Quote of the Month:

"...whether a million monkeys with a million digital cameras would eventually shoot the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson?"

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Yesterday's Problems Today

A visit to, and tour around, the printspace (http://www.theprintspace.co.uk/) in Shoreditch should have been a day without any problems. The trouble is, this is London in 2011.

Wandering the streets looking for photo opportunities, I stumbled upon a police car parked on double red lines whilst two officers were stood on the pavement questioning a cyclist. Nothing particularly interesting there, so without breaking stride I snatched a couple of shots from the waist.

Needless to say, upon a quick review I noted that they were technically poor (blurred, out of focus and poorly framed). That said, I never delete an image until I have seen it on a larger screen than the 3inch on my dSLR, so they remained for the time being.

Around 400 yards down the road, whilst waiting for some traffic lights to change to allow me to cross the road, I was approached from behind by two slightly out of breath police officers. And so it began... Questioning the very nature of my actions, they asked numerous questions and requested, at first politely but later in a more aggressive manner, to see my images.

One such question was: "Our colleagues informed us that you were taking photographs of us in a serendipitous manner, why was this?" I politely responded that I was simply a photography student undertaking a Street project and that if I raised the camera to my eye that it would draw attention to the action of taking the image, and thus those photographed would begin to react to the camera.

Thankfully, after a quick glance between themselves and review of my photographs, they seemed satisfied with the explanation and duly walked back from whence they came. Amusingly, one of the other images they saw was of a woman walking in front of some politically motivated graffitti. It's just a shame that I was caught.

After recalling the event to KS in the foyer of the printspace, she pointed out that I should have questioned the use of the word 'serendipitous' when 'surreptitious' was more appropriate. The infamous lyric, "I fought the law and the law won", takes on a whole new meaning. Whilst she was right that I should have pulled them up on their English, I'm not sure that irking them further was the way to handle the situation. Perhaps I will try it if I ever get stopped again...

The wariness to the camera, and the assumption of guilt that duly follows, is something every photographer in the UK is certainly aware of. So much for the promise to stop the unfair treatment of photographers. As for the printspace itself, well it was certainly a worthwhile experience, just a shame it was somewhat overshadowed.


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