me. If I were doing street photos downtown in a city, it would feel different.
 

ValleyofCarbon

EOS M50
Jan 28, 2020
34
46
I'm fundamentally in agreement with you, which is why I started this thread - I know I'm legally in the right, so I'm certainly not going to stop shooting, I just wanted advice about how to handle people who don't like photographers. This has happened to me multiple times, often seconds after leaving the house; people must see me through their window (??) and then just come out and and start hollering from their porches.

I ask this question especially because these are people who live near me. If I were doing street photos downtown in a city, it would feel different.
In these types of situations I turn my camera and start taking photos of them. If they put a hand on you its a felony.

I am of the belief that it is a far worse offense of your rights in your own neighborhood. You should never have to explain your business to an average Joe in public. If they are approaching you in a hostile manner they should get what they give. People like you describe are often acting in that manner because no one has ever stood up to that behavior and have learned to have no respect for anyone but themselves. I would inform them that they are harassing you and if it continues a call to the police would be in order. I used to live in Lake Oswego. I fully understand the privileged attitude and "Karen" mentality. If you don't stand up for your rights you will steamrolled and surely lose them.

I am an avid street shooter, in public especially downtown you do have to be situationally aware and stand your ground. I would make clear you are on the correct side of the law. In ANY public place you cannot expect privacy and by being in public you are automatically fair game.
 
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CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,971
2,986
Irving, Texas
This is a sticky situation because you have to live there. I was in Grapevine, Texas taking photos of the historic downtown courthouse a couple of years ago. It must have been over 100 degrees out so there were very few people. Out of the blue a lady (Karen) walks all the way across the town square, approaches my wife and myself, and says, "I don't want to be in any of those photos and you don't have my permission!" She was nasty. I told her I was taking photos of the courthouse and to mind her own business. A back and forth ensued for about five minutes, including her threatening to call the cops before she marched away in a steam.

In your case, you live there. You do have a right to take the photos. The problem is that nasty neighbors can make your life a living hell for doing it. You don't have to do anything wrong, they just have to say you did. That's the real problem, and I can empathize deeply. Some people grab onto something they perceive as a problem and decide they will escalate it to prove they are right whether they are or not (We even see that in these forums sometimes). Then there are cops who don't know the law themselves. It might help if you build a rapport with these neighbors over time.

I frequently take photos of my grandson at playgrounds and parks. I take great care to make sure other kids are not in those photos. I use a wide aperture to make sure any people in the background are blurred out. I'm always getting the side eye because I am often the only male there at a playground full of kids. So far there hasn't been a problem. Younger mothers tend to be friendlier and I always have my wife with me. Still, it can be worrisome that "Karen" will show up and object to my having a camera there. In the back of my mind is always the fact that everybody there has a camera (phone) just in case Karen decides to call the cops and object. We live in very strange and hypersensitive times. It is rather sad that so many people view so many people with suspicion. Good luck to you. I'd ignore these people if they are nasty. However, nothing is worse than feeling suspect when you are just trying to enjoy.
 

CanonFanBoy

Really O.K. Boomer
Jan 28, 2015
4,971
2,986
Irving, Texas
Over the last couple of months I have rented the 24mm TS-E lens and later the 17mm. I've taken pictures in my neighborhood and on the nearby campus. With more people at home these days, I've talked with neighbors more than usual. If anything, people expressed curiosity about how the lens worked or what in particular I'm interested in doing with it. One couple was walking down the other side of the street, and they began asking me more detailed questions about the lens. It turned out that both are engineers and have at least some interest in photography. I asked them where they live, and it turned out they are my new neighbors diagonally across the street.

I did get an interesting question from Eric, the Belgian who lives across the street. With the 24mm I had taken an extended panorama of my house and environs by shifting the lens in every direction at 30º intervals (the stops on its rotation) and stitching 17 or so shots together. I decided to do the same thing with the 17mm for comparison. Eric and their young son were out batting a ball around. He asked me if I was selling my house. He had seen me out shooting the pictures before, and I guess with the tripod both times it looked like I was pretty serious about it. It seemed a reasonable question to me.

I guess there are neighborhoods where people feel more threatened by someone with a camera than with firearms, but this isn't one of them. I'm sure there are nutty people everywhere, though. And I find the deer are threatened by anything you point at them and suddenly duck behind trees if I try to shoot them.

Back in the summer of 1970 I was in graduate school in Dallas, and my class was called off for a Friday morning. I decided to put my new 28mm lens on my camera and take the bus downtown. I enjoyed my day of shooting a wide-angle lens, a new experience for me, limited only by how much film I had taken along. What surprised me was my interaction with people. Nobody acted camera shy. I wasn't particularly trying to shoot people anyhow. I found at least people minded their own business, but some folks really wanted me to photograph them. Maybe because I had serious-looking gear they thought I was a pro doing something in particular. One lovely young lady posed for me beside a fountain. As she was being coy, so was I, and I never got a good shot. A muscular young black guy walked up to me and said, "Take my picture," which I was glad to do. He was disappointed that it wasn't about to appear in the paper or anything. But the picture was good enough that I think I still have an 11" x 14" print somewhere. Photographing people with wide-angle lenses is its own kind of art.
You are a good writer, Steve.
 
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Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
827
855
I've been running into an issue lately where stepping outside the door of my own home (in suburban Oregon), I get waylaid by random neighbors I don't know (always women in their 40s - Karens, in the parlance of the day) who interrupt me taking photos on the street and ask me my business. I explain that I'm a photographer and that I live in the neighborhood and they just look at me unmoved, waiting for me to . . . I don't know . . . apologize for taking photos of the street? It's irritating to be made to feel like I don't belong in my own neighborhood. I want them to stop bothering me.

How do y'all deal with people who are hostile to photographers?
Just kill them!
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,571
485
Davidson, NC
Just kill them!
I'm a little more subtle. I'd ask why they thought I might want to take their picture. And I'd tell them not to worry, that if questioned, I would deny seeing them there much less what they were trying to get away with.

I don't photograph kids very often. On the rare occasion that they are more than just part of a crowd, I ask permission. When I was in Honolulu just before Christmas a few years ago, I went to the city hall area and was photographing the displays and festivities. Under one tent was somebody painting with glitter kids' names on their arms. I wanted to take a few shots of that, and everybody said, "Of course," when I asked if it was OK to shoot. Everybody then promptly ignored me and stayed out of my way.
 
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Codebunny

EOS RP
Sep 5, 2018
388
330
I have had to deal with this recently when taking a picture of a rabbit in an urban area. I felt eyes on my back and found a woman was staring at me so I said hello and asked if she saw the rabbits often, she just went inside then the poor husband was sent out who didn't know why he was there since I was across the street and am well known in the village(My cat was with me too), and I was clearly pointing at the rabbit. But still, he had to do his bit and to reassure him I pulled out my iPad so he could see my shots of the previous day.

People that have a problem always come up from behind and often start aggressively by asking why you are taking pictures of their kids or something, always when you ask them to point out their kids they can because either they don't have kids or the kids are miles away.

Even if they are being twats you can just be nice, or my fiancé will talk to them and inform them I am too busy to talk and ask if they want a business card and then he'll start 'discussing' prices. Basically, you or someone with you can deflect these people so far off that they think they are interrupting a business meeting.

TDLR: Bring someone with you, dress smart, wear a picture name tag, bring an iPad with the gallery ready, bring business cards. If all else fails just call the police and inform them you are being harassed(As long as you don't live someplace that shoots people)
 
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Joules

EOS 6D MK II
Jul 16, 2017
830
880
Hamburg, Germany
If I take pictures of people, it's only people that I know. And if I take pictures of buildings, it's only buildings that aren't someones personal home. So I haven't had an encounter with somebody who disagreed with me taking pictures. I do shoot some wildlife with a Sigma 150-600 mm and people definitely give me looks for it. But I think it's more out of curiosity. From time to time folks walk up and ask what I'm photographing. But it's usually elderly people who are actually interested.

I guess if I had such an encounter and would still wish to take pictures at the scene, it is necessary to find out what it is the other person finds problematic about it. If showing a set of pictures taken helps to clear up fears of sensitive information being captured or some bad intent, that could help. Or demonstrating where pictures usually end up, if such a place exists in the form of a website or such. Pointing out that due to shallow DOF or long exposures people and certain details aren't recognizable anyway might also help.

If the source of the problem is something else, just a negative emotional response to people taking pictures, there's probably little one can do beside trying nicely to talk them out of that. I can't see how telling such people "I'm in the right, you're in the wrong" will help. Even if it is true, people who don't respond well to friendly arguments are unlikely to respond to such measures in my experience.
 

Antono Refa

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 26, 2014
995
203
I've been running into an issue lately where stepping outside the door of my own home (in suburban Oregon), I get waylaid by random neighbors I don't know (always women in their 40s - Karens, in the parlance of the day) who interrupt me taking photos on the street and ask me my business.
Those called Karens are an easy case. I took photos in a park near my home, when a woman who was in the background of one of the photos came shouting and demanding I show her I delete the photo or she'll break my camera. I told her no, and offered to call the police. She went back to her bench shouting and bad mouthing me. Turns out some of her family members are career criminals.
 

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
507
576
Thanks for everyone who shared their experiences and ideas. I appreciate all of you and hope to use some of your strategies the next time someone confronts me.
 
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Antono Refa

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 26, 2014
995
203
I appreciate all of you and hope to use some of your strategies the next time someone confronts me.
I've learnt that if I take some time to set up my equipment, people will move out of the frame or wait outside of it, avoiding the confrontation.

In some situations in might be useful to come along with someone who'll play a model. It gives people a subtle mix of "its not about you", "I'm here on business", and "we're a group".
 
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Codebunny

EOS RP
Sep 5, 2018
388
330
I've learnt that if I take some time to set up my equipment, people will move out of the frame or wait outside of it, avoiding the confrontation.

In some situations in might be useful to come along with someone who'll play a model. It gives people a subtle mix of "its not about you", "I'm here on business", and "we're a group".
A model is a fantastic idea and along the same lines as my “assistant”. Some sort of extra little barrier that makes random Karen less likely to get in the way.
 
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privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
8,584
2,143
120
If I take pictures of people, it's only people that I know. And if I take pictures of buildings, it's only buildings that aren't someones personal home.
What a crazy way to self sensor, I can’t imagine living within those self imposed limitations.