Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photowalk Bust

Around two today I biked down to the train station to meet Mark Forman, Todd Alperovitz -- whose butterfly pics make me green with jealousy, and several other photographers, some expat, some locals. The event was this year's Photowalk, a global activity in which photographers all over the world gather to walk some local photogenic site and post the pics on the official website. There's a prize for the best pic too!

We met at the station, in an area full of photo ops, and spread out to take photos. Todd and I wandered into each other, and not finding the others, headed down to the hardware market, which I photo'd a couple of years ago. The market is essentially a street of hardware, hand tool, and power tool shops, full of interesting shapes and colors. Mark had mentioned that we'd hit the market on our circuit of the area, so we went there to look for him.

As we entered the market we saw down the street a pair of policemen having a discussion with a group of people, but thought nothing of it. As we drew near one of the men stepped away from the group and turning, asked if we were with the Photowalk. He then related his sad story....

...a few minutes before he, along with two other shutterbugs with the event, had stopped to take a picture of the shop for the Photowalk. The shopkeeper went ballistic and called the police. I never heard why she was so upset, but the police came and laudably, they were just disgusted with her. "You're impairing the freedom of others!" one of them told her as he begged her not to sue the guy. But the truth was, at least as far as I could see, that she had him by the short hairs, because he hadn't asked her permission. Or at least the cops thought so, for they begged her not to sue while conceding that she could.

Unfortunately the man had an old Leica, a film camera, so he couldn't just delete the photo. He gave her his card and said he would be happy to give her the negative when he developed the pictures, but she would not believe and insisted on suing. At one point she said, with a kind of stinging politeness, that either he took the photos down to the shop right then and developed them, or else they would go to the police station. As Todd and I were leaving, they were headed for the police station to handle the matter, her in triumph, the photographers despondent. The incident put a damper on what would have been a great afternoon spent with talented people doing something they were good at.

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that nothing happened to the photographer in the end. The police terminated the incident at the station.

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, although the storefront is in public... and the reason for having a store front + sign is to attract customers to enter... thus it is to be visible... it is considered private domain... although the passer by is not given a choice if they would like to see the shop and sign? Taiwanese law is F-ed up! I mean... they have CCTV cameras everywhere. Can I sue for being on a CCTV recording or if a shop is on one of the recordings can the owner sue?

Arthur Dent said...

I would love to know what her beef was ....

Kenneth said...

Weird tale. How can you be 'busted' for taking photographs in public? Her business was in public... by what law did she claim she could sue?

The only thought I had was that she must have been doing something illegal... I know medicine shops are very protective of their wares, with good reason.

Sean Su said...

Aside from what Kenneth said, why didn't the photographer just walk, pretend the photo was deleted (despite it being analog) or just ignore her and say he won't use the photo anyway? What could she have done then without his name, address, and further evidence?

My father was once a journalistic photographer and got this kind of BS all the time.

Back then he'd claim the photo was badly taken and walk away anyway. Today he simply pretends to delete the photo and walk away. If she insisted more on it, then he'll just ignore her.

If she dares touch his equipment he tells her that his insurance company has well paid lawyers just waiting to sue people for damages that they themselves won't want to pay for.

It's usually effective enough to keep them away.

Craig Ferguson said...

Usually the law is that anything taken from public is fair game. Unless the market streets, are considered private, the guy should have just ignored her and continued on. If it were me, I'd have probably kept taking photos of her while she was going crazy. Maybe some video for You Tube.

Unless the photographer was in her store (in which case he'd need permission), it sounds like the woman was 100% in the wrong. The cops should have known that.

Anonymous said...

Many police officers do not know the law.

I was in a minor car accident and the other party wanted NT4000 in damages. The police showed up and wanted to negotiate the settlement and got the guy to lower his payment to NT 2000. The cop implored me to pay. I figured it was better that way. Later I found out the accident was legally the other party's fault and I should have been the one asking for payment. The police officer should have known the law. I imagine it is a similar situation.

Todd said...

That whole scene really killed the mood. One things for sure, I'm not buying a power drill from that store.

TicoExpat said...

Who wants to bet her beef is that her power tools are illegal? The cops should have gotten her, not teh otehr way around.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking that. They should have used the opportunity to check her license and wares.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I really don't think she had any grounds for a complaint, unless her business was illegal in which case she should be the one that's in trouble.

I've had betelnut-stall bosses tell me I can't shoot their girls, and I usually comply just because I don't want to get into an argument that could lead to an altercation. But yes, I believe he should have just apologized and kept on walking.

Tobie Openshaw
www.lightstalkers.org/bignosetw

Ashish said...

Nice photos Michael. I really liked the last one :)

Anonymous said...

The only reason she went ballistic is that she is probably selling made in China knock-offs in her store. If you've been to any of the night markets that skin live snakes, etc. they have 'no pictures' signs posted all over. They probably don't want to end up on Animal Planet or being sued by some animal rights groups.
Hmmmm, does this mean I can demand money from any of the locals that secretly snap pics of my kid?

MJ Klein said...

i hope he counter-sues when it comes to light that she can't prove that she was damaged in any way.

Clark said...

The photographer in question is far too kind and polite.

Mark Forman said...

Sorry that you guys got separated from the group and even more so for this poor soul who came late and missed the walk and encountered this grief for his troubles. Sure would like to know who it is and find out more info and offer my sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see this, but my best guess is that the woman's mental isn't healthy and sound, if you ever observe how vending places operates, you might get why I say so, from opening to closing, they are always competing with their fellow venders for all sorts of things, space,customers and so on, other than things appeared obvious to us, there are also sanitation issues,customers,sometimes local gangs, all these stress makes them stares up and down people all day long, plus they are not law binding and pays no tax, what they do is to rent the spot and got few tickets from the cops on monthly basis, and now finally someone is within their grips, what do you think she will do? Somebody should do a mental study on these people long ago.

Anonymous said...

Also, someone mentioned about the security cameras, have you ever wonder why young kids living in bigger city like Taipei are extremely cocky and less polite when comparing to other places in Taiwan? I always blame the all-mighty nanny...CCTVs for broking the ranking system which exists among all mammals, places with no CCTVs, people know they have to behave to save their own skins, and that's how civilization functioned, only in Taipei...not only so, it turned the cops into eye popping idiots as well. This can be a good study for social behavior of such.