You wanna picture…here’s your picture

You wanna's your picture

This friendly guy is a cameraman with Sun News, a national cable broadcaster in Canada. He was annoyed that I took his picture, telling me I was not allowed to, despite being in a public place. After I persisted, he said something along the lines, that if I want a picture, then here’s my picture. So, to him, I say thanks for the picture. Now, here’s the long winded version:

I was visiting Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary on Friday, October 9, 2011 to see what was going in with the Occupy Calgary camp, which was under a court order to vacate by 2pm. I came a couple hours early, and found the tents all gone, and some signs and a new sculpture set up. So, I wandered around taking pictures. Naturally, that included pictures of the media and their gear.

As has been typical, multiple TV vans were present, typically idling with journalists keeping warm inside. Typically, they’d have a camera setup outside, sometimes unattended, but usually kept close to the van. However, Sun News had their camera a further away than others. They also had a large amount of cable tossed randomly on the pedestrian walkway by the camera. There was no reason for so much cord to be on the walkway, it was just "extra" loose cord, that they were to lazy to pick up and put to the side. Although this is a park, the walkways are really like sidewalks, because so many people cut through the park, especially when construction forces people to go around the sidewalk.

So, to avoid somebody tripping and falling I looked for somebody to ask to move it. But, they weren’t around, because they were hiding from the "bitter cold" (just a couple of degrees below zero centigrade actually) inside their TV van. I’ve seen them around before, and basically all they do, is stay warm in their van, and periodically run out to do a broadcast outside, and then run back inside. So, the viewers think they’re actually braving the weather to cover the story.

So, I just moved the cords myself (without thinking to take a shot first). After that, there was still some cords that were a hazard, and their tripod was partly on the walk way, and should be moved. But, I thought it improper to touch their equipment that much. Later, when they went to do their live broadcast, I went over and told them of the situation. They were totally unconcerned. They gave a fake polite "thanks", as in "who cares". I know people will think I’m being silly, for worrying about this, but a frail person falling, is actually serious, and it’s best to worry about it before it happens, then after. It’s people like this cameraman, that justify a lot of the restrictions on photographers (for example, not allowing photographers to setup a tripod in certain areas without a permit). All they had to do, was move their stuff, or stand by it, so nobody trips. So, I got a negative tone, in complaining, and they got annoyed at my annoyance.

I wanted to document the situation, as I plan on writing to their employer to complain. So, of course, I had to take their picture. When, I took their picture, that really ticked them both off. Both the cameraman and the "reporter" Andrea Slobodian told me I could not take their picture. Note, they didn’t ask politely, but just said I couldn’t, repeatedly, and definitively. I was surprised supposed journalists would be so ignorant. I said, are your seriously telling me I can’t take a picture of you in a public park? And, of course, the irony was incredible. This a TV news team. They regularly film people, in public, with or without permission. When I asked the reporter if he always gets permission when taking pictures, he actually lied, and said yes.

They demanded to know who I worked for and what I would do with the images. I sorta answered, even though, I really didn’t need to (I’m independent). Just to add to the silliness someone (I forget who) snapped my picture with a cell phone. Keep in mind their professional video camera was recording the whole time, capturing hi-def video and audio of me and everything, the whole time. Yet, some moron thought snapping me with his cell phone would prove something.

For those outside of Canada, Sun News is a relatively new cable news channel launched by Sun Media (owned in turn by Quebecor) which is generally considered to be conservative. Their critics on the left will call them "Fox North" as an insult. Their defenders will say "no we’re not, but what’s wrong with Fox News anyways". Their coverage tends to be pretty negative of the Occupy movement. So, protesters which aren’t happy with most corporate media, have an especial dislike for Sun News. Here is Andrea Slobodian giving a "fair and balanced" report this day.. Now, to disclose some of my own bias. I am sympathetic with a lot of the concerns of many protesters (but have many strong disagreements). However, I don’t agree with the setting up a permanent camp, breaking the law, pollution, posing even a small danger to safety, and limiting the use of others. I think there are to many restrictions on the use of parks in Calgary, but the laws need to be reformed for everybody, not just waived for some people. Sun News has been highly critical of the protesters, but ironically they’re doing some of what they complain the protesters do.

Anyways, I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t want pictures of you taken you, TV reporting may not be the career for you.

Photographer: Robert Thivierge

Date Taken2011-12-09 11:29:05
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This page was created by Rob’s FlickR Importer on May 20, 2021 @ 12:06 pm EDT.