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10-16-2020, 10:51 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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As Photographic "Oases" Keep Disappearing, Are You Turning "Inward"?

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This morning was a beautiful autumn morning here in northern Wisconsin USA. This time of year I love to take my camera out shooting the beautiful fall colors.

Last year while shooting the autumn colors on a rural road from my car, a local farmer drove up to my car and got in my face about why I was taking photos of his farmstead.

Well on my morning stroll around the neighborhood this morning, while on a public sidewalk I was angrily confronted by a 30ish year old male home owner about taking photos of the colorful maple tree in his front yard.

In my area there are fewer and fewer places where photography with a large DSLR-style camera (especially with a large lens and a tripod) are accepted/allowed. While ubiquitous cell phone photographers are welcomed, those using "BIG" cameras/lenses/tripods are viewed with suspicion. For example, at the local farmers market, iphoneographers are ignored, but when I shoot the very same photo with my big camera I often get dirty looks.

In my area, places where I can photographic with my DSLRs in peace are becoming fewer and fewer. Mostly I'm left with shooting at governmental parks and botanical gardens (sometimes having to pay extra for being a proper "photographer", while of course the iphone photographer is not so charged).

I'm finding that for a truly stress free photographic experience I'm more and more turning inward and shooting on my own property, in my own gardens, or inside in my little studio.

These increasingly unpleasant encounters have me seriously considering dumping my DSLR gear and getting the new iPhone 12 (larger sensor & RAW files).

Are you too finding the "photographic oases" where you are allowed to photograph in your area are disappearing? Are you too turning inward with your photography and shooting more at home? Or maybe are you feeling the pull to switch to the more acceptable iphone camera to be less conspicuous?


Last edited by Fenwoodian; 10-16-2020 at 11:19 AM.
10-16-2020, 11:02 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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I've noticed that if you use a phone for taking a picture no one cares or notices. But pull out a real camera and all of sudden its a big issue. I am not sure I understand the logic, but it is real.

I have generally always avoided any photos that included people or homes where offense might be taken so it has not had much impact on my photography but I do keep an eye over my shoulder. Or better, always shoot with my wife. For some reason when people see her taking pictures they run up and ask her if she can take theirs. Me they either ignore or cast suspicious glances at. It actually works well as she diverts attention while I get the shot.
10-16-2020, 11:09 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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I haven't noticed this much, and have a shoot planned for this evening outside of Green Bay at a park. I do have additional considerations that understandably limit my options because I focus on nighttime work. Parks technically close at night and one has an electronic gate. Walking around at night is inherently more suspicious.

On the flip side, I'm usually either shooting others or myself, and it's pretty obvious what I'm doing is innocent. I also generally have a decent amount of gear with me. I don't know many peeping toms that walk around with a full sized backpack filled with gear, and a big tripod in another bag. Lol

As for that farmer and homeowner, I can understand their reactions, but what you were doing wasn't illegal and they couldn't really stop you. So I don't think things are as closed off as you believe.
10-16-2020, 11:17 AM - 3 Likes   #4
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In my ten years as a hobbyist photographer, I've been approached only once.

I was in a rural area outside of Ottawa, taking pictures of an old barn and silo with dark thunderclouds in the background. The farm was the last property at the end of a public gravel road. The owner came up in a truck and asked what I was doing, in a somewhat gruff manner. I politely stated my purpose -- "photography is my hobby, and I was really happy to come across your wonderful property and grand barn. Hope you don't mind if I take a few pictures for my own use." I showed him a few images. The owner relaxed, and offered the laneway to the property if that would make for better pictures.

My approach these days is to be prepared with a polite explanation -- and compliments for the subject matter -- should someone be offended by my activity. I expect people to be wary of strangers or unusual activity, especially in the rural districts.

I'm also prepared to leave, should the person insist, even though I'm not doing anything illegal and I'm on public land.

In general, I haven't sensed any more restrictions these days than ten years ago.

Edit: To answer the OP's question more directly, I would say that I haven't felt a need to change my approach to photo outings. I still wander the streets of my city, stroll the areas of my neighbourhood, venture out in the country-side, and visit local fairs, all with my DSLR in hand. I am careful to not trespass and to stay on public rights-of-way. At classic car shows, I'll normally ask permission of the owners if I hope to spend more than a few minutes at their vehicles.

- Craig


Last edited by c.a.m; 10-16-2020 at 02:49 PM.
10-16-2020, 11:43 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mooncatt Quote
On the flip side, I'm usually either shooting others or myself, and it's pretty obvious what I'm doing is innocent. I also generally have a decent amount of gear with me. I don't know many peeping toms that walk around with a full sized backpack filled with gear, and a big tripod in another bag.
I bet it helps if it's obvious that you are an enthusiast photographer, not a private eye, real-estate agent, or some nefarious character. In my film days I used to carry a business card that specified my areas of photographic interest. I don't recall if I ever got any portrait work from handing them out, but it certainly calmed any concerns about my intentions since I had my contact information on it.
10-16-2020, 11:55 AM   #6
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From my observation Pentax-Q is as welcome as a smartphone. And there is one subject where cameraman with any camera is always welcome: antique cars.
Couple links to prove this:
This post was documented with Q-S1: Bytes, Volts & Pulleys: Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement and Antique Car
And this one with smartphone: Bytes, Volts & Pulleys: Willys Truck
10-16-2020, 11:57 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
Are you too finding the "photographic oases" where you are allowed to photograph in your area are disappearing?


Never from property owners, but sometimes from vendors at street fairs and such. What I have found is that film cameras are taken quite differently than a digital, particularly for street photography.


Steve
10-16-2020, 12:03 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I think one difficulty is that many people believe our privacy (a big illusion, imo....) is being eroded. Ironically (deeply!), many of the people who are most freaked out also indulge in social media. News flash: 1. don't leave a whopper trial on SM. 2. You had a lot less privacy than you realized, always. 3. Be damn glad you don't live in a small community prior to the latter 20th century, when everybody knew your business.


Anyway, I think that's part of it. I have almost never been approached by anyone, but then I don't photograph people's property w/o asking, either. The only times I've been approached have involved genuine curiosity---what was I photographing, and then "Huh? WHY!?" since I photograph odd stuff, or in touristic locales, what was my "angle" on a scene.

10-16-2020, 01:40 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I use a DSLR for nature photography, mostly in parks and conservation areas where nobody bothers me. In rural areas I photograph a lot of agricultural landscapes and abandoned buildings and I don't attract attention doing that. Ontario is probably relatively relaxed about such things but there is an area where the landowner rights folks are active and they have signs saying they don't want you scanning their ranchland with binoculars (but we do anyway).
On a birding/photography trip in rural Alberta our van was stopped by a farmer suspicious because cattle rustling was going on in the area. We soon dispelled his fears.
In urban areas my Ricoh GRIII is handy since it's so discrete, though I was questioned once, photographing the corrosion patterns on a rusty steel sheet that the owner had thrown out of his restaurant.
10-16-2020, 02:53 PM - 4 Likes   #10
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A couple of years ago now, I was out in western Kansas with an birding group and we went out to a farm where borrowing owls were nesting in a pasture with the farm house on the other end of the pasture

we were the second or third ( or more ?? ) group that had been there and we were on the shoulder of the county road, not on private property. the wife of the owner drove up to us and told us she was calling the sheriff. we continued what we doing and when the deputy showed up, our driver who was the long time assistant county coroner said " Hi " to him.

the deputy admitted we weren't doing anything wrong ( as an attorney since 1982 I had already told the other folks we were in the clear ) but asked us to move on

we were done so we did but as I left I wondered out loud whether the farmer knew about " Google Earth " and that photos of his property on the web

photos of our homes, businesses are out there folks

just " google " your address

however " discretion is the better part of valor " and in this crazy world of ours, moving on instead of insisting on our rights might be the wise thing to do

Last edited by aslyfox; 10-16-2020 at 03:00 PM.
10-16-2020, 03:46 PM - 4 Likes   #11
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I think, unfortunately, we are all facing similar issues in these uncomfortable times as we head out to do our photography.

About a year ago I posted about how I have taken to wearing a yellow safety vest whenever I am using my camera. The vest sort of like walking around a plant or office building with a clipboard seems to make you "okay" or at least only semi-visible. It works for me. For a $5 or $10 investment, it might be worth a try for you.
10-16-2020, 04:18 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by AggieDad Quote
About a year ago I posted about how I have taken to wearing a yellow safety vest whenever I am using my camera. The vest – sort of like walking around a plant or office building with a clipboard – seems to make you "okay" or at least only semi-visible.
That is a very good idea! Thank you!!
I've been contracted to do some real estate photos, by a builder not a real estate company. And its the first time I have had to shoot in an area where "I'm just taking landscape pictures" is not going to work. I think having an orange vest will make things a lot easier. Most of the sites will have just finished construction so people will be used to orange vests anyway.
10-16-2020, 04:24 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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The only time I've been hassled was by an over-enthusiastic rent a cop guard in front of a building on a city street, I shot a photo of a skateboarder going by and he came at me with 'Why are you taking photos of my building, you can't do that . . . " He had absolutely no authority stopping anyone on the street, but I think he actually didn't know that. I told him what I shot and just walked away. I was shooting an old barn once when an elderly couple drove up to see why I was there, they were OK with it when they seen what IU was doing. They were keeping an eye on the property while the owner was away and felt obligated. I can't think of anywhere else I have been harassed, but there are certain places I will not shoot, to avoid a hassle. Certain government places have signs up prohibiting photography, I steer clear.

Unfortunately society today is suspicious, we've went overboard on privacy laws, but also rightfully so people need to be aware of possible terrorism and criminal activities. Look at the thugs that appear at many public demonstrations just to destroy and steal. But people with a camera, that's way overboard.
10-16-2020, 04:54 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
. . . but there are certain places I will not shoot, to avoid a hassle. Certain government places have signs up prohibiting photography, I steer clear. . . .
I never take photos of children whose parents I don't know

and I only do those after asking

don't want any one " worrying " about what I am doing

and if you are in a foreign country be aware that what might be allowable to photograph back home might end up with confiscation and or arrest
10-16-2020, 05:32 PM - 1 Like   #15
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On a few occasions I have been asked 'Are you a professional photographer ?' (the corollary to which, I believe, may be the unspoken 'If you are making money photographing something of mine, I want a slice'). I think people in the UK, unless, as @aslyfox says, children are involved, are possibly more lenient in their viewpoint (read 'less paranoid') than in the US, but this is just an impression based on what I have read. Then again, very few of my images include people except as incidentals to the main subject matter.
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