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Thread: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

  1. #1

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    Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    I just recently got into photography so I've been pretty much sharpening my skills by taking pictures of random things around my area. No one seems friendly and I feel a bit paranoid at times. A lot of people give me strange looks. For example, I was taking a picture of a water fountain where this couple were sitting at and the guy tells his gf "he better not be taking a ****ing picture of me". There's also this awkwardness while taking pictures in public... What can I do to overcome these small obstacles?

  2. #2
    pwnage101's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Mumble things like "he better not be in my ****ing picture"

    Hey, you typed your location exactly like mine

  3. #3
    JK6065's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Sounds familiar Pat,

    I've had several occasions like you mentioned. For instance a driver that pulled over to tell me I would get into some serious trouble when he found the shot I did of his car on the internet (I was doing some panning practice on a road near to my village).

    It's one of the reasons why I find especially street photography difficult. There's always the thought that people would react angry on me shooting people in a public space.

    What you might do about it is make sure you explain what you're doing (and why) to anxious people (if they're willing to listen anyway).

    I would like to hear some more of other members about this, since I stumble upon the same problems.

  4. #4
    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    The simple answer keep doing it. Don't try to take the picture overtly. Take it open and direct. Also take take other "waste shots",if it is just the one thing you want. If you come up take the one shot and move on it would make most people think why you did it. Linger around and take some more.
    The other thing is the more professional you look and act the less of a problem people will have with it.
    I have asked people who have said things why they have a problem with it. The answer I got the most is they just don't like their picture taken, they do not know who is taking the picture and why.

  5. #5
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by JK6065 View Post
    I would like to hear some more of other members about this, since I stumble upon the same problems.
    It is why I avoid it too, I have had the odd comment like yours Pat, but not often. Shooting in 'touristy' areas helps a lot, if (almost) everyone has a camera ... one of the advantages of living in Windsor with all its royalty, castle and historical subjects.

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by JK6065 View Post
    Sounds familiar Pat,

    I've had several occasions like you mentioned. For instance a driver that pulled over to tell me I would get into some serious trouble when he found the shot I did of his car on the internet (I was doing some panning practice on a road near to my village).

    It's one of the reasons why I find especially street photography difficult. There's always the thought that people would react angry on me shooting people in a public space.

    What you might do about it is make sure you explain what you're doing (and why) to anxious people (if they're willing to listen anyway).

    I would like to hear some more of other members about this, since I stumble upon the same problems.
    There are people out in the world with different mindsets. Some strangers will almost jump in front of your camera to be in the shot, some will simply smile when they see the camera pointed at them, and then there are those who are automatically camera shy, think you are violating their personal space, or doing something they shouldn't be doing. I've run into all of the above and when they volunteer or don't appear to mind I keep shooting. If they appear to be annoyed or downright belligerent I keep moving. When you have the chance, ask for permission first or start up a conversation letting them see the camera while you are talking to them then ask for a photo. Or use a zoom lens.

  7. #7

    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Aren't people so bizarre!

    Here in the UK they say we have one of the highest ratios of surveillance TV cameras per capita, in the world. They are everywhere. I don't know what the figure is but you must be filmed (and watched live) quite a few times when you walk through any high street in the UK. Does anyone complain? No. Does anyone make a fuss? No. Does anyone complain vigorously to civil rights representatives? No. People take shots of other people with their camera phones, and nobody even notices them.

    But when man comes along with that sinister-looking black box, we are into a completely different situation. I mean to say, man can't be the press, because there is nothing going on - no incidents. Man is clearly not a police photographer - no uniform. Man is not a wedding tog doing some bridal shots in public - no bride! So, there is only one absolute certainty left - man is either a terrorist man, or a paederast man and either way man is hell-bent on evil intentions. Man must be stopped, man must be hounded, man must be persecuted, apprehended, arrested man must be leant on, expunged from our society. Let man stay at home (for now) and take shots of bowls of fruit and post them on CiC, but never, ever on our nice clean streets where nice family people and drug dealers mingle in an uneasy co-existence.

    Seriously.... there are some reasons why people on streets don't like their shot taken. May I suggest...


    • Man and woman having affair, meet for lunch, and you take their shot, ergo, you are a private detective employed by his wife.
    • A busker is claiming benefits from the state, ergo, you are an investigator from the benefits department.
    • A woman has been having problems with a potential stalker, and you pop up with your Nikon, ergo you are the stalker.
    • Someone is supposed to by off work on sick-leave, and you shoot them armed with shopping bags, ergo, they are going to get fired.

    personally, I just ignore them all, and just shoot what I want. But I do stay very clearly withing the law. I suppose it helps to look a bit of a thug (as I do) and to be able to argue convincingly if I need to. But you shouldn't have too many problems. Best advice I can give is be confident, act confident, be polite, and stay within the law.

  8. #8
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Things have changed. All are more concerned about privacy and security issues. I suggest you directly talk to them and ask for permission. If you have been denied then don't take the shot and simply walk away. Better be safe than sorry. Yeah, it's tougher for newbies like us to get better images but these images are still out there for the taking. You just have to be ingenious to look for it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Try looking into joining local photography clubs or taking a photography workshop to meet other enthusiasts. There is something said about going and being in numbers against the horde. When practicing, bring the minimal with you and focus on the task at hand. As Rob said "Be confident in yourself and stay within the laws". If you look nervous or paranoid, yes, you will draw more attention to yourself. In another mindset since digital cameras are popping up everywhere, I find more people look because of curiosity (especially those who uses dslrs over bridge or P&S) than malice or indignation of being photographed.

  10. #10
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    My friend and I used to go shooting/hiking/exploring together, or I would go with my brother. With two people, one of you can "pose" as a distraction. Most people on the street will not notice that you have a zoom going on or that you are actually aiming over the shoulder of the person who is "posing", and of course it is nice to have a friend in case you need some support, photo or otherwise.
    In the past I was always been careful to not take pictures that appear to be pictures of people's homes or children, since those subjects are pretty vulnerable to various (legitimate in some cases) fears. Until i got my current job which involves taking pictures of junk houses which i then tear down.
    I have to agree that the more Professional you look - camera bag, "big" camera, openly shooting or setting up to shoot, the less concerned people seem to be. The other thing that seems to help for me is the huge grin I tend to have on my face when i am out shooting, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom. I am not sure if it makes people think I am crazy and keeps them away, or that they think someone having that much fun is probably not "up to anything" but it seems to work.

    K

  11. #11

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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    If you are really, really worried, then I will suggest to you to go to your local news rag and make some photo contibutions, all the while getting to know some of the reporting staff. It won't take long before they recognize you for your contributions, and when asked, will give you a "Press Pass." It is amazing how that little white card hanging around your neck will get you into shooting situations others only dream of. I still have one, but I rarely use it anymore since I rarely shoot people shots these days. I know the law and like Rob, I always stay within its confines and shoot whatever I want.

  12. #12
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Speaking of press passes and the like. I had a friend who worked for various print media companies, including Time mag. He once gave me the advice that if I wanted to capture candid shots, without stressing people out, that I should let the camera hang where it would naturally and set the ap to have a long range and then just shoot with out lifting the camera to your face. This was actually back with our film cameras. It's amazing the shots you can get this way. Even without cropping!

    Then when I'm in a friendlier group I use the method (with digital) of taking soooooo many pictures everyone gets tired of worrying about you and forgets that your there. lol

  13. #13

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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    I have found that saying something like 'I'm just checking the light levels, it's a very complicated lighting situation around here' usually makes people relax.

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    Mario Xavier's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by b00gym4n View Post
    I just recently got into photography so I've been pretty much sharpening my skills by taking pictures of random things around my area. No one seems friendly and I feel a bit paranoid at times. A lot of people give me strange looks. For example, I was taking a picture of a water fountain where this couple were sitting at and the guy tells his gf "he better not be taking a ****ing picture of me". There's also this awkwardness while taking pictures in public... What can I do to overcome these small obstacles?
    I got strange looks yesterday too on my first venture out for pictures. At first I cared but I got over it. Calmly ignoring them as if the picture is more important worked for me. I was very open, obvious, and focused (more focused than my pictures were in focus lol). They don't know that I don't know what I'm doing so I presented myself as if I did it for a living. With that, more often than not people would hide, move, or act natural. One guy put his hand up like "wait" while he crossed my path. I paused and without much else other than a gentle nod of acknowledgment I continued as soon as he moved.

    Some of the strange looks were because of interest or intrigue also. Some other ideas are:

    • If you're the social type, ask as a courtesy.
    • If they appear unapproachable ignore their presence. Act with focus and throw some ear buds in to create the illusion that their protests won't be heard before the camera snaps anyway.
    • Snap a picture prematurely then follow it up with one as if you're getting it perfect.
    • Respond very slowly as if you're busy if someone comments and after the picture act casual and politely indifferent as you answer.
    • In confrontation say, "If I keep it you'll be cropped out anyway." and move along casually.
    • Use camera leveling, focus, lighting as an excuse.
    • If you get more resistance than that you should probably keep mace or a taser handy.

  15. #15
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Sure can feel like an alien sometimes when taking photo's, i do find myself missing some possible good photo opportunities due to this but keep telling myself that onlookers should not make me feel awkward about practising my hobby. Myself, as well as all of you I suspect, like to see others taking photo's and only look on in interest and will sometimes have a quick chat with the photographer. We should also realise that now with digital cameras and camera-phones that almost everyone carries a camera now and as such perhaps we should not feel awkward about snapping away to our hearts content. After all is said and done it is far better a pastime than spending all your spare time living on bloody 'facebook', that so many people seem to be pleased with themselves for doing, apparently it's sociable!!

    rant over

    Jon

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    I'm not bothered anymore; I don't go out looking for trouble but a favourite stupid thing they say round here is; 'if you take a picture of me it will break your camera'.
    Ha ha ha.
    If you break my camera it will cost you more than your car did.
    I think that is more funny, especially my new toy monopod with solid metal head.

    Some people are ever so funny, I don't know how they got to think they was important enough to be photographed, but you can see in my work they only get in by accident.

  17. #17

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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    I'm glad I am not the only one. Can anyone help me understand the laws in California a bit more on shooting photos? I had no idea there were any, besides the obvious ones such as looking through peoples windows and etc.

  18. #18
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    One of my businesses is a journalism stringer outfit. I carry a clip-on badge with my business card on one side and a "PRESS" tag on the other. Works well. I have had to turn it to the press side only a couple of times in the past. The business card works quite well, even when covering the occasional police involved situation.

    I do recommend that you furnish the occasional photo to the local press, so they will know who you are. I have also taken the occasional print to the police office and handed them over, when I get something which says "Job well done!" They seem to like to post such on their bulletin boards and my logo is on the print. (Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am rather sneaky. )

    Pops

  19. #19

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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    I'm not bothered anymore; I don't go out looking for trouble but a favourite stupid thing they say round here is; 'if you take a picture of me it will break your camera'.
    Ha ha ha.
    If you break my camera it will cost you more than your car did.
    I think that is more funny, especially my new toy monopod with solid metal head.

    Some people are ever so funny, I don't know how they got to think they was important enough to be photographed, but you can see in my work they only get in by accident.
    Depends on how big they are or how many of them there are compared to me...sometimes, common sense takes precedent over "right to."
    Someone remarked about the laws in CA. Having not lived there in many years, I cannot say for certain, but the general rule of thumb is: if what or who you are shooting is in a public venue (such as a park, downtown sidewalk, road right-of-way), they/it are fair game. Shooting a picture of someone's house/windows, inside their car on private property is an absolute no-no. Given today's paranoia regarding shooting children's pics, it is always best to ask. In one of the new mini competition posts today, I posted an image where I had inadvertently shot a picture of a little girl on a piece of public park gym equipment. I could have just kept the shot and said nothing given the location, but in deference to her father who was standing nearby, I showed him the camera shot and asked him if he wanted me to delete the image. Fortunately, he said no but did give me an email address to send a copy to. In this case, we both won.
    The best part of valor in all cases when shooting, even in public places is, if you can't be discrete, be sure to be very careful.
    Last edited by MiniChris; 12th December 2010 at 06:20 AM.

  20. #20
    JK6065's Avatar
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    Re: Getting strange looks for taking pictures.

    Then what do you think would be better to do?

    Using my canon 400d with only a canon 50mm f/1.8 which is about the size of a four thirds camera to go fairly unnoticed. Or take that same 400d and put on my canon 17-40mm L with lens hood and a batterygrip to the body to give me a more professional look because of the larger camera?

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