Rights ? and wrongs


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More

Rights – and wrongs

31 Mar 2021 7:58AM   Views : 512 Unique : 308


A sunny afternoon, and so I went for a walk with my cameras and some lenses: it’s what I do at present. A new drive just up the road had light glancing off it, and looking rather impressive, so I dialled in some negative compensation, and took a shot.

And I wandered on towards the canal – and within around 90 seconds, there was a man behind me, slightly agitated (so that he was standing out in the carriageway of a busy road to keep social distance, holding his mobile phone up (I reckon he was recording me and our conversation) and asking why I was photographing his drive, and saying something about deleting the picture. ‘It’s pretty’ I said.

Calming down slowly, he asked why I had photographed his house, and it became clear that what was worrying him was that his children were playing near a front window, and he was keen to protect them from marauding photographers. I switched on the camera, and held it out so that he could see the image on the screen – I think we maintained six feet apart, with camera and mobile both held at arm’s length.

It must have looked like a modern version from a cowboy movie, though considerably more good-natured. Included in the conversation was my address, and we parted on good terms. Later in the evening, the doorbell rang: same chap, along with a small boy – he’d come to check that the person he’d seen earlier had been telling the truth about where he lived.

Just a quick question – are you feeling all shirty and offended on my part? Or, indeed, can you not believe my foolishness in photographing somebody else’s drive? I actually reckon that we both did pretty well: he is concerned for his children’s safety, and I knew that I had done nothing to be ashamed of, so I was open and honest. Were it not for the virus, we’d have closed our second meeting by shaking hands… And I hope that we will be meeting again, and establishing the sort of relationship that ought to exist between people who live on the same street.

Recent blogs by dudler

Focus scales

If you’ve been taking pictures since before autofocus arrived, you’ll be very familiar with focus scales – they are one of the primary controls on an old-school camera, and just one more of the things that you really needed to get right. With autof...

Posted: 27 Dec 2022 7:01AM

Porcelain processing

People commented on the look in my last post and it seems like a good idea to share the secrets for Christmas. I learned the technique several years ago: a model’s boyfriend told me about it, and a website that described it in detail: I tried it, l...

Posted: 23 Dec 2022 10:47AM

You develop your own films don’t you?

If you have your own darkroom, or if you use film cameras regularly, there are always a few people who mention the attic. As in ‘Grandpa’s cameras are in the attic. I don’t even know if they have film in them!’ This leads me to ask if I can have a l...

Posted: 16 Aug 2022 11:17AM

Choose your pond

There’s an old saying about being a big fish and a little pond. Do you want to be the most important person in a small organisation, or are you content being a relatively small cog in a big machine? It’s the same in photography. With relatively mo...

Posted: 3 Jun 2022 2:25PM

Graduated filters

This is for Hannah, and anyone else who has come across the casual way that a lot of togs talk about one or two types of filter that landscaper photographers use a lot: graduated filters and neutral density filters. A graduated filter is one that i...

Posted: 25 Apr 2022 12:18PM


dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Mar 2021 7:59AM
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Or can you throw any light on the ins and outs of the law as it applies to photographers?
whatriveristhis Avatar
31 Mar 2021 9:11AM
Some years ago I was wandering around a shopping mall in Middlesbrough, using an LX5 and practising my ICM technique, when I was approached by a security guard who demanded that I delete the photographs on my card, even though at that point he hadn't actually seen them... I should mention that at the time there was much concern over the prospect of such places being targeted by terrorists, so presumably he thought I might have been doing a recce. Fair enough.... I explained myself and showed him the images on the camera, after which he seemed to decide that I was no threat to Society after all, but was merely a harmless soul with evident mental health issues, and wandered off looking mildly puzzled.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
31 Mar 2021 9:16AM
John - why on earth did you give him your address? That is just asking for potential trouble! You showed him the image(s) you had taken, and that should be the end of it.
I would never give my name, address or phone number. You never know what it could lead to. He may have seemed no more than a concerned parent, but you cannot tell what he had in mind...
mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 37 8 England
31 Mar 2021 9:55AM
I can understand the chap questioning why you were taking pictures of his house. I had the same thing happen when we had our drive done.
Interested villagers who were considering getting their drives done by the same guy who did such a nice job of mine. Your chap had you on
video giving your explanation, and he'd seen that the images you took were exactly what you said they were. If you parted on good terms I
think it's odd that he felt it necessary to come and check up on you. Could all be perfectly reasonable and well intentioned.
On the other hand, you showed your nice (expensive) camera and lenses to a complete stranger and then gave him your address.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Mar 2021 10:10AM
There was clearly some complex calculus going on in both our brains as we talked: and there were value judgments - if he'd been threatening in any way, I wouldn't have said where I lived - and, of course, I know where he lives.

The situation with security guards is very different, as, often, is their attitude. My stock answer in such cases is that if I wanted to photograph security arrnagements, they'd never have known, because I wouldn't have been carrying a camera that they could see...
whatriveristhis Avatar
31 Mar 2021 10:13AM
Good points made above. Just because he didn't happen to be carrying an axe at the time, that doesn't mean he isn't an axe-murderer. If nothing else, he sounds deeply paranoid.
whatriveristhis Avatar
31 Mar 2021 10:46AM

Quote:...if I wanted to photograph security arrnagements, they'd never have known, because I wouldn't have been carrying a camera that they could see...

Of course, but he was just a security guard with a peaked cap, an ordinary bloke, and I'm not sure that would ever have occurred to him. Nor would it necessarily have occurred to a would-be terrorist. Let's face it, neither of those vocations are known for superior intelligence among the rank and file...
James124 Avatar
James124 Plus
8 81 59 Portugal
31 Mar 2021 11:12AM
John, you're probably lucky he doesn't know you spend a lot time doing art nude photography.....
Silverlake Avatar
31 Mar 2021 11:21AM
I'd never give my address to a stranger under these circumstances. You only have his word for it that it was his driveway, so you don't 'know' where he lives. He could have been in the street, seen you, and followed you with nefarious intent.

As for the law, IANAL, but if you are on public land the law permits you to photograph anything (in this country). If you are creating a public nuisance/disturbance/indecency in addition, that is another matter. A shopping mall is not public land though (and some outside areas that look like they are may not be), and if you are asked to stop, stop. No one, not even the police, has the right to delete, or ask you to delete, any images.

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Mar 2021 12:35PM
Thanks, all - and it's well worth knowing the legal ins and outs.

But that is only a base for the navigation of circumstances: in my case, taking the line I would with a security guard would have thrown the conversation way off course. Shouting my rights is not necessarily the best way to go.

Local circumstances meant that I was pretty sure that he was what he said he was - it's a busy road with few pedestrians. As it goes, I have one of Mark Thomas's cards for production to over-officious officers - essentially, it says 'I know the law, and if you mess me about, I guarantee that you will win more red tape than you know what to do with.' I shall post a picture of it in due course. Every photographer should have one!
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
31 Mar 2021 1:36PM
This very issue is why I shoot nature and sports events.
I don't need the negative interaction with:
1- The law
2- Protective parents
3- People that don't want to be photographed
4- Lawyers
5- Police
6- Security Guards
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
31 Mar 2021 8:35PM
At the sea side some years ago, trying to photograph under a lovely pier there were a couple of children playing in the water puddles left by the tide....not even in the view finder I might add...the Mother ran to me, almost knocked me over, used some unique swear words and told me not to take pictures of her children.
She shut up and left when I showed her my images, sans children, I really am not that daft Wink....I moved on.
Black eye avoided Wink
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
31 Mar 2021 9:07PM
George - I've had very few negative reactions in 50 years of shooting: and I work within the law, always, and do informal but careful risk assessments as I go.

It may also be worth pointing out that the culture and population density are very different in the UK, compared with the USA. Our police don't carry guns, and the law is clear about photographing people in public places, providing the image isn't defamatory (as Silverlake sets out above). My attitude to shopping centres is that I am circumspect, and if the owner wants me to regard it as a high street (i.e. a place where the public go to shop, meet, and eat) I will treat it as a high street...

Dave - there's one extra bit of logic in the tale: if I'd been a plausible liar, my near-neighbour would have had good reason to talk to the police - and, just maybe, he was looking to be a good neighbour. He'd not have brought a young child along if he was intending anything bad.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
1 Apr 2021 2:41AM
Apart from the guy being paranoid, I can't see why he should come to visit you. As if you are who you say you are then he's had a wasted journey and if you gave him a false address he's had a wasted journey!
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
1 Apr 2021 3:07AM
Oooo I have a few stories I would not like to remember or talk about. From snippy security guards, to ruthless policemen abroad, the lot.
I understand the fear and the concern and the public interest. I shall start selling T-shirts with prints saying "Tourista, Tourista e non terrorista".

Yep, I would change village now, if I were you dudler.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
1 Apr 2021 8:58AM
Paul - if I hadn't been where I said I'd lived, he'd have had good cause to check with the police: I truly believe that he was simply being careful.
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
1 Apr 2021 11:22AM
About 15 years ago I was shopping on my own in Sainsbury's supermarket in Shrewsbury when Mrs B phoned me on my mobile. I put it to my ear but couldn't hear very well because of the general noise.
I moved towards the door and found myself being pushed violently by a woman who was shouting abuse at me. She nearly pushed me out of the door. It appears that she thought that I was taking photographs of her. She was really upset. She calmed down when I showed her my phone.
It was a little blocky Nokia with no camera.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
1 Apr 2021 10:34PM

Quote:Paul - if I hadn't been where I said I'd lived, he'd have had good cause to check with the police: I truly believe that he was simply being careful.

I'm still not convinced. Either way, as I'm sure you know, you're perfectly entitled to take 'normal photos' from the highway. Mind you I suppose that I tend to judge people by my own values and clearly there's a lot of people out there who are awkward/nutters/snowflakes who think that they're now entitled to have a go in ways that would be unthinkable years ago.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
2 Apr 2021 5:57PM
To be fair, there are also a lot of people who are afraid - often of phantoms, but afraid nonetheless.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.