Taking photographs and getting away with it…

Japanese lunch craving
12.11pm @ Wegmans supermarket along Maple Rd, Buffalo, NY

It’s been months since I had my last sushi. Being such a bright and cheery day in a typically cold Buffalo, I decided to head out to my neighborhood Wegmans for a Japanese lunch treat. As I stood affixed by the sushi showcase, I whipped out my Sidekick cellphone, ready to snap my next Flickr food extraveganza. As I steadied my shot, I felt a tap on my shoulder… there standing behind me was the sushi chef. While I was expecting to compliment him on the colorful delights he’s whipped up, he snapped at me instead, claiming that photos aren’t allowed in stores by law. I was turned off at first, but recognized that I was on private property after all, so I quietly bought my sushi roll, a new vitamin drink from Sobe called “LifeWater”, and headed out of the store. Once at a safe distance, I snapped the picture you see above.

Many of us often take our photos sheepishly in public, fearing either legal or socially-damning finger pointing while trying to satisfy our so-called need for art. Some advice I’ve seen in uncertain situations would be to let an onlooking figure of authority know what you’re up to and why. Often by saying that “this is for my blog” works, but if you’re feeling gutsy, you could also try faking it by saying you’re working for a newspaper or magazine (at your own risk!).

In any case, don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dream for that perfect shot, be it through the lense of the most expensive digital SLR camera, or the blurry pinhole of your budget phone-cam. If you’re really trembling in fear whenever you take your camera out in public, then you might want to download and print the following guides on The Photographer’s Right (US and UK editions). If that’s not enough to quell your fear, then you need a stronger medicine in the form of “The Law, In Plain English, For Photographers“.

4 thoughts on “Taking photographs and getting away with it…

  1. This is so American. I have taken pictures everywhere in Europe and never heard anything. The only exception – when we photographed a traditional German “sauerkraut” plate at a pub in Berlin. We behaved like idiots and the owner did not like it.

    Too many lawyers in the US I guess…

  2. I think it’s the same everywhere actually, just that it was an Asian person who stopped me, just as it would be typical for me to experience back in Singapore. Perhaps we tend to be overprotective, which has good and bad merits.

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