How to not get beat up when photographing public places?

Hillsilly

EOS 6D MK II
Oct 16, 2010
1,096
0
I'm lucky. This has never happened to me. But I'm not a risk taker. I don't take covert pictures of people who look like they are belligerent, destitute, alcohol or drug fuelled. I'm just not into that sort of photography and that takes a lot of risk away. While I take a lot of photos in public places, it is pretty obvious what I'm doing. If someone is clearly a major part of a photo, I'll get tacit approval beforehand. If they appear to have a problem, I just move on - I'm not looking for problems. I'll often have a camera on a tripod and it will be pretty obvious what the focus of the shot is and people realise that the focus isn't on them. I do have a remote trigger that I use on occassion (admittedly - to get myself in the photo). But how can I be taking a photo of someone when I'm standing 10m away from the camera? Do they think I have some sort of telekinetic power? If so, they should think twice before confronting me! I also tend to only hang out in fun, touristy type places. Everyone has cameras. Everyone's taking photos. Nobody thinks twice about being in the background of someone's photo.

Depending on the situation, I'd be very suspcious of someone who confronted me over taking their picture. Even if I felt pressured to delete the photo, I'm sure I'd find a way to sneek a few more shots of them just in case.
 

CharlieB

EOS RP
Jul 29, 2012
301
0
TAF said:
One thing to keep in mind if the situation really goes to h*ll - your 5D3 with 70-300L weighs 2 kgs (4.4 pounds), and is on the end of a 3 foot tether. In cave man days, that would have been all you needed to feed the family...or deter a saber tooth tiger.
Totally off topic... I apologize... but I thought I'd share what was until now a forgotten (repressed?) episode in my life. When I was a young man, about 19 or 20, the girl I was dating got abducted. I pretty much went nuts. After about six weeks of me going insane - the police telling me she'd just left me... they quit looking, I got a message from her. She was being held in a house - two blocks from the police station. Both of her captors were gone, and wouldn't be back for an hour. She could not get out - the windows were barred from the inside - totally normal looking from the street. There was one un-barred window - very high, close to the ceiling in the rear bathroom. I stood on a trash can outside and cleared that window with a Nikon F2 with MD-2 motor, and 80-200/4 lens. Totally cleared as in "no glass left". She got on the tub and was able to get an arm out, I was able to grab it, and she got out. We didn't end up staying together long after that, but... over thirty five years later, she's still one of my closest friends, and we see each other several times a year.

Cameras can be handy.
 

Ricku

EOS 7D MK II
May 20, 2011
493
0
People are paranoid idiots. That is all I have to say.

If someone threatend to hit me because I'm taking photos in a public place, I'd gladly fight. ??? My only concern would be to keep my camera out of harms way, while whooping the aggressor up and down the pavement.
 

TexPhoto

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 15, 2011
1,233
17
San Juan, PR
J.R. said:
Always carry a tripod ... use as a weapon if necessary :p
A Monopod makes an excellent weapon. I have never had to use mine, but I have twice had to explain to the person who wanted to rob me that I was holding a metal pipe, and was a poor target.
 
E

EvilTed

Guest
Firstly on the legal issue, Mt Spokane is totally WRONG!!!
You can take anyone's picture, including children if they are in a public place.
You can freely post on the Internet so long as you are not making commercial gain from it.
Just Google for the facts before you listen to the misinformed...

As a street photographer in San Francisco, drawn to the seedier neighborhoods, all I can say is be aware of your surroundings and don't use gear you cannot afford to loose.
Don't get a few beers in you for dutch courage either.

I'm a black belt in full-contact karate and I am very careful, but I've had several confrontations with hookers and crack heads.
My advice is to smile and keep moving.
I tend to see the shot from a distance, frame it in my head and move quickly to take the shot and get out again.
There's no time to gawk about like a tourist taking snapshots...

ET
 
E

EvilTed

Guest
TexPhoto said:
J.R. said:
Always carry a tripod ... use as a weapon if necessary :p
A Monopod makes an excellent weapon. I have never had to use mine, but I have twice had to explain to the person who wanted to rob me that I was holding a metal pipe, and was a poor target.
That's the kind of stupid advice that gets people killed.
The one you don't see is the one that stabs you in the back!

ET
 

insanitybeard

EOS RP
Mar 20, 2012
303
0
39
South west UK
CharlieB said:
TAF said:
One thing to keep in mind if the situation really goes to h*ll - your 5D3 with 70-300L weighs 2 kgs (4.4 pounds), and is on the end of a 3 foot tether. In cave man days, that would have been all you needed to feed the family...or deter a saber tooth tiger.
Totally off topic... I apologize... but I thought I'd share what was until now a forgotten (repressed?) episode in my life. When I was a young man, about 19 or 20, the girl I was dating got abducted. I pretty much went nuts. After about six weeks of me going insane - the police telling me she'd just left me... they quit looking, I got a message from her. She was being held in a house - two blocks from the police station. Both of her captors were gone, and wouldn't be back for an hour. She could not get out - the windows were barred from the inside - totally normal looking from the street. There was one un-barred window - very high, close to the ceiling in the rear bathroom. I stood on a trash can outside and cleared that window with a Nikon F2 with MD-2 motor, and 80-200/4 lens. Totally cleared as in "no glass left". She got on the tub and was able to get an arm out, I was able to grab it, and she got out. We didn't end up staying together long after that, but... over thirty five years later, she's still one of my closest friends, and we see each other several times a year.

Cameras can be handy.
Fascinating story, did the cops get those responsible?
 

J.R.

EOR R
Jan 13, 2013
1,749
0
EvilTed said:
TexPhoto said:
J.R. said:
Always carry a tripod ... use as a weapon if necessary :p
A Monopod makes an excellent weapon. I have never had to use mine, but I have twice had to explain to the person who wanted to rob me that I was holding a metal pipe, and was a poor target.
That's the kind of stupid advice that gets people killed.
The one you don't see is the one that stabs you in the back!

ET
Either your comment is incomplete or stupid as you say it. You mean if any punk walked up to you and asked for your stuff, you would simply hand it to them? :eek:

Surely if someone approached me with a knife I'd gladly give up my gear as long as I was left alive but for the average brat ranting on the beach, it works as a deterrent.
 

bvukich

EOS 7D MK II
EvilTed said:
TexPhoto said:
J.R. said:
Always carry a tripod ... use as a weapon if necessary :p
A Monopod makes an excellent weapon. I have never had to use mine, but I have twice had to explain to the person who wanted to rob me that I was holding a metal pipe, and was a poor target.
That's the kind of stupid advice that gets people killed.
The one you don't see is the one that stabs you in the back!

ET
I refuse to be a target, and I refuse to be a victim. If someone wants my stuff, they had better arrive in force, and fully willing to face death; most aren't, they just want an easy target. I've got 13+1 reasons I'm not the one they're looking for.

Be aware of your surroundings, be safe, don't act like an easy target.
 

rowlandw

EOS M50
Sep 16, 2012
29
0
If you have to get the shot anonymously:
1) Pretend to shoot your associate or wife but actually compose on your subject in the background and crop.
2) Perfect the art of firing a small fast lens at waist level while strolling and looking at something else.
3) Use a remote trigger or wire so your hand isn't even on the camera.
4) You can always frame an obvious view or building and wait for your subject to walk into your frame.
5) Aim at views all around and pretend to shoot as though you were a tourist until people get used to you and occasionally your aim will include a shot of your intended subject.
6) Smaller is better for close work - I use a s100 and a 6D + shorty forty which turns it into a large p&s.
7) I also use a SX40HS for distant subjects - at full zoom your subject won't be aware of either you or it.

If confronted but you need the shot
1) "What's your email address? I'll send you the image for your own use" - and do it.
2) Apologize and explain you're just a tourist.
3) I keep a dummy card in case an authority wants my card so that I can palm it off if they want to confiscate it (never had to do that)
4) I've shot inside of commercial spaces and been stopped. However, as my shots are artistic, perhaps showing the pattern of excalators with no clue as to location, they've always let it go but stating their policy against photography.

The funniest incident was a few years back when as a tourist in Copenhagen I was taking shots of the palace lit up at night. A voice called out to me in Danish to which I replied in English, "Yes, isn't it a beautiful night!" It was a guard switching into English, "It is not permitted to touch the building." Turned out I was bracing my camera against a massive granite wall. Taking pictures was no problem for him.
 

kdw75

EOS M50
Feb 7, 2012
32
0
If you are going by yourself you might want to keep a pistol on your belt, assuming it is legal in your area of course. I have found people are a lot more polite when they see your armed. Though the police may come and check you out. I personally have never had anyone say anything to me. Maybe it is just because I am a large fella who looks friendly and dresses well. You might also want to tell anyone who hassles you that your on official business and will call them in if they don't stop.

It's funny anyone would care considering how many cameras the government has put up which are taking our pictures as we pass by.
 

distant.star

EOR R
Jan 19, 2011
1,813
0
USA
wetracy.smugmug.com
.
Thanks, Doc. Good read and a great revisit with the streets I knew back in those times.

The Hare Krishna folks seemed to be everywhere back then, and now I can't remember the last time I saw one.

Good to find out about McDonough too; I'd never heard of him.



DocMo said:
 

westr70

EOS RP
Mar 2, 2012
227
0
A fascinating read and all good to know. I was at a street fair yesterday and had no problems taking pictures with my 5d III (24-105) and in fact people were quite obliging. There was a lot of security there too but I suspect that being at a fair assumed that people would have cameras. Sort of a tourist thing. The closest thing to an insult was when a kid asked how I liked my 7D? Street fairs, parades, and other such events expect cameras, and I think a good place to practice "street photography." Gain confidence, take your shots, and explore your potential.
 

Kristofgss

EOS 80D
Aug 6, 2012
124
0
CharlieB said:
Totally untrue - except for the "in some countries" part. I'm sure there are some countries that prohibit such activity. Countries like North Korea and Iran for instance. Here in the USA, if its seen from a public place, its ok to shoot.
Actually, you don't have to go that far, here in Belgium it is prohibited by law to take pictures in public places of people when they are recognisable. It is even prohibited to take images of three dimensional works of art, unless the creator has died more than 70 years ago. (though the last one is not really enforced and you'd have to be making a profit from your pictures before it comes into play) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_panorama
 

distant.star

EOR R
Jan 19, 2011
1,813
0
USA
wetracy.smugmug.com
.
Wow, I just noticed this thread has been viewed over 5000 times. Lot of people interested in not getting a beat down!

I want to quote from that Slate piece as it makes an excellent point regarding the mood of people today:

"McDonough said that tackling street photography today versus the 1960s and 1970s is radically different. He explained via email:

'The reaction is different today. Cameras are much more ubiquitous now. In the ‘70s there was a whole different atmosphere, it was much more laid back then. People didn't particularly care if you were photographing them. By today's standards, where there's so much media trying to get information from people, people are much more wary. People see cameras as containing the possibility of exploitation. Everyone is spying. Local government, advertisers—they all want to know what it is you are thinking and doing. People were less paranoid in the ‘70s.'”


One thing I know is that people are on edge. There seems to be a palpable anger just under the surface. This can explain why they might react unpleasantly to someone with no authority who seems to be hitting them with just one more damn affront they can't really do anything about. This is why it's all the more important to smile and be nice.

For me, there is no street photograph ever taken that was worth getting hurt for. If your encounter has come to the point of threatening someone with a monopod, you've already lost. It's now only a matter of tallying up the damages. And with the number of people carrying guns now, the damages can get really out of proportion. As the Patrick Swayze character says in the movie, Road House, "No one ever wins a fight."
 

Chuck Alaimo

EOS 6D MK II
Feb 8, 2012
1,052
0
chuckalaimo.com
jcns said:
If you publish a picture of someone without a release and the subject finds out, they can come after you. Find a good lawyer.
As far as I kow, this is only true if the image is used for commercial advertising purposes. They can try to sue you of course, but to what end? To most, the money gained from the lawsuit would be far less than the cost of hiring a lawyer and going to court. People are sue happy, when they know they can make a buck. So unless you are making a killing off of selling that photo for a billboard display, the likelyhood of legal action just isn't there.
 
H

Hobby Shooter

Guest
This is an example of when a smile comes in handy. This is a bunch of awkward teenagers on a street in Phnom Penh last year. The picture in itself is not good at all, I couldn't find room getting out in the street and then missed the composition altogether. But I like it because the guys were just hanging around trying to look bad. When I walked up to them and gave them a smile, they got in position except one guy who ran off. So like several have said already, communication is everything. However I must add that I do like candids also.
 

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J.R.

EOR R
Jan 13, 2013
1,749
0
Sella174 said:
kdw75 said:
If you are going by yourself you might want to keep a pistol on your belt ...
Over here in South Africa that will get you beat up ...
In India it will be reported in a hurry and the cops will be swooping in to check your gun license. It'll be worse trouble because the cops here have the habit of - shoot first, ask questions later