Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 17 2010

A Hawkish Situation

I was walking by a construction site on Boai Road this afternoon on my way to lunch. Various cranes and machinery were moving sluggishly around against an interesting sky, so I took a shot with my GF-1. Then I recomposed for another shot, but just after the shutter clicked, a hand flew up and nearly knocked the camera out of my hands. “What the hell?”

It was the security guard for the site. I stared at him. “You can’t take pictures of this,” he said.

“Are you a policeman, then?” I asked, looking him up and down.

“No, I’m security for this site.”

“That site, you mean,” I said, pointing at the boundary between the street and the lot he had jurisdiction over. “And you’re planning to stop me from taking pictures from the street…how?”

“Our company has instructed me not to let anyone photograph the site,” he said, his resolve beginning to weaken.

“I don’t work for your company, and I’m not on your property, so what the hell does that have to do with me?”

“My company said-”

“Whatever. If your company told you to kidnap some women off the street for an illegal all-night Twinkie-eating contest, would you do it?”


“Let’s get something straight here: Not only do you have no right to stop me from taking pictures of their site, you ESPECIALLY do not have the right to touch my shit.” I was glaring at him angrily by this time, and he cringed.

“I didn’t mean to…I didn’t want to take your camera or anything, I was just…”

“You were just what?”

“It’s just, you moved too quickly…it was an accident!” The guy was near tears by this time. I thought of calling his boss over, or, barring that, a nearby policeman. But the cop who had been shuffling the illegal stands down the sidewalk a moment before had disappeared.

I decided to let it go as the security guard ran over to direct one of the huge trucks out into traffic. I’m no Thomas Hawk; photography is more important to me than confrontation or the resulting notoriety.

Chenbl says I should have just spoken in English the whole time to further confuse and intimidate the guard, but I couldn’t bring myself to do such a thing; In any case, I figured I scared him well enough as it was.

posted by Poagao at 3:55 pm  


  1. Nice victory!

    Comment by Bryan — August 18, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  2. I’m glad you stood up for photographers’ rights. This is increasingly becoming an issue.

    I had a class of my photography students on the streets of downtown Honolulu when a security guard popped out of a bank and told us we couldn’t take photographs. I pulled all of the students together and we had an instant mini-seminar on photographer rights. The security guard listened in the entire time. When we were done with the discussion he quietly disappeared into the bank and we finished our street shots.

    It’s important for photographers to know what’s right and wrong and stand up against the overly officious (and probably ill-informed.)

    You did us all a favor! Xie xie!

    Comment by Bruce — August 18, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

  3. it’s not about winning, but who’s right. therefore, you deserve a delicious steak ‘n’ cheese pie!


    Comment by Moses — August 19, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  4. Glad to hear that you’re back on the street after your previous post. I think the summer heat just takes the momentum out of a few things.

    Anyway, here’s the town in Hokkaido that sponsors a photo fiesta every summer. It’s not exactly Arles, but it’s closer and maybe it’s something to aim for on your next visit:




    Comment by persimmonous — August 22, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  5. Glad to see that you’re back on the street after your previous post. I think the summer heat takes the momentum out of many things.

    Anyway, here’s the twon in Hokkaido that holds a photo fiesta every summer. It’s not exactly Arles, but it’s closer and maybe something to aim for on your next visit:



    Cheers (and forgive the double post if this is one)

    Comment by persimmonous — August 22, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  6. Hi there,
    It’s an irrelevant question for you. Just curious what is the reason for you to choose GF-1 over Leica X1. I mean, for its better low-light performance?

    Comment by Chiou — August 25, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  7. Haha…no, Chiou. I didn’t buy the X1 because it costs roughly the same as a new full-frame Canon 5D mark II DSLR, has only one fixed f2.8 lens, takes forever to start up and shut down or focus, doesn’t do video, and has had some quality issues in production.

    Other than that, it looks like a great camera though 😉

    Comment by Poagao — August 25, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  8. I hear you. But it’s also terribly smaller than a full frame DSLR though. It just seems to me for a street photographer like yourself, a Leica will serves the purpose at its best…however practically, if the budget doesn’t allow, we go for the second best I guess. Thanks for replying!

    Comment by Chiou — August 26, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  9. A Leica does serve that purpose best…my Leica M6. Unfortunately, the digital Leicas have yet to produce something practical enough for my purposes. The X1, in addition to being extraordinarily expensive, isn’t as responsive as the GF1, which only has a slightly smaller sensor, faster AF, a much better screen, interchangeable lenses and video capabilities, all at less than half the price of the X1.

    If I had money to burn, I might think about getting an X1, but then again, if that were the case, I might just get an M9.

    Comment by Poagao — August 26, 2010 @ 8:21 am

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