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Author Topic: VJ14/street shooting  (Read 3357 times)
John Camp
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« on: March 10, 2006, 11:23:05 AM »
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VJ14 is terrific. Interesting to watch Clyde Butcher sort of stumble around in Photoshop, obviously having never used 1/10th of the program, *because he doesn't need it.* But what he needs, he does really well. That suggests to me that I should give up trying to "learn" Photoshop, and figure out instead precisely what I need to do, and then learn that.

I was more interested in the street shooting segment, though, because I do street shooting. (Just ordered back-issue #4, so the VJ14 mention sold at least one copy.) And it occurred to me that I used to do it somewhat as Michael did it in China, but in the last few of years, shooting here in the states, I've become much more circumspect. (Although I've also done some street stuff recently in Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and that was like Michael in China. In Egypt, where some might think the Muslim position on images might cause problems, I never had a problem; once, two cops saw what I was doing, pulled me aside and more or less kidded me into taking a formal double-portrait of them.)

But here in the states, the feeling is much different and much harsher. Part of it was 9/11 -- not that most people feel more afraid, but that in some way it empowered low-level security guards who basically don't have anything to do, and so what they do is hassle people, and not just photographers. I was taking pictures in the Mall of America around Christmas time, and two different security guards asked me what I was doing and told me I needed permission to do it and that I should stop. I smiled and nodded and agreed and as soon as they were out of sight, continued, but that wouldn't have happened a few years ago. A few years ago in the states, the basic attitude was that you had the right to be left alone, that you're business was your business until it was apparent that you were doing something wrong. That's no longer the case.

And it's not just 9/11. The hysteria about sexuality and child abuse has created an atmosphere where any attention to a woman or child is considered suspicious; I don't know whether Canadians suffer from this or not, but I've been in some pretty politically repressive countries where they'd think some American positions on photography, or attention to women and children, would be outrageous. Recently, a Texas photographer taking pictures at an Oktoberfest was arrested by the cops and the cops reported publicly -- and it was in the papers -- that the pictures being taken, in public, were "sexually inappropriate." Turns out, there were no such pictures. They were simply pictures of the crowd -- but by that time, the guy's name and photo had been published all over the place as some kind of sexual weirdo.  See here: http://www.photopermit.org/?p=125

Anyway, I need to do street photography as a kind of note-taking for the painting I do, but I promise you, the feeling here in the free-and-easy U.S. is nothing like as free as it is in China.

JC
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David Mantripp
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2006, 06:47:03 AM »
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politically repressive countries

I don't think Germany is politically repressive. Far from it. I don't know anything about this case, but it isn't impossible to imagine that people might object to being photographed, and if the photographer just carried on, they might complain to the police.

These days, one moment you're having fun with friends, next day you're posted for the world to see on somebody's photo blog.  The world is changing fast, and not always in ways which everybody likes.  I'd tend more towards respecting the general public's right to privacy over a photographer's right to take pictures of anybody he/she chooses, but striking the right balance is not easy.
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David Mantripp
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