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Photographers vs. sightseers: Who has the right of way?

Photographers vs. sightseers: Who has the right of way?

Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:32 AM
  #1  
Claudia
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Photographers vs. sightseers: Who has the right of way?

I'm intrigued by something another poster wrote in response to a question about carrying videocameras:

"Many travelers are not respectful or considerate enough to step aside when they see someone trying to get a shot. Others will actually deliberately walk in your path and stand there indefinitely."

Although it's certainly to be hoped that we are all as accommodating as possible when it comes to sightseeing -- photographers, videographers and nonshutterbugs alike -- I've always felt that those of us with cameras need to be careful about imposing our hobby on others.

An example: The Alcazar, Seville, June of last year. A very popular, and therefore, rather crowded attraction. Two college-age women were trying to get a shot of one of the rooms without anyone else in it. I'm thinking, "Good luck. There are hundreds of people here to see this room, and no one is paying attention to your needs." The young women were losing their patience rapidly, resorting to exclamations like "OH GOD! NOT AGAIN!" every time some hapless visitor entered the room. I don't think anyone was trying to ruin their photo-op deliberately; it was simply crowded. (I left sooner than I would've liked to avoid the situation.)

Now, I love taking photographs on trips. But let's face it: I'm taking holiday snaps, not a photographic essay for National Geographic. So I don't worry about having other tourists in many of my shots, but at the same time, I try to respect the intentions of those who don't want their photos ruined by the likes of me and my sunglasses.

After reading eye-opening threads on reclining airplane seats and traveling with children, I'm curious to see what the prevailing Fodors take is on the rights of camera-holders vs. the camera-free.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:50 AM
  #2  
dan woodlief
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As an avid photographer myself, I take the middle ground on this one. I think it is very rude to deliberately walk in front of me when I am taking a photo, but I generally ignore it. Only once did I get angry, but I only said something about it to my wife. For those who are just in the way because they are sightseeing, I always say "no problem, go ahead" and wait for them to move out of the way. Heck, as long as it takes me to compose a photo, I am not about to make people wait to walk past. I actually feel I am in their way more than they are in my way. If you want to photograph a place or thing without people, then go when there are fewer crowds - get up early, go late, go in bad weather - you have to work to get good photos; good photography is not for the lazy. Now, as far as snapshots go, if you want a photo in perfect conditions, then buy a postcard. That is what I do when I can't be there at the optimal time.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:52 AM
  #3  
sylvia
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I have stopped taking a camera with me. Postcards are usually much better and the pictures on them have been taken when the attractions are not crowded. Personally, I think that it is very rude to expect people to hang around when one is taking a photo. There is also a danger that you can be so busy photographing a scene that you don't actually look at it.
There was a horrible case at Mont-saint-Michel a few years ago. A mother tried to save her child from drowning and was herself drowned in the attempt. The emergency services arrived too late, but several tourists were videoing the scene and nobody tried to save the victims!
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:56 AM
  #4  
Howard
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As an avid photographer, I totally echo Dan's comments. Well said.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:59 AM
  #5  
Lizzie
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I agree with Dan. For instance, the girls you referred to who were trying to get a person-free picture at the Alcazar should have either made sure they were the first ones in the door that morning or purchased a postcard.

On the other hand, I always try not to step in front of someone who is clearly trying to take a picture - whether of a landmark or a friend. It just seems like such a simple, nice gesture. And, as I live in NYC, I find myself doing this quite frequently! I wish I could say that others do the same for me. Oh well.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 06:05 AM
  #6  
StCirq
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I don't deliberately stand in the way of anyone taking a photo, and will willingly move out of the way if I see that I'm blocking someone's shot, but I don't accord photographers any special "rights," either. And when I'm taking a photo, I assume it's up to me to get the shot I want, not the tourists and others around me.
There are places (the Trevi Fountain comes to mind) that are so swarming with tourists in peak season that it's actually hard to keep out of the line of sight of all the people wanting to take photos. We were jumping around like crickets last summer at that fountain, trying to accommodate photographers.
One thing that does bug me is the photographer who tries to "hog" space around a monument or site,lining up members of his/her party and encouraging, or even bullying, other people out of the way so he/she can get a shot. I've witnessed more than a couple of incidents like this, and they make me wince.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 06:24 AM
  #7  
Cass
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There are people-photographers and scene-photographers. Trouble with vacation photographers is that sometimes they try to be both.

Having been followed around by a magazine photog. who was a "people" photog. (or at least on that kind of assignment), I know that sometimes the best photogs are the ones that become almost invisible. So when I travel, I try to take pictures as unobtrusively as possible, and as a result I have some great "people" pictures of friends and strangers alike.

Taking scenic photos, it usually becomes more a matter of timing and duration. Up to a few minutes, I'll try to get out of someone else's way; and if it's me with the camera, I'll try to be patient until I get the shot I want. But when a photographer starts directing traffic, hogging a spot interminably for a group-with-cathedral shot, or generally taking over the place, that's when limits have been exceeded.

No, neither has the right of way, but I think unless the photographer's a professional, bristling with tripod, multiple cameras and lenses, and maybe a National Geographic ID, the balance tips in favor of the sightseer after a respectful but short few minutes of set-up time.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 06:40 AM
  #8  
Paige
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We take a lot of pictures but would never dream of asking anyone to get out of the way. When we see people taking photos, we try to stay out of their way. Having said that, it really annoys me when someone takes FOREVER to take a picture! We stand aside and wait but how long can it take to push the button??
Also, do you ever have to urge to do something silly in front of someone's camera? ar ar! Or have you ever gotten your pics back and found someone making a face at you or something? snicker snicker
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 07:03 AM
  #9  
Cindy
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I think sightseers have the right of way, but like pedestrians, they ought to yield when it makes good sense.

Photographers can get a little out of line, though. I attended a school concert last night, and many parents brought cameras or video equipment. And of course, there was one guy who set up a camcorder tripod in the middle of the center aisle in front to get the best possible shots of little Jimmy's flute solo. He blocked the views of people who had come early to get good seats. I was surprised no one accosted him.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 07:08 AM
  #10  
Diane
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Sometimes you just have to accept that this is the view you're going to get! I've simply decided that people are a part of a major sight, so try to make the best of it. I've got some hysterical photos from the Louvre, of crowds of folks trying to take the "perfect" picture of Venus -- and another showing how geometrically the long, long line of folks coming down the stairs through the pyramid snakes across the entry floor. You have to use what's there when you see it. And if you think about it, that's what your memory is going to be, anyway. If you really want a pristine, lonely landscape shot, you are probably going to have to go somewhere truly off the beaten path, or get there really early in the morning. I've noticed that people are generally polite when it comes to taking a photo of your honey (or your family, etc.) in front of a specific view, and careful not to walk between the photographer and the subjects, but you shouldn't expect them to wait while you're just "composing" as others here have noted.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 07:48 AM
  #11  
elvira
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Hmmm...sightseers are already on the highway, photographers are on the on-ramp. The sightseers have the right-of-way, but, just as if a car deliberately swerved to prevent a car from entering from the on-ramp, sightseers shouldn't deliberately interfere with a phototaker. At the same time, phototakers should be the ones to adjust, not the sightseers, to conditions.

On our Venice trip, we were joined by a friend who is a professional photographer (like, she gets paid by a major news source to take pictures); not once did I see her get in anyone's way or react if it took a while to get a shot.

Why get frustrated when you can't take a photo of some room in some castle? Buy a book or postcard in the gift shop...
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 08:01 AM
  #12  
Beth Anderson
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here's a novel concept:

the sightseers ARE the subjects of the photograph.

ha ha

it would add some present-day realism to your photos.

 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 10:01 AM
  #13  
Capo
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Dan, Re: "If you want to photograph a place or thing without people, then go when there are fewer crowds - get up early, go late, go in bad weather - you have to work to get good photos; good photography is not for the lazy."

Very well said!

I also like people in my photos on occasion. When in Rome recently, I took a nice photo of a woman in a bright purple sweater, and her companion, who had walked in front of my shot of the Quirinale Palace. The combination of her purple with the yellows & oranges of the palace was quite striking.

And a shot I once missed, because I'd run out of film at that very moment, was of an Asian woman with jet-black hair and a long yellow overcoat standing on the plaza overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 03:50 PM
  #14  
wes fowler
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A couple of years ago my daughter and I were in Brugge, one of the most heavily tourist populated places on earth. We were walking down one of the shopping streets when we spied a tiny restaurant with one outdoor table. At it were a middle aged couple and two magnificent Clumber Spaniels. (We own a Clumber.) We engaged in conversation, squatting at the couple's knees while petting the dogs for well over twenty minutes. The stunning dogs began attracting a sizeable crowd. We said farewells, exchanged Email addresses and as we parted I asked if I could photograph the Clumbers. The owners said yes of course. I backed up, extracted my camera and without a word, and in unison, the dozen people hovering about the dogs all backed up as well and waited patiently while I shot half a roll of film. I thanked them collectively for their patience and thoughtfulness and strolled away in amazement.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 03:57 PM
  #15  
xxx
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I must live in Charmedville or something, but I have never, ever had anyone walk in front of either my husband or me while we took photos. Quite the opposite, everyone walks around us, stands aside or stops. We have always done the same for other photographers, so maybe it's just good karma (?)
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 04:16 PM
  #16  
Jayelle
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I agree with the poster who said that photography is not for the lazy. You really do have to be prepared to get up early, go late, etc., to get pictures without a lot of tourists in them. I started concentrating on my photography more seriously on my latest trip to Paris, and found myself heading out at 7:00 am or earlier over the Easter weekend to get the shots that I wanted.

When I see someone getting ready to take a shot, I always try to stay out of the way, unless they are just taking an unreasonably long time.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 04:34 PM
  #17  
cmt
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I would never knowingly walk in front of someone taking a photo and I get very annoyed when people walk in front of me when I'm standing there big as life with a camera held up to my eyes. I do sometimes like to take scenes without people, but I don't expect people to forgo their enjoyment of a place in order to give me a perfect view devoid of humans. And I know I can be a little slow when using my older manual camera. However, if only one person is around, it's extra nice if the person steps out of the way, and sometimes (not always) I would do the same. It's pretty unreasonable to expect people to refrain from entering a room in a crowded tourist attraction so you can take a picture. Often I like people (strangers) in a scene, but I especially DISlike having them there if their appearance clashes with the surroundings. (That may be the only time I actually care how other tourists are dressed, the condition of their bellies, and how gracefully they walk!)
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 04:48 PM
  #18  
Jim Rosenberg
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As a person who likes to take photos, I am always appreciative of small courtesies but I don't think anyone taking pictures has a right to EXPECT any particular accommodation from others, either. This is particularly true of video photographers, since there is no way to anticipate when they may be "finished" or what they are even after. I ignore that activity whenever I see it, under the premise that it is their job to choose shots and scenes -- not my job to try to maintain the set for them. The old maxim that "your rights end where my nose begins" seems to apply well to this situation. I agree with the early risers. The light is wonderful, the scenes more pristine and the people I meet early in the morning are almost invariably some of the most interesting that I run into all day long. As the day wears on, heavy tourist traffic begins to wear on some venues and also the people who inhabit them. Let the rest of your party sleep in, concentrate on your composition and make use of the wonderful light angles available to you in the safety and tranquility of the early morning. Like fishing, you can get a lot of keepers if you're already enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee after a satisfying outing that has been completed by the time most of the crowd has even rolled out of bed.
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 04:48 PM
  #19  
Capo
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I forgot to add that whenever I notice someone about to take a photo, I refrain from walking in front of them, as I think that's very rude.

Instead, I get a running start, and hit them with a solid tackle right around mid-calf. :~)
 
Old May 2nd, 2001, 05:18 PM
  #20  
s.fowler
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Nice post Capo >>wink<<
 

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