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How can a photographer focus on doing his best work and be safe in Spain?

How can a photographer focus on doing his best work and be safe in Spain?

Oct 18th, 2007, 04:19 AM
  #1  
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How can a photographer focus on doing his best work and be safe in Spain?

I have read a great deal about the pick pocketing and even recently about muggings in Madrid. On our upcoming trip, my wife and I will be try to use all the advice presented on this forum and elsewhere when sightseeing.

However, I am a professional photographer with a focus on producing quality photo art. For me, capturing images of wherever I go are one of the major pleasures of traveling. I often go out early to take advantage of the morning’s soft light, usually working from a tripod. Even when I am sightseeing I look for photographic opportunities. Always I am totally absorbed by the scene I am capturing. And, the equipment I carry is definitely at the higher end of the price scale. I will try to be very careful and aware of who is around me but if I had to constrain myself too much, it would take a lot of pleasure out of visiting Spain. So I recognize that I am a good target yet do not know how to avoid being so and still enjoy my trip. It seems like I have two poor choices: constrain my photography or be constantly on edge. Either one can dampen my enjoyment of our trip.

I would welcome any advice from photographers who have found how to balance the awareness of your surrounds with your focus on the images you are capturing...and enjoy Spain.
rlm346 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:04 AM
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Quite frankly, by not limiting your sources of information to this forum.
Dukey is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:06 AM
  #3  
ira
 
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Naughty, Dukey, naughty.

ira is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:32 AM
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If you are so focused (pun intended) on what you are doing, then I hope your wife might keep a watchful eye on your surroundings.

Most property crime is opportunistic and non-violent, so awareness is your best defence.
Padraig is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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and once you are out of the high density cities, these petty crimes drop DRASTICALLY.
lincasanova is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:44 AM
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Hmmm ! Funny you should ask, but I may not be the best person to advise you. I had my trusty Canon SLR and my camera bag stolen on Easter morning in Madrid. Diversion is the tactic--be aware.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 06:02 AM
  #7  
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Dukey, are you implying that the concerns about crime are overstated in this forum?
rlm346 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 06:10 AM
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BAsically the same rules apply no matter where you are taking your photos.
Carry your gear in something that does not scream camera bag. Take only what you need for that day with you, so don't take two bodies, and half a dozen lenses if you really don't need them. Use a strap that has a wire in it so it can't be sliced, or use a hand strap on the camera and use it all the time. Never put your camera bag down whilst taking photos, or leave it open. You could get a bag alarm for it which will go off if it is moved, but that is not really ideal.
Only take the tripod for early morning forays, and then return it to your hotel room.
Away from the cities you will be fine. In the cities be hyper aware of what's going on, and ask your wife to keep an eye out, hold gear etc. ABove all don't behave in a nervous way - that will attract thieves to you as they will know you have something worth taking.
hetismij is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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I also travel with the intent to market my images.

What has worked for me in the past is to hire a local, private guide...even if just for a day. They can get you places faster, know the areas better, and get you in places you wouldn't even have thought of.

Just the fact that they are there with you, and speak the language, is a great safeguard.

Aside from helping with that, they usually know the better places to eat.

It's always been worth the extra expense to me.
Jim_Tardio is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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I still don't get it:

You said you are traveling with your wife.
What does she do while you are taking photos?
Can't she just have an eye on the stuff?
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Since you are a professional photographer, I assume your equipment is insured.
Nikki is online now  
Oct 18th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Cowboy, if the OP's wife is anything like my OH she is still tucked up in bed while he is out getting those early morning soft light photos, and during the day is getting increasingly bored with all the photography going on.....
hetismij is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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"if the OP's wife is anything like my OH she is still tucked up in bed while he is out getting those early morning soft light photos, and during the day is getting increasingly bored with all the photography going on..."

Hit the nail on the head. My husband is really into photography too, and while I will watch his equipment, hold the bag, etc., it gets really tiresome to spend my vacations hanging around watching him take pictures - LOL. I generally wander off on my own while he takes 25 shots of the same thing
J_Correa is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 02:02 PM
  #14  
DAX
 
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Where's PalenQ? We need more updated info on crime ridden Barcelona & Madrid.
DAX is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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As a professional photigrapher sometimes one just has to face the danger to get that one great shot. Good luck out there with all the dangers that are Spanish!
wombat7 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 02:23 PM
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How to both keep your focus and your gear safe? Obviously, it's a question of the depth of field knowledge required to safeguard the cameras and accessories. Just be sensitive to the exposure it gets, and stop down wherever you have to.
Robespierre is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 04:07 PM
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With your second camera, you can always get a good shot of someome stealing your gear.

I am in the middle of an exhibtion of shots of Spain that were taken between 1972 to 2005. There are prtty thirves in the major cities but with an asistant their should not be a problem.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 08:25 PM
  #18  
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Thanks for all the serious and light-hearted suggestions. I will consider all of them. Regarding my wife watching my back, during the day we will be enjoying wherever we are together. We will certainly look out for each other then. I do take some tourist travel shots at those times but most of my serious work occurs when I am alone. It is true; my wife is tucked in bed during my early morning stints. If I go out during the day she is likely shopping or doing her own sightseeing. These are the times when I am most vulnerable. Yes, my equipment is insured but who wants to lose them, especially in the middle of a trip. I will try to be conscious of those around me and try to secure the gear from being easily grabbed. I will also look into getting someone to accompany me in the morning.
rlm346 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 01:58 AM
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Sorry pard, I did not mean to be snappy with my remarks.

Usually I am not a big fan of that "blend in" frenzy.

But: What I do when I want to check out parts of towns that people get "nervous" about is:

1. Dress down. Don't wear "nice" stuff when you roam the city.
2. Add some local flavor. Maybe you find some merchandising from the local newspapers like a El Pais ball cap or an ABC bagpack so you look like a local photographer - at least from a distance.
3. Hetismij said it already: Don't take a camera bag, but something more neutral like a one-strap bagpack.
4. Carry with you a mobile phone, and find out before you leave which emergency numbers you need, and store the number of your hotel. The EU wide equivalent for 911 is 112.
5. Check out less "dangerous" locations. Unless you need to take pictures of and in Madrid, the "real Spain" is more than MAD and BCN. Any small town will offer the same great photo opportunites but with -probably- more peace of mind.

Please do NOT take my comments as an advice that only the fully-disguised tourist can survive Madrid without getting mugged at every street corner!

I doubt that many thieves will rise at the same hour which you have in mind to take your pictures in the morning.

Madrid is neither a mall nor a jungle.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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rlm346
There's a early twenties photographer who "Focused" on taking just a few shots each day. He didn't carry a bunch of camera equipment each time he left but he only took his basic camera.

If you're a serious photographer, you might this ancient father of American Photography. You might find fascinating this persons feet steps.

Blackduff
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