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

2021 Favourites

My 5 favourite photos from 2021 and a mix of my other favourites below.

2021 was a year of two halves for my photography. Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world and success in suppressing Covid led to the first half of the year feeling somewhat normal and I felt more comfortable doing some animal and portrait shoots again.

Then the Delta outbreak hit in the second half of the year and we went back in to lockdown. All my work dried up, including my food shoots (my main source of income), and I couldn’t leave my local area for months.

I also moved just before the lockdown but that worked out well in the end as it meant I had a new area to explore for my photography during lockdown.

The lockdown was difficult; I found it much harder than what we’d been through previously and going for a walk along the foreshore with my camera each day was one of the things that helped get me through it. We had some beautiful sunsets during that period and focusing on the natural beauty of the lake really helped to keep me sane.

Once the lockdown lifted things picked up a little; I was able to resume some food shoots but a lot of the restaurants I had shot for before didn’t survive this lockdown unfortunately. It took a big toll.

Towards the end of the year my photograhy group was able to start meeting again which was fun and it’s continuing to grow. And despite work drying up, I still managed to sell a number of my calendars and prints throughout the year which was good as well.

Here’s hoping 2022 will be a better year all round as we start to move in to a new stage of the pandemic.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2021

Valentine Photowalk & Sunset

It was my photo group’s last shoot of the year yesterday. It was a bit of a crazy shoot – we went to Valentine for the sunset, only to get hammered by a storm which sent us scurrying for cover and ended the shoot early.

Then on the way home, the sky absolutely exploded with colour. It was one of the best sunsets of the year and typically I’d left my camera in the car! At least I managed to get a few shots with my phone.

It was a pity that we missed the sunset at Valentine as it would have been spectacular there too but oh well, another time. And it was definitely an interesting way to end our photowalks for 2021! 😀

Photos © CJ Levinson 2021

Swansea Sunset 08/12/2021

Wednesday night’s beautiful sunset. I almost missed the sunset as I was busy most of the day but managed to run down to the Swansea foreshore for the end of it.

I didn’t have my tripod or most of my gear with me so all of these were shot handheld at 6400 ISO. The files still look very good – it’s amazing how advanced cameras are now in low light.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2021