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Photographer self-defense...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jonathan F/2, May 26, 2005.

  1. So I'm working tonight, and one of my own (fellow hollywood photographer) was attacked and punched in the face. I didn't witness the attack, since I was shooting at another location, but these kind of altercations are starting to worry me. I usually carry police grade mace, but I'm now considering other forms of legal protection in case of an attack. Any of you guys have any recommendations?
  2. Random attack? Guy didn't want his picture taken? What's the story?
  3. Shooting some street candids...it's completely legal to take a picture of a public figure on a public street, granted the photo will be used for a news publication. No model release is required. The photographer has every right to take the photo.
  4. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I have a concealed weapons permit, but my solution to this one would be to use a longer lens. As long as you get in peoples' faces you are likely to provoke a violent response. 95% of dealing with that is to anticipate the situation and to maintain distance between you and a potential attacker.
  5. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    Unhuh, no doubt your friend had every right to take the photo. Reminds me of the words,"dead right". When you knowingly place yourself in a hostile situation your rights should be limited to "stupid right". Knowing your rights also includes every person's constitutional (US) right to be as stupid as they want. Let's see. We have the right to take photos of rattlesnakes, bee hives, tornadoes, sharks, angry public figures......

    I see best defense as staying back with a long lens. Otherwise, your rights probably won't prevent a smashed face. Having and using a defensive weapon to get a photo in a hostile situation? Back to stupid.

    More to my point, having rights does not replace common sense when you place yourself in a dangerous situation. You take your chances. Much like Defensive Driving. You are correctly in your lane and totally/legally right. The on-coming driver has strayed into your lane for what will be a head-on encounter. Going to stay in your lane because you are in the right??
  6. level headed response Larry
  7. Scenes come back to me from the movie Paparazzi... The problem is I believe there are a lot of photographers in Hollywood like that. Even tho it would be nice taking picture of some star, everyone has a right to their privacy. I usually try to ask people before I take their picture..
  8. jkamphof

    jkamphof Guest

    I think Larry's advice is best. There is nothing worse than ones overriding sense of "right" over common politeness and decency. It doesn't matter what legal right one has in any nation or place, it matters how one interacts with others, preferably this is done in a kind, respectful polite way.
    I think it is unfair and undecent of many photographers who spend their time harrasing others and claiming that it is their right. Use your head, ask first and nothing negative should ever happen to you or a friend.
  9. Hollywood and their propaganda machine. Do you believe everything you see in the movies? Next you'll tell me that we live in a matrix controlled by machines or that there really were WMDs in Iraq! :p 
  10. Hmmm, if he was taking a legal picture of a celeb and was attacked, he may be in for his biggest payday. Seems like a good thing...
  11. It is your right to take that public figure's photo in a public domain. They do not have the right to lay a hand on you or to physically assault you. By your reasoning you support violence and the suppression of free speech. It's our right as photographers to be aware of the limitations of the law and not to succumb to suppressive forces that wish to limit our ability to take photos or gather news.
  12. Not to disparage your colleague, but I sure would like to know "The Rest of the Story". I find it quite difficult to reply without knowing what the circumstances were. For example, how do we know that the "puncher" was not first provoked by the "punchee"?

    I had a similar debate the other day with someone who claimed that using his camera to provoke crowd activity was quite within the ethical bounds of photojournalism and reportage. I happen to vehemently, although not to the "punching" extent :wink: , disagree with this notion. In the case of someone who is provoking, I don't have much sympathy.

    An analogy in the boating world, and one that I have actually witnessed, has to do with right of way and the Rules of the Road. You may be in the right, but if that 500 foot freighter can't slow quickly enough and you are now sunk, it didn't do you much good. Again, I think we go back to Larry's comments regarding the use of "common sense", which is quite lacking far too often in today's world.
  13. But you miss the point here. Just because you, as a photographer, have a "right" to do something doesn't make it right or ethical. Walk up to me, shove a camera in my face while I am eating dinner and you have violated my right, perhaps not of privacy but certainly of "personal space" in an ethical sense. Again, how do we know what actions your compatriot took? You make it sound like he was standing 10 feet away, happily snapping, when this horrid celeb walked up and out of the blue hauled off and smacked him in the face.

    I don't see anywhere in Larry's reasoned response where he advocates violence whatsoever, he just points out, and rightly so, that when you stand in the middle of the road and someone doesn't stop their car in time, you may have rights as a pedestrian but you are still dead. He goes on to suggest that staying back further with a longer lens, which may not be practical, will keep you more out of harms way. If nothing else it will give you more time to react. Plain common sense.

    One other point to make here regarding what other measures you can take. I, as well, am licensed to carry which brings with it some pretty heavy responsibility. The most important of which is understanding escalation of force and the limits of what you can and cannot do. Whatever you choose to do, you will be looked on quite unfavorably by the courts if your response is at a higher level than the threat posed.

    For example, a frail elderly female celebrity slaps you in the face because she doesn't like you intruding on an intimate dinner she is having with a much younger man, but you know that shot will net you a tidy sum. You react by pulling out your ASP baton and whacking her upside the head. The judge sees a hulking burly photographer who has just reacted above the threat level posed by said frail elderly woman. Guess who wins? Now, you still have your photo, your right of free speech has not been abridged, but you still may find youself on the wrong end of the law due to your own escalation of force.

    Two entirely different issues, the one of the attack vs. the free speech issue. Again, I don't see anything in Larry's response suggesting that he supports violence nor the repression of free speech. Perhaps you should read his response again.

    In conclusion, as Larry points out, if you put yourself in harms way the law and your rights only help you if the person on the other side of the "way" pays attention to them. And if not, they only help you after the fact, which may have consequences of its own.
  14. Yes but all news is pretty much biased and geared toward that bias.. AS far as the movie goes I do believe there are some photographers out there that are that annoying.
  15. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    I don't support violence or the suppression of free speech and to suggest that is my reasoning because of the point I made is the reason some photographers still walk around with smashed faces. While it is true that understanding follows knowledge, it is too bad that for some that there is a significant time gap between the two.
  16. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    Anyone remember the Bloom County cartoon where Steve Dallas tries to photograph Sean Penn and Penn beats him up? Steve is in the hospital in a body cast trying to figure out who to sue.

    Sean Penn? No, never sue psychotics...
    Opus (for suggesting the picture)? No, never sue poor people (or penquins)...

    After going through a long list, they decide to sue Nikon.
  17. Jonathan,

    I shoot street candids too -- and I don't do it for any "noble" reasons as photojournalism, if one really wants to call some of the paparazzi stuff that -- but I will have to agree w/ the others about "common sense" and a certain amount of "decency" and respect for the people one shoots (even if you don't like them and do it just to pay the rent and put food on the table).

    And when danger is unavoidable (because your PJ work may indeed take you to truly dangerous assignments), well, you'll just have to weigh your options and make the best of it (or just not take those assignments). I mean, I can't imagine the PJs that cover things like war torn or disease ridden places or places run by terrorist thugs or such things trying to argue it's their "right" to do so.

    Now, I'm not judging you personally, but whatever unfair bias you think the public has against the paparazzi, you're not gonna win these kinds of arguments w/ the approach you're taking.

    Finally, while what you say about the laws and our rights are true right now, it could possibly become untrue tomorrow if enough people (especially those in power) feel that the intrusion they experience from photogs making full use of their current photography rights should be deemed unacceptable. Laws and rights are generally decided by the current, prevailing society and cultural norms (and what is perceived as not threatening the general good of the whole). But those things can all change as people's opinions and/or circumstances change. So if I were you, I wouldn't want to push *too* hard on the issue. And I'd want my fellow photogs to behave reasonably well so that we don't become targets of new laws that limit our rights even while we want to evangelize about photog rights and convince people to take our side.

    Speaking of photographer's rights, have you signed this petition over here? If not, you should since you want to evangelize about photographer's rights.


    Again, I'm not challenging your right to do your work -- and neither are most of the others from what I can tell -- *BUT* let's approach the issue w/ level heads and not escalate things unnecessarily. There are good reasons for wise sayings like this one:

    "You can catch more flies w/ honey than vinegar."

    And you can see everyday the bad results that are produced when people don't approach things w/ level heads and just go straight to something very confrontational (both here in our own backyard and elsewhere around the world).

    Best regards,

  18. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    A bit of clarification. I believe it was to sue Nikon for not putting a warning label on their cameras that photographing drunken celebrities may lead to harm.
  19. Is that serious?? Given today's fast-and-loose play w/ civil suits, this, while sounding ridiculous, is sadly too believable nowadays. :?

  20. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    Yep, that was it.

    I also read today that HP just received a patent for a device that fuzz out pictures taken by some digital methods (or some kind of pairing with special cameras -- I haven't read the details, but I'll go look them up). With most photography going digital and the proliferation of gadgets, how long before someone starts marketing digital camera "spoiler" devices than can degrade or prevent photographs (hopefully without damaging cameras)? I'm sure someone could hack an IR laser device to track and focus into camera lenses. Even scarier, what if legislations were passed that all cameras had to respect some kind of coded signals from a "don't photograph me" chip or gadget?

    That sounds far-fetched, but I'm sure the MPAA would like to have camcorders equipped with a such a device to prevent movie theft. Other artists and performers might also want to prevent photography of their art or performances. Kinda scary, huh? The guy who is selling the keychain remote control that can turn off any remote controlled TV in public places also comes to mind.

    Privacy, security, and encryption are all similar -- there is a never ending escalation of new technologies followed by new technologies to defeat the innovations.

    We used to have a sign in our office saying "Pretty, Correct, On Time: Choose Any Two"

    There is a new feeling that the saying today should be "Privacy, Freedom, Security: Choose Any Two"
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