After being accosted yet again today while photographing in my own neighborhood, I decided it’s time to update my website with information about privacy rights in public. Essentially, there are none, with some narrow exceptions and restrictions. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bert Krages; he’s your go-to attorney on the web when it comes to privacy and publicity law.
Anyone who’s visited my website has seen my photographs of suburban homes and shopping malls, inter alia. I was shooting today along the same lines, when a woman pulled up to ask me what I was doing. Actually, she turned around and drove back toward me to ask, after first passing me by.
Only, she really didn’t ask me straight out, or I’d have taken the opportunity to school her in my usual charming manner. (Really.) Instead, she blathered on about whether I was shooting a nearby house for sale (not hers) and was I interested in buying it, etc, etc. It was obvious she was checking me out; but she didn’t have the nerve just to straight-out ask me. I find this quite irritating. Heck, I’d have preferred she called the cops, if she found me so intimidating she couldn’t talk to me like a normal person. At least with a police officer I’d have had some small chance of encountering a person who knows the law.
I replied politely, but monosyllabically, to her questions, as she writhed through her attempts not to ask me what she plainly wanted to ask me. She left, and I drove away when I was finished shooting. The house I was shooting wasn’t hers. Guess she’s the Neighborhood Watch block captain.
I’m glad that my neighbors are watching out for “suspicious activity” in my ‘hood. We’ve had some burglaries and vandalism, so vigilance is good. And I don’t mind explaining what I’m doing—usually by handing my interlocutors a business card and inviting them to my website. (I think I could get away with almost anything if I printed it on a business card. What about, “Michael Sebastian,Voyeur”?) But I am quite tired of having to fend off such inquiries when they are made in a mealy-mouthed, passive-aggressive manner; or, on occasion, with aggression of the chest-puffing and loud-talking kind. (I’ve encountered that, too, here in Suburban Acres.)
At times I’m something of a curmudgeon, so if you find this an unreasonable stance, sound off (politely) in the comments.