Photographers Deserve Respect Too

I took this photo a few days ago in Toronto. It’s of the jetty and swimming area, on the Toronto foreshore.

I had been in Toronto dropping off some framed photos of the area for a local business. I was really happy with how they turned out and it was great to meet the owner and see their reaction.

They’d mentioned to me that they would like a photo from the Toronto foreshore as well and as I couldn’t find one I’d taken that I liked, I thought I’d go down and take a few shots afterwards.

It was about 4.30pm when I went down and set up near the jetty to take a few pictures. There were a few people around and a couple of kids playing in the water so I tried to find an angle I liked where no one was in the shot.

After a couple of minutes a man approached me. He immediately got in my face and demanded to know what I was doing there and what I was taking pictures of. I said I was taking landscape photos of the jetty.

This kind of thing has happened before; from time to time I get stopped by people thinking I’m taking photos of them because they’re nearby, I even had a police car stop and ask once. I always say the same thing – I’m taking landscape photos and show them what I’m trying to shoot. Usually that’s enough; if it’s not I offer to show them the last photo I took so they can visualise it.

This guy was having none of it though. He seemed convinced I was “taking photos of kids” as he put it. Seriously? Yes there were a couple of kids around but they were on the complete other side of where I was shooting and anyone should have been able to see I was shooting the jetty. 

So I said again what I was shooting and showed him the back of my camera. He still didn’t believe me and asked to see the previous photos too. I showed him but he still didn’t believe me even then, kept saying there are kids here, you shouldn’t be doing it, it’s “not right, not right”.

Then another man who was walking past joined him. He was even more aggressive than the first and said I wasn’t “allowed to be here” and actually tried to take hold of my camera at one point so he could see the photos.

It went on like that for a couple of minutes and I was getting quite annoyed now. I’d been more than accomodating but nothing I said was getting through. I was also really pissed off by this idea that I wasn’t “allowed” to be there and must be some kind of creep. 

Look, I do get that parents and adults are protective of children, particularly around swimming areas, but I felt like I had done everything in my power to reassure them and the only reason they were going on about it was that I had a camera.

Before they approached me I saw a number of people stop and take photos with their phones. No one assumed they were taking photos of children or weren’t allowed to be there. But because I had a camera, somehow the rules were different for me?

It felt unfair. And the thing was too, I knew I was allowed to be there. It’s a public space and, on top of that, I was doing a job. It’s not like I could just go somewhere else and just because I wasn’t dressed in a suit and tie didn’t mean I wasn’t working.

But they weren’t listening; it felt like they’d already made up their minds long before they came over and I was afraid it was going to escalate even further if things kept going like this.

So I tried to calm myself and said again that I was contracted to take a photo and had every right to be there. Then I said that I needed to get back to work and tried to ignore them as best I could.

After a minute they both started walking away, shouting back at me over their shoulders. 

I took a few more photos but after that my enthusiasm was pretty much gone. So I took the above shot and then packed up.

I can’t say I’m particularly happy with the photo; it’s fine but it’s not what I was after so I will have to go back at some stage and try again. There’s usually always people around so hopefully it won’t happen again.

It was a shame as well as it ruined what had otherwise been a nice trip to Toronto. I didn’t even feel like looking at the photos for a couple of days after.

I’m sure I’ll be asked what I’m shooting again in the future so I’m going to keep a printout of the Australian laws with me in case anyone pushes me on it again. And if anyone has a major problem I’m going to ask them to call the police, for me as much as for them.

Maybe I could have handled the situation better but regardless I don’t think I deserved any of that. No photographer does.

I think sometimes people see a camera and just see red. But most of us try to respect your privacy, respect you as a person. 

It just would be nice if that respect went both ways sometimes.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2023

Reconnected now on at the MAC

The Reconnected exhibition at the Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie opened to the public earlier this week. My collage, Life During the Virus, is part of the exhibit.

This is me and the collage on opening day! It was great being there and talking with some of the other artists. There are some really amazing works on display.

If you’d like to see the exhibit it’s on until October 11 at the MAC gallery in Booragul.

Life During the Virus

This is a photo collage I put together recently of some of my favourite photos from the last few months. It’s going to be part of an exhibition next month.

The photos document some of the restrictions and changes that the first months of the pandemic brought to our lives as well as the beauty of Lake Macquarie throughout that time.

During the worst parts of those first months I thought it was important to remind myself that, despite everything, there was still beauty in the world so I focused on going for a walk every day with my camera and photographing the setting sun. We had some truly stunning sunsets and I think those pictures make for an interesting contrast, showing hope and beauty amidst the isolation.

I hope you like the photos. I’ll post a link when the exhibit opens in case anyone would like to go along. It features some really fantastic and inspiring works.

The individual photos are in a gallery below.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2020

2020 Calendar Available Now!

I’m pleased to announce that my 2020 calendar is now available for purchase!

The calendar features 12 landscape images from around beautiful Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and The Hunter. All of the photos were taken this year and the calendar includes several photos I haven’t shared before.

I’m very proud of all the photos – they’re some of my very favourites and I think they show different sides of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie which is what I wanted to achieve.

The calendar is A4 size and costs $25, including free postage worldwide. The first 20 calendars will also be signed and include a personal message as a thank you.

You can buy the calendar through my Etsy store or below via PayPal.

Makes a great Christmas gift if I do say so myself! 😉

CJ Levinson Photography 2020 Calendar

2020 calendar featuring 12 images from Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and The Hunter.


The Pole, Newcastle

Went to see Newcastle’s newest tourist attraction yesterday – the Pole!

It all started when Newcastle City Council widened the curb before energy provider Ausgrid moved the power pole. While they’ve been trading blame back and forth, the power pole has been left in the middle of the road and, naturally, it’s gone viral and become a bit of a tourist attraction. It’s even in Google Maps!

I’m sure eventually it’ll be fixed but it was fun seeing it first. A different kind of street photography for me! 🙂

Photos © CJ Levinson 2019

Belmont Sunset

Beautiful sunset over the lake at Belmont yesterday evening. There were some very interesting cloud formations and at one stage a plane went across as well, leaving a trail in its wake. It was a lovely sunset.

I decided to shoot a couple of panoramas to capture a bit of a different, wider perspective. Panoramas can be quite tricky to stitch with water but these ones came out well and they work well with the other shots.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2019