Steve has a post in his blog about a visit from the police: Over Troubled Water
Two days ago, I stopped to watch some construction workers toss debris into a dumpster and began taking pictures. The workers were thrilled that I had taken any interest. After a while the boss stepped out of a car, and approached me - but didn't say anything. Just gave me a sour look.
I didn't say anything either. Something about him just rubbed me the wrong way - and probably visa versa.
After a moment he decided to speak: Wunderin' what you're up to?
Well, that was fascinating. He has a southern accent? Or is he just putting that on?
And I go through my usual photographers' explanation that: a) the light is interesting and b) I like trying to catch the debris in mid-air as it hurls into the dumpster or c) I have no idea in the world why I'm photographing them - just caught my eye.
Well, usually this is enough, but he still looks suspicious.
Look, I say - I don't work for any paper; I don't work for any lawyer; I'm not from the Mayors office...
And then his face softens and he tells me that of course not. He wasn't worried about any of those things. Every little ole thing is on the up and up. And I tell him - of course - every little ole thing is on the up and up. And he becomes interested in the lighting and the beauty of the moment - maybe.
I don't get much from the shoot (I didn't think I would at the time since there were all these silver things hurtling through very strong light) - but everyone always wants to know what you're up to... and maybe it is well that they should. If someone walked up to me and started photographing me I'd want to know what it was all about and where it was going to appear.
And yes, photographing kids playing in the park is pretty much out of bounds (even if their parents or guardians are okay with it). The irony is that there you are, looking for the innocence of your childhood - but you are confronted with society's loss of innocence. It is getting to the point that if you want to be safe, you should probably just stay in your house and photograph your own walls. Anything else might raise the suspicions of your local police or neighbors.