What Would You Do?

I had about an hour to kill before my doctors appointment and decided to take the time to take some street portraits with the new Canon 85 mm lens I had purchased the week before. Body Language          As I moved from the Herald Square area towards the Fashion District just a block away on 7th. The climate quickly became more toxic. Before I knew it, I was caught up in what was obviously a pimp schooling one his ladies on the rules of the game. His aggressive and threatening attitude made an immediate impact on me. As I reached for my phone, I was quickly reminded that I had left it at home. I searched to my left and to my right but there was not one police officer in sight. I motioned to the store owner watching the scene unfold and lipped “Call 911”. Though I was filled with anger at the time. I knew that stepping in would probably make things much worse for myself, and in particular, the woman.

So instead, I did what I felt was the next best thing. I took my camera back out of it’s bag and snapped a few images to show the police if they so decided to ever show up. Body Language IIMinutes later, I finally saw an officer around the corner huddled inside the door of Citibank. He looked incredibly busy with his head down towards his iPhone, testing like a man on a mission to beat the record for time spent glued to the phone. I wanted to interrupt him to remind him of his actual job, but I somehow worried that it would get me the same beating that prostitute had surely gotten on a fairly regular basis.

Photographers Rights

Terror AlertLast week while taking pictures in Hoboken (my town) I was swiftly pulled over by three Police cars. They came up on me quickly and boxed me into a corner.
An officer came up to me and very politely asked me what I was doing. They had received calls about a “suspicious looking photographer taking pictures near the trains and overpass.” The officer was cool. he just asked me what I was taking the pictures for and if i was working on any project, which I was. I told him I was a photographer and gave him a card which displayed an image like the kind I was shooting. He complimented my work and asked “Don’t you listen to the news? There’s a heightened terror alert today.” I laughed and told him I try to stay away from the news since it all seems bad. He radioed back “It’s just a photographer who’s working on a project. He’s legit.” Within a few seconds they raced off and I continued on my merry way.
I wouldn’t consider this a bad experience but it just goes to remind me how often this happens. I’ve been confronted by Police, Security Guards and just random people about where I can and can not take pictures. All the while our every move is being watched, filmed and documented. All so we can be protected from “ourselves”. I understand the fear that 9/11 created. I lost friends and family as did so many people. Yes, I understand the fear and the need to protect people but I don’t want to live in fear and be kept from doing the things I love because of it.