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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Mob rule and taking photos on the road
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03/28/2015 05:45:26 PM · #1
I can't tell you just how disturbed I am by this story. //www.wvva.com/story/28617658/2015/03/25/controversy-over-out-of-state-photographers-in-mcdowell-co

Let me tell you why.

Two and a half weeks ago I went out for a morning walk, taking photos of the foggy morning as I walked the 2 mile "block" I live on. At one point, as I was taking a photo a school bus pulled up next to me and stopped. I squeezed off a single photo of the front of the bus thinking it was a perfect "stock photo"...

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I continued walking and shooting for the next 20-30 minutes. I was less than a 1/4 mile from home when a police car slowed behind me after I'd crossed the road. I waved, thinking he was going to caution me for crossing the way I did, but he then pulled across the road, blocking me and pointing for me to take a step off the road. He exited the vehicle and asked what I was doing. I told him I was taking photos of the foggy morning. He asked if I had taken photos of and children. The school bus registered in my head and I told him, "I took a photo of the front of a school bus, but that's it. I know enough not to be taking photos of children." His response? "Do you watch Channel 69? You know there have been child abductions." Holy crap, here we go.

Within minutes I had 4 township cops questioning me because a kid on the bus told the bus driver "a man is taking pictures of kids getting on the bus!!", and the bus driver (doing their job) told the school principal who told both the police and the kids' mom. Nothing I did was illegal, and frankly it wasn't even inadvisable since I made sure I never once aimed the camera towards anyone on the bus. I was held against my will for 20 minutes within site of my house because of one fearful kid and lack of ID (who carries their wallet on a morning walk?!). I cooperated fully because it involved children, I showed my entire set of photographs to 3 different cops but still wasn't allowed to leave until one of them took an iPhone photo of my school bus photo that they could share with the mother (apparently my offer 10 minutes before that to have them take me to my house around the corner where I offered them a dump of my memory card wasn't sufficient).

I've been pissed every since, and a little concerned as I've yet to be able to ascertain if my name is listed on any report where a suspicious and angry parent can read it. With that said, after reading this I'm quite thankful that it was 4 cops that showed up and not the husband/boyfriend of a freaked out woman. This country has gone to sh*t, and it's not showing any sign of changing. We're all one pissed off, gun toting dumbass away from a dirt nap, and for a guy that always has a camera with him that's unbelievably scary. I hope some major civil rights attorney gets with this couple and sues the living hell out of those backward idiots and the cop who was ready to haul in the folks that don't look like they belong. Look, I get the desire to protect your kids, but this isn't how you do it.
03/28/2015 06:00:45 PM · #2
Totally cool shot.
Genuinely spine-chilling story.

Haven't even read the link yet as I'm sitting in stupefied incredulity at your encounter.

Thanks for sharing.
03/28/2015 06:04:31 PM · #3
When I was growing up, we laughed at the "savages in the wilderness" (wherever) who wouldn't allow photographs because they "thought photographers were stealing their souls."
Here we are.

Message edited by Bear_Music - add quotes.
03/28/2015 06:09:45 PM · #4
Originally posted by Zita:

Totally cool shot.
Genuinely spine-chilling story.

Haven't even read the link yet as I'm sitting in stupefied incredulity at your encounter.

Likewise. :-(
03/28/2015 06:39:49 PM · #5
And if you think that's bad, try using a drone...
03/28/2015 06:40:52 PM · #6
BTW this is McDowell County West Virginia, not a town named McDowell in Colorado. Not that it matters in terms of the story, but just that the link name is misleading and unless you pay special to the date line, you might not realize that for quite awhile.
03/28/2015 08:42:56 PM · #7
sadly, i've been there more times than i'd like to have been, and not just in the us.

this was about 7 ears ago. details are in the photo notes.

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03/28/2015 08:47:19 PM · #8
I love the extremes this society goes to. On one hand we have people paranoid over the danger of people with cameras. Then we have folks that believe the ultimate safety is everyone toting a live handgun around. I just hope these aren't the same people.
03/28/2015 09:08:34 PM · #9
Wow! WOW!

That's a nightmare, Jake!

Insanity prevails.

I understand a parent's issues, but... cameras are legal. If you're in public, you might get shot.

Let's just hope they let us keep our cameras and our guns... just in case there are bad guys out there with them, too.

03/28/2015 09:13:50 PM · #10
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

I love the extremes this society goes to. On one hand we have people paranoid over the danger of people with cameras. Then we have folks that believe the ultimate safety is everyone toting a live handgun around. I just hope these aren't the same people.


more than you might think?
03/28/2015 10:28:28 PM · #11
Sorry this happened to you. Very sad indeed. You know what is sadder? The disgusting epidemic of child porn and sex trafficking. Until those issues are dealt with, photographers will be the scapegoats.
03/28/2015 10:28:43 PM · #12
Very scary - both your own encounter and that of the Camps.
03/28/2015 11:47:44 PM · #13
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

I love the extremes this society goes to. On one hand we have people paranoid over the danger of people with cameras. Then we have folks that believe the ultimate safety is everyone toting a live handgun around. I just hope these aren't the same people.

Yeah, that.
03/29/2015 02:05:34 AM · #14
I had an disagreement with a friend last week when I mentioned how much I was enjoying watching the neighborhood children play from my home office. I commented that I needed to go introduce myself to the family and ask if they would be ok with me taking some photos of their kids building a fort on an empty lot between our houses. My non-photographer friend insisted that I needed to get a signed release from the parents before taking photos of their kids. I explained that the law allowed photos to be shot from public places and that unless I was selling the images for profit no written release was required. Reading the experiences of these photographers who were taking appropriate photos has me reconsidering my response. Both experiences are disturbing.
03/29/2015 02:12:20 AM · #15
Yep, sounds about right. Do you read my NM Police thread? Feel free to add this in there, it'd be a welcome topic.

I understand they have a job to do, but they often find themselves engaged in ridiculous behavior IMO.
03/29/2015 06:59:49 AM · #16
Originally posted by tanguera:

Sorry this happened to you. Very sad indeed. You know what is sadder? The disgusting epidemic of child porn and sex trafficking. Until those issues are dealt with, photographers will be the scapegoats.


Far, far worse, indeed, though when you consider the facts about human trafficking it's difficult to put photographers in the cross-hairs of much of that. It's difficult for me to process the idea that a middle aged man with a camera is now the stereotypical child predator. It almost makes me want to lay it down and take up golf again instead. Seriously.
03/29/2015 07:54:33 AM · #17
An unbelievable story, and also a truly sad one. We live in such stupid times.

I was photographing behind a school once for this shot ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1710/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1054440.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1710/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1054440.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' and three police officers walked passed and asked what I was doing, when I told them it was for a challenge they all wanted to be in it so I spent a few minutes shooting them as they passed over and over again.
03/29/2015 08:09:05 AM · #18
Next time polilty tell them unless they plan to arrest you and charge you with a crime that you will be on your way.

ETA. I realize the police were just doing their job but there was no need to harass you as long as they did.

Message edited by author 2015-03-29 08:14:38.
03/29/2015 09:48:03 AM · #19
Originally posted by Mike:

Next time polilty tell them unless they plan to arrest you and charge you with a crime that you will be on your way.

ETA. I realize the police were just doing their job but there was no need to harass you as long as they did.


To be clear, outside of the fact that I likely would have been threaten with cuffs were I to have simply walked away, I never felt harassed, merely extremely inconvenienced. I've lived in this town for 22 years and have no desire to create an antagonistic relationship with the police now. Had it been someone who said I was photographing their house or car I would have scoffed and been on my way, but given that it was dealing with a child and had been reported through a chain of command from bus driver to principal to police I was more than happy to try and cooperate - I just didn't think it would take 20 minutes and 4 cops, and have no idea why I had to remain there while they calmed the mother's fears remotely given that they'd seen my photos.

Our next door neighbor's son in-law is a township cop and I plan on having a conversation with him about it next time I catch him there. He's usually there on Sundays but the weather has made it such that I haven't been outside to catch him.
03/29/2015 10:55:31 AM · #20
Originally posted by backdoorhippie:

Originally posted by tanguera:

Sorry this happened to you. Very sad indeed. You know what is sadder? The disgusting epidemic of child porn and sex trafficking. Until those issues are dealt with, photographers will be the scapegoats.


Far, far worse, indeed, though when you consider the facts about human trafficking it's difficult to put photographers in the cross-hairs of much of that. It's difficult for me to process the idea that a middle aged man with a camera is now the stereotypical child predator. It almost makes me want to lay it down and take up golf again instead. Seriously.


Never said it made sense :(

On a positive (albeit twisted) note, this is one of those few times there is an advantage to being a woman...
03/29/2015 11:24:15 AM · #21
Originally posted by backdoorhippie:



To be clear, outside of the fact that I likely would have been threaten with cuffs were I to have simply walked away, I never felt harassed, merely extremely inconvenienced. I've lived in this town for 22 years and have no desire to create an antagonistic relationship with the police now. Had it been someone who said I was photographing their house or car I would have scoffed and been on my way, but given that it was dealing with a child and had been reported through a chain of command from bus driver to principal to police I was more than happy to try and cooperate - I just didn't think it would take 20 minutes and 4 cops, and have no idea why I had to remain there while they calmed the mother's fears remotely given that they'd seen my photos.

Our next door neighbor's son in-law is a township cop and I plan on having a conversation with him about it next time I catch him there. He's usually there on Sundays but the weather has made it such that I haven't been outside to catch him.


that is besides the point. You did nothing wrong and if at some point in your willingness to help them they decided that they have enough info to now haul you in you'd be in a bit more of a mess.

If cop stops you, ask them why you are being stopped and then proceed to tell them that that you are within your rights to be doing what you are doing and that you are sorry if its making someone uncomfortable but you are not breaking any laws.

The fact the you offered to delete the files is ludicrous, don't give them more power than they have.
03/29/2015 11:57:29 AM · #22
Originally posted by Mike:



that is besides the point. You did nothing wrong and if at some point in your willingness to help them they decided that they have enough info to now haul you in you'd be in a bit more of a mess.

If cop stops you, ask them why you are being stopped and then proceed to tell them that that you are within your rights to be doing what you are doing and that you are sorry if its making someone uncomfortable but you are not breaking any laws.

The fact the you offered to delete the files is ludicrous, don't give them more power than they have.


You may be right but if one considers the Terry Rule (and take into consideration that someone reported your activities to the police as being suspicious), I personally would be more inclined to cooperate to a certain degree as opposed to getting in their face.

Ray

Message edited by author 2015-03-29 11:58:09.
03/29/2015 12:13:49 PM · #23
Originally posted by RayEthier:

Originally posted by Mike:



that is besides the point. You did nothing wrong and if at some point in your willingness to help them they decided that they have enough info to now haul you in you'd be in a bit more of a mess.

If cop stops you, ask them why you are being stopped and then proceed to tell them that that you are within your rights to be doing what you are doing and that you are sorry if its making someone uncomfortable but you are not breaking any laws.

The fact the you offered to delete the files is ludicrous, don't give them more power than they have.


You may be right but if one considers the Terry Rule (and take into consideration that someone reported your activities to the police as being suspicious), I personally would be more inclined to cooperate to a certain degree as opposed to getting in their face.

Ray


i never said to get in their face but I'm skeptical that the police sometimes wont act on the public fears over what is in my best interest when knowing I did nothing wrong.

just because someone reports something you are doing as suspicious activity doesn't mean you need to go out of your way to alleviate the unfounded fears especially by deleting images you are within your rights to take.

Message edited by author 2015-03-29 12:14:28.
03/29/2015 12:27:04 PM · #24
The Photographer's Right -- a downloadable summary of your legal rights as a photographer from attorney Bert Krages.

ACLU's photography page

Links to a couple more PDFs (I haven't read these yet)
03/29/2015 12:43:48 PM · #25
Here we go!!!
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