First Threat

Updated on October 2, 2017 in Photography
18 on August 16, 2017

Hi Everyone!

While out shooting today I received my first threat….. I’m fine and absolutely nothing happened after I diffused the situation showing her that in fact I did not make the shot and that I would delete it if I did.  On one hand, I’m proud of myself for getting close enough to be threatened HOWEVER, my nerves! What do you do to diffuse situations like this? Legally, someone can’t just threaten to beat you up? Surely, calling the cops will just escalate the situation? Advise please! Thanks everyone!!

 
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1 on August 16, 2017

I think if anyone had a be all end all way of dealing with this kind of stress they would make millions marketing it. I remember the first confrontation I had with someone asking why I photographed them I was very lucky, I knew exactly why I was taking the photograph and I was confident enough to defend my reasons but I decided it wasn’t important enough for me to disturb the guy so I deleted the image in front of him. I could tell he was just a scared guy, not like over protective soccer mom kind of scared but witness protection program kind of scared. To a certain extent I’m kind of glad he over-reacted the way he did, it made me realize that people are simply irrational sometimes, this is just a part of being human.

I think the fact that we collectively understand that people are going to be mad/scared at their photograph being taken isn’t something to get upset about anymore, it’s all the more reason to go out and make great photographs. I truly believe that if you work hard enough you can convince people that there are good reasons to take someones photograph without permission. The fact that there are people that feel differently are all the more reason to go out and shoot and show the world the reason as to why you photograph strangers. Artists are capable of inspiring change, show the world how amazing life can be.

on August 16, 2017

Thanks Jeremy!  It was a strange situation because I did ask her permission, even tried to engage before hand but all in all I’m grateful it difused quickly!

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1 on August 18, 2017

Hey Vicki thanks for sharing your experience with us, you inspired me to write : http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2017/08/17/how-to-defuse-confrontations-in-street-photography/

and you did the right thing. If they want you to delete it, And you do… what else can they threaten you with?

on August 18, 2017

Hey Eric! Thanks  I think in this particular situation, she was a little “off” to say the least, she just kept muttering threats to herself as she passed me, I’m laughing about it now but at the time, I felt like I needed a cup of tea to calm my nerves 🙂  Going to see you in NY in Oct, CAN”T WAIT ! 

 

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1 on August 22, 2017

Sorry that happened to you, Vicki. Humans gonna human sometimes. I’m glad you can take it in stride and I hope you’re not too discouraged.

on August 26, 2017

THanks Ryan!, Laughing about it now but hope that future situations never escalate more than what happened! 

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2 on August 23, 2017

Had a couple of similar situations recently.  It’s tough, cause it can really get you questioning your motivations and ethics.  I find that aspect of a confrontation good.  I need to be more mindful of what I’m doing (at least at the outset), and should be able to make a confident defense, should I be questioned.  The bad part is…I don’t like confrontation.  It makes me feel like I’ve wronged someone, and have maybe ruined their day or changed their perspective for the worse.  In the end, I do not have any control over how people react, and I try to keep that in mind (I do not own others insecurities and I am not out to do harm).  

The “delete the picture” is a little tough when you’re shooting film.  The best I can do is say (sincerely) “sorry” and move on as quickly as possible.  (This is also why It’s REALLY hard for me to shoot unannounced on a bus/train, where I’ve had a few confrontations).  

After that, it’s best to get some better encounters in ASAP.  Like: talk to an many people as you can find and try to get some good shots with them.

on August 27, 2017

THanks for the advice and for sharing your story, Max! Talking to people is not really an issue for me, I’m usually outgoing 🙂 Since you live in St.johns, if you want to go shoot one day, let me know!

on August 29, 2017

f’shure!  I think you can get hold of me through my website contact page?  (Sorry for being weird, but I can’t find a private message function on this forum, and I’m ever so slightly paranoid).  https://maxmerkle.com/

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0 on August 23, 2017
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2 on August 26, 2017

My experience is bad but I love to share my first threat I learn something new about photography philosophy I try to capture commercial tower picture and before taking the picture I noticed that one thing the security trying to stop me so I ignored and I make my frame and take two different shots but real problem started the security management asking me who I am? Why you taking pictures and what is my purpose? So I give them answer for their questions after finishing the argument I hear the supervisor to talking with the security man who failed to stop me he speak like stupid and actually the real problem with supervisor he don’t want to let it go he try to threat me from his boss he called the someone after coming his boss he tell me this is not legal they going to be take legal action for my work after finishing his last word I say ok go call the police I am going to face it and after my this verdict they let me go without any questions.
I love to shoot tower and old British architecture please guide me how can I handle this type of threat.

on August 26, 2017

If you were on their property then they do have the right to ask you to not take pictures and leave the property… if you were in a public space then there is nothing they can do mate… Unfortunately the in this day and age security in London at least are very quick to stop photos being taken with the terror threat.

As long as you are in a public space you can photograph what you want as long as it’s not commercial use as you’d then need model releases, property releases etc.

Out of curiosity what building was it where the security threatened you?

on August 26, 2017

Thank you so much #lewisBaker I really appreciate your words I understand.
The building is in Mumbai India it’s my home town and my city developing very quickly like fire of jungle and I am trying to capture present of my city for my children and friends because present is future and past.
The Glory of British empire belong to my city Mumbai.
The old British architecture and new skyscraper towers both looks different views.
I am a slow learner but I believe I can do this.

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0 on August 26, 2017

A friend of mine had a similar experience when he was involved in a minor car accident in London.  He took pictures of the accident and the driver as evidence. The woman (who was a religious nutcase) started screaming at him and called the police due to having her picture taken against her will.  When the police turned up they told her there was nothing she could do about it as it’s not illegal to photography someone in a public place in the UK.

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3 on September 30, 2017

I’ve had a credible death threat but it was so extreme that I couldn’t do much about it.  A guy just walked up to me and calmly announced that he didn’t like me taking pictures and he was going to stick a knife in me. It was a busy street with lots of tourists shooting pictures, but he singled me out. The funny part was that I never even took a picture of him, he just thought I did. It’s a long story but essentially the guy may have been mentally unstable and involved in some kind of criminal activity. In the end he didn’t really care what I had to say so I couldn’t talk my way out of it. There was nothing left to do but walk away and hope for the best.  He let me go and I never stopped shooting street.

My advice is that there are no easy answers when you’re threatened. Each situation is unique. The cops will take forever to arrive so you’re on your own and you have to do whatever it takes to survive. As a rule, on the street or with life in general, the only real law is attitude. It’s the only thing that gets respect. So don’t be weak and don’t give up. Most people don’t care if you take their picture, especially if you shoot like you own the place and you belong here. The people who threaten you for taking their picture, think they own the place. They don’t care about the law, their reputation, or what you think of them. So take a cue from the haters and stand your ground.

No matter who you are or what you’re doing, it’s important to believe in what you’re doing or no one takes you seriously. You can’t just take pictures because the law says you can. You have to believe in the law and in photography. I believe in communication and the arts and how important they are for democracy, freedom, tolerance, and serving as a pressure release valve to avoid physical violence. It’s essential for a healthy society to have as much communication as possible and photography/video do it the best. So we all need to keep shooting no matter what. Especially in this day and age when freedom of speech is under attack and security issues are placed ahead of all else and anything we don’t like is called fake news. The battle for freedom and democracy is not fought in a war zone half way around the world, it starts at home. In your neighborhood where someone tries to shut you up because they think they own the place and their rights are more important than yours.

on September 30, 2017

Thanks ATD for sharing and your advise! Yes, sounds like you were dealing with a really unstable person.  I will keep shooting, taking Eric’s workshop in 2 weeks thn headed to Europe to see family/friends so excited to shoot in different cities!

on October 2, 2017

I’ve been confronted for just having a DSLR with me. Been told I shouldn’t have that thing out on the street. It’s dangerous. My most effective answers have been, after introducing myself with a smile, etc., are to mention how many security cameras have them in constant view without their permission and for someone wanting to take secret photos, the cell phones around you are much more likely to catch you without you knowing about it. I usually end saying something like I’m not taking secret photos, my camera is in plain sight. I don’t sell photos and if I catch you in a candid shot, I’ll gladly delete it. That often ends with a smile and no further comments. But, YMMV.

 

 

on October 2, 2017

Thanks RMM! Well noted, great point, I will have to remember that if a similar situation arises 🙂 

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