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

navastronia

EOS RP + 5D Classic
Aug 31, 2018
695
814
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?
 

privatebydesign

EOS-1D X Mark III
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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Over the years I have come across all sorts and tend to respond in a similar way to the person questioning me, if they are polite, interested, inquisitive etc I will take all the time in the world to talk with them, even if they are slightly troubled I will take the time to ease their nerves. If they are belligerent or demanding I won’t hesitate to call the police or encourage them to, photography in public is not a crime most places and people need to be educated about that fact.

I have been accused of being a terrorist for taking a picture of the Brooklyn bridge, like I am the only one who has ever done that! But what do people think a terrorist could gain that they couldn’t just look up on Google Earth, I never understood that. I’ve also been called a pedophile for taking long exposure pictures at a fairground, the very irate guy insisted that I delete all my images because he didn’t want me “posting images of his kids on the internet”, I said no, he called the police, when they arrived they told him to back off and that I was doing nothing wrong, turned out he and his wife didn’t have kids!

I have travelled all over the world and I get way more hassle in the ‘land of the free’ than everywhere else put together. But mostly people are firmly interested so not generally difficult to de-escalate.
 

Joules

doom
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Jul 16, 2017
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What a crazy way to self sensor, I can’t imagine living within those self imposed limitations.
It's no way of censorship. I just don't care for regular buildings. I live in a big European city with lots of historical buildings and decent modern architecture, so if I feel like taking a walk through the city there's more interesting things than single homes for me to shoot. My neighborhood is nice, but I find it too mundane to photograph.

And as for people, I'm not the most social guy. To me, if there's no connection to the people I photograph, it's just awkward. Also, in my place people do have a right to reject being photographed in most cases. So obviously that is worth respecting.

I wasn't advocating not ever doing street photography. Just giving some background to my person so that my statements can be evaluated in the right context. If I expressed that too vaguely for your taste, I apologize. But I also don't appreciate a serious term like censorship being thrown around in this matter. Even if I made a choice to refer from any forms of street photography for any kind of personal reasons, liken that to actual censorship feels like an exaggeration to me.

Obviously, if you are respectful about it, there is absolutely no reason somebody should have a problem with street photography. If I'd see it differently, I would not have tried to offer my input on how to convince people of the opposite.

I do photography as a hobby, and therefore I don't really think I'd value my pictures (which only gain value through the joy I have in creating them) over any valid concern someone would voice to me. But at the top of my head I can't think of any such concern that would be valid. So I would try to ease somebodies concerns as stated before unless they indeed appear to be the kind of person who is numb to friendly conversations.
 
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AlanF

Stay at home
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Aug 16, 2012
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Over the years I have come across all sorts and tend to respond in a similar way to the person questioning me, if they are polite, interested, inquisitive etc I will take all the time in the world to talk with them, even if they are slightly troubled I will take the time to ease their nerves. If they are belligerent or demanding I won’t hesitate to call the police or encourage them to, photography in public is not a crime most places and people need to be educated about that fact.

I have been accused of being a terrorist for taking a picture of the Brooklyn bridge, like I am the only one who has ever done that! But what do people think a terrorist could gain that they couldn’t just look up on Google Earth, I never understood that. I’ve also been called a pedophile for taking long exposure pictures at a fairground, the very irate guy insisted that I delete all my images because he didn’t want me “posting images of his kids on the internet”, I said no, he called the police, when they arrived they told him to back off and that I was doing nothing wrong, turned out he and his wife didn’t have kids!

I have travelled all over the world and I get way more hassle in the ‘land of the free’ than everywhere else put together. But mostly people are firmly interested so not generally difficult to de-escalate.

A piece of advice I found on a website informing US photographers what they can take photos of: "And one final word. Just because you know the law doesn’t mean the cop does. And unless you have a badge of some kind, arguing with a cop about the law — as a general rule — rarely ends well. If you are going to argue, make sure you keep your arms to the side and never, ever push a cop or hit a cop unless you want to spend the night in jail. In New York, there is essentially no such thing as a valid self defense claim against a cop who is trying to effectuate an arrest. That is not just some observation. It’s the law. See generally Penal Law Section 35.27. The arrest doesn’t even have to be a valid one for this provision to apply."

It would be fun taking photos of you arguing with the police about your rights but `" If my actions obstruct the administration of the police lawful duties my right to photograph will be curtailed."
 

CanonFanBoy

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Jan 28, 2015
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A piece of advice I found on a website informing US photographers what they can take photos of: "And one final word. Just because you know the law doesn’t mean the cop does. And unless you have a badge of some kind, arguing with a cop about the law — as a general rule — rarely ends well. If you are going to argue, make sure you keep your arms to the side and never, ever push a cop or hit a cop unless you want to spend the night in jail. In New York, there is essentially no such thing as a valid self defense claim against a cop who is trying to effectuate an arrest. That is not just some observation. It’s the law. See generally Penal Law Section 35.27. The arrest doesn’t even have to be a valid one for this provision to apply."

It would be fun taking photos of you arguing with the police about your rights but `" If my actions obstruct the administration of the police lawful duties my right to photograph will be curtailed."
That was also one of my points. Many cops don't know the law. Youtube is full of videos of cops harassing and even arresting people who are taking video or photos. This happened here in Dallas, Texas: https://fstoppers.com/legal/officer...king-photos-public-has-their-qualified-409802

On top of that, one never knows when some unhinged individual will take matters into their own hands.

Of course, one doesn't have control of what others do.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
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Nov 7, 2013
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...
How do y'all deal with people who are hostile to photographers?
First of all I don't earn my money with photography, I am just an hobbyist.
A pro surely would/could/should answer your question different.

So when I am asked what I am doing or if somebody does not want me to take photos, it is always depending on the situation I am in.
So if people are acting or looking agressive I try to avoid trouble and scram.
If taking photos of people, e.g. at an event, I mostly say "Look around! Do you ask everybody with a cell the same question?"
If someone says "No! Don't take pictures of me." I respect that and don't take photos of her/him.
If taking photos in public, I nowadays avoid taking photos of people without asking them first.
Laws in Europe and a lot of other countries in the world are practically the same:
You have full right of your own picture/picture taken of you (except some event situations, see above).
I like street photography but I don't do this because of that reason.

If I take pictures of things, buildings or animals I tell this to the people asking and if they are polite I even show them pictures from the camera.
(not now because of corona and social distancing).

Until today I've done fine with that behavior and strategy.

edit:
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 this situation it really depends on who these neighbours are, if you think they are after you and don't like you at all or if they are just concerned.
So talking to them, explaining what you are doing and why, and - most important - what you are never doing without permission (photos of people, esp. children) could be fine and ease the situation.
If you find out that those don't understand or don't want to understand, I think it's up to your will and nerves if you want to stress the legal situation and rights.
I always try to be polite but I am also the type "What goes around, comes around."
 
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CanonFanBoy

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Jan 28, 2015
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I shoot wild for a reason. They aren't psychotic nutjobs that automatically assume any and every male is a paedophile, pervert or rapist. Much easier that way.
Several years ago I was shooting photos of a Gopher Tortoise in a gated Ocala, Florida community we lived in. A lady screeched her car to a halt and marched over, unbraiding me and yelling the whole time, "That's a protected species! You'd better keep your hands off that tortoise! Blah! Blah! Blah!" I hadn't touched the tortoise and had not intended to.

Me: "Lady, I'm just taking photos."
Her: "Why do you have to disturb the animal and take photos! Leave it alone!"
Me: "Because I do cooking videos and like to show the process from start to finish. Now quiet down. If you agitate him he'll release hormones that will ruin the meat."
Her: Starts crying. Starts screaming. Goes back to her car saying she's going to be calling fish and game. Drives away.

Mr. Tortoise had drawn himself into his shell from all her ranting. I had all my photos anyway, so I left.

Even wildlife shooters aren't immune from the nuts. ;)
 

Aussie shooter

www.facebook.com/BrettGuyPhotography/
Dec 6, 2016
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Several years ago I was shooting photos of a Gopher Tortoise in a gated Ocala, Florida community we lived in. A lady screeched her car to a halt and marched over, unbraiding me and yelling the whole time, "That's a protected species! You'd better keep your hands off that tortoise! Blah! Blah! Blah!" I hadn't touched the tortoise and had not intended to.

Me: "Lady, I'm just taking photos."
Her: "Why do you have to disturb the animal and take photos! Leave it alone!"
Me: "Because I do cooking videos and like to show the process from start to finish. Now quiet down. If you agitate him he'll release hormones that will ruin the meat."
Her: Starts crying. Starts screaming. Goes back to her car saying she's going to be calling fish and game. Drives away.

Mr. Tortoise had drawn himself into his shell from all her ranting. I had all my photos anyway, so I left.

Even wildlife shooters aren't immune from the nuts. ;)
Dear lord that is disturbing. But absolute gold
 

Valvebounce

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Apr 3, 2013
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Hi CanonFanBoy.
I so wish I could think on my feet like that, I would have to plan a response like that and then I’d go and forget it in the heat of the argument. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

Cheers, Graham.

Me: "Lady, I'm just taking photos."
Her: "Why do you have to disturb the animal and take photos! Leave it alone!"
Me: "Because I do cooking videos and like to show the process from start to finish. Now quiet down. If you agitate him he'll release hormones that will ruin the meat."
Her: Starts crying. Starts screaming. Goes back to her car saying she's going to be calling fish and game. Drives away.
 
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Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
It's a sad state of affairs that we have now and those of us that have been in photography for many years, from well into the film era will recognise the social change that has taken place regarding man with camera.

Recently I was in a catherdral taking pictures, with permission. I was taking a panoramic shot looking down the chancel, from the crossing. One of the clergy, a woman, came up behind me and whispered in my ear "you're not taking pictures of our children are you ?" Well my reaction, having recovered from nearly falling over in surprise was 'you dirty minded bitch'! However as we were in a place of worship I had to tone it down a bit !

I suppose it is an inevitable change when you consider the viral nature of photography now, for want of a better word; the immediacy of it all and the ability to electronically spread and share images around the globe in seconds.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
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Recently I was in a catherdral taking pictures, with permission. I was taking a panoramic shot looking down the chancel, from the crossing. One of the clergy, a woman, came up behind me and whispered in my ear "you're not taking pictures of our children are you ?" Well my reaction, having recovered from nearly falling over in surprise was 'you dirty minded bitch'! However as we were in a place of worship I had to tone it down a bit !
It may be projection. And given their history, I can see churches being touchy about the subject.

Terrible things have happened and do happen to children. The guy who built a media career based on what happened to his son is certainly a factor now. And then twenty or so years ago it was the fad with a lot of therapists to conjure up memories of abuse, true or not. I had the experience in that era of receiving phone calls from suicidal young women who were dealing with that from the same therapist. I wondered whether I should report him to someone, or what. Fortunately, neither went through with their impulses.
 

Codebunny

Elil
Sep 5, 2018
784
799
Scotland
It's a sad state of affairs that we have now and those of us that have been in photography for many years, from well into the film era will recognise the social change that has taken place regarding man with camera.

Recently I was in a catherdral taking pictures, with permission. I was taking a panoramic shot looking down the chancel, from the crossing. One of the clergy, a woman, came up behind me and whispered in my ear "you're not taking pictures of our children are you ?" Well my reaction, having recovered from nearly falling over in surprise was 'you dirty minded bitch'! However as we were in a place of worship I had to tone it down a bit !

I suppose it is an inevitable change when you consider the viral nature of photography now, for want of a better word; the immediacy of it all and the ability to electronically spread and share images around the globe in seconds.

My answer is often along the lines of why would I do that with a huge conspicuous camera instead of like the guy kneeling down next to the kid in front of us with his inconspicuous phone camera.
 

ValleyofCarbon

EOS M50
Jan 28, 2020
44
59
www.instagram.com
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.

Nope... it has nothing to do with "winning friends and influencing people" It has everything to do with knowing your rights in your own country. If you personally feel that turning tail and not standing up for your rights is good for you then so be it. For me, if I were minding my own business and some came at me asking questions and insinuating that I am doing something wrong, I feel it is my obligation to inform them they are patently WRONG and I am more than willing to fight for my rights as a photographer and a citizen.

As for the type of camera you carry... who cares if its a 80's video tank or a tiny Leica. I had no idea there was a camera gear police department determining what is appropriate and what isn't. I'll carry what ever I want.
 
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