View Full Version : Photography to became a crime?

06-16-2005, 06:02 PM
this will be my vent:

I am really jealous to see so many pictures from the east of the world of poeple being so happy infront of the camera and would love to experience it one day.

Here, well it's a different story, not only we seem to be unwelcome in public places, but it seems like a good reason to have the police involved.

As most poeple who are weekend photographers and simple don't have much time for it, I take any opportunity I get and try to make the best of it. My formula was simply to take my dog for an evening walk, bring the camera along, most often I wouldn't even take the lens cap off, but at times I have produced something. I do it often in my area.

Last night I was reported to the police for taking photographs in a public park near my home during a soccer game. For me sports can be a photo opportunity, have a baseball photo and a hockey photo here on TE, was hoping to have soccer image. Three police cruisers showed up, 6 cops, 20 minutes interview of who am I and why I take pictures in the park etc etc. Quite annoying I must add.

Anyway thanks for listening, I am probably being known in the area by know as a pedophile with a dangerous dog and camera, to which I have to say:

FC$K EM ALL!!!!!


06-17-2005, 03:02 AM
never happened to me but not surprised at all..
hope you take it as part of the kit-photographer-experience-in-a-developed-country and stay cool.

keep on shooting them!

06-17-2005, 03:55 AM
My profound sympathies Peter. I just posted this minute a question in this forum about "why so few people shots from N America and Europe"? Well...you went some way to answering it. It is really a sorry state of affairs where along with basic human rights we all agree with, people in so-called developed nations have tacked on super-added-value rights for themselves as uperior citizens who should on no occasion run the risk of being photographed by a keen amateur walking his dog. Obscene, really. Cheers, Francis

06-17-2005, 04:50 AM
Well Peter, this is really scary... Particularly because it happened in Canada, which is likely more laid back than other "developed" nations. And it's a great answer to the thread started by Francis. Three cruisers, must have been quite an experience! I feel for you.
From my limited experience, I have to say that people in both Canada and Europe proved to be surprisingly positive when approached with a smile and asked for permission to be photographed. Yes, the opportunity for a candid shot is gone with this, but at least there will be no cruisers... and good photographs are still possible. And you know what, I would avoid hanging around with a camera in areas where children play. Parents can be overly sensitive about certain issues, and with all the abuses reported by the media, I do have a bit of understanding for these parents. If your dog is the one shown in your profile, then just the dog alone could be enough to cause some mean looks... not justified, but understandable.

06-18-2005, 08:08 PM
Hey there Peter,
that sucks pretty huge man. This in Newmarket too!

...I was wondering though ;) did you have a chance to shoot da police? It would have been pretty cool (though probably inappropriate) to take advantage of the opportunity.


Seriously though, I hope you don't let this get ya down. Keep up the great work!


06-19-2005, 09:44 PM
Whoa, that's pretty heavy indeed, it'd scare the life out of me to see that many coppers come after me. That's very heavy-handed of the parents, I presume, to dob you into the police-- if they were concerned they should have approached you themselves and spoken to you. I'm sure the misunderstanding could have been cleared right there. Kids are an extremely grey subject matter these days-- best to ask before pointing a camera at them. Otherwise it seems like an unfortunate mix of people and circumstance but it should hopefully remain a one-off so don't let it get to you.

You should try to get yourself over here some time Peter, I'm becoming more convinced that Australia is the most laid-back place for street photography. No less "wary" but the authorities usually have enough common sense to not hassle anybody about trivial stuff. (I think the police are too understaffed here to worry about upholding non-existent photography bans.) As long as you aren't a mafia member, involved in illicit drugs, are a corrupt surgeon, ripping off pensioners, joyriding in trams or are sharing pornography via the computers at work you'll get by OK here :)


06-21-2005, 04:55 AM
I am outraged by the situation you found yourself in. I have no advice and no consolation either, because it is unfair and is the result of a perverse sense of insecurity.
Keep posting your brand of good photos. Know that they are good.

06-23-2005, 02:27 AM

That is just awful. I have to say that there are many disadvantages to being a woman photographer, but in this situation, I'm sorry to say, your gender's working against you. I can imagine that some idiot alarmist might assume you were a pedophile -- but to call the police???? That is way out of line! And they actually came! Poor you. Don't they know the real pervs stick to cell-phone cameras (famous among pervs in Japan)? Kidding. Anyway, sorry to hear that. Keep shooting.

06-25-2005, 04:25 AM
That realy sucks. Thank God I live in Asia and not North America anymore. Though I dont take many people photos, its nice to know that i wont be suspected of pedophilia or terrorism just for taking photos.

06-25-2005, 03:38 PM
Well can't really advice you on this one cause i've never been involved in such a situation (and hope i never will). In Portugal people are not very confortable when someone point a camara at you but i dunno something like this could happens... ahh you don't have enought cop's to persuilt all photographers either ehehehe

Well, i'm glad you overcome all this with a cool sense of humor!


07-01-2005, 08:10 AM
why wouldn´t they talk to you if they had a problem??
but just keep shooting...
:) or come to sao paulo, people loved being photographed here!

07-03-2005, 08:52 AM
Peter, that stinks, it really does. I don't know the area you shoot in, but I'm visualizing a suburban/exurban area. Sometimes these kind of low-crime areas are more prone to paranoia due to imagined risks over real ones. And lots of cops with a bit of a Barney Fife mentality. After all, even if you were what they thought, why in the world would they need that many cops and cars? It's just overreaction that proves that they don't really know what they're looking for or what to do if they found it.

Of course, it's often not just a matter of being paranoid, not even in the small towns and burbs. But it's never good to lose sight of the fact that most of us are still normal human beings and a camera is just a camera. A wary parent making sure nothing more was going on, you'd think would have been enough. My sympathies for the crap you went through when common sense went out the window.

07-04-2005, 09:05 PM
just disgusting, look at these f***ed up over valued human right b**ls**ts!
i dont need it thanks.. Is this a police state?..
i feel really sorry for you Peter..

Hey come to India,, be my guest for a while...(i am serious)
you will love here, every day is a photographic heaven..

Keep up the good work Peter, keep shooting, i really like your shots
dont give a damn about it.. because its just very stupid at the same time..
Best wishes.

07-05-2005, 04:44 AM
It's a shame and a sham, what happened to you, Peter. I do not know how it works in Canada, but raising a bit of hell with one's representative in the USA works a little, if you think your own civil rights (of expression) have been curbed.
On the other hand, I think you may talk about a climate that is dangerously winning, with its political correctness. I was really baffled that members, here, hence photographers, were also putting in question who and how other members choose to photograph.
It was only expressed as an opinion, not a censoring, but policing thought can also end up in policing state. This idea that we should ask the names of the subjects we phtograph, ask permission, when so many shots get their values from their candidness, I find this having to do indeed with political correctness as an ideology, more than photography.
We must trust our members to be the judge him/herself, when it is best to ask permission or not. No rules, please!


07-07-2005, 12:43 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your run-in with the law.

To avoid this in the future, one idea might be to find college-level amatuers. The athletes are not kids, so you won't have to worry about complaints from parents, and the action is just as good, if not better, than most games you will find in a park.

If you contact the school and explain what you're doing, you might even get lucky and get an event or press pass that will allow you to shoot from other areas. This might only work, however, if you're dealing with smaller schools.


07-07-2005, 05:22 PM
Looks like the discussion was over a long while ago but let me paste this :

<A HREF="http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm">photographer's right</A>

Peter, Sorry for what happened to you. This can happen to anybody but not only to you. This world is becoming strange and alot of people knows that but can't change it...

07-08-2005, 08:42 PM
Czesc Piotr!
Czasy sa teraz takie , ze niekiedy policja nie wie co ma robic i na co uwazac. Zamniast szukac przestepcow czepiaja sie zwyklych ludzi i szukaja dziury w calym. Na to nie mamy wplywu.
Trzymaj tak dalej jak do tej pory !!!

07-11-2005, 10:27 AM
If we can't control people with what's in the shops we always have the possibility to control them through the fear of losing what they have bought in the shops and if we can't control them through the fear of losing what they have bought from the shops we can always turn to the fear of what may happen to their children - blow that one out of proportion and you have the state you're experiencing - how far off are we from having to register to take photographs in the street??

Difficult one - paedophiles do take photographs of children - people are scared of this leading to contact and grooming - good citizenship suggests that this should be checked out - such accusations towards innocent people leave sick, angry horrible tastes in the mouth and everyone suspicious.

100% with you though on the way you're feeling -

got to go - best wishes Kev

07-11-2005, 11:10 AM
When I left North America for Asia about 4 years ago, it wasnt this bad. There wasnt this kind of pervasive atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion. So what happened? Living in Asia has perhaps spoiled me as this is really an extremely phot-friendly place. No one asks any questions, people are not afraid of the camera. So what happened to North American society?

07-15-2005, 01:55 AM
I'm really sorry for what happened to you Peter. But now I have the answer why are so many portraits or people photos from the east and why so little from the west. Before I was thinking that the people from the east are much more interesting subjects for us that don't know much about eastern cultures.
Well I live somewhere in the middle and I must try to make some photos first, then I'll tell you my opinion (or experience).


08-10-2005, 07:22 AM
Firstly, hello to all. I just came across this wonderful site a few minutes ago and joined.

I find this post and the replies most interesting as I have had a couple of negative experiences in the last two years, here in Sydney, Australia.

One time, I was down at my local beach, Brighton, casually taking wide angle shots from the promenade. No long lens on the camera to give anyone the idea that I would be able to take closeups of anyone down on the sand from where I was. This guy walks by and says, "Taking photos of people on the beach. That could be a fine!" This is NOT true, by the way. A really stupid comment, in any case. Nobody can be fined for taking pictures right on the sand. I checked that one out.

The worst, though, was when I was more or less in the same position in the same place, and after leaving the beach, I realised that I was being followed by three guys who would have been in their early twenties. I went into a cafe for protection after dialing police emergency on my mobile. These individuals came in to the cafe and started to threaten me, one of them even grabbing me by the teeshirt, and this was in front of the staff and customers. I told him I would charge him with assault when the police arrived, if he'd like to stay around.

They accused me of "taking photographs of children", when in reality I had just been aimlessly taking anything for practice with my digital camera. (In one shot, there was a man carrying his child up from the water, the rest were very general.)

These three then made an exit. Shortly after that two young policewomen arrived in a car. They told me that they were not allowed to take me in their car to identify the aggressors, who had just gone off round the block. What a joke! They also told me that I couldn't take candid shots, and that I had to ask permission first, which is INCORRECT, as under Australian law there is no such prohibition.

For a while, I even felt like giving up photography, which I love with a passion. I still do take some candid shots, but think carefully before doing so, weighing up the situation every time. I have also started to actually approach people in certain circunstances and have asked permission to photograph them, and have found my subjects delighted with the idea.

The world (at least my part of it) has gone crazy...

08-19-2005, 08:53 AM
That's an upsetting story, I don't know the local lows but I feel a bit shocked this happens in Canada, a country I had a better opinion about...
In which city did it happen ?
As read in the link, you might consider reporting the case to a local newspaper to raise people attention on it, something worth keeping in mind for the next elections...

09-01-2005, 03:49 PM
what a bunch of clowns! you should have asked them to let you take a photo for the good people at TE !

Cops make good shots cos they always seem to have surprising facial expressions that dont fit the uniform (that is, unless they are frowning something huge!)

09-23-2005, 06:53 PM
Hi Peter,
I have to say that I'm sorry for the "troubles" you had. Yes it is a sad world when you get harrased (hope I wrote this correctly) for having a hobby. The east of the world , as you call it, has a different kind of problem - you are seen as a weirdo - but at least they don't trouble (me) us as much. I had only one encounter with the third kind (police, military) and that is because I was making pics NEAR army barracks. All went well but it wasn't a nice feeling.
Hold on