The above image is a close up of a concrete trash can that sits outside the main doors of our local shopping mall. The texture and geometry appealed to me and I am pleased with the abstract nature of the final image. But, after taking the shot, as I was heading back to me car, a mall security guard waved me over to his vehicle. He wanted to know what I was doing. I explained that I had been working on an assignment for my photography class, taking advantage of the opportunity to shoot indoors with lots of subject matter variety that a venue like the mall provided. He informed me that taking photos in public places like the mall was a security concern and not really allowed. Luckily, he didn’t make me delete my images nor did he clap on the cuffs and cart me off to the pokey.
It makes me sad that, in our world today, a middle-aged woman bending down on creaky knees to take a close-up photo of a trash can raises security concerns. Understanding the reasoning behind those concerns doesn’t lessen the feeling; that queasy feeling of being caught doing something wrong. You have to understand that I am definitely NOT a rule-breaker nor do I have a rebellious streak. No, the song “Goody-goody Two Shoes” was written with me in mind. Speaking to someone in “authority” like this turns my insides to jelly, even if he was just a “mall cop”.
I have a new-found respect for the photojournalists who venture into dangerous situations, putting their lives on the line in order to bring us the important images; images that have the power to change the world. I’m not that brave.
But at the same time, I wonder – what are my rights as an amateur photographer, taking photographs in public spaces? I would be interested in hearing your input.