PetaPixel

Local News Piece Paints Boston Street Photographers as Perverts

Boston news station WBZ-TV stirred up some controversy recently after airing a piece titled “Downtown Crossing ‘Street Photographers’ Crossing The Line?“. Apparently a viewer sent in some video showing a group of six or seven older men who regularly visit a particular crosswalk to photograph pedestrians on the street, saying that they see the men “aggressively hunting down and photographing women and children nearly every day”. The station then decided to air a piece and publish a story from this perspective, questioning the intentions of the photographers and quoting other pedestrians on the sidewalk disturbed by their behavior.

Here’s the short piece that aired (click here if you can’t see the video):

Gizmodo also published a post siding with WBZ-TV today.

Again, it’s totally legal, but apparently the difference between what’s legal and what’s pervy is about as gray an area as you’re going to find in the public photography world. In a WBZ News tipster’s video, for example, one of these totally normal gents bends over behind a group of young women and snaps a picture of what the reporter describes as areas of bare skin. So, just some good clean wholesome photography fun going on in my state capital, is what it is.

One of the street photographers involved in the story responded to the story with a lengthy response, titled “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.

Finally, since when does taking a photograph of someone’s legs on the street automatically make a person a creep?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to side with one side or another in this case. What I am saying is that biased reporting can turn public perception against a group of photographers who might simply be doing some legitimate street photography. What are your thoughts on this story and how it was presented?

Downtown Crossing ‘Street Photographers’ Crossing The Line? (via Gizmodo)


Image credits: Video still by WBZ. 129/365 by drubuntu


 
  • http://twitter.com/JackCallum Jack Kennedy

    There is a lot of negative prejudice towards photographers, because of modern ideas. I’m 15, and very often get called a ‘paedophile’ or ‘pervert’ for having a camera to hand. Not sure about the US, but I’m in the UK, and not even old enough to be a paedophile.

  • http://twitter.com/HappyTinfoilCat Happy Tinfoil Cat

    And yet, one person just told me that a 17 year old girl wasn’t allowed to take pictures at her own birthday party in the UK. It seems, there is a law against photographing minors at a swim party.

  • http://www.lowercasestudio.com //d.

    isnt this the same news crew that brought us the story about Vivian Maier?

    the street photographer?

  • http://almondtree.tumblr.com/ Almond

    As a photographer in the Boston area who often shoots street, I have mixed responses towards this.

    On one hand, I certainly defend the men’s rights to do as they do- no doubt about. Hell- that’s the purpose behind my Constant Surveillance set on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.194450740584203.51540.186067468089197 , edit out the link if you want- the point’s not to viewwhore).

    On the other hand, the portions of the video that were aired certainly don’t seem to be entirely the same as ‘street photography’ the way it’s normally done- they certainly seem to be ‘creeping’ a bit more than I’m used to seeing. Also, what photographer in the digital age isn’t quick to give a link or something to their work to get their work out there? I’m a bit surprised that something like that wasn’t just thrown out there when the men were interviewed.

    Just my [not-so-coherent, I'm sure] two cents…

  • http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com Nikhil Ramkarran

    I can sympathize with people who feel uncomfortable being photographed, even if it is in a public place. And these gentleman were very aggressive and roaming in a pack almost. I am a big believer in explaining myself in a very non-hostile way when confronted and moving elsewhere when people become too aware of me.

    The news report was undoubtedly heavily skewed, but I can’t help feeling those men were a little creepy indeed. And I am an avid practitioner of street photography myself.

  • Lee

    Hilarious that the actual photographer was telling the guy to turn the video camera off. Dude, your standing on a public street. If you don’t want to be on the video, leave. Talk about calling the kettle black…. Sheesh. Can you spell double standard?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NJZEIZA53CHPLTO54FZVWDPFKM cool

    Few idiots bring bad name to whole photographer community. From the video, it is clear that they are not following ‘street photography etiquette’. If you crouch or bend behind girls and take picture, what public will think? First, use common sense. If you go near to the people’s face and take picture, it definitely irritate the people. I think this arrogant photographer saw Bruce Gilden’s youtube video and imitating on the Boston’s streets. Bruce Gilden’s way of street photography only brings you trouble.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NJZEIZA53CHPLTO54FZVWDPFKM cool

    Few idiots bring bad name to whole photographer community. From the video, it is clear that they are not following ‘street photography etiquette’. If you crouch or bend behind girls and take picture, what public will think? First, use common sense. If you go near to the people’s face and take picture, it definitely irritate the people. I think this arrogant photographer saw Bruce Gilden’s youtube video and imitating on the Boston’s streets. Bruce Gilden’s way of street photography only brings you trouble.

  • Student

    Creepy it appeared to me. Maybe the guy bending over behind the ladies is willing to share the photo that he took just then…

  • http://khurtwilliams.com/ Khürt Williams

    This is why I am not comfortable doing street photogrpqhhy. Despite my purest intention my acts may be misconstrued.

  • Steve

    It does look a little creepy but we don’t know how this piece was edited. They might of given a good explanation and it wasn’t shown. The press can twist a story any way they like. I’m sure if these photographers were “aggressively hunting down and photographing women and children nearly every day”, they would soon find themselves in a confrontation with an angry husband, partner or parent. Even if they are sneaking up on people, someone’s going to confront them and I really don’t think they would want to go back to the same place every day and do this so obviously. Surely there must be more to this story?

  • cristofa

    @Happy TInfoil Cat – I don’t think there is such a law – more likely that’s down to house rules in the public pool.

    As for the rest, this is such a bizarre story. Incredibly provocative of those photographers to assert their ‘right to take photographs in a public place’ – meanwhile seriously alienating their subjects/victims. These guys definitely give ‘street photography’ a bad name. I ‘shoot street’ but strive very hard not to be noticed and, if another photographer showed up in the same place, I would be out of there.

  • Anonymous

    People these days don’t even know what a Paedophile is, in the strictest use of the term. They are ignorant tabloid reading masses.

  • http://twitter.com/JackCallum Jack Kennedy

    People now a days seem to think a paedophile is anyone who
    A) has a fancy camera
    B) Is a middle aged man or older
    C) Has a big van.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Holybasil

    One name:
    Bruce Gilden.

    These guys pale compared to him and yet he is a world renown photographer and is a part of Magnum Photos.

  • Mijo Apple

    Trying to be an artist or not, they take the pictures because they are mentally aroused by what they want to capture. Inn today’s society there are guidelines to that. You can’t just be taking pictures and not expect some sort of backlash. Do the right thing and ask for permission. Plus if six or seven guys doing this, then it isn’t very original. They should be more creative. Let’s just be honest, this isn’t art, it is just creepy. If anyone were to take a picture of you without you knowing or wanting it makes for an uncomfortable situation. They should just stop and be more creative.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Jack

    These guys use the laws and the idea of street photography to their benefit, but they are an insult to true street photographers whom do it for the art. A friend of mine was photographed by one of these guys; the photo was of her chest,which he ordered to delete by the aid of a police officer. Go on WBZ’s site,you’ll see so many defending these guys due to strong feelings about street photography and the rights of photographers. The defenders mean well,but they do not know the full story about these guys. They probably are legit photographers as well and have exhibits,but so many in that area have seen these guys and what they are doing. Do some research and you’ll see there is a market for candid shots of men,teenage girls and even for men. The people reacting strongly to these guys are not against street photography or being overly paranoid, though the opposing opinion may tell you otherwise. We live in a world where we truly do need to be concerned,especially when minors are involved. Don’t feel sorry for these men. Certainly don’t confuse these guys with the greats; they are not in their league. That news story was about them,not about street photography.

  • Clint

    Jack, you sound like a paranoid type yourself. And you don’t know the law. Any pervert worth their salt would never show their pictures to the cops. The police have no right to take your film or force you to show them your photos… It’s obvious you don’t know the law and that your claim is an utter fabrication. If these guys are so law savvy, they would never permit themselves to cave into the cops. You are a fraud, a troublemaker, and don’t do yourself any favors by trying your hand at constructing a rational argument.

  • Gary Gumanow

    Definitely painted as perves through editing. This is just ridiculous. When I get harrassed on the street it is usually someone else’s “stuff” that they are putting on me. Call me a pervert and it’s something that they have going on, not me. I know why I’m doing this, so it’s someone else’s stuff, not mine, and probably not these guys either.

  • HH

    This whole thing is BS. I do this kind of photography, and I go to Downtown Crossing all the time – it’s just a great place for photographing people. The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to do this kind of work you have to expect some opposition. People that you’re photographing won’t like it, but despite that anyone has the right to do it. These guys are obviously harmless. Their only fault is that they went out as a large group and as so, attracted a lot of unnecessary attention to themselves.

  • HH

    This whole thing is BS. I do this kind of photography, and I go to Downtown Crossing all the time – it’s just a great place for photographing people. The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to do this kind of work you have to expect some opposition. People that you’re photographing won’t like it, but despite that anyone has the right to do it. These guys are obviously harmless. Their only fault is that they went out as a large group and as so, attracted a lot of unnecessary attention to themselves.

  • HH

    This whole thing is BS. I do this kind of photography, and I go to Downtown Crossing all the time – it’s just a great place for photographing people. The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to do this kind of work you have to expect some opposition. People that you’re photographing won’t like it, but despite that anyone has the right to do it. These guys are obviously harmless. Their only fault is that they went out as a large group and as so, attracted a lot of unnecessary attention to themselves.