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I got told I can't take photos in a public space!


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I decided at the last minute to take a trip to the coast and took my camera just in case. It wasn't a photography trip, just to get out the house really. Anyway I thought I'd get a couple of photos of the arcades on the promenade seeing as there weren't that many people around. After a couple of photos one of the workers from the amusement arcades came up to me and told me that I couldn't take photos inside the store. I knew this anyway but said "okay thanks, I'll just be taking photos of the street and won't come in or take photos inside" He said that I couldn't do that as it's customer policy not to take photos inside the store. To which I replied that I wasn't a customer and wasn't going to go into or take photos inside the stores and I'm allowed to take photos in a public place. He replied "not if I stand in front of your camera". He then proceeded to follow me down the road. I explained to him that I do stock photography in my spare time to which he basically accused me of being a perv. I packed away my camera and after about 5 minutes he got bored and stopped following me.

I always take my photos in the most respectful manner and try to respect peoples privacy but this has annoyed me. My camera was in my rucksack most the time and only got it out to take the photos, I wasn't walking with it around my neck.

Anyway I got home and looked at the pictures and it turns out he's in one!

stock-photo-electric-avenue-amusement-arcade-on-southend-seafront-on-a-sunny-summers-day-southend-essex-1801968151.jpg

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I wish I could say unbelievable but unfortunately all to believable.  Honestly people - even people that should know - have no idea of the law.  I do some photojournalism and have had police officers trying to tell me I cannot take shots in the street.  Not only is this incorrect it is against the college of policing official guidance which you would have thought the police would know.  The daft thing is the officers that do know it have much better control of scenes because they will be honest and explain why they want cameras out of sight while accepting they cannot force it.

Sometimes we just have to grow thick skins to it.

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You'd be surprised by how many people aren't aware of what it means to shoot on private property or public. I've been told many times over the years to put my gear away when they, in fact, had no right. Private property in most instances is certainly off limits. Where things get muddy is when someone who appears to have some sort of authority believes they are correct in asking you to leave. Example: A local mall decked to the nines for Christmas. Everyone inside with their phones out happily snapping pictures of decorations, taking selfies, photographing kids on santa's lap. All fine and good. But a stock photographer doing the same thing? Well, clearly he's either a pervert or a violator of some kind. Surely a security guard will come up to you and ask you to leave, regardless of your intentions. Drone photographers are frequently harassed or told to leave by officials who simply state "private property, you have to go now" even though the photographer is abiding by all the rules. Similar scenario with tripods: who gets to use them and where. (and who decides?) One night security allows you to shoot near the Louvre with a tripod and the next you're asked to put it away. Different people interpret the rules differently or just enforce what they think the rules should be.

How you choose to handle this is another story.  If you're in the right, you can present some form of documentation in your defence when confronted. It's usually easier to simply pack up and go somewhere else though. 

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2 minutes ago, Sharkshock said:

You'd be surprised by how many people aren't aware of what it means to shoot on private property or public. I've been told many times over the years to put my gear away when they, in fact, had no right. Private property in most instances is certainly off limits. Where things get muddy is when someone who appears to have some sort of authority says you've got to go. Example: A local mall decked to the nines for Christmas. Everyone inside with their phones out happily snapping pictures of decorations, taking selfies, photographing kids on santa's lap. All fine and good. But a stock photographer doing the same thing? Well, clearly he's either a pervert or a violator of some kind. Surely a security guard will come up to you and ask you to leave, regardless of your intentions. Drone photographers are frequently harassed or told to leave by officials who simply state "private property. you have to go" even though the photographer is abiding by all the rules.

How you choose to handle this is another story.  If you're in the right, you can present some form of documentation in your defence when confronted. It's usually easier to simply pack up and go somewhere else though. 

A mall is private property and the mall security or manager have the right to stop you from taking photos.

Any place not owned by the government is private property, and the owner, or people acting on their behalf (manager, security, etc) have the right to prevent you from taking photos.

You can take photos of whatever you want from publicly owned places, even if you are photographing private things. If you are on a public street, you can take pictures of street, people walking down the street, etc, because they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

But there are exceptions. If you are on a public street, you cannot take pictures through windows of someone's house or apartment, and maybe not office windows, because in these places people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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15 hours ago, Doug McLean said:

Any place not owned by the government is private property, and the owner, or people acting on their behalf (manager, security, etc) have the right to prevent you from taking photos.

In other words, a government building would be public.....well, I walked into the CIA building the other day.......................

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35 minutes ago, Doug McLean said:

A mall is private property and the mall security or manager have the right to stop you from taking photos.

Any place not owned by the government is private property, and the owner, or people acting on their behalf (manager, security, etc) have the right to prevent you from taking photos.

You can take photos of whatever you want from publicly owned places, even if you are photographing private things. If you are on a public street, you can take pictures of street, people walking down the street, etc, because they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

But there are exceptions. If you are on a public street, you cannot take pictures through windows of someone's house or apartment, and maybe not office windows, because in these places people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A mall - or carpark etc, where people can freely enter and move through without having to pay is considered to have right of public access and you can legally take photos unless asked to stop by the owner/representative.  So unless and until they ask you there is no problem and any photos you have already taken before being asked are fully legal (unless of course there is a whopping great sign on the door stating no photography by any body)

And while you cannot take photos through windows you can take photos of windows. 

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I've had this discussion on our local bulletin board where a couple of individuals objected to someone taking photos and announced they were going to 'confront' him. They didn't like it when I explained that the law allowed him to take photos in a public place and that they might find themselves on the wrong side of the law in any confrontation. 

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I had the same thing the other week in the public park. I know my rights & said I can photograph whatever I want in the park I only want to photo birds gardens etc. They got pretty loud then I just lost my temper & because I'm strong & fit looking , they backed off. What's the matter with these people? they don't know the law & should mind their own business. These worker types think they know it all but actually know very little. How would they like it if we tried to stop them working?  You should take a photo of them with a long lens & report them. That's what I'll do next time. Today I went to the local cemetery to take pictures a beautiful place & no problems with anyone. 

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I can relate. It really is a ridiculous situation dealing with people with these kinds of situations. Something similar happened to me in the city earlier this year before the pandemic. I was photographing a business at night. The building looked quite attractive with all the urban lighting. Camera was set up on a tripod on the footpath / sidewalk (so obviously I was shooting from a public space.) The manager comes out and asks me if I'm photographing any of the staff inside. I told him I wasn't and that was the truth. He goes back inside but comes out again later and tells me that what I'm doing is against store policy. What complete nonsense. Store policy only applies to activity that takes place inside a store, not outside. I told him that this is a footpath that I'm shooting from - a public space. He responded by saying that I can take photographs of the surrounding streets but not the store. He was obviously clueless about the law. I could have stayed and argued my rights but it was getting late and my memory card was full so I decided to leave anyway.

Another thing which is annoying is that so many people are paranoid about cameras these days. I'll never forget one example of this onboard a ferry some years ago. I had just placed my GoPro down on the deck to shoot a time lapse of the journey. I had pointed the lens at the railing so that I would get the railing, sea and sky in the frame. As soon as I put the camera on the deck, some guy sitting over to the right of me quickly jumps into action and comes right up to me and asks me what I'm doing. He seems to be very suspicious about my actions which is ridiculous because the camera lens is not pointed anywhere near him! Then he launches into a whole barrage of never ending questions. It was like the Spanish inquisition. He seemed to be getting less suspicious about me but was still asking me questions and I was getting really tired of it. Finally, he asks me what kind of camera I'm using and I reply: "A GoPro." He doesn't seem to comprehend and asks me again. I reply again: "GoPro." He then asks me again and I give him the same reply again: "GoPro." Gosh, has this guy been living under a rock?

Anyhow, after I view the individual photo stills on a computer, I can see that this guy doesn't appear in any of the images. In actual fact, there are no people at all in the photos despite the ultra wide view of the GoPro. Why? Because I wasn't pointing the camera's lens at people and I thought that this was pretty obvious. The camera was pointed out to sea. I don't see why this guy was so compelled to approach me and question me repeatedly. And he was just another passenger. He wasn't a crew member or anything like that. 

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The camera paranoia. I think we have all experienced it.
Last year I was taking photos at out local Cristmas market. Totally harmless, right? I was not even photographing people, mostly focusing on the decorations on the roofs. And here is the funny thing: Basically EVERYONE around me was taking pictures, only with their phone and no one was bothered by this at all. But take photos with a real camera and people seem to get all paranoid. I was asked what I was doing multipe times (Eh? Taking photos? Like everyone around me?) and a guy outright told me he was worried I was taking photos for planning a terrorist attack. Yeah, right. I don't know how photos of christmas decorations on rooftops would help me with that, but even if I planned something like this, I would rather use my cell phone to take photos inconspicuously, because no one bothers about that.

It's actually one of the reasons why I was thinking about getting a press photographer pass, just so I could shove it in people's faces and tell them "I'm, press" and be done with the pointless discussions. But press passes cost yearly fees and aren't really worth anything, as no real "official" photographer's  press pass exists in Germany. It's all from private organization and  with 0.10$ an image it's not really worth it to invest money into that (or anything else for that matter).

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1 hour ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

Probably why he harassing you in the first place. 

The law in the UK when it comes to this sort of thing is very straightforward, surprised there's so much ignorance on the part of these ignorant security people who are overpaid on a minimum wage. 

The guy on the boat who didn't know a GoPro from his elbow was probably just such an overpaid security person in real life!

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2 hours ago, Firn said:

The camera paranoia. I think we have all experienced it.
Last year I was taking photos at out local Cristmas market. Totally harmless, right? I was not even photographing people, mostly focusing on the decorations on the roofs. And here is the funny thing: Basically EVERYONE around me was taking pictures, only with their phone and no one was bothered by this at all. But take photos with a real camera and people seem to get all paranoid. I was asked what I was doing multipe times (Eh? Taking photos? Like everyone around me?) and a guy outright told me he was worried I was taking photos for planning a terrorist attack. Yeah, right. I don't know how photos of christmas decorations on rooftops would help me with that, but even if I planned something like this, I would rather use my cell phone to take photos inconspicuously, because no one bothers about that.

It's actually one of the reasons why I was thinking about getting a press photographer pass, just so I could shove it in people's faces and tell them "I'm, press" and be done with the pointless discussions. But press passes cost yearly fees and aren't really worth anything, as no real "official" photographer's  press pass exists in Germany. It's all from private organization and  with 0.10$ an image it's not really worth it to invest money into that (or anything else for that matter).

Ah yes the difference between the phone user and the perverted creep terrorist carrying five figures of professional gear with them so they really stand out.

Why is it so difficult for ordinary people to get it through their head that the last thing a photographer does when they are up to something naughty is attract attention to themselves with all the pro gear. 

 

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57 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

Ah yes the difference between the phone user and the perverted creep terrorist carrying five figures of professional gear with them so they really stand out.

Why is it so difficult for ordinary people to get it through their head that the last thing a photographer does when they are up to something naughty is attract attention to themselves with all the pro gear. 

 

I found that using a Sony A6000 tends to have people ignore you as it looks like a toy! If you use the articulated screen as a waist-level finder, most people don't even know that you're taking a shot.

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3 minutes ago, stevemart said:

I found that using a Sony A6000 tends to have people ignore you as it looks like a toy! If you use the articulated screen as a waist-level finder, most people don't even know that you're taking a shot.

If I want to be sneaky I put the camera next to me and operate it with my phone.  This just rubs in the point that if people want to take photos surrepticiously it is mega easy. 

I can get ordinary people not knowing what they are talking about and being wrong about the law but it is when people who should know - whose job it is to know - go off on one it annoys me.

 

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1 hour ago, stevemart said:

I found that using a Sony A6000 tends to have people ignore you as it looks like a toy! If you use the articulated screen as a waist-level finder, most people don't even know that you're taking a shot.

Street photography was like that since the early days of photography. Hence the quarter plate cameras, later  35mm like Leica, subminiatures and other unobtrusive small cameras.

Big bulky DSLRs were never ideal for the streets 

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Apps on their smartphones tracking their every move, every photo of themselves and everything they do are out there stored in some database, surveillance cameras and spy satellites photographing them everywhere, their smart tv and gaming console cameras peeping deep inside their homes - yet they are against actual photographers who openly and honestly do what they are doing. 

Photography once was an art form but not anymore in the global dumb society of idiocracy.

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22 minutes ago, KeremGogus said:

 

Photography once was an art form but not anymore in the global dumb society of idiocracy.

That's one of the reasons I went back to film with vintage cameras. No problems photographing with a pre war Zeiss Ikon or 1950's Graflex or Rolleiflex. On the contrary. It is fun and people love it usually. I get "What a cool camera" instead of "Get out of here" and I can do what I want. (Within reason and  maintaining respect)

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7 minutes ago, Rudy Umans said:

That's one of the reasons I went back to film with vintage cameras. No problems photographing with a pre war Zeiss Ikon or 1950's Graflex or Rolleiflex. On the contrary. It is fun and people love it usually. I get "What a cool camera" instead of "Get out of here" and I can do what I want. (Within reason and  maintaining respect)

Awesome! I have a Nikon F601 and Nikkor 50mm F/1.8D lens. Much like a dSLR with integrated expose meter and accurately working Aperture Priority mode. I shoot with it from time to time.

But I really want to switch to a range-finder type of camera... A bit more older but still relatively easy to use. I'd love to have your recommendations on it! ^_^ 

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Just now, KeremGogus said:

But I really want to switch to a range-finder type of camera... A bit more older but still relatively easy to use. I'd love to have your recommendations on it! ^_^

Hmmm....maybe an Olympus Trip 35? That little thing almost looks like a toy!

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1 hour ago, KeremGogus said:

But I really want to switch to a range-finder type of camera... A bit more older but still relatively easy to use. I'd love to have your recommendations on it! ^_^

What is your budget? 

Also, how do you plan to scan them? If you digitize them with a DSLR, 35mm is fine. If you use a scanner, I recommend medium format.

If you want to stay under $500, the Rollei 35S or SE is great for 35mm. The Olympus is nice too. For medium format, the  Fuji GSW690III (aka The Texas Leica) or a Mamiya 6 folder. or a Rolleicord (not Rolleiflex) or a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 6 x6. (best folders on the planet)

"folders" are small cameras with a short bellow that gets tugged away when you close the camera

Remember, especially with film cameras, glass is king and I happen to like German glass. I think there is nothing better, and don't worry about an exposure meter, you don't need one

 

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