The Best Thing to Do as a Photographer is to Stick Up for Your Rights
The above photo was taken by Jeremy Brooks, a friend of mine and very talented and prolific photographer. Like me, Jeremy shoots daily and his travels take him in many of the places in the City where I spend time as well.
So I was disappointed to see the photo above posted to Jeremy’s Zooomr Stream. The photo above is of a shopkeeper in the Tenderloin District who literally pushed Jeremy’s camera when he was trying to shoot the store. The thing is that the man has no legal authority to prohibit Jeremy from taking photographs from a public sidewalk and as such is imposing himself on Jeremy’s Constitutional rights of free speech.
I get told not to take photos of things in public constantly. Pretty much every single week. Sometimes it’s by guys like this. Other times its by security guards. Sometimes it’s just by random people on the street. Sometimes it’s by asshole cigar store owners named Anto Kamarian. I try to assess each situation individually, but where I can, I try to be polite but insist on my right to shoot. I do this because most people don’t. Most people cave. And I think it’s important that people like Jeremy and others stand up for their rights to shoot from public places.
It takes guts to take a photo of someone when they are pushing themselves on you and stepping all over your rights, but I’m glad Jeremy took the photo above. It helps to get the message out and make the guy above look like an ass. I’m not sure where this is but if I see the same store in my travels out walking I’ll be sure and stop by to shoot a bit there myself.
People like the guy above need to learn that they can’t hassle photographers for doing what is their right to do. And they don’t learn this lesson because 95% of the time people just acquiesce and give into authority that they assume but don’t actually hold.
Do you want to make the world a better place for others out there who are shooting with you? Then do like Jeremy did and stand up to bullys like the guy above.
You do have to be safe though too. If you are out there, especially all alone, and some crazy whacked out guy on drugs starts giving you crap, every so often you just need to cave and walk away. This photography thing of ours isn’t worth getting killed over. But when you can, I’m glad to see people like Jeremy sticking up for their rights.