Have You Ever Been Accosted In Such A Way During Street Photography

Messages
1,430
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
Morning all,

So, I was out and about in London yesterday and eventually found myself in Stratford, and walking across the bridge from the Westfield Shopping Centre, towards Stratford Bus Station.

Either side of the bridge, we huge posters, advertising (I think) cars, with a strapline of 'I am more than one thing'

Brilliant, I thought. I can try and catch people walking by, maybe catch two people in frame to push the comedic value (I know, not that exciting).

Anyway, after i'd taken about 3 or 4 shots, a lady came up to me and confronted me. Judging by the heavy cockney accent, she was probably local to the area.

She asked me if I was taking pictures of people and I thought it best to tell a white lie and said I no, I was taking pictures of the poster, of which she said, no you weren't, as I saw you taking them.

Then she started getting abusive (quite loud), told me to delete the images, told me she'd call the police, and then as I was deciding it was best to walk away, again loudly, called me a 'f**king pervert and nonce'.

Now, I can cope with most, but this last bit really scared me. I think I was lucky as the majority of people around were maybe shoppers and tourists, but if there had been many locals around, I reckon they could well have turned against me, which made me a bit worried.

So, anyone else been in this sort of position? I can cope with anyone confronting me for all the right reasons just to question their rights, but to be accused of something like that in a public place made me feel very uncomfortable.

I'd be interested on others opinions

Thanks
 
Messages
2,072
Edit My Images
No
#2
It doesn’t surprise me; of course you were within your rights to photograph in a public place but people like that are ignorant of the law and leap to poor conclusions.

If a police officer had been around, an informed one would have done the right thing. Although you couldn’t demonstrate not taking photos of people after telling the ranting woman you hadn’t - not that you would have been obliged to do so. It is tricky. Her threatening behaviour now... that could be cause for complaint against her. I was told by a member of a surf life saving club that it was absolutely against the law to photograph on beaches in Australia. My lawyer friend later told me it was nonsense but I walked away as his ignorance could have inflamed those around me. As she said “there is no arguing with stupid.”
 
Messages
121
Edit My Images
No
#3
I've been in a very similar situation.... I was on the outskirts of Leeds city centre early on a Saturday morning and was crouched on one knee on a quiet cobbled street about to press the shutter when a woman walked from another side street and straight into the shot. She was probably about 50m away from me but saw me and shouted to her friend that a papparazzi had just taken her photo. They were obviously returning from a night out so I guessed any interaction was probably not going to go well so I stood up and turned to walk in the opposite direction at which point she shouted "Oi..... You pervert". I carried on walking away and luckily nothing more happened but I agree with your sentiment that when people start shouting things like "pervert" and "nonce" it gets very disconcerting.

This is the photo I was trying to take just before she came into shot from the right......

Monochrome Street
by DB 72, on Flickr

Just to add to this..... It seems to me that the general public feel threatened if someone is taking a photo of them using a dedicated camera but don't think twice when there are people all around them taking photos using their phone, which is making me want to upgrade my phone because I'm sure it would allow me to get some shots that otherwise I just wouldn't get due to wanting to avoid situations like you describe.
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,478
Name
Dave
Edit My Images
No
#4
I was pointing my camera up a tree when a woman shouted across the street 'I hope your not photographing my child'. I gave her my best 'you're a f*****g idiot' stare. As yet I've not got into a dispute.

Being accosted by a drunk asking to have his photo taken was more traumatic!
 
Messages
1,144
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#7
Not really accosted but made me laugh.
A few years ago my camera club did a slide exchange with an American Camera Club.
Idea was to go out and photograph some local historic buildings, parks etc.
I was photographing an old building but there is a monstrosity of a skyscraper behind it so I had to move around to get a better composition, blocking the skyscraper.
There was a group of around 10 guys drinking outside one of the pubs in the sunshine.
Suddenly, one shouted "LOOK OUT BOYS, HERES A C*** WITH A CAMERA!!"
Well, they all got up out of they're chairs and scarpered, knocking over tables and pint glasses in the process.
Funniest thing was, a few of them had walking sticks and crutches tucked under they're arm and could have given Usain Bolt a run for his money!! :LOL::LOL::LOL:
 
Messages
121
Edit My Images
No
#8
Morning all,

Anyway, after i'd taken about 3 or 4 shots, a lady came up to me and confronted me. Judging by the heavy cockney accent, she was probably local to the area.

She asked me if I was taking pictures of people and I thought it best to tell a white lie and said I no, I was taking pictures of the poster, of which she said, no you weren't, as I saw you taking them.

Then she started getting abusive (quite loud), told me to delete the images, told me she'd call the police, and then as I was deciding it was best to walk away, again loudly, called me a 'f**king pervert and nonce'.

Thanks
Ian..... Did you delete the images or keep them ?
 
Messages
40
Name
Phil Maddocks
Edit My Images
No
#11
I'd of just been honest and explained the exact shot you were going for. " I am a street photographer and am photographing that poster where it says "I am more than one thing", but am trying to catch two people walking past it at the same time because its ironic". I think that would have thrown her right off. If you are vague, people often fill in the blanks with their own imagination.
 
Messages
13
Name
David
Edit My Images
No
#12
I sometimes take street photos in London with my son escorting me but have never had a problem. My son was threatened by a hotel security man when he was talking shots in the street nearby during the Olympics. The security guard threatening to smash his camera. At that moment a plain clothed senior police officer stepped forward and told the security officer that he had already committed a criminal offence and to clear off or be arrested. The senior officer confirmed that my son had every right to photograph the scene and asked a uniformed constable to look out for him. Most times I take street photography, I am with at least one other camera club member. It is very rare for anyone to object but, if they do, we respect their wishes. As others have said, it is not unusual for odd characters to insist you photograph them; we always do as it does no harm and sometimes you get a great shot.

Dave
 
Messages
19,955
Name
Alan
Edit My Images
No
#13
I was pointing my camera up a tree when a woman shouted across the street 'I hope your not photographing my child'. I gave her my best 'you're a f*****g idiot' stare. As yet I've not got into a dispute.

Being accosted by a drunk asking to have his photo taken was more traumatic!
I was doing the same when some teenage lads came past and one snarled and asked if I'd just taken his picture. I don't think it's that they're stupid, I think it's more like they're just looking for an excuse to go off on someone. IMO. I've also been called a pervert and a paedophile and there's always the looks from women if I'm taking pictures in the park and Mrs WW isn't stood next to me.

Things were ok yesterday and I even had a few chats but one woman was clearly in accusation mode even though it was obvious what I was doing, taking pictures of flowers, but luckily Mrs WW was just behind her so I just walked over to her and we walked off holding hands to the surprise the woman who'd made her mind up that I was a weirdo of some sort.
 
Messages
1,320
Name
Soeren
Edit My Images
Yes
#14
Morning all,

So, I was out and about in London yesterday and eventually found myself in Stratford, and walking across the bridge from the Westfield Shopping Centre, towards Stratford Bus Station.

Either side of the bridge, we huge posters, advertising (I think) cars, with a strapline of 'I am more than one thing'

Brilliant, I thought. I can try and catch people walking by, maybe catch two people in frame to push the comedic value (I know, not that exciting).

Anyway, after i'd taken about 3 or 4 shots, a lady came up to me and confronted me. Judging by the heavy cockney accent, she was probably local to the area.

She asked me if I was taking pictures of people and I thought it best to tell a white lie and said I no, I was taking pictures of the poster, of which she said, no you weren't, as I saw you taking them.

Then she started getting abusive (quite loud), told me to delete the images, told me she'd call the police, and then as I was deciding it was best to walk away, again loudly, called me a 'f**king pervert and nonce'.

Now, I can cope with most, but this last bit really scared me. I think I was lucky as the majority of people around were maybe shoppers and tourists, but if there had been many locals around, I reckon they could well have turned against me, which made me a bit worried.

So, anyone else been in this sort of position? I can cope with anyone confronting me for all the right reasons just to question their rights, but to be accused of something like that in a public place made me feel very uncomfortable.

I'd be interested on others opinions

Thanks
Well tell the truth as you are not doing anything wrong instead of denying and give the impression you are and know it.
I once had a drunk being anoyed of me not wanting to take her picture to the point where she kicked my tripod ( back then a Manfrotto 058)
apparantly hurting her foot, I saw her the next day, limping :)
 
Last edited:
Messages
801
Name
Richard
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
I've done a few jobs which have meant I've been taking photos in different cities and each time I've taken the missus with me, the one time I haven't I didn't feel as comfortable as I do with her there.
No-one has even approached me (apart from a train spotter who tried to talk to me about trains..)

Surprised no one did last couple of weekends when I've been shooting at the United promotion parties, just in among drunk football fans thought something might be said.
 
Messages
340
Edit My Images
No
#17
I don't think we have a god-given right to photography anyone going about their daily business; it's a luxury.
On the other hand: no-one has a god given right to harrass and bully others. On the rare occassions this has happened to me I've just ignored them. So far they've just wondered off.
 
Messages
3,521
Name
Ian
Edit My Images
No
#18
Some people are just nobs.

When you think of how stupid the average person is; realise that half of all people are stupider than that.
This always makes me realise that it's often best to just walk away
 
Messages
3,594
Edit My Images
Yes
#19
Last year I had a woman ask me "Did you take a photo of us just then" while I was taking some street shots. I replied "No, not that I'm aware of" (an honest reply), to which she seemed to look slightly relieved. I then put on an inquisitive expression and asked her "Why, would you like me to take a photo?" The role was reversed and she laughed rather coyly and said "Oh, no thank you" and left very quickly. This made me think, perhaps wrongly, that she perhaps might not have wanted people to know the identity of the man she was walking along the street with. :whistle: That's one of the issues, you never know what motive people may have for not wanting their identity and location to be recorded.

The only other time I've been asked if I'd taken someone's photo was coincidentally later that same morning, when a young lady asked me if I'd taken a photo of her and the young man she was with. Once again I replied honestly and openly, saying I didn't know, explaining that I wasn't targeting them but as I'd taken a general view of the town square they might have been in the photo. It turned out they were just curious as to whether or not the photo was going to be in the local paper or such like, as they'd have looked out for it if it was.

I then explained that I liked to take street and documentary type photos, and that I couldn't check and show them the photos as I was using a film camera (showing them the film camera I was using to prove this was true). This turned into an interesting chat about photography; the young lady told me that her grandfather had some film cameras that he used (I laughed and said that made me feel old, which broke the ice still further), she then told me about a local history website which featured some old photos of the town.

So not all 'Did you just take my photo' challenges will be hostile, some people are probably going to be interested or just plain nosey, but you never know what's driving their interest in your activity. So I think it helps to be good at 'reading people' and judging the situation, and nipping it in the bud and defusing it if necessary, in case it escalates into an argument or worse.
 
Last edited:
Messages
5,119
Name
Garry
Edit My Images
Yes
#20
Then she started getting abusive (quite loud), told me to delete the images, told me she'd call the police, and then as I was deciding it was best to walk away, again loudly, called me a 'f**king pervert and nonce'.
If she said that so that other people can hear her (and possibly be incited to violent or abusive behaviour towards you), she's committed a public order offence and you would have been within your rights to make a complaint against her to the local police. And it might even turn out that she's already known to them.

I've only ever been asked once in 12 years of street photography if I've just taken a photo of someone, a woman who was walking towards me on the South Bank in London. I hadn't, and told her so. But if I had I would have asked if she wanted me to delete it, and I'd have deleted it in a way that she could see, with the back of the camera pointed in her direction. I don't do burst shots of people on the street and don't usually take more than one shot anyway, but if I had I'd delete those too.

It's just a photo, and there are plenty more to be had.

It's always advantageous to know what rights you have under law, and there's a free guide available in various places on the web, such as here. You might like to print it out and carry it with you and refer to it if you're challenged in future. And pass it on to others, too.

I hope it doesn't happen again, but if it does a knowledge of the law, together with honesty, politeness, and an explanation of what you're actually doing, ought to be enough to keep you safe.
 
Messages
11,197
Name
Keith
Edit My Images
No
#22
I have only been challenged twice ever when taking photos in public, thankfully.

One time it was security from a local shopping centre; I was taking photos of a building across from where they patrolled, 3, yes 3 of them approached me and started asking questions. I told them exactly what I was doing, taking photos for a project on graphical lines, which had them scratch their heads - I showed them the images, the building had interesting lines and shapes - it was an all metal and glass modern design - I'd passed it many times and when this competition turned up in a magazine I knew I'd be getting artsy pics of it. Anyway, they spewed some rubbish about it being a private road and taking photos wasn't allowed - I hit them back with a hard fact and some law - it was not a private road but a very public one and they had zero power once they left the land owned by the shopping centre. I must have rattled it off without a stutter because they backed down and even wished me luck with the competition. One amusing thing to note was I was pushing a buggy at the time with a small child in, I asked them did they think this was my cover? or my accomplice? :D

The other time didn't go so smoothly, it was in a bar pretty late into the night, a lot of drink taken by all - I was taking photos of some friends when a loud mouth POS had started to kick off trying to start a row with just about anyone. I aimed the camera at him and took a picture, I don't know why, maybe in the moment I thought it would diffuse the situation and he'd see the funny side - nope! He came storming toward me firing a couple of bar stools across the floor on his way. Well, I was at least a foot taller than him and probably weighed triple of what the skinny little tool did so stood my ground firm. He got right up to my face and demanded I deleted the picture. I didn't, I tested him right back with a "make me" ... the barman had come around by this point and pulled the guy away, had a stern word and escorted him to the door [no security in there at the time] - soon as he left I deleted the picture because he was an ugly looking yoke anyway :ROFLMAO: And yes, I know it might have been a dumb way to handle it, but like I say drink taken by all inc me, and I wasn't about to be spoken at like that. If he'd actually just asked politely [fat chance from an angry drunk] I might have obliged so long as he calmed down.

The only times besides these incidents I have been stopped by people when taking pictures was to ask if I worked for a paper, would I take their picture or was I the guy that ran the FB group for photos of the area ..
 
Messages
11,197
Name
Keith
Edit My Images
No
#23
This thread reminds me of a story I heard about a well known street photographer (possibly Bruce Gilden?). A woman apparently came over and rather aggressively challenged him "Did you just take my photograph"? To which he replied, "No, I just took my photograph!". :giggle:
I like this, I'm using it if this kind of situation ever arises
 
Messages
3,433
Name
Dave
Edit My Images
Yes
#24
I have once, but not in the manner of the OP.

Years back I took a photo of a building that I worked on as part of my job. Not a particularly great building and an even less impressive image. But the building managed came out to make a fuss saying that I was not allowed to take photos of the building and after explaining myself and his incorrect assumption of what powers he had he then proceeded to stand in front of the building to ensure that I couldn't get a clean image.

I took a few shots anyway and while packing up he demanded my business card so that he could get in touch with my boss to make a complaint. I obliged, gave him my card as well as my bosses and that same afternoon in came his email. My boss gave him quite a blunt response with me copied in, and I followed up a couple of days later with one of the mages in which he was 'ruining' the shot, along with a copy of him photoshoped out.
 
Messages
33,093
Edit My Images
No
#25
I thought it best to tell a white lie and said I no, I was taking pictures of the poster,
That was a mistake ... you are within your rights to take photographs in public places and if you hadn't lied she wouldn't have been able to pursue the issue in the way she did.
 
Messages
11,197
Name
Keith
Edit My Images
No
#26
That was a mistake ... you are within your rights to take photographs in public places and if you hadn't lied she wouldn't have been able to pursue the issue in the way she did.
Agreed, lyiing only makes you seem guilty - I'd be straight up about it 'Yes, I'm a street photographer, it's what I do' - if you have to throw out a white lie to feel more comfortable then add that you're shooting for some publication, you'd be surprised how even a loud mouth might take more interest
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,575
Edit My Images
No
#27
I remember when I got my iPhone 6 years ago I was waiting for a friend by the Bull in Birmingham and decided to test the time-lapse mode and right away some crazy woman starting shouting at me saying I was a pervert taking photos of the kids. Nevermind the hundreds of people that take photos at the Bull every single day.
 
Messages
21,939
Edit My Images
Yes
#28
I'd of just been honest and explained the exact shot you were going for. " I am a street photographer and am photographing that poster where it says "I am more than one thing", but am trying to catch two people walking past it at the same time because its ironic". I think that would have thrown her right off. If you are vague, people often fill in the blanks with their own imagination.
Ah the enthusiast approach, bore them with so much detail they just think you're sad and walk off :) "No don't go, let me show you these 20+ photos of the same shot that I'll combine in post into a stunning image using.....Bye"
 
OP
OP
IanD
Messages
1,430
Edit My Images
Yes
#29
Thanks very much everyone, for your replies. Some very informative, interesting and amusing tales of being accosted! At the very least, this all makes me feel a lot better.

I think the obvious mistake pointed out to me, was that I should have been totally honest at the time but I was really taken aback by being confronted in such a way. Definitely should have explained to the woman what I was attempting to achieve - I think I would have lost her at the first sentence.

In any other situation when being confronted, I think I would have been ok, and this has certainly given me a lot of confidence moving forward, to be able to rise to the occasion and talk my way out of it in a much better way

With regards to comments about getting a police officer involved, on thinking about the situation after the event, I was more worried that things could have escalated quickly before police officers could arrive, and I would have been in big trouble. Thankfully it didn't.

I think with parks and places where there are lots of children in such an environment, i'd not even consider taking images. Would worry me way too much.

@garryknight - i've seen lots of your street photography over many years on the various forums, and i'm surprised but also grateful to hear, that you've only been approached once in 12 years. Maybe I just got unlucky eh :(
 
Last edited:
Messages
587
Name
Kell
Edit My Images
Yes
#30
I think what this thread throws up more than anything is that some people are just arseholes spoiling for a fight.

I think you're on thin ice if you point your camera anywhere near where there are kids - despite any protestations of innocence - but anything other than that they don't have a leg to stand on.

I've not found anyone be aggressive, I've only ever encountered the jokers who think they're funny by pretending to moon at the camera (or actually mooning at the camera) and generally larking about. Funnily enough as mentioned above, the more serious the camera looks*, the more likely it is you'll get a moron trying to be the class joker.

*Not that any of my cameras have ever been 'professional' but to the everyman, I guess they look like pro cameras.

ETA: Actually, a few years ago we went to the London Dungeon and I wanted to take some pictures when we came out - as it's almost opposite the Houses of Parliament and I thought it would make a good backdrop. It was dark, so I had my wife and daughter lined up and took a couple of shots with some flash. One of the security guards from a property along there came and told me I couldn't use flash anywhere along that stretch. I could take photos, but no flash. Apparently.

I figured that was probably bull, so I just waited till he'd wandered off and then took another couple.
 
Last edited:
Messages
11,197
Name
Keith
Edit My Images
No
#32
I think what this thread throws up more than anything is that some people are just arseholes spoiling for a fight.

I think you're on thin ice if you point your camera anywhere near where there are kids - despite any protestations of innocence - but anything other than that they don't have a leg to stand on.

I've not found anyone be aggressive, I've only ever encountered the jokers who think they're funny by pretending to moon at the camera (or actually mooning at the camera) and generally larking about. Funnily enough as mentioned above, the more serious the camera looks*, the more likely it is you'll get a moron trying to be the class joker.

*Not that any of my cameras have ever been 'professional' but to the everyman, I guess they look like pro cameras.

ETA: Actually, a few years ago we went to the London Dungeon and I wanted to take some pictures when we came out - as it's almost opposite the Houses of Parliament and I thought it would make a good backdrop. It was dark, so I had my wife and daughter lined up and took a couple of shots with some flash. One of the security guards from a property along there came and told me I couldn't use flash anywhere along that stretch. I could take photos, but no flash. Apparently.

I figured that was probably bull, so I just waited till he'd wandered off and then took another couple.

It is bull, you should have asked him 'who made you the Lord of light?' :D
 
Messages
1,113
Name
Redsnappa
Edit My Images
No
#34
I've been asked many times "did you just take a picture of me" never in a malicious way though. My standard reply is that I'm always my street photography is me seeking to creating interesting photos of interesting people. From this I've had very pleasant chats with complete strangers about my photography and bored a fair few strangers by showing them my website. I have not once had a angry encounter even when last winter I did a couple of sessions of very intrusive night street photography using a wide angle zoom and flash.
I'm a fairly easy going smiley type of guy I'm not the angry snarly Bruce Gilden type of photographer. When I get approached by security guards I don't go on the defensive, I explain what I am doing, bore them to death by showing them the pictures, move on and if necessary go back and take the pictures another time as I know security guard are not well paid thus the staff turn over is high meaning the chances of meeting the same security guard is almost zilch.
 
Messages
10,913
Name
Rich
Edit My Images
Yes
#35
Playing devil's advocate now, why do you think it's OK to upset somebody just so you can enjoy your hobby?
This lady obviously didn't want her picture taken so what's the harm in respecting her wishes.

How about I live next door to you and I enjoy playing my electric guitar.
You ask me to give it a rest, but I reply it's not illegal and I'm only enjoying my hobby
 
Last edited:
Messages
121
Edit My Images
No
#36
Playing devil's advocate now, why do you think it's OK to upset somebody just so you can enjoy your hobby?
This lady obviously didn't want her picture taken so what's the harm in respecting her wishes.

How about I live next door to you and I enjoy playing my electric guitar.
You ask me to give it a rest, but I reply it's not illegal and I'm only enjoying my hobby
If you were only going to do this once then I guess the OP might not be bothered. It's not like he was stalking the woman and taking her photo every day... It was a one off incidental meeting.
 
Messages
507
Name
Darryl
Edit My Images
No
#37
Playing devil's advocate now, why do you think it's OK to upset somebody just so you can enjoy your hobby?
This lady obviously didn't want her picture taken so what's the harm in respecting her wishes.

How about I live next door to you and I enjoy playing my electric guitar.
You ask me to give it a rest, but I reply it's not illegal and I'm only enjoying my hobby
You're right in one respect, I'm no there to annoy people, if someone protests I respect their wishes.

Also, your guitar may not be illegal, but it could sure get you in trouble.
 
Messages
10,913
Name
Rich
Edit My Images
Yes
#38
If you were only going to do this once then I guess the OP might not be bothered. It's not like he was stalking the woman and taking her photo every day... It was a one off incidental meeting.
I get no pleasure out of anything that causes others distress, so sorry I don't buy into this it's legal so argo
 
Messages
10,913
Name
Rich
Edit My Images
Yes
#39
You're right in one respect, I'm no there to annoy people, if someone protests I respect their wishes.

Also, your guitar may not be illegal, but it could sure get you in trouble.
Just an analogy, no guitar here :)
 
Messages
1,179
Name
Tim
Edit My Images
Yes
#40
I find street photography very hard and the privacy rules where I live are pretty strict so I’m careful about that. It’s quite touristy and the only approaches I’ve had are people asking me to take their picture...takes all sorts.
 
Top