This photo- all 7.3 megabytes of it is all I have of my second altercation caused by photography. This photo snapped when I hit the shutter grabbing the camera back from someone’s hands.
On August 29 2012 I was set up to go shoot the Colorado State Fair and I showed up to start snapping (and recording) around five, as I thought I would get sunlight, sunset, and night photos in a short span.
I packed my Canon 7D and a handful of business cards, people always want to know where they can see the photo they had thought I was taking of their kid but really was a clown texting.
I only took my 25-135 mm lens and a few filters with other supplies in my pocket, I wanted to look casual and not too ‘equipped’ being stopped by security or getting myself mugged was not in my plans. I wore my ‘crime scene tape’ shirt and blue jeans, sandals. I was able to sneak my camera in with the aid of my uncle’s wheelchair. Although I was planning on shooting video, it was never necessary for a microphone or dolly. I would use whatever solid surface I can as a tripod.
I started the day by making a walk around the entire fair, snapping some photos and getting the feel of what I want to shoot at night.
Once inside the security never really looked twice at me because I had my ‘PRESS’ card around my neck. I was not invited here, I did have permission although. Not a press pass because of my lack of being with a paid off crooked paper. Just a pass from the lady at the desk when I called saying “I shouldn’t have a issue if I don’t get caught”. I had free reign to take photos anywhere the public was, that is the rules right?
As I walked around the carnival side of the fair I was amused by all the colors and flags all calling in attention for you to spend your money there and not at the same game two stalls down. I tried to snap as many pictures as I could without any in them. Some even asked to be in the photos!
I came across the freakshow, so I started snapping pictures of the hand painted posters. I heard a man say “Hey get that guy”, I turned, my camera already flung around my back ready to, well ready to what ever was coming next. I saw a plain clothed chubby but fit man walking towards me and saying “Hey, this guy wants to talk to you”, I saw the man looking around the corner of his booth, it was a game worker, or carney, or whatever the correct term is, I still don’t know. I walked over to him, he inquired what I was taking pictures of. I told him the posters about ten feet in the opposite direction of him. He said “Hey, man, I’m on America’s Most Wanted, you can see why I don’t want my picture taken.” I laughed with him as clearly this was a joke. “No, but really I don’t want my photo taken, my tattoos, my way of talking to the people, it’s all a act, I am an entertainer” “I cost ten thousand to have my photo taken” “You better not have my photo on there” I could finally cut in on his very amphetamine style of speaking “I shoot independently, I have no pictures of you or your game, here is my card, I have to get back to work now”.
I asked if I could take pictures of the posters as I wanted to leave on a okay note and not have my day of shooting cut short due to police working as security. He let me, so I snapped a few shots of the posters and started walking away. He stopped me, he had his friend working the other side of his dart toss game hand me a dart. He said “It’s on the house, I want you to win”. So I threw it, missed. He did it again, I missed. Again, I hit. He said how many tries did it take for you to hit and I said three. He said well my boss has to hear more than one ballon popping before I pull down the big prize on the top, it takes five for one of those. He took his hand and popped two more balloons and asked me how many balloons have popped so far, I said three. He handed me two more darts. I threw them and popped one ballon. He asked how many darts did I toss I said five. “Well how many balloons popped?” “Four” He handed me another dart and I popped the fifth balloon. He said “okay, you hit five with six darts, six darts cost five each set of three so when you hit five with three times two thats ten, whats ten plus ten?” I said “Twenty” “so twenty huh” I knew what was going on, and I fell for it hard. Maybe it was that he was acting a little off about the pictures and I was still scared of him calling the police over from their gold cart, or that something would happen to my camera. I fought with him on the twenty and he ended up walking me to the ‘token’ machine to get ten tokens to pay him off and move on to shooting the rest of my day light shots. He took the tokens and I followed him back to his game, five minutes later I got a stuffed toy from him. I wasn’t just leaving with nothing for the ten. I also asked him if I could take a photo of the balloons up close, he let me. I left.
I shot the rest of the day photos and went back to where the games and rides are placed.
Sat around for it to get completely dark and started on my video work.
I got all of my shots except for one. I walked around the corner on the last stretch where the games are and sure enough the man stopped me again. This time he was with a customer. He told me “Hey wait I have to make sure there is no photos of me on there” he continued with the couple playing the game and ran the same con on them as he did with me. He turned and started telling me to play back my photos from the past two hours. I ran through them and he noticed one had the little movie symbol in the corner. That changed everything. He started ranting about video taping and I need to show him everything I shot in the past two hours. The couple walked away without their prize. I assured him that no video was of him. He kept asking who I worked for and whatnot. “Maybe I should call the police over here” this is where it changed for me, I knew I had everything I needed and wanted to just leave so I told him that it would be a good idea. He just kept going on about how I have photos and video of him. I had my trusty back up, a HDSD card taped to the inside of my battery compartment. I pulled out the card and handed it to him. He asked what it is I told him it was all of my photos and video, that I am just going to leave. He said “So you do have photos of me on here, this is going to get you in trouble, you are taking video of stuff you are not allowed to” “I’m not going to take your camera man” “It sure looks expensive for just pictures of the fair”. I told him that I think the police should be around on their golf cart soon as they make rounds around the games every ten minutes or so. I waved down a golf cart and walked over to it and he started up with the guy about what was going on and how I was secretly recording him working. The guy told me that he was the state ride inspector and that he will get the police. The man at this point took off his shirt, threw it at another man walking by and started in on “I’m going to quit so that way your photos wont mean shit” “The video is worthless if I quit” The man in the golf cart waved down a police cart with his flashlight and I told the sheriffs deputy everything, the first man that stopped me walked over from talking with the worker and the sheriff told what now is the worker’s boss that he had seen me shooting around the fair all week and had absolute permission for everything and no photos or video of the worker. The boss told me “He has been on a 60 minutes show so he is paranoid about this type of stuff” I gave the police officer and worker’s boss my card and asked if I could go. I left.
I still haven’t found much on the 60 Minutes episode or if it wasn’t a different program all together. As for this being my second altercation, it is true. It’s the reason I didn’t just walk away and talked to the man. I think if I were to just ignore someone when they ask about me taking pictures of them then it would cause a lot more altercations than just showing them I don’t have any and giving them a card in case they want to see the end photos of mine. I believe this man was under the influence of something that made it hard to grasp that I was not interested in recording his con game and exposing it. He seemed too fast to get angry and too slow to think about it.
This isn’t much of a altercation in the first place, I should have had many more by now and they don’t come often. Police side on the public over the photographer, it’s just lucky I got a cop after a long day under the sun dealing with peoples dumb problems ready to go home and tired of paperwork.
Link to the video I made of this night’s clips.
Link to the photo set of this night’s shots.