Wednesday, April 20, 2011
They tell me timing is everything. I was writing a blog about street photography when WBZ-TV(CBS Affiliate) did a piece on the eleven o'clock news about photographers in downtown Boston. I could not believe my eyes & ears. They did an entire piece on male photographers taking pictures in Downtown Crossing. They surreptitiously videotaped several men on an afternoon. They questioned a couple of them too. The station made no overt accusations. No one was breaking the law but they brought into question how creepy this practice seemed.
I was aghast. To me it was salacious "journalism", at best, & downright unconscionable, at worst. After 9/11 New York City tried to make it difficult for photographers to work in Manhattan. The mayor has had to retract many of those "rules" but police still harass photographers constantly, hiding behind those nonexistent laws. In London they passed legislation to prevent photography but have had to change their tune to some degree. Believe it or not it was tourists who they listened to. Even though these two democracies had to amend their policies, photographers have lost something in each case.
It is difficult enough to practice time-honored street photography in today's world. Invasion of privacy, perversion, child endangerment & just plain old paranoia make it hard in an urban environment. I've been shooting in Downtown Crossing for three decades & unleashing what I learn all over the world. Amazing photographers have preceded me for years. It is how history gets a glimpse of itself. So it is important that we stifle this negative connotation about photography.
Sick people can turn this into a bad thing from either side of the argument. But we do not need the news media--our comrades-in-arms--who sticks cameras & microphones into the faces of traumatized accident victims or films suicide jumpers to make up stories to sensationalize just for the evening news. Besides preaching the wrong sermon, they will turn around against an "angry populace" one day & we won't be there to help.
Here is the piece shown below (Click here for a link to the video)
One of the Photographers responded with a story and examples of his photography entitled " WBZ Crosses The Line"
The spot was heavily biased, and can serve as an excellent example of how news is created, how fact is distorted, and how WBZ got the story they set out to find. All by design. If this is what happens with a minor story about street photographers, imagine what happens with major news stories.
[...] Before I continue, consider this: a real predator would not have engaged the media to begin with. If we were truly part of a group that “aggressively hunts down women and children” we wouldn’t go to the same place almost daily. This is How-often-do-you-beat-your-wife? Journalism.