lawbreaker ?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jnanian, Feb 28, 2009.

do you break the law on purpose to make your photographs?

  1. yes, sometimes

    32.5%
  2. no

    47.5%
  3. maybe, i'm not sure

    17.5%
  4. i used to but don't anymore

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. yes, all the time because it is my right to photograph wherever and whoever i want

    2.5%
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  1. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    one of the other threads that i had the misfortune to participate in
    let me realize something that goes hand in glove with photography ..
    people with cameras believe they should be allowed to photograph
    whatever and wherever they please.
    plenty of folks venture on to private property,
    sneak into abandoned houses
    crawl through the sewer system
    break into abandoned asylums ...

    and if or when they get caught, they play dumb like they had no idea
    that they were trespassing, or someplace making photographs they either
    shouldn't have been, or would need a permit/permission to do.

    i know i have had my share of close calls of getting a fist in my face
    for photographing people in late night eateries, photographing people on subways trains,
    or walking around abandoned farms with my camera. i knew i wasn't in the right,
    but i did it anyways and was prepared to deal with the consequences.

    my questions for whoever feels like answering this question is
    do you purposefully break laws so you can photograph, or photograph in situations
    where you may be harassed by law enforcement or property owners
    because it is you first amendment right?
     
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  2. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    No. Like yourself though, I have a sense when I might be either outright in the wrong or pushing the limits and am prepared to retreat if asked.

    Edit: The poll choices don't seem to match the final question in the post. I sometimes do, but not because I feel any constitutional right to do so, hence a "no."
     
  3. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Same here....there are times that I will trespass, but only after I have made a reasonably good effort to secure permission first and have been unable to find a property owner. Trespassing doesn't (speaking for myself) include property damage. I won't break locks, cut fences, knock out fence panels etc. If I can't climb a fence without causing a permanent sag I won't climb it. That's how I'd like to be treated, so that's how I treat others.

    cheers

    John
     
  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    I normaly don't, but given the situation that I was looking for a specific location to do some portraits and I would find an abandoned house that suited my purpose I would tell the neighbours what I was going to do and take the shots, without wrecking anything.
    Is that breaking the law ?

    Years back I had to photograph a villa and I wanted to take a shot over the water, so I went onto a plot next door, took the shot and left.

    A couple of weeks ago I went to the Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Center in Goiânia and slid into the building that should become the library, it is vacant. Took my shots, nobody bothered...... this is Brazil I guess....

    Peter
     
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  5. frdrx

    frdrx Member

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    Sadly, there are so many laws and restrictions imposed everywhere that it is impossible for me to even think about respecting them.
     
  6. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    No, I don't, but neither will I respect imaginary laws invented by $8hr security guards.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Where are the people who feel they can shoot whatever and whenever on private property and use the 1st amendment as a defense?

    I think that I am protected by the 1st amendment when photographing from public property. I am also protected by it when covering a public news event on private property, such as a fire in which I walk down the driveway of a burning house to take pic of the firefighters fighting the blaze. If I am in a situation in which the 1st amendment protects my actions, I will argue this. Police know the score, so I usually call them if I am getting harassed, and they back me up.

    For private property, I shoot what I can without getting busted, but I do not use the 1st amendment as a defense, nor do I play dumb. The 1st amendment as a defense makes absolutely no sense in these cases. (Thus I really don't understand the poll/question.) I simply explain, hope for (or ask for) leniency, and if that fails to work, I get a ticket for trespassing, and get to keep what I have already shot. When I step onto private property to shoot, I know what I am giving up. I make the ethical judgment call in these situations. Do I think I am being a bad person by doing what I am doing? If someone were to approach me, would they care? Am I damaging or disrupting anything? If I am going *deep* onto private property for relatively long periods of time, I am going into places that are clearly abused and abandoned, and about which nobody cares. Most often, these places are actually BLM properties. Otherwise, I might go just a little bit onto the property for a very short time. If there is someone around, I make my presence known, walk directly toward them before shooting, act polite, and have not been kept from shooting yet. Plus I usually get more detail than I could ever retain about whatever I am shooting.

    Some of my greatest conversations during travel/shooting have occurred this way. I recently met a great farmer in Forgan, Oklahoma because I had walked about 50 feet off of the main road onto one of his farm roads to get a silhouette pic of his huge automatic walking sprinkler with the sun setting behind (hand held 35mm). He happened to drive by on the main road with his kid in the truck as I was shooting. He said, "shoot away", and we talked for a good 30 minutes. I learned a lot about farming (the sprinkler had cost him $70,000), and he learned a lot about photography (yes; they still make film - black and white at that). I meet countless people when shooting in the city as well. So far the experiences had and people met on private property have been great. I can't say as much for my experiences on public property.

    FWIW, my judgment on when and when not to shoot on private property must be halfway decent, because I have only had the cops called by shooting from public property; never private.
     
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  8. Paul Cocklin

    Paul Cocklin Member

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    :tongue: This may be the greatest line I've heard in years. :tongue:

    I'd have to agree with Jason. Won't go out of my way to either break laws or listen to morons...
     
  9. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, while I go out of my way to respect other rights and the laws that protect them, I would be much less than a true patriot if I simply listened to quasi authority. I respect the rule of law, which is why I am aware of what the law is. If I simply do what I am told when it is clearly wrong, and the person has no authority, I am merely contributing to the rule of men. A private security guard has no authority to order me from a public sidewalk. On a public sidewalk he or she is no more an authority than me, or anyone else, and is in fact bordering on breaking several laws themselves, by harassing and usurping actual authority. In such situations I usually encourage them to call an actual authority, and around here at least they are usually put in their place by the actual authority. What goes on in NYC with the transit cops is an abomination.
     
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  10. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    Your so-called "question" is a non-starter because it is an oxymoron.

    If it is against the law, then it is NOT a first amendment right.

    Seems you'd like to retool the question to circumstances that have only one possible outcome to support your thesis that laws are made by those who enforce them, and that is not a debate.

    So let me give you a poll:

    Have you stopped beating your girlfriend?

    * yes
    * no

    Get real.
     
  11. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I don't think many of the laws (real law or those invented by law enforcement people) are right but I don't think it's worth the trouble for a photograph.
     
  12. zinnanti

    zinnanti Member

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    I completely agree with this statement. As a lawyer and a photographer, I can barely keep up with what I should and shouldn't be doing. (And, I practice criminal defense.) The law has become so convoluted that I don't know how people manage to stay out of trouble.

    Further, private property rights and park restrictions are over the top. I remember being out in the middle of nowhere aiming my camera at an old mine shaft. From hundreds of yards away, I hear, "Get off my land!!!!!"

    Crazy. I left. Who knew if the guy had a gun.
     
  13. dwdmguy

    dwdmguy Member

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    Kino, The first amendment laws are always being challenged and very well should be. We should NEVER be some lump of coal just taking whatever is being shoveled out to us. This is what the U.S. Supreme court is for.

    Geez, and you have the nerve to tell the OP to get real......

    Just remember, if your on someone's property they may be shooting as well....
     
  14. zinnanti

    zinnanti Member

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    I've harped on this in a couple of other posts (so this will be my last - promise). Attached is the Court of Appeal opinion in Roe v. McClellan. I represented the Roe plaintiffs. It sheds some light on the First Amendment vis-a-vis privacy issues in a quasi criminal context. I caught a lot of flack from so called First Amendment proponents for filing this case. A lot of people felt he had the right to surreptitiously photograph very young girls and put them up for pedos to see what various locations had to offer.
     

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  15. OP
    OP
    jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    kino,

    this poll / question doesn't just have to do with rent-a-cops posturing,
    or photographers playing dumb ...

    there are plenty of people who break laws to make photographs.
    do you remember the photographer who lit a fire under a stone arch
    in one of the national parks ... he broke laws knowingly to make his photographs with "natural light" and damaged one of the features in the park system.

    whatever ...
     
  16. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    Damned straight I have the nerve; its an offensive straw man. Don't act like you intend to discuss a topic when you post a foregone conclusion.

    You missed my point entirely about how his poll is rigged. You can only answer in a way that supports his viewpoint; my reply was an attempt to point that out.

    I am very much for challenging laws that are unfair, but NOT in some vigilante fashion, and by that, I INCLUDE rogue cops and opinionated citizens who threaten me with firearms.

    Double think and double standards run rampant in today's World, and people get all worked up when it is pointed out. Seems they'd rather furiously scrabble to stick their heads back in the sand than fix the problem.

    And, you just remember, that if someone is shooting your private property from a public place and you shoot back with anything other than a camera, you'll most likely go to jail or worse.
     
  17. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    Of course I don't!

    However, how can you define what is legal and what is not legal when authorities misinterpret, ignore or make up laws on the spot?

    Your argument only make sense when there IS a fairly uniform and equitable interpretation and enforcement of the law.

    Law is NOT a one-way street; the citizen IS a part of the feedback loop and this loop must be exercised and maintained or its all over.

    So, for sake of argument, when a Renegade Park Ranger shows up and helps build a fire under that arch, ..."Heck its just stone and its gonna fall in a few thousand years anyway..." , how do you justify your position?

    Public Law is never going to be perfect, however, the fundamental rights of photographers to shoot anything in sight from a public place IS BEDROCK to our 1st Amendment rights and if that is removed or whittled away by the quirks of special interest groups or the irrational fears of special interest groups, then hang it up.

    I don't know how I can be any more clear on my point.
     
  18. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    @ Zinnanti:

    Thanks for the article, I have not read it fully, but this a clear "Photography with criminal intend" .
    In that case one can not hide him(or her) self behind the 1st Amendment, do they ?!

    Peter
     
  19. OP
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    jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    no need to be more clear, i agree with you completely ..


    i am not just talking about public spaces in my poll, or my question ..
    it has to do with knowingly trespassing, or violating privacy or breaking and entering,
    or whatever it takes .. to get the image you want ..
    not sure if you remember, a few months ( or a year ) ago,
    marko was asking about cameras he could take with him in the
    sewer system because he and his friends were part of a growing group
    of photographers who break into buildings to photograph them at night.

    plenty of people do this sort of thing, i was just interested where people drew the line.
     
  20. pauliej

    pauliej Member

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    When the shoe is on the other foot, how do you feel when awakened in the middle of the night by a photographer who is snapping away in your bedroom? Oh, he didnt know that it was not legal for him to come into your house and take pitchers! He played dumb to the coppers, I guess.

    Some of us are born with common sense, some of us learn it the hard way and some never get it at all. And some dont need to ACT dumb... Just my 2 cents, before taxes.

    paulie
     
  21. Kino

    Kino Subscriber

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    Final say and I'll leave it alone.

    I hate to get sucked into these exchanges online because the very nature of these "discussions" demand that you and I jump over tons of preliminary assumptions and details to the meat of the matter to avoid writing encyclopedias of the reason we arrived at our opinions.

    By default, I get to unfairly characterize your motivations and you get to do the same to me, because there is no social interaction and time to build and express reasonable arguments in a cordial manner, so we may better understand each others opinion.

    I grew up in the country and damned well know how farmers and ranchers feel about their private property. I was brought up to respect that and to always check with landowners for permission to enter and do WHATEVER on their property, even if the land was not posted against trespassing; its only good manners.

    By the same token, I expect the same respect from others as to MY rights to free and unmolested access to public spaces and the right to make photographs and free speech from those places.

    The difference here is, I RESPECT others wishes not out of a legal restraint, but a sense of common decency. I don't have to, but I do for a number of reasons. For better or worse, it is a OPTION.

    As a general rule, most people's personal lives and property don't intrigue me enough to make the effort to photograph them against their desires from a public place.

    However, I can remove that restriction from my own point of view IF I there is an overriding reason I should be photographing that property or person; if toxic waste flows from their property and kills my neighbors or they shoot out from their property and injure people outside their own property.

    Some people manipulate others by twisting and deforming "good manners" and their sense of indignity to whatever happens to fit their current financial or political agenda.

    So, as long as I am within the law, I'll probably ignore people who are outraged by the indignity of my actions when their actions are harmful to myself and others and I'll honor those who make, what are in my opinion, acceptable requests.

    End of my 2 cents.
     
  22. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    My feelings exactly.
     
  23. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Subscriber

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    I voted 'no' because the question "do you break the law on purpose to make your photographs?" implies a deliberate act (breaking the law) whereas I think breaking the law is a consequence of another act (photographing). To break the law on purpose means, to me, an act of disobedience to test the limits of the law. Most laws are not broken by people looking for a law to break, they're broken as a consequence of doing something else.
     
  24. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Diatribes aside, I agree with several posters here that it is a matter of manners and respect that we don't place ourselves where we are not invited. That being said, I voted with the "maybe" crowd, because I am not always aware of what is acceptable in different jurisdictions, and I have run into situations where I have been asked to put my camera away. The persons who have made these requests may not have had the authority to do so, but it was clear that I was doing something that was not welcomed, so I complied. I have no problem taking pictures of a crowd on the streets or elsewhere, but I am very uncomfortable taking pictures of people without their permission. I have done so on very rare occasions, but always with a bit of a twinge at intruding in someone's private business.

    For me, it is not so much a matter of law, but a matter of not intruding, publicly or privately where I am not welcome.

    Cheers,
     
  25. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Closed at OP's request.
     
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