A Rush To Judgement

citygarden-aI had an interesting couple of days off, taking photographs in Chicago and here at home in St. Louis. I’m pretty worn out and have lots of stuff to keep me busy the rest of the week with sorting and editing photos. Who knows, maybe there will be a few keepers when I’m done. I was slow getting started because I had to move a bunch of stuff off my laptop in order to have enough space to edit some massive panorama shots. That’s done so all I need to do is to find some time for the rest.

I had an interesting time at the park last night dealing with a person who claimed to be the leader of a bunch of girls who were performing with lighted hula hoops. Performing is probably a bit strong because they seemed to lack any coordinated sense of direction and they arrived about an hour too late to take advantage of any good ambient lighting even though they had a photographer with them who should have known better but maybe photographer is too strong of a word also. Let’s just say he had a camera and a very large bag. I never saw him take anything out of the bag so I am forced to guess what might have been in there. Do I have a match for “Rufees” and “Duct tape?” No? Well I tried and thank you for playing our game. I don’t want to tell anyone how to work their craft but dude, how about some fill flash? I would have done things much differently for sure.

I first saw this bunch out of the corner of my eye while I was taking photos at the splash-fountain. They had on some interesting outfits that I like to refer to as Circus Hooker Chic. I shrugged and went back to what I was  doing. A minute later some blue haired women started screaming like, well like blue haired women at an Elvis concert and took off running (slowly) towards the other end of the park still screaming about a “performance.” My lovely assistant who was very bored with splash-fountain photos by this time said that a (lighted) hula hoop “performance” might be pretty photo worthy. So I picked up my kit (both of them) and headed towards the far end of the park to check it out.

The self proclaimed leader of the circus hooker hula hoopers came over and informed me that she was not comfortable having photos taken of her group.

“What?”

“Yes, I’m just not comfortable with having photos taken of me and the group.”

That took just about one half of a second to hit the part of my brain that really hates being told what to do and what I can do.

Uh, you do realize that you are in a public park and eight out of ten people here are taking photos right now?

“Well yes but…”

I started (launched) into my boilerplate speech about civil rights and the constitution and who knows what else and then she said, “Well I just wanted you to know.”

I was already irritated before I got to the park though not looking for a fight. So I said, “Well I just want you to know that I am well within my rights to to photos of anything and everything that I want to in a public park.”

Fine by me, I’ll respect your wishes because in general I loath taking photos of people who don’t want to be photographed because nothing useful usually comes from it. I picked up my cameras and tripods and moved another twenty yards away to a comfortable bench to watch the big “performance” which consisted of general milling about with no coordination or choreography and not a lot of enthusiasm. I thought about polling the rest of the group to see if anyone wanted to pose for a private session. Sort of a divide and conquer or splitting the ranks move but I was frankly too tired to care about photographing unwilling subjects in poor light.

Now mind you the “group” had their own shmuck photographer with that big ass bag of who knows what, taking available light shots (it was very dark by now) using the floodlights from the sculptures I guess. No fill flash at this point though much, much later he did start using an on camera flash (lame). Very dramatic and probably pretty unflattering. The lighting in this park is pretty horrible in general before you even start to think about taking photographs.

So now I am sitting and minding my own business almost a half a football field away when a security guard comes over with another guy in tow who I figure is the father or grandfather of one of these circus hooker hula hoopers (man I love saying that). The security guard looks serious and asks if I was taking any photos of the girls.

Now I’m on fire (hey it’s been a long day) and the first thing I say (loud enough for half the park to hear) is, “Do those girls and that photographer have a commercial photography permit to take photographs in this park?

“Did they reserve the park?”

“Do they have a city license?”

I guess my thinking was that they were going to claim this was some sort of commercial copyrighted photo shoot or something to that effect to claim that no one else could take photographs.

Bam, bam, bam I hammered on that guard like nobodies business until after several minutes when I finally came up for air he said, “I just wanted to ask you if they told you that you could not take photographs in the park.”

“Oh.”

So basically (for once) somebody was on my side, as was the other guy he had in tow, who was bragging by this time about getting the circus hooker hula hoopers photos with his special night vision camcorder. I imagine those turned out every bit as well as the official shmuck photographers efforts. We all agreed to play nice at the park and that (so far) the circus hooker hula hoop girls did not really seem as photo worthy as we had all hoped. I walked back to the other side of the park figuring the hoopers would end up there and be in my shot which they were but they still managed to keep a distance by having their photographer shoot from the wrong angle.

I’m pretty sure that some of the girls would have appreciated having their individual photos taken but I was pretty disgusted with the whole thing by then and decided I would come back some other time with my own hula hoopers and flock of assistants to do a proper job of the whole thing.

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So the moral of the story is not to judge people before you hear what they have to say, be nice to your daughters when they use your stuff and always agree with your lovely assistant when she suggests taking photographs of young women performers.