Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Fotopic at Fault: a sorry tale

March 2010: Fotopic problems here

For Fotopic issues 2 and 3 January 2009, click here

Further to the recent post on bus photography, I have received an email from someone wishing only to be identified as ‘Chaserider* about the growing resentment regarding bus photography. His recent incident makes an interesting and regrettable case study

‘As someone who’s been taking pictures of bus services on and off for over 30 years, I have been following your couple of posts on photography with interest. In my time, I have only ever been challenged three times, once three years ago, and twice recently in as many months. The most recent was a fortnight ago.

‘These last two were nothing to do with safety or accusation of terrorism or taking pictures near children – but by drivers who didn’t want to appear on film. It links to the notice in the window of Loonat Coaches you referred to.

‘It was about 0837 and I had just taken a picture of a First Dennis Lance about to pick up passengers on the 61, in Redditch [Worcestershire]. The driver drew alongside and asked, “Do you have permission to take pictures of drivers?” I replied “Do I need permission to take pictures of drivers?” “Yes” came the reply. I answered, “Actually I was taking the bus and I don’t need permission. You had better get on your way because you don’t know what you’re talking about”. The driver hesitated, looked at this ETM and went round on to the stand.

‘Positioned as I was just outside the bus station, I was firmly on the public highway. You will see from the picture I took that the driver petty much unidentifiable. Even so, I found this unhappy exchange unnerving, upsetting and disturbing, all at once.

‘It seems that to add to the list that includes false accusations of health & safety breaches, terrorism and potential pædophilia there is also the unwanted attention of bus drivers. I blame the over use of Fotopic for this attitude among drivers, something I have never encountered till recently, apart from a few spiteful V flicks from time to time. It seems that our hobby is under threat for the first time ever, from various quarters including, now, hostility from the industry itself. I might add that my job requires that I am CRB vetted to the highest, enhanced level.’

Omnibuses Blog Response

First, as I stated in one of this site’s earliest posts, the really industry should cultivate and not alienate enthusiasts. While photography on the street remains legal, it seems to me that it’s in each operators’ interests to adopt a positive attitude towards enthusiasts and therefore photography.

Secondly, you were within your rights, if you were where you say. There are situations when you should seek permission but being on the public highway is not one such.

Thirdly, I don’t think your reply to the driver was especially helpful. He may have left you alone, but he may just have felt a little aggrieved. Better that you use a different response (a sperate post, to follow soon).

Remember when you can and should never take bus photography.

* If I am not mistaken this was the name adoptedby Midland Red to brand its Stafford and Cannock networks


Anonymous said...

I am a part time driver and I dislike people taking pictures of me while I am at work. The issue for me is that the nuisance digital camera makes it too easy for anyone to take almost anything. wHen I am in the pcture I feel violated. It does not matter that the gricer is taking the bus and not me because I am in it. There should be more consideration on the part of the GRICER. Woulod you like me to come around and take a picture of YOU while you are going about yopur legal business? then publish it all over the internet?

PS love this blog!!

RC169 said...

Anonymous, why do you feel 'violated' when you are in a picture that an enthusiast takes of your bus? I'm afraid that attitude is something that I simply do not understand, but I'd be interested to know what lies behind it.

The only instance I can recall when a photo including me was published, was when I was sat on the top deck front seat of a preserved bus that was photographed arriving at a rally, and appeared in 'Buses Annual' a year or so later. I remember that I was wearing a rather 'loud' tie, that my wife thinks is awful (no taste!), but you could hardly see that on the photo. My only regret is that the bus was not a Bristol/ECW combination. I think my friend (also on the front seat) and I were really proud of this 'achievement' at the time. After all, to be honest, I'm not half as photogenic as my alter ego!

Sorry, Anonymous, but you shouldn't take it too seriously. Life's too short to worry about these sort of things.

And, yes Busing, you're right about operators needing to cultivate relations with enthusiasts. I recall a friend of mine, not employed in the industry, who was always the first to defend his local municipal operator against criticism in the local press. His letter of defence was always there before the operator's response - if they ever got around to sending one.

I'm looking forward to your suggestions for a suitable response to these situations. Here's one from me - pretend to be a foreigner who can't speak English!

Anonymous said...

As a driver I have no problem with photography - with one exception. Many people leave on the auto flash - this has happened to me several times in last few months - and when a picture is taken with flash it is distracting - so a message to all those folk taking pics - please do not use flash!!!!

David Bailey said...

Sorry Anonymous 20:09 thats part of the job - if you don't like it then tough - you're in the wrong job. What do you have to hide??

I think you'll find that very few photos can clearly see the driver anyway - so could be getting all upset about nothing.

Big G said...

Being careful what to post here as I don't wish to ID the exact location or Company, however, In my managerial capacity I was sent an email from a complainant who was harmlessly taking pictures of my buses "in action" whilst stood in a very public place. The driver of the bus in this picture is aggresively making a single finger gesture at the camera. The complainant stated that the majority of my drivers gave him a cheery wave when they saw him. His point about the offensive gesture was that the driver was on a tendered service, the picture taker could have been a representative from the Council, checking on either driver or vehicle standards. He could have been from the Traffic Commissioners office or even VOSA, again checking on presentation, etc. Most of my drivers know of my own penchant for bus photograpy and so maybe a little more receptive than other companies drivers. I think these negative reactions are all part of the lilly liberal "human rights" brigade who forget that as well as having rights people have responsibilities. My driver will be attending an interview to explain why he thought it ok to bring our Company into disrepute.

(I do agree with the driver's comments on here regarding flash photography - a very good point).

RC169 said...

I agree with the comments about flash photography absolutely, but I have to make one observation - there are some other 'cameras' (somewhat less friendly than gricers, I would suggest!) that take photographs of specially selected vehicles which use flash regularly - at least the ones in Germany do. I presume the British ones are similar, but I have never had the joy of seeing one in action! Agree entirely that flash can be a distraction, and therefore a safety hazard, so it seems strange that these 'official' cameras can use it! But that's another matter, I guess!

Anonymous 2009 said...

Its Anonymous 2009 here, the one who commented on this post first.

I can’t think of any other job that regularly gets your photograph on a website just because some gricer out there fancies the bus your in. true, often you can’t actually see the driver but that isn’t the point. its my business only whether I stick my photo on the www and nobody else’s. Digital Camera’s have a lot to answer for.

Why should it be part of the job? I might fancy myself but I am not a model! He he he

anonymous 2009 said...

Nor am I public property

Lord Snowden said...

So you drive a bus and know it gets photographed but don't like it. You know it happens, you probably had an inkling that it happens before you took the job on - and yet you still moan. Mmmm

Onto one of the other comments - funny how bus drivers can make obscene gestures, swear and even threaten violence and its seen at the photographer who is at fault, but you don't hear the same about train drivers or airline pilots who probably get photographed as much without acting the same. Wonder why??

RC169 said...

Well, Anonymous 2009, I still don't really understand why you feel violated when somebody takes a photo of the bus you're driving, but I guess the gist of the comments here is that it's a 'hazard of the job' and you just have to accept it. It's probably also worth pointing that, until a few years ago, the legal term for a bus or coach was a 'Public Service Vehicle' - operative word, in this respect, being 'public'. As a driver, you're dealing with and providing a service to the public, so you are in the 'public eye'. And, as Big G pointed out, it's possible that the photographer is from one of a number of official bodies that have an interest in the way the bus service is operated, etc.

I guess if you're really so concerned about it, you should wear sunglasses and a peaked cap when you're driving. Hopefully, you're employer's uniform still includes a peaked cap!!!

kodak kid said...

It's all getting a little anti driver, I can see it from both sides, and have to say that the shots taken inside depots, when specifically requested not to are the ones that have probably led to a lot of the problems. By deliberately flouting depot rules it clearly brings problems down on the heads of the majority.
When it comes to high roads, a little give and take is in order, no flash, is very sensible. I doubt very much if anybody takes a conscience decision to accept or decline a job on the basis they may be photographed at some point. If you are an enthusiast and the bus of your dreams is about to drive past you, I can appreciate you may wish to get that picture and the driver is of little or no consequence to your decision to do that. If your a driver, you may not even know where your picture is likely to end up, who wants to be on you tube for example!
Lighten up, it's not clear cut

funland12 said...

I have been a bus photographer for about two years. Firstly I appreciate that some drivers dislike being photographed at work, but by the same token sometimes it is not possible to stop a bus and request a driver's permission before I snap.

Where possible I have tried to take photos obscuring the driver's face either behind the wing mirror or offside front pillar. You still get a good photo angle and I hope that it reduces the driver's discomfort. In fact I've actually found that bigger issues have been with unsavoury gestures from passengers rather than drivers.

I've only been approached once by a driver, after I photographed his bus approaching Wycombe Bus Station. He approached me shortly afterwards and was polite and simply asked if I minded editing him out of the photo if I planned to publish it anywhere.

In today's age of the digital camera and the number of people who have one (or even on their mobile phones) can anybody be sure how many complete strangers may have pictures of you in their possession (I'm not just talking about bus photography now)?

DOG101 said...

GMPTE see sense. Let's hope others follow

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Anonymous said...

As a bus driver I have no problems with having my picture taken of me or the bus I'm driving! If safe and spotted in time I'll even slow down so they get a good shot of my best side!

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think bus photography is a nice, unique hobby - Drivers can't really be seen in the photo and we do have the rights to. We are taking the photos of the bus, not the driver. But as stated above, don't use flash as the driver could be disturbed and cause an accident. Also, flash makes it hard to see registration plates.

Chris Dunn said...

I am a full time driver in Bath and have no problem with people taking photos. Never understand why some people do, for the following reasons.
1. Over the last nine years I have never seen myself in any photo.
2. It would take a lot of work to identify the driver of any bus.
3. I am proud to get paid for something others look at for a hobby.
4. If you have nothing to hide why worry, but then I understand some drivers cover up the CCTV on their buses.