The Photographer’s Right

So, something happened to me tonight and I posted it on my Facebook and it got more than 3 responses to it (which I deem to be a hot topic). Well, just to clarify, I’m not referring to this Hot Topic. Hee hee. Won’t even begin to go there.

The hot topic that affected me tonight relates to my daily pic I take for my 365 photo you always see in the top right hand corner.

Once again, I was questioned as to what I was doing while shooting my daily pic, which always spins me for a bit of a loop.

So it went down like this…

Like any other night, I left my house in the hopes of getting a cool 365 pic outdoors. I opt for natural light over indoor light most nights and hope to get a cool picture outdoors. The thing is; however, that my apartment complex is less than stellar for photo taking. It’s not that interesting of a place to take photos…all the community is rather cookie cutter, so I opted to go to a spot with atleast a little interest…some trailing ivy on the wall. I shot a few pics that looked like this:

93/365 alternate

After shooting these pics and examining some cob webs, I sat down on the curb to review the pics. I shot just a couple more with my camera toward the sky looking up at me and really was minding my own business. Next thing I know, I see a truck coming toward me and slowing down. Upon further realization, I realized it was the newly implemented apartment security, and he had a few questions for me…

Security guard: “Excuse me, miss, but we got a report in that someone was shooting license plates outside in this vicinity. Were you taking pics of license plates?”

Me: “I take a photo of myself a day, I was taking pictures of myself, not license plates, I’ll show you if you want to see.”

He didn’t ask to see my photos, but he did ask for my name, apt. no., and told me that he got a complaint and just had to check it out for precautionary reasons. He told me they had recently had some stalkers in the area and that he had to check out any complaints and proceeded to tell me that anytime I needed him, there was a sticker on the side of the buildings with the no. to the security service.

While I do think he was really just checking things out and responding to a concern, I just always feel annoyed after these incidents. It just makes me feel rather annoyed that I’m singled out for my own creative expression. This has happened a couple of other times…I always feel like I have to explain my way out of the situation.

Sarah Moore of Craft Critique referred me to this document that outlines my rights as a photographer. There’s some really interesting stuff on there that is good to know. In general, even if I had wanted to take photos of license plates, I have every right. My apartment community is gated; however, so I’m kinda wondering if they have the jurisdiction to decide if photos can/can not be taken on their premises. Some of this legal information is confusing and way over my head, but atleast this Photographer’s Right document is easy to understand and lets you know your rights if you are in a situation.

I don’t really feel too upset about this, I just sum it up that art and photography are often misunderstood and that expressions of it are often times way misinterpreted by those who don’t understand it. I just wish more people had a more open-minded attitude and wouldn’t jump to conclusions when they see someone with a camera or expressing themselves in an artistic and non-harming way in public.

And just to let you know, the photos I took outdoors tonight felt tainted to me, so I instead went with a more abstract and artsy photograph tonight (seen at top right of this page) that I shot through a drinking glass. It turned out much more interesting than my outdoor ones did anyway!


  1. says

    Wow, that’s funny. What would you be taking pictured of license plates for anyway? lol. I always feel a little insecure when taking photos…some people will duck out of the way even though you aren’t taking a picture of them…I’m not a weird stalked, I swear!

  2. Peg says

    Even though it’s within our rights to take these pictures, it may have been someone with past bad experiences or someone elderly living alone in the complex who saw you and for some reason felt afraid. The security guard said he had a report and if there was, at least that caller will now know that security follows up on calls so they feel safer and in the future will no longer fear what you may be doing. Just trying to see the flip side.

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