The title translated from Latin; not that its hard to figure out is Flower Criminal. There is a reason I named the post thusly.
You see when I was taking these pictures I saw a police officer pull into an area to wait for speeders. A common practice where I live because they have nothing better to do and need to generate revenue somehow to pay for all the para-military gear they justify for “counter-terrorism” or “counter-narcotic activities” neither which are a huge issue here. Some of the dogs can be terrifying now and then. Most narcotics activity mainly happens at the pharmacy from patients picking up their easily prescribed narcotic prescriptions. Then again, I am only a humble observer.
Back to may story, I saw the officer pull into the spot while I was going about very obviously taking pictures of these flowers that are planted in my neighborhood and in public spaces. Not private property. When I finally made it to the general area of the officer to snap more images of floral magnificence I was approached by the officer.
Officer – Excuse me. What are you doing?
Me – Taking pictures of the flowers. You have been watching me do it.
Officer – So you are a photographer?
Me – Yes.
Officer – What do you photograph?
Me – Lately travel and landscapes.
Officer – You a professional?
Me – Yes.
Officer – Oh. Where you heading?
Me – To dinner and I figured on my walk to take so pictures.
Officer – Oh. Ok.
She went on to comment on my tattoos that are visible. She then tried to engage me in photography chat knowing nothing about it. Which I answered politely. All in in a effort for me to drop my guard.
Officer – So can I get your name?
Me – No.
Officer – I am not detaining you.
Me – I know that. You have a nice shift officer and stay safe.
I then proceeded to walk away.
Why didn’t I give my name? Under United States law you aren’t required to unless you have been detained and your identity needed to be verified. I know that is being petty but I was doing nothing wrong to begin with. The likelihood of her then using my name to do a search to determine if I had a criminal record would have been high. And for what? I suddenly became a suspicious person. Why? Simply because I had a camera. A phone taking a picture is ignored and considered natural. A camera in a phone has nearly the same resolution as most cameras.
A camera means I’m clearly out to do some nefarious deed.
This isn’t the first time this has happened and I know it won’t be the last. As a photographer I have to know my rights because overzealous and poorly trained law enforcement and security personal view a camera with suspicion. It’s a farce excuse used here in America that a terrorist threat is lurking and our rights and liberties are to be compromised for our “safety”.
I have shot in third world countries with questionable governments that the United States Government clearly deems less then democratic and human rights abusers. You know what? The police usually ignored me or smiled at me. I am not talking in tourist areas either. I tend to venture in areas that are off the tourist trail. The locals have approached me; not out of concern for me taking pictures of them or the the area but out of concern for my safety and my cameras. I wasn’t treated as an object of suspicion.
This is what is wrong with American culture. We give up freedoms for an illusion. We love to point out to other countries how their governments and police are eroding human rights and civil liberties yet our own country is falling dramatically in them.
If you are a photographer based in the United States please take a minute to read and carry a copy of the Photographers Rights. It’s invaluable for situations like I have related above. You never know when you could be photographing flowers that are clearly national secrets to be defended vigilantly.