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Monday, March 12, 2007

What's news 

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've seriously come to the conclusion that I have too many hobbies. I've actually had that conclusion for a while but I've been to busy to post on the blog :)

You would have noticed in my last post I created a new site related to sleep disorders. I've actually not had the time to update the site but I've also been contemplating scrapping it and perhaps working on a new site. Not sure if I'll have the time for that one either, but I'm polarized about a particular issue and it might motivate me to keep with it. What's the issue that has me polarized I hear you ask. It's to do with taking photographs in public. You'll probably have noticed that my photo galleries haven't grown lately. This is for two reasons. First, lack of imagination to find something to take photos of, and the second reason, and by far the most important reason, is due to the stigma attached to taking photos in public these days.

Taking photos of special events, tourist attractions, etc are not the problem. The problem is going out into the general public and taking photos of people, or buildings. Let me first say, I'M NOT A TERRORIST, and I'M NOT A PEDOPHILE. The stigma attached to taking photos of the above mentioned things is overwhelming. Essentially, if you are a middle aged male with a camera taking pictures of people, you're automatically labeled a pedophile, especially if you take a photo of a child.
The same goes with taking photos of buildings, except you're labeled a terrorist.

I keep hearing stories of people being harassed taking pics of their own kids, or of places that have other people in the viewfinder. Somehow the general populace is under the impression that if you are male and have a camera in your hand, then you MUST be planning to take photos with your magic camera that automatically undresses you, and then posting the results on a scummy website. I've had disturbing conversations with people I know and it's a really worrying trend. There are seriously people out there that won't allow their children to get their photo taken by strangers, and other people that seriously believe that 5 out of 10 males are pedophiles and there is a need to protect children.

Don't get me wrong, I don't condone pedophiles, and i'm with the brigade that detests them and children do need protecting without a doubt. My beef is that there is so much paranoia out there that I no longer feel able to enjoy my hobby of taking photographs in public.

I hear you say, there are lots of things to take pictures of that don't require taking photos of people but I say that's not the point.

My hobby is not taking sports photos.. I hate sports so taking photos of car races, or ball sports etc, are boring to me. Special events aren't always available so I can't rely on waiting for them to land on my doorstep. I don't like insects, or fauna, so taking pictures of plants, and insects are very boring. There's only so much scenery around where I live and even that can get pretty boring.

There is a handful of things that I enjoy taking pictures of. Buildings have potential, especially at night when they're lit up. Unfortunately, you're seen as a potential terrorist if you have a camera in your hand taking photos of a building. I also like taking photos of street life, but unfortunately, that means people will be in the scene, and people are worried about that too. God forbid I take a photo with a child in the picture.

Whether people like it or not, People, which includes children, and especially children are extremely good subjects to take photos of. The reason children are good subjects is because even when they pose for a shot, they look innocent and spontaneous. Spontaneity is important when taking photos of people so going up to them and asking if you can take their photo is well.. plain stupid if you're looking for a good shot.

Another fact that people at least here in Australia seem to not realise is that it's not illegal to take photos of other people. Even if that person doesn't want their photo taken. There is no Right to Privacy in Australia because we have no bill of rights. Essentially, as long as no other laws are broken eg. taking photos on private property against the will of the owner, Defamation, etc, then people can not expect privacy in a public place. If you're interested in seeing what rights photographers have in NSW which for the most part is the same all over Australia, then I urge you to check out the following website which lays it all out in plain English from an ex solicitor. The link is 4020 - NSW Photography Rights.

It's a shame that this problem is getting worse rather than better, hence the reason I may create a website or blog or something that discusses the issue. Some how, and i'm open for suggestions, we need to re-educate the general public that having their photo taken by a stranger is not a bad thing. INHO, the pedophiles you need to be careful of are the ones behind bushes with camera phones and cameras that are inconspicuous rather than the people with full on professional and semi professional cameras.

I'd be very interested in your comments on the matter.