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Tuesday, 21 July 2015


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Lies, Damn lies, and statistics.
They are are untruths or the truth bent to satisfy a purpose.

Heck, I could actually delete it; then swap cards and recover it later. If I wanted to avoid confrontation and preserve the picture, rather than educate the idiot.

I've had amazingly good luck selling on ebay; NO disasters to report. It's almost enough to make me quite while I'm ahead, given what I hear from other people.

My most recent sale was some memory to a guy who first found it didn't work and initiated a return. We discussed it and he decided to try another, less-fussy, motherboard. We agreed between us to extend the return deadline. He did eventually run the alternate test, the memory worked there, and he accepted it and canceled the return. There are so many places that could have gone pear-shaped! (He was trusting me in places, too, it wasn't one-sided by any means.)

But then, I sold my Olympus 24 shift lens to somebody I made contact with via Usenet, who was I believe in the Netherlands. He sent a check, I sent the lens, the check cleared, he was happy with the lens.

Yeah, probably exhausted a lifetime supply of luck on used sales, I should give up the whole concept.

Re: ebay reviews - Whenever you read feedback on any review site you always need to read between the lines, whether it's positive or negative. Basically you need to think for yourself.

Maybe a fake "Delete" button would be a useful feature on camera bodies.

Last year I persuaded myself shooting a carousel with motion blur would make for a very interesting photography, so I mounted my tripod and started shooting it. (The carousel, not the tripod, you silly.) Suddenly a lady appears out of a cabinet. She wanted to know what I was doing (as if that wasn't evident enough...) and, making her best effort to sound polite, told me she was getting complaints about me from some of the parents of the children riding the carousel, which was so blatant a lie I didn't even care to give a proper reply. I just said 'sure, no problem' (which, in retrospective, probably made as much sense as her reasoning about the angry parents) and took the shot when the lady finally left me alone.
This was not the only case of hasslement I've been through - and, curiously, not the only one with a carousel as a background. Two years earlier, on a different location, I took the same tripod-mounting procedure by a carousel; a man, not making the least effort to pretend to be polite, said something like "your camera could get broken down."
Now that was a serious threat, even taking into consideration that the guy was a bit on the pint-sized side. I looked the bloke in the eyes and, trying to sound as bullyish as possible, replied: "No, it couldn't."
Eventually the fellow backed off, but got in the field of view and kept staring provocatively at me while I was shooting, probably imagining he was ruining my pictures. (He wasn't; actually, he did me a favour as I like to include people in this kind of pictures and, as I was using a wide-angle lens, the chap made the composition workreally well.)
So you see, me and carousels don't go along in quite hassle-free way...
As for shooting people on the streets, I never really had any problems: I never try to act stealthy, though I try to be discreet. Trying to act stealthy is, from my experience, the best way to get everybody to look at you. And I often ask people for their permission. I like to include people in my pictures (if not necessarily with them as the subject), so when I need a person to make a particular picture work, I just ask him/her for permission. People are really more of graphic elements of the composition than proper subjects in most of my pictures, so being hassled is not a real issue.

While lying to the artist as you proposed may avoid a confrontation this time around, it's also likely to make things just that much more difficult for the photographers who come after you, because you'll have encouraged her mistaken belief that she can prohibit such photos from being taken and/or that you were doing something illegal or improper when you took them.

This is why whenever anyone threatens to call the police while I'm out photographing, I call them myself and then wait around for them to show up. Although it is easier to just walk away, I do this because I don't want to give anyone the impression that what I was doing was in any way illegal or improper.

As with so many issues in life, kicking the can down the road for the next person to deal with it rarely ever solves anything...

I don't know, does that mean I'm...immoral? I mean, I would have been, um, you know, lying....

Yup, you'd be disingenuous and are disregarding The Fourth Buddhist Precept. So if you are a Buddhist, bad on you! But more importantly, your actions give rise to why some people do not like other people (and some with cameras).

I take more of the "if you don't want to be photographed why the $&@! are you in Times Square?" approach.

Sort of the "if you don't like my driving get off the sidewalk!" response, and it works best if you happen to be in Times Square.

Come to think of it, it may work even better in places that are not Times Square, since I can do "Large crazy guy with whom there is no point in winning an argument" better than most people because I'm 2/3 there already.

Thompson Twins reference, nice.

I was struck by JG's Featured Comment to the initial post about getting hassled. He wrote about being tailed and hassled by the police while trying to engage in night photography in a city. His comment ended with the below:

"Needless to say, being a middle-aged white guy, this isn't something I have experienced before and as a result, I now have a much better understanding of what minorities have been complaining about for decades with regard to their dealings with the police."

I am ashamed to say that I have been having a similar awakening. Starting with the experience of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman's acquittal, the execution (yes, that is the appropriate word) of Walter Scott and culminating with the arrest of Sandra Bland, I have been shocked at how ignorant and complacent I have been about how our justice system treats minorities.

If you haven't watched the video of Walter Scott's shooting, or Sandra Bland's arrest, you should. In both cases, I was so appalled that I was left shaking.

I understand that the police have dangerous jobs, and I have long thought they are underpaid for the risks they take. I also understand that there are many upstanding police officers. But the videos that have surfaced recently show how much power the police have, and the failures to prosecute show how much deference we accord the police. There is a balance between police authority and safety, on the one hand, and basic civil rights, on the other hand.

What I found so striking about the Sandra Bland video, was that I could easily see myself in a similar situation [how sad it is that we -- or at least I -- only really get worked up when we can envision these things happening to "us"]. She is stopped for a triviality and is annoyed. I'm not saying she shouldn't have been stopped, but her annoyance is nonetheless understandable, and a police officer should be above reacting to such a display of emotion.

Then, for nothing more than pointing out that she can smoke in her own car, she is ordered out of her car, physically accosted, and threatened with a Taser. After being removed from her car, she voices her frustration loudly and clearly. And for walking away or -- as the officer seems to claim: waving her elbows while in handcuffs -- she is arrested for resisting arrest. She is arrested for having a natural reaction to unjustified police action.

At one point do we have the right to say in a situation like this: "No, this isn't right. You are a police officer, and I respect your authority, but that doesn't mean that I have to do whatever you say, no matter how unreasonable or unjustified."

We are supposed to take whatever a police officer dishes out in a situation like this, and then seek vindication afterwards. Yet even JG knows the odds of prevailing in a situation like that. He wrote:

"I've contemplated filing complaints about this practice, but since the board that reviews them isn't independent of the police, I have been cautioned by several people who have experience in these matters about the potentially negative consequences of doing so."

If a middle-aged, presumably middle-class, white guy can get hassled and is too intimidated to enforce his rights, what chance do minorities, and especially low-income minorities, have?

I know this isn't the place for such a discussion, and I know that this shouldn't take away from the discussion of photographers' rights, but I cannot help but despair at the absence of justice in these cases.

Sandra Bland is dead, and even if she committed suicide, her death is the direct result of shocking police conduct. Consider this: she stayed in jail for 3 days, and likely would have been there much longer if she had lived. She was trying to raise $5,000 bail. $5,000!!! Meanwhile, a judge on Long Island set bail at $250 in a case where a "prominent [white] businessman" killed an immigrant farmworker from Guatemala in a car accident while intoxicated.

Think about that...I'm off to cry.

If you want to know what this has to do with photography, well just consider how these videos are literally opening up our eyes to the police misconduct and oppression suffered by minorities. It is incredible how powerful visual images are.

We''ll just have to agree to disagree on this.

We all don't belong to the same tribe, or share a common religion. Therefore different people will react differently to "street photographers."

Some people have a religious problem (graven mage), while others think that a camera can steal their souls. I doesn't matter how bizzare you think that is. Respect their "Freedom of Religion." Simple as that.

If you are at a political demonstration/anti-war protest, respect the wishes of people who do not want to be photographed. Most of the Wobblies do not want to be photographed—Tom Morello is the exception.

Some people may think that they are being raped by your camera. What part of NO didn't you understand??

Frank Cappa said: "If it isn't good enough enough, you're not close enough." Man-up, put a wide angle lens on you camera. Get close enough to smell the sweat, and see the fear, revulsion and hatred being generated in some people's eyes.

From my POV street photography is all about respect, or the lack-thereof ... YMMV.

Hello Mike
Your statistics are plausible. It has to happen. However, I do not like the solution. Immorality is a big word, but... Street photography is not as popular where I live, therefore maybe my perspective is a bit different than yours. I do not photograph people on my travels, but when I do, I ask them first. Somettimes it leads to a pleasant conversation one can learn something.

Many years of selling photo equipment went by (fairly successfully) My feedback was my #1 priority, so I issued a few refunds over the years. My last period of furious sale activity was the year I retired from teaching. I had accumulated quite a lot of gear that I had to whittle down. Friends also contributed merchandise for me to sell. In all, I sold over $24,00 in three months. The last item was my Leica M9. I had had various items that were shipped to China, without problems. Not this time. An unknown thief intercepted the camera and the buyer demanded a paypal cancellation. After 5 weeks of debate, I had to give up any hope of getting that $6000. That was the last experience on ebay that I could manage. PayPal is not a bank, so their investigation was ineffective and the seller is not protected by insurance. Stay away from Chinese transaction that may be tempting to customs officials. Just my $6000.

Here's the question you must ask yourself, though: Isn't it true that as soon as you get home and review the images, you're just going to delete that photo of the person who objected to having their picture taken, because it's actually not that good of a photo, in fact it's really boring, and you aren't going to do anything with it but leave it on your hard drive to be lost among hundreds of thousands of similar street shots that even your heirs won't have the endurance to sort through? In which case, maybe it's time to save everyone a lot of grief and delete the photo on request.

What took eBay so long to" de-emphasize the occasional negative feedback for people with otherwise good records"? I have done it for years without any help from eBay. Has worked well for me.

Yesterday, during the annual Carnival celebration on the island of St Lucia, and after photographing the participants without an incident for 23 years, I had a rude wake up call. The manager of a carnival band from the neighboring French island of Martinique scolded me for shooting one of the members....she informed me that I had to pay each member first before I was allowed to take a photograph!! Yes, we were all in a public place but I was outnumbered 60 to 1!!

No, not immoral. If someone is that naive about camera law (?), they deserve to be led down that path even farther. My style of shooting does not require a second memory card, but I always thought it would be appropriate to have a second old 2 GB card in the second slot and when a cop or over aggressive person confronted me, just hand them the second chip and say "Here you go". Maybe even load it up with cheap porn to sort of emphasize how mis-informed they really are about my favorite hobby.

It even happens to people like Alec Soth. In a Reddit chat over his Songbook work, he discussed a couple of great shots taken at a high school prom. "We got in trouble and were detained by police. I had an officer watch as I deleted every single picture. Fortunately my assistant later showed me a program to recover files since the card wasn't formatted. True story!" Wish I knew which program he used.

Hello Mike
Addendum to my comment of earlier: Only now I realised what you (maybe) are implying in your last sentence. Well, if this is not a trap you set, I would say that we are heading for quicksands or at least a very difficult discussion/argument about what exactly is "reasonable": Is it something the photographer deems to be, or is it something the pictured (shot?) person thinks to be? In what country, local culture, circumstances, etc? I am looking forward for comments!

This reminds me of the following XKCD comic: https://xkcd.com/325/ Make sure to read the extra text that appears when you hover over the image.

Unreal. More reason to avoid eBay.

Regarding "Steve's situation"
Having permission (legal or otherwise), by itself, is never a good reason to do anything. If your hobby causes alarm, invades peoples privacy, or pisses them off, the problem is not your hobby or the people you are photographing. The problem is You.

Occasionally I'll get a phone call showing "Blocked" on the screen and there's no message. In my opinion I received no call.
Occasionally I have objections to my photography that can't be reasonably assuaged. In my opinion they can then sue me or like the blocked-no message caller, there was no real objection.

I've ignored everyone's intrusion for more than 30 years. Occasionally a nod that I know they know if I think they can handle it. To interact takes me too far away from what I'm doing and whatever it was that I was seeing is long gone. Click on the b/w image on my home page of my old site: tommybrown.com for a little proof.

Although I've never had to do this, I've got the whole "hide image" button sequence down pat for my D90 (yeah, it's a dinosaur), just in case someone demands I delete an image. To the casual observer, it's as if the image is truly gone.

Thing is, I would actually delete an image from a sincere person, but I'll hide a pompous jerk's image and keep it just to spite them. My passive-aggressive way to poke this cruel world in the eye with a stick if I need to.

Or you could have, you know, deleted it - if it wasn't a good picture, that is.

Nonetheless, I greatly believe to be kind with (more or less) anyone you met, especially while photographing on the streets. Acting rough never gets you anywhere, imo.
We take gazillions of pictures each day and you should be aware of the ones that you really need to fight and lie for.

A photojournalist friend of mine once recommended that when forced to delete, particularly in dangerous situations, it's best to delete, stop shooting on that card, and when in a safe location, switch cards and use data recovery to reclaim the deleted images.

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