In recent news here in Hong Kong there has been much controversy about photographers rights to shoot in public places (in particular in front of large branded designer stores, etc). Security guards have been misinformed by their employers about what is 'public space' in front of a shop and therefore this has led to confusion, aggressive and sometimes even violent confrontations between photographers and staff.
These big stores are not the only places that try to 'enforce' a ban on photographers, even small market stalls have signs up saying 'no photos', 'no cameras', or 'photo - $200', etc.
To those of us in the know, this is basically outrageous behaviour on behalf of the shopkeeper, trying to create some kind of martial law around their own property, thinking they can control what you do with your camera in a public space.
Now, I don't want to confuse the issue of photographing people, I am well aware as should everyone be that some individuals do not like having their photograph taken, especially without permission, and I completely understand the issues surrounding that. This is not what this blog post is about, it is purely about having the right to shoot an interesting market stall, a shop facade or interesting building without having to worry about consequences or thinking that you are doing something wrong - you are not, its well within your rights to take photographs.
This short video we shot in an hour or so the other day shows a quick walkaround Central and Sheung Wan in Hong Kong shooting a few market areas where they have these signs. I have heard many people say they get confronted in these places so thought I would try to see for myself if we had similar problems and I highlight in the video the ways in which we shoot to try to avoid confrontation.
This is the first DSLR video that Gurung RJ has shot with very little instruction in advance, so I must thank him for his efforts in helping me put this together.
Also a special thanks to Will Gell who has very kindly allowed me to use his music for various projects, amazing musician, check out his albums here:
Please remember when out shooting that you WILL upset some people sometimes, that's unfortunately the nature of the beast with street photography, some people will always react negatively no matter how polite you are, maybe they just had a bad day, or maybe they just grumpy...thats life, its a choice you make if you wish to become a street photographer, never take it personally, and try not to respond in the same manner, keep smiling, say thank you and continue on your way.
Previous recent blog posts that relate to the same issues are linked below, the first one has an extensive video shooting street photography in Kowloon with a GOPRO camera attached to the top of the Leica M9, linked together with the images that we captured during the walkabout:
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