I’ve heard stories from many different people, mostly among students and fellow acquaintance because this issue really doesn’t get into any sort of attention on Yahoo’s (really horrific) news or Google, or any of the other places that has news but I don’t read. I just have the question: What is the camera mean to people today?
Now this all starts with an experience at a local mall which holds you Average Joe stores: Hancock fabrics, Target, REI, Johnny Rockets, Sushi Boat, Pac Sun, Old Navy, Burlington, etc. It’s fairly small compared to other California malls which are crowded and noisy as heck. But let me tell you that we were pretty isolated at one spot next to Johnny Rockets and Sushi Boat and we had been immobile for 2 hours. Never have we ever gotten into any sort of trouble, we’ve gotten a few compliment because we tend to draw and just chit chat (one time this lady came up to us and handed me and my friend 12 dollar gift cards to Johnny Rockets and said ‘Remember that the Lord has a name and it’s Jesus Christ.’), but this time was different. This time I had a camera and I was doing homework. Which brings me to the question, Does the camera nowadays strike; creativity or terror?
Maybe it’s a simple answer to you the reader, but it would appear in the law enforcers have a different ideal or whatever the specifics are in protecting the public. The stories I’ve heard was that you can’t take pictures of a mall on the mall grounds or even from the street (period!). The one I experienced was in the mall (keep in mind immobile for 2 hours) a mall cop walked up to us (like a ghost) and asked that I stop taking pictures of my friend at this small table.
We asked ‘why?’ the mall cop replied ‘ever since 9/11 (don’t remember the rest) the terrorists usually take pictures of the structures.’
Now if I was mobile taking pictures of every last structure flaw then yeah, I probably wouldn’t have a problem but we were immobile. And to be honest do you think that a terrorist would carry around a big clunky camera where the shutter of the camera makes a loud crack? I won’t answer. But cameras are now on every phone imaginable and any normal person says bygones! Quiet, small, sneaky, and here I am showing no effort to hide the fact that I’m taking pictures for a project. The mall cop didn’t care why and really didn’t exert any more than that. Minutes later once I’ve stopped I curiously turn around to see him pacing and staring at us. We left, but after we left I wanted to ask the cop so bad if I was doing anything to invoke terror, the public people sitting down eating their meals, were they scared or having feelings of being terrorized?
I won’t say that I don’t look like a terrorist because Terror is a state of mind and has no face. I don’t know where the camera is going because of incidences like this, I’m sure, in fact I’m positive I’m not the only one who has been through this. I just want some sort of closure which I know I won’t get, I just don’t enjoy being treated like I’m going to open my jacket and cops will assume I’m packing TNT because of my camera. I also don’t want to be taking a picture sparking my creative genius and there’s the conformity brute who says that I can’t. When I know now that I can!
Is it the camera? Or is it the state of mind of most mall cops and police advocates? Is it just people in public?
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is Fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of Fear is of the Unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft.
I woulda gone about things differently had I know that I have my rights to take pictures in a mall. Just a lesson learned to know your rights fellow photographers!