Friday, 18 July 2008

Omnibuses2.0's Guide to Safer Photography

When we last considered bus photography just over a week ago, concerning a driver who was unhappy about his bus being taken, we promised to publish a potential strategy for those who are confronted:

There’s a potential strategy for tackling drivers who feel that they are being photographed unjustly. Adopt the following attitude that is physiologically designed to take the heat out of the situation, one that should prevent escalation.

If asked why you are photographing buses...

1. State that you understand the driver’s concerns—this acknowledges what you've heard;
2. Say that you are photographing the bus, not driver, explaining that there is no reason in law why you should not do so—this lets the third party know how you feel;
3. State calmly and clearly that you intend to carry on—this gives your preferred outcome.

Repeat each time the driver asks a question, no matter the question. This simply recognises you can’t control the third party (driver) but you *can* control yourself, without inflaming matters. For example:

Driver: “Do you have permission to take photographs of me?” You: answer 1, 2, 3.

Driver: “It’s against my human rights to do that.” You: answer 1, 2, 3.

Driver: “Are you going to stop taking photos of me, then?” You: answer 1, 2, 3.

Driver: “Look, I don’t want you to take photos of me.” You: answer 1, 2, 3.

Driver: “If you don’t stop, do you want me to call the police?” Answer 1, 2, 3.

Usually, after five rebuttals or fewer, the technique works and the third party concedes and departs. Usually.

If you feel easily intimidated, timid, or you feel you are the sort to 'lose it', try having whatever you want to say ready in your mind beforehand and, visualising an exchange with an imaginary driver. Psychologists say that in stressful situations, we are programmed to feel, not think. Visualisation means that the response comes naturally and quickly to mind when needed. You've 'felt' the response in readiness.

And, follow these simple rules. Please add any more than you can think of:

Never engage in bus photography at or near a school, or at other locations where school pupils or children can be identified.

Use common sense. Stay where it’s safe, away from running lanes or roads and never place yourself or anyone else at risk.

Avoid a distracting camera flash. Check the autoflash facility is off.

Ask permission on private property. Respect a negative response.

Otherwise, if it’s your passion, just enjoy it… while you still can. After all, it’s still a free society (at the moment).

Updated 25 June 2009:

Be aware of the metropolitan police's guidelines to its officers:

i. The police can question you about what you are doing (best to tell them straight).
ii. They cannot stop you taking photographs.
iii. They cannot confiscate your camera or memory card [without a warrant] or ask you to delete your photos.
iv. If they *do* consider you a potential terrorist, they need to produce another piece of evidence as well as your taking photographs—and they must bring you before a magistrate.

Regarding your rights, see also Law in Action.


Anonymous said...

Surely not answering the question properly will just annoy the driver, like politicians do.

I go by the rules of, if the driver says no, then it means no. Wait for the next bus, it's not a matter of life and death.

RC169 said...

Anonymous, I think you'll find that the suggested responses do answer the questions that drivers are likely to have. Although it's the same answer to all of the anticipated questions, Busing's point 2 does in fact provide a satisfactory clarification of the likely objections. Whether the offended party accepts (or believes) the answer is another matter - unfortunately, some people think they know the law better than they really do!

It's perhaps worth bearing in mind that you could be photographed and displayed on the internet in an easily recognisable form - much more so than the driver of a bus which happened to be photographed by an enthusiast (or perhaps a representative of the Traffic Commissioners!). Have a look at the website of a commercial property auctioneer or estate agent - they are selling High Street properties which often have so many people walking by that it would probably be impossible to take a photograph without getting a passer-by in the frame. And, logically the sellers probably want passers-by to be visible in the photos - the more people there are around shops, the more successful the businesses therein are likely to be. A potential purchaser might be put off by a photo of a shop in daylight without any people nearby! One agency currency has a restaurant for sale with a bus stop outside - both photos showing 5 people waiting for a bus, and I'm sure they would be recognisable to their acquaintances! Don't forget those photos would be in the printed catalogue as well.

That's just one example - the simple fact is the highway is the 'public' highway, and if you venture onto it, you may well be photographed there.

kodak eastman said...

It seems to me that not answering the hypothetical direct driver’s question is the whole point, anonymous! I think this approach is worth a try because, you know, getting into arguments don’t solve the problem. It may work with drivers and it may also work in other situations. I wonder whether it works with the Police? RC169 makes an interesting point whereby people think they know the law better than they do. Does this apply to the Police in this case?

RC169 said...

Kodak Eastman, I guess one hopes that the police know the law! However, given the complexity, etc, of the law, I should imagine it is possible that they get it wrong sometimes. I was actually thinking more of these 'security' people employed in some bus stations, who have sometimes been known to harass bus photographers (as well as any others who might want to do the same!)

Incidentally, Busing, was it deliberate that the photo accompanying your post shows the rear of a bus? Seems ironic - little chance of the driver being even seen, let alone identifiable - while I imagine Miss Scissors has been paid handsomely for having her photo taken!

Wolfgang Hoare-Spitall said...

Unfortunately this whole discussion is symptomatic of the paranoia about personal areas that's developed in recent years.
When I was driving buses in UK (during the 70s and 80s), I often experienced somebody with a camera, strategically postioned, and clicking away, as I and my colleagues negotiated one or other traffic node. I, and most of my colleagues, would view this sa a pointless but harmless activity, and those engaged in it also as harmless, and somewhat "other worldly". I cannot remember it ever being a reason to get excited.

Anonymous said...

If it still dont work after five times and the bus is in service, just tell the driver he/she is making the bus late