No Photos allowed.....or are they? (VIDEO)

Cat Street market stall advertising 'NO PHOTOS'
Cat Street market stall advertising 'NO PHOTOS'

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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Street Photography in rainy Hong Kong

A wet and rainy day in Hong Kong....what to do?.....street photography of course! So off I went to Sheung Wan with the M9 and one lens only - 35mm was the order of the day...

This lens is the magic focal length for me, not too long, not too short, with this style of photography we want to show our subject in their environment, so on full frame, 35mm is an ideal length for me to work at.

There is no weather sealing on this camera unlike our Canon DSLRs, so it was time to jam an umbrella between my arms and try to keep the camera dry whilst shooting in harsh rain for a few hours.

I got did the poor M9.  I quickly discovered that the M9 really doesn't like started doing a few quirky things, that luckily were temporary, as soon as it was dry it was back in business.

This part of Hong Kong is great for street photography, I found the people to be far friendlier than in other parts of town, as many will know, Hong Kong can be difficult for street photographers, a lot of people are quite adverse to being photographed.

Anyway, the M9 managed to hold up throughout the intense rain all day and I was happy to get a few more gritty images given the nice light this weather provided.

A lot of people I meet never go out shooting in the rain, they think the camera won't survive, or there will be nothing to photograph....all i can say is remember what we keep saying about harsh light and soft time those dark clouds come over...just look at the light and see how much more dramatic it can be....get your raincoat or brolly to protect your camera (don't worry about yourself, you ARE fully waterproof) - and get out there and won't be dissapointed, and that coffee at the end of the shoot will taste much nicer when your wet through....:-)

Here is a small selection of the images, all shot with LEICA M9 and LEICA 35mm F2 ASPH: