9 thoughts on “Dude! Why Are You Photographing My Camera?”

  1. Recently a food store that I shop at put 8 1/2 X 11 papers on the glass entrance doors. Printed on them was “NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR VIDEO/AUDIO RECORDING ALLOWED”. I did not look carefully, but I am fairly sure that there are video cameras inside the store. So they can video record you, but you are not allowed to do anything similar.
    In the last decade people have been convicted of “conspiracy to commit terrorism” with major evidence against them of photos they had taken of public buildings or tourist areas. One case had images of an alley with dumpsters. The prosecution claimed that this was surveillance for a “terrorist plot”. The defendants, who were tourists in Florida, said they were testing a new camera and taking images out the window of their hotel room.
    In the current climate of fear and resignation I doubt that much will change in this area except that there will be more cameras.
    However; “Other systems trace where and how customers, employees, and products travel through the store in real time. That information is then cross referenced with credit card data from the check out line to optimize sales and logistics. Again, this is just life in the twenty first century. What are you going to do?”
    Pay cash. That will work, for a while.

    1. I think the no photo thing is about lawyers and people falling and suing the store for liability. “Here’s a photo of the wet floor right where I fell.”

  2. You are much more obliging than I would be in such a situation. I would simply reply that it is my right to photograph anything in view of a public sidewalk and then ignore the complainant.

  3. I think the reason people freak out on you when you are taking their picture is because they can actually DO something about it—they can’t do anything about all the other surveillance and picture-taking that is going on. They can’t walk into a store and demand the security cameras not take their picture. But they can ask you not to. So you become the target of their frustration.

  4. What makes these objections even more nonsensical is that there are all sorts of tiny, inexpensive, spy-type cameras that you could be photographing them with that they would never detect–cameras in your sunglasses or watch, cameras that look like a button on your shirt, cameras in your bluetooth-looking earpiece, cameras in your baseball cap or belt, even cameras in freaking yellow smiley face buttons. Now I’m sure these cameras would produce nothing as artistic as your shots, but they would catch the same images even so.

    Most Americans have no clue what is technologically possible (and already prevalent) these days at all. What I find more disturbing than the constant surveillance is how good facial recognition scanners have gotten. If someone (or some agency) had a mind to, most of us could be tracked pretty constantly 24/7 even if we leave our GPS-enabled phones at home. And this doesn’t even take into account all the voluntary information we ourselves put out into the world. (Hello, facebook.) Heck, I just got a fitbit. The NSA probably knows how many stairs I climbed this morning and how many beats per second my heart is pumping at this very moment. The good news is that the quantity of data is so vast it’s difficult to sort through and make use of, although big data tech companies are working on it.

  5. I’ve commented on this topic before, the irrational idea that someone taking a photograph of a public building is somehow suspicious. Since 9/11, the land of the free has been taken over by an army of underpaid, bored security guards who walk around buildings looking for something to occupy their time. Excited to find something “suspicious”, such as a photographer shooting the historic 1933 Valley Municipal Building in Van Nuys, CA. they then approach you and ask you what you are doing.

    “I’m shooting a building. I’m a photographer.”
    “But what is it for?”
    “To take a photo.”

    On another occasion I stopped along a beautiful, fog draped street in a canyon of Santa Monica. There were gorgeous homes nestled among the oaks, and mountains in the distance. I was photographing the street when I voice came out of nowhere.

    “May I ask why you are photographing MAILBOXES on this street?” she asked.
    I turned to see an old lady emerge from her modest $2 million dollar house.
    “I’m photographing,” I answer.
    “I can see that! I want to know, I have a RIGHT to know why you are on this street shooting mailboxes!” she screams.

    Once upon a time, a man with a camera was a benign thing.
    In that long ago place called the United States, a citizen could exercise his leisure pursuits and hobbies, and appreciation of his surroundings, without arousing suspicion.

    We no longer live in that country.

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