I’ve calmed down and maybe shouldn’t have got as angry has I did. I was in the market square the other day with a friend of mine. We had our SLR cameras and were snapping away for a personal photo project when a gentleman approached me and was pointing his finger at my camera.
“You didn’t ask my for my permission”, “permission for what?” I asked,
“to take my photograph”.
I told him that we don’t need his permission, despite the fact that we hadn’t taken any pictures of him.Again he repeated the same statement but emphasising each word “you-didn’t-ask-for-my-permission”. Again I told him that we didn’t need to ask permission and that I was quite within my right to use my camera in public.
But it wasn’t the annoying ‘I know better than you attitude’ that had that made me angry. It was the way in which he approached us. My friend is six foot tall and was standing next to me. And the gentleman only needed to be polite and civil but instead he was thinking he could win an argument by approaching and getting in my face because I was lower than him, sitting in my wheelchair. He could have easily approached my friend but he didn’t. He chose to engage me in this cowardly way. What he didn’t account for is he would have been safer to engage my six foot friend!
As he raised his voice, in response to us telling him that he was wrong, I raised mine.
Anyway, it turned into a slanging match and no one won really. If he had approached us and politely spoke to us we would have been able to convince him that we were right by looking the law up on our phones.
I can appreciate that some people don’t like having their photo taken and if we had taken any photos of people we would ask their permission first out of politeness. But the images we were taking were of inanimate objects.
The law states that we have the right to take photos in a public place. There are some restrictions for example you can take a photo of private property if it is viewable from a public space unless it relates to national security.
What this gentlemen didn’t realise was that 95% of people in that market square has a camera with them. If someone took photos with their camera phone do you think this chap would have been so concerned as he was with us and our SLR cameras? I think not.
For more information with regards to the rights of the photographer please read the UK Photographers Rights guide. Written by Macpherson LL.B, Dip. L.P., LL.M is a freelance legal consultant specialising in Media Law and Intellectual Property Law. She is also a part-time law lecturer and has presented seminars on law for photographers.