DV Digital

Photos, videos, and general ramblings from myself. Content is king.

A Fear of Photography?

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Local photojournalist and all-around good guy Carlos Miller got me thinking recently after the last photo protest he staged in front of the Miami Herald building.

A lot of people have a fear of photography. And I really can’t figure out why. Sure, for some people I can see it. They’re doing something they probably shouldn’t be, and there’s scads of photographic recording devices around them, which may or may not be recording their actions. I encounter it out in the clubs from time to time. I like to shoot wide, as you can see above, and I may inadvertently capture someone doing something (or someone, ba-dum-ching…) they shouldn’t be.

It certainly isn’t deliberate on my part though. Whatever transgressions you may be committing, that’s your problem and not mine. I’m not out to ruin your life, since it appears that you’re quite capable of doing that on your own. And no, I won’t delete it. You are a noisy red smear at the bottom of the frame. And you probably shouldn’t be cheating on your pretty wife in front of thousands of people and about that many cameras.

But, that’s just with crackheads in nightclubs, which, fortunately, form a small minority of our population.

The real head-scratcher is the people who get worked up over photography in public places. If you can see it from a public location, you can shoot it, it’s that simple. I don’t buy the national security bit or anything of that nature. If I take a photo of the refinery near Fort Lauderdale airport, the photo, other than a creative piece, tells me nothing. It’s a collection of pipes. It won’t aid a terrorist in planning to blow it up. And, if a terrorist wants to blow up the refinery, a photo isn’t going to hinder or help him or her too much. It’s not like in the movies where they can deduce where the 2-meter wide exhaust vent is from a cell phone photo.

Even more puzzling are the ordinary citizens who bring it upon themselves to get worked up over photos in public places. The photo protest I mentioned is a perfect example. In a nutshell, the ordinary citizen was a security guard, who took it upon himself to misquote the law, leading to the situation described in Carlos’ blog entry. Now, a few words on that.

A security guard is an ordinary citizen. He doesn’t have police powers. As a matter of fact, he’s even more restricted from certain actions in the course of his job than an ordinary citizen is. The industry’s slogan is “Observe and Report”. That’s about all they can do. Plus, from a pragmatic perspective, the pay scale isn’t high enough to justify more than that. If I was working the front desk at the Herald, I’d either ignore it and get back to my Youtube viewing, or just kick it upstairs and let the bureaucrats in facilities deal with it. Yes, I’m being totally lazy and “not dedicated”, but for $12/hr and no benefits, you’re only going to get so much out of me. I’d rather spend my effort on something more meaningful, ya know?

Getting worked up about people shooting photos in public places is a complete waste of one’s energy. There’s so much more out there to expend effort on. Plus, if you think about it, the camera is ubiquitous now. If something is not recorded, that is an unusual set of circumstances indeed. In a society such as ours, there’s at least one camera recording the scene at all times in any given public location. The ethics of such ubiquitous recording? Well, that’s another debate entirely.

But such recording shouldn’t be feared. If you don’t want it recorded, don’t put it in a public location.