After reading Sfiso’s article on ‘The Unwelcome Camera‘, I wanted to write a follow on from a slightly different perspective. I experienced something unusual while having breakfast at a popular coffee shop. Those who know me, know that I capture my days in pictures. I do this so I can have something to help me remember what used to make me tick when I was young and did more than read the paper on a Sunday.
I had the manager of this said coffee shop approach me and question my intentions. I got asked why I was photographing my cup of coffee and my breakfast. It is apparently seen as somewhat threatening due to competition and likes. I had never experienced this and quietly put my camera away, gulped the coffee and shovelled the sandwich I had ordered just to get out there. I wanted to suggest a sign that said “Please do not photograph our food”.
I then went on the Gautrain and I asked if I could take photo’s. I was told only once on the train and with my Mobile Phone. I snuck a few DSLR snaps in though. So I ask the question, what makes a DSLR different to a Mobile Phone camera? My partner visited one of his manufacturing plants, he was asked if he had a camera, his response was; “yes, my phone has one”. That was not a problem. After much thought, I understood this sense of reasoning less and less. I understand that from a security perspective, images of entrances and exits put the place at risk, etc. I have also read that the quality is better of a DSLR and the images can be sold. I beg to differ, I have seen some amazing photographs taken with an iPhone. But that is a different debate.
I am not a technical person, but I do know that exif data is stored in the photo file, the phones these days are smart enough to store GPS co-ordinates too. I can look as though I am typing a text message, but really be taking a photo of something I shouldn’t be and then sending it on to someone. If I take a photo with my DSLR, I have to get home and upload the images, if I shoot in raw, I have to process them and the list of activities go on (This is assuming I don’t carry around a laptop and internet connection). I am aware that you can get a GPS receiver for SLR’s, but there are still a few more activities that need to happen before you can publish or send it out. So why the fuss when you see someone carrying a SLR when almost everyone is armed with a Mobile phone?
What scares me even more is that you can take images with your phone and upload the image along with your facebook status saying, “Home all alone, snuggled up warm with red wine and a movie”, the image you uploaded from your phone contains the GPS co-ordinates of exactly where you are and it’s almost a live feed for any potential predator out there. Scary isn’t it?
I read up a few basic laws surrounding photography, there are not that many that apply specifically to photography, which still leaves all this a little grey for me. I just took one or two main points from what I found:
And I quote:
• “Privacy law allows for photographer to take pictures in any public space. You have the right to take photos of anyone or anything if it can be seen from a public area.”
• “Any work to be used commercially must have a model release signed even if they are a celebrity or public figure and they were photographed in a public place.”
TRESPASS LAW: (I suppose this would apply to the Gautrain and the Coffee Shop)
• “Once we leave public domain and enter private property we are subject to their rights of admission”
• “Most shopping centres for example have “no photography’ signage posted at all their entrances and they have the right to revoke access. Many places seem like public areas but are in fact privately owned like the Cape Town Water Front or Melrose Arch.”
• “These centres and their security guards are well within their right to prevent you from shooting within these spaces, and if they wish they are entitled to ask you to leave the premise. They may not however confiscate equipment, destroy images or detain you in any way whatsoever.”
• “The act of taking the image is legal the act of trespass is not. This is true for shopping centres, private residence, hotels, businesses, shops and inside a building’s lobby” • “Many photographers get upset when security allows many people access to events with personal cameras and cell phone cameras, but intervene when you try bringing in a DSLR camera or they spot a tripod. As soon as they see any kit that is slightly better than your average compact they deny access”
• “There are also Trademark issues and laws that come into play, especially at sporting events.”
So the next time to want to start snapping, take the above into consideration and remember there is a fine line and best to ask before crossing it.