Sunday, 3 July 2011

POV: The Perils Of Street Photography

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy- All Rights Reserved

Walking the streets of New York city and taking photographs of strangers can sometimes lead to confrontations.  I experienced this a few days ago, when I was photographing near Union Square close to Trader Joe's.

A garishly decorated van was selling what looked like delicious thin-crust pizza, when a dapper Wild Bill Hickok-look alike decided that he would order a slice. Thinking nothing of it, I snapped a few photographs of this guy, who spotted me (not too difficult as I was a few feet away from him, and wasn't shooting from the hip) and gave me the malevolent stare you see in the above photograph. Ah, if looks could kill!!! (Click to enlarge it)

Perhaps being peptic or having missed his morning dose of Metamucil, he suddenly strode over and spewed a litany of profanities, such as the classic that he would take my camera and shove it up my rear (forget my rear...this is the Leica M9!!!). I just smiled, stood my ground (he was a small man after all), and advised him to move along and enjoy a nice day. He was really choleric that I had taken his photograph, and it quickly crossed my mind that I'd feel somewhat guilty had he had a heart attack right there and then.

Naturally,  had he physically assaulted me in any way...he would have had serious trouble. I had seen police officers not too far from that spot.

I thought of explaining that the law is quite clear on this....but he was too irate. Since he was on public property (ie the street) and provided he had no reasonable expectation of privacy, I could photograph whatever I want. That's the law.

And it isn't a good picture anyway.