Lady Forced to Delete Pix of Kids (Not Hers) with Mall Santa

Hi Readers: Is there some way we can convince Americans (and then the world, and then the galaxy) that taking pictures of a child who is out and about in public is not the same as sexually violating them? Because the fact is:  Most people taking pictures of kids are not doing it to get off on ’em. And for those few who are, dare I ask: So what? It’s like that disclaimer at the end of a movie: No child was harmed in the making of this photo.

I think the hysteria about kiddie picture taking stems from a lot of sources:

1 – The belief that anyone interested in kids other than their own MUST be a pedophile. (And what a lovely notion that is.)

2 – The deep-rooted fear that a picture really DOES capture the soul.

3 – The conviction on the part of some parents that their kids are SO preternaturally attractive that they are going to be singled out by everyone, including talent scouts, college admissions officers, and perverts.

4 – The idea that, “I once heard something about a picture of some kid that ended up on the Internet and…” I.e., some half-baked urban myth that doesn’t even make SENSE, but rattles around in the collective consciousness.

So here’s nznhbnsdrs
the story
of a middle aged woman who wanted to take some sweet Christmas photos at the mall (I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms to some of us). She shot some photos of kids talking to Santa, and the kids’ mom kicked shot her dead.

Well, not quite. But the mom certainly killed the photographer’s Christmas spirit. So did the security guard who demanded she delete the photos of the kids.

Now the weird twist is that the photographer lady is actually a former West Virginia State Senator. And in a column she wrote about the mall/photo experience she says:

The woman who had stalked me through the mall did not know that I am a former state legislator who initiated and succeeded in creating strict laws against pedophiles in the West Virginia legislature. To me, the random child in my picture was simply a representation of a special moment in a human life and an innocent attempt to capture the magic of Christmas.

I just wonder how her “strict laws against pedophiles” dealt with other folks just trying to capture a special moment. Let’s hope her laws were measured and sane. And let’s hope that what we all get this season is the gift of calming down and connecting, instead of fearing everyone and everything. — L.


159 Responses to Lady Forced to Delete Pix of Kids (Not Hers) with Mall Santa

  1. cherokeebydesign December 21, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    I would not have deleted my photos..people need to realize a photographer is not a damn terrorist.
    This makes me want to go out and photograph all the children in public places and wait for the cops to show up.


  2. magnuminsp December 21, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    “A South Hills Village security guard told me to delete the photos from my cell phone. After informing the guard that there were also photographs of Santa without the child, the guard told me that it was against mall policy to take photos in the mall.”

    At the rate we are going, using this article as a reference, the only place you will be able to take a picture of anything is in your home. And whoever is in those pictures will most likely have to sign a waiver of some sort.

    Maybe mall security should run a quick background check on the lady who complained. I suspect there is a skeleton or two in her closet!

  3. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    I agree with most of what you said. There’s another side, too, however and it does begin with a “what if.” Yes, if in public, there’s no right to not be photographed. There is a right not to have your image used to make money. So, if the photographer had intended to sell the child’s image (albeit innocently), then the parent does have every right not to have the child’s face sold. That’s a reality. So not everyone is a pervert, but some people will use your child’s image to sell a product. Is that okay? I mean, I would have asked the woman her intent, but I don’t think people should feel that they have carte blanche to do whatever they feel with anyone’s picture (post it on FB or make cute Christmas cards for the next art show).

  4. Bob December 21, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    Given that malls and just about every other public space in the country are infested with security cameras, this mother’s objections to the random stranger with a camera are even sillier. Any time you step out in public you’re at risk of having your photograph taken. Furthermore, if being interested in children other than one’s own makes someone a pedophile, what does this make pediatricians, elementary school teachers, day care workers, children’s hair stylists, people who run toy stores, etc.? Are they all perverts too?

  5. dmd December 21, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    I’m appalled and yet can so totally see it, too. We are so endlessly barraged about keeping ourselves safe and protected that absolutely nothing seems safe anymore – even visiting Santa. People are literally living in near-constant fear. And we let this happen to ourselves.

  6. sassystep December 21, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    the world has gone insane. I am thinking of leaving a stepmom support group that I am part of because during a conversations about whether or not to tell a teenaged girl that her phone had a tracking device on it, I was the only one to suggest that they leave off the tracking device – and attacked for my opinion. Of course the conversation then turned to all the horrible things that could happen.

  7. Cin December 21, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    This drives me bonkers. People, you have no right to your own image in law. NONE. If you are out in public, anyone has the right to take a picture of you. In fact, in most of North America, where you are is irrlevant — it’s where the photographer is standing. If they are in public and can see you (through your front window), it’s legal,. Tacky, but legal.

    Furthermore, “mall policy” does not trump the LAW of a state, province or country — EVER. A mall is considered in most ways a public place, therefore it can make any rule it wants about pictures, but it can’t enforce them.

    If you are standing inside a store, that’s different, but the main concourse of a mall is in most senses public.

    Fianlly, no one, not even a cop, has the right to demand you delete photos. A judge can order them sestroyed, but not a security guard or a cop.

    As a former journalist, this nonsense restricting people’s legal rights drives me bananas.

    Stand up for yourself. Refuse to delete the pictures. My photojournalism professor told us when confronted to state we were student journalists, apologize and walk away — thus keeping our pics.

  8. Cin December 21, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    “There is a right not to have your image used to make money.”

    Actually, no, there isn’t. A freelance journalist can sell your image if taken in public — they do it every single day.

    You can complain through civil means if your image is used to sell a product and you are not compensated.

  9. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Exactly. I meant commercial, sorry. And, don’t get my wrong, I am completely appalled that the woman was forced to remove her pictures because that was wrong. I just think that the tone of this post is that parents have no right to be worried about their child(ren)’s image(s) at any time because not everyone is a pedophile.

  10. dmd December 21, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    @sassystep, your comment reminds me of a recent experience where another parent proudly told me how her kids would not talk to a stranger. It was her proudest moment. I think it was just some guy walking down the street who said hello to her and her kids. I told her that I would rather my son learn to be social, greet neighbors and strangers alike. She thought I was rather odd.

  11. Heather G December 21, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    This reminds me of a story my grandmother told me while we were looking through her photo albums. There was a serious of really great photographs of my aunt doing cartwheels and other things girls do when they are 10, at the park and showing off for their friends. Knowing my grandmother is a downright awful photographer it was clear she didn’t take them. When I asked her who did she said “some guy who thought your aunt’s antics would make great pictures”. He gave my grandmother copies much later after they developed a friendship but at the time they were taken he was a stranger with an eye for photogenic people doing interesting things. It didn’t bother my grandmother at all.

  12. Heather G December 21, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    *series, not serious. Dang autocorrect.

  13. Donna December 21, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Mirielle, there are incrediably few instances of someone taking a picture of a random stranger and then using it to sell some product. It is extremely unlikely to happen. Maybe an artist who uses a random photo taken in public in her artwork. Maybe someone who prints a picture of an event in a paper or magazine that contains your child. But advertising almost always contains paid models or someone known to the advertiser, not random unknown strangers.

  14. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 2:43 am #


    I know that. I was offering a reason to object that isn’t about pedophilia.

    That’s all.

  15. Lafe December 21, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    I would not delete my photos.

    People need to be informed that this is not a crime but a perfectly ordinary activity, and that you don’t have to delete your work just because a bully with a badge wants to gain some brownie points with the overreacting fearful ones, or throw his/her ‘authority’ around. Police exist to enforce existing laws, not make up new ones. Mall cops enforce, well, mall policy, which (as has been said) does not trump state or federal law.

    The woman who stalked the former legislator through the mall and bullied her should be prosecuted for harassment — if the facts are presented and the bully does not relent; I’m not saying every misinformed busybody needs to be arrested. Then again, that might be nice…

  16. EricS December 21, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Well for one, and not pointing fingers at the photographer for taking photos, but maybe this is karma? Maybe she made laws too strict when she was in the senate? Now those same laws she help pass is coming back to bite her.

    At the same time, there is no law against taking pictures in public, including everyone else caught in the scene. And unless there is a law against taking pictures inside a mall (which I’m pretty sure there isn’t), she didn’t have to comply with security to delete the photo. And I hope she didn’t. I would have even mentioned to the mother, that if she doesn’t want her kids being photographed, then she should refrain from exposing them to areas or situations in public where they can be. Including on Santa’s lap. Where I’m from, everyone and anyone is taking pictures of Santa at the malls, and if someone’s child is caught while others are taking a picture of the scenery, well that’s no one’s fault but their own. Don’t want to be in the pic, don’t put yourself in that situation. Plain and simple. The world does not evolve around specific individuals.

    I wonder, if these people even realize what Christmas Spirit is. You know, Joy To The World, Goodwill Towards All Men, Peace On Earth, etc… And they wonder why more and more people are not “celebrating” Christmas. Hypocrites.

  17. Stephanie December 21, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    I’ll admit I don’t go to malls often, but one part that surprised me was that there wasn’t a “no pictures” sign by the Santa. Last time I saw one at the mall, they had that sign and an explanation that selling pictures was how they made their money.

  18. KayleeD December 21, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    I’m actually not in agreement on this one.

    If this lady wanted to capture the beautiful scene with a child, then perhaps it would have been more prudent to approach one of the families in line and ask if they would mind her capturing the beautiful scene with their little darling as she didn’t have any children of her own and thought it would make a lovely image.

    While you are right in that not everyone taking pictures in public is a pedophile you forget that not everyone like their image shared. While there is no law against photography in public a little respect for people would go a long way.

    Did the mother overreact…definately! Politely asking for the photo to be deleted as you are uncomfortable with a stranger having your child’s photo probably would have worked.

    Could the photographer been more polite…definately! Next time just ask one of the families most people wouldn’t have an issue with it.

  19. SKL December 21, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    I am very careful about pictures of other people’s kids. I probably got that way because I used to volunteer for a charity that provides mental health services to children. We threw parties for the kids, and we took photos, but we were instructed to not take photos of any children’s faces, as that would be a privacy violation. Granted, that was different as it was known that the kids were there due to mental health issues. But it made me that much more sensitive and careful. I just don’t do it for the most part.

    However, I was glad last year when I forgot my camera, and another lady at the Christmas party took photos of everyone’s kids with Santa, and posted them on her blog. I ripped them right off and used them in my Christmas cards. I see no issue.

    As for others thinking my kids are the most gorgeous ever – well, they are – is that a problem?? It’s not like someone can steal them via the internet pictures on someone else’s blog. (Their names & address were not provided on the blog!) I’d rather see them anonymously on someone else’s blog than post them on my own blog.

    My kids have also showed up in ads, etc., because they were photographed while attending a somewhat high-profile Christmas party. What can I say, they were the cutest people there (and also the only ones under 15). Nobody’s making money off of them and I can’t imagine any harm coming from this.

  20. somekindofmuffin December 21, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    Two issues here. First, the mother. She did overreact. Maybe could have simply asked what the photographer was doing.
    Second, they were in a public space, but it IS private property. All malls have rules, not laws, but rules against taking photos inside them. Mostly it’s so the competition can’t copy what they are doing. Almost every store has this same policy.

  21. socalledauthor December 21, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    This situation reminds me of another one I ran into repeatedly during a brief foray in a mom’s group. (Zebras don’t fit in with horses well, so I didn’t last long!)

    Every mother, except me, refused to let other people post pictures of their child on Facebook. They’d go to a birthday party, then be incensed that the birthday-child’s mother posted party pictures with OTHER CHILDREN in them. How DARE that mother share pictures of Junior’s party online, except pictures that didn’t include any other child in it. Some gave the pedophiles online reasoning, while others it was all about keeping their child’s privacy by not having images of the child… except how does an unlabled picture of the child make any difference related to privacy? I don’t get that part. There’s a lot of time and effort spent by certain mothers/ people on controlling what other people do– in regards to pictures, but also other things. (But heaven forbid someone try to control THEM!)

  22. Lollipoplover December 21, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    @Stephanie- yes, those mall Santa photos are a racket and they make it very clear- no pay, no pictures. Your kid can sit, but don’t think you’ll get out of there without shelling out at least $20 for a crappy picture!
    Last time I checked, it’s still a free country (and I’m glad she’s a former legislator and not still in office) and some people have hobbies, like photography. They may not have children in their lives, and just see a sweet moment. Kids are fun great subjects!
    Sheesh, lady no one cares about your former title when you’re spewing nonsense. Stay home if you don’t want your image captured.

  23. KayleeD December 21, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    I feel the need to leave another reply in direct response to all of the “it’s a free country” / “there’s no law against” people.

    I agree the parent went completely overboard in her reaction… HOWEVER
    Just because “it’s a free country” or “there isn’t a law against” taking pictures, it can still be rude.

  24. marciepooh December 21, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    Lollipoplover, the photographer is the former legislator not the over-reacting mom.

  25. Claire53 December 21, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Well Lenore – nice of you to give the senator the benefit of the doubt that her legislation were “measured and sane.” But it is just such laws – and esp the barrage of them – that has mummified this country in a state of fear and suspicion.

  26. Karen December 21, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I agree that the photographer was within her rights, but I also agree that she was rude to just take the picture without asking. As the mother of two disgustingly adorable kids (age two and three), I’ve been asked on several occasions by strangers if they could photograph my children (though I think much of the appeal stems from the fact that they’re free-range-in-training, and are usually doing something like pushing their own miniature shopping carts at the grocery store complete with items from mama’s list). I’ve always been flattered and given my permission. As for posting pictures of my kids online, I just specify that the pictures not be labeled with their names (unless it’s family on Facebook, and I know how strict their privacy setting are).

    It seems to me that free-range parenting relies on a safe and civil society (which we do still have). Not even asking permission to photograph a stranger’s child contributes to the erosion of civility, and allows overprotective parents to assign their own nefarious motivations to innocent actions of others.

  27. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 3:56 am #

    @Karen, you’ve said it beautifully. Thank you.

  28. wksocmom December 21, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    Did noone think to question the man in the photo, with kids on his lap no less? Last night we watched “Santa Claus is coming to town” and the old guy wanted the kids to not only sit on his lab, but give him a kiss in exchange for a toy. Shudder 🙂 I love when my kids are the ones who end up on the website or paper, just proves they are the cutest 🙂

  29. Suzanne December 21, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    It’s amazing that people get far more worked up about someone taking a few pictures at a mall during the Christmas season, but don’t seem troubled at all by the near constant surveillance at such places. Malls are private property, and as such, they can ban photography with their rules. All they can do, however, is ask anyone photographing to leave. They may not ask for people to delete their pictures, nor can they confiscate film. (Yes… some of us still like to use film.)

  30. kimr December 21, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    Just found your blog from babble, my husband and I have agreed it will be good for me – I tend to over worry and over think!

  31. Stacy December 21, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    “And for those few who are, dare I ask: So what? ”


    As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I take this stance all the time, and people are completely baffled by it. My opinion is – if the options are actually touching/harming a child or taking their photograph in public and otherwise leaving them alone… I’ll hand the pedophiles a camera every time.

  32. Donna December 21, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Mirielle, Worrying that your child’s photo will be used commercially without your consent is no different than worry over pedophiles having the pictures. They are both an equally remote possibility (actually the pedophiles may be more of a risk, albeit still remote). I would think someone equally ridiculous if they asked me not to take pictures of their children because they were afraid their images would be stolen for commercial purposes as I would the pedophile fear.

  33. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 5:10 am #


    Please check the spelling of my name. Thanks. 🙂

    I think that it is rude to take pictures of other people without asking. I think that it is rude to post them on Facebook. I think that it is rude for the mother in this situation to have reacted by having security to delete the photos.

    I do not think Free Range parents are going to get very far if the only reaction to someone else’s opinion is “you’re being ridiculous.”

  34. Donna December 21, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    Mireille (happy now),

    Last I checked I’m still allowed to think whatever I want. As is anyone else. I’m sure some other parents think I’m ridiculous in my beliefs too. Whatever. If confronted with the concept, I’m not going to pretend I don’t think it’s a ridiculous when I do.

  35. FrancesfromCanada December 21, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    Karen said most of what I wanted to say better than I was going to say it.

    But here’s a thing: I have seen photos of children taken in public places used in advertising; not often, but it happens. The most frequent offenders around here seem to be malls, especially advertising their play space, or, ironically, their Santa display. Anybody familiar with Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood? Their message, that kids deserve to grow up without the influence of marketing, is just about as important to me as free-range parenting is. My kid doesn’t wear clothing with branded images (ie ads) on it; I philosophically oppose his image being used to sell something.

    My radar isn’t on for my son being caught in the background of someone’s family photo, but if I see someone I don’t know directly taking his picture, yes, I’m likely to ask what their plans are, and respectfully request that it not be published, explaining my position. Honestly, I don’t much care whether I have a legal right to do that or not; I think I have a moral one.

    Would I ask for it to be deleted? Dunno. Haven’t yet. Certainly less likely if the person is a hobby photographer, especially if they offer to email me a copy!

    As usual, it boils down to good manners. On both sides.

  36. pentamom December 21, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    “But here’s a thing: I have seen photos of children taken in public places used in advertising; not often, but it happens. ”

    But you don’t know it was done without permission. I understand your objection is to the use of kids at all in advertising, but that’s a different point.

  37. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 6:03 am #


    Wow. You’re actually bothered that I corrected you on my name. Yeah. I get why you see no problem saying exactly what you want to whomever. I don’t see how your attitude is any different from that of the helicopter moms. Everyone do whatever they want! It’s a free country! No need to be polite at all. Lol.

  38. oncefallendotcom December 21, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    If it was a man, he would have been arrested and his house raided by US Marshals looking for CP.

  39. Michelle Potter December 21, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    My first thought was, as others have said, a lot of mall Santa displays have a rule against outside cameras because they are a business trying to make money by selling photos. I, for one, don’t have a problem with that at all.

    (I would add, when I took my kids to see Santa last weekend, I was broke and not planning to buy a photo. They gave me one for free. I thought it was very generous of them. Of course, they are probably hoping that I will go to their website and order more copies — and I might end up doing that, LOL. Free is good advertising!)

    The actual story is pretty outrageous, though not surprising. As a hobbyist photographer myself, I wish more people understood that no one has a right to force you to delete your photos. They don’t have the right to demand that you turn over your camera or memory card. Personally, I use a service that automatically backs up my cell phone photos, and I wish I could get something similar for my DSLR.

    SKL, when you downloaded the photos of your kids from someone else’s blog, I really hope you asked first. Otherwise, you have technically violated her copyright.

  40. RoseInTheNorthwest December 21, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    What about giving the “stalker woman” the benefit of the doubt. Unlikely, yes, but she could be in witness protection or hiding from an estranged and violent spouse who lost custody. In other words, she *might* have a reason to be afraid of a picture of her kids being made public on the internet or in print in some context that would reveal her location.

    In the absence of a rare drama like that, I’d say she’s off her nut. But you never know what’s really going on. And certain if she were in WP, she wouldn’t reveal that to the photographer.

  41. Karen December 21, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    It goes back to common courtesy. If the photographer had asked and the mom had a reason (real or imagined) to not want to risk her child’s picture getting out there, then there were other families lining up who might have said ‘yes,’ and the whole thing could have been avoided. As long as we’re all fighting over whose individual rights are more important, we open ourselves up to rare what-if situations and imaginary threats. Why not ask instead of assuming the law will back us if a confrontation occurs? We might actually have a conversation with someone and get to know them a little better, thus building a better community and educating people through experience that not all strangers are threats. Can’t have that!

  42. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    This has nothing to do with pedophiles and more to do with respecting her privacy and the privacy of her kids. If she asked the woman to delete the pictures, she should have. Its that simple. Its courtesy. Just because she is a former politician does not make her above etiquette or politeness. I probably would have asked her to delete the pics too and it is not because I am afraid of pedophiles. I just don’t like random people taking pics of my kids without my permission. If she asked to take a pic of them I would have allowed it, the point is you have to ask me. Its courtesy.

    If she didn’t remove them I may not have called security or what not but I probably would have cussed her out or spilled a drink on her or something.

  43. Michelle Potter December 21, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    So, Dolly, if she was (in your opinion) rude by doing something that is completely within her legal rights, you would have (illegally, BTW) committed battery on her physical person?

    Someone on Facebook just told me that he would have smashed the lady’s camera. I happen to know he’s full of it, but I’ve heard this many times and it bugs me that people think they have a right to react violently to someone who isn’t hurting them.

  44. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Cin: A mall is completely private property. Even the parking lot. I should know because I used to work at one. There is a mall in our area that is really strict about their rules. They ban underage kids after 6 in the evenings and it is totally legal because it is private property. They also will call the cops on cruisers that just drive up and down the parking lot. So yes, it is private property and they can make and enforce their own rules. If you don’t like it, don’t go there.

  45. Kimberly December 21, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I suggest that all photographers that take pictures in public places carry a copy of the photographers bill of rights. The woman in the story did not have to delete her pictures – she could have threatened legal action.

    It has saved my bacon a couple of times. I was in a swanky part of town and took a couple of pictures of live oak trees and got “pulled over” (I was on a bike) by the village cops. I politely pointed out that I was on a public right of way and that taking the pictures was perfectly legal. Then I showed the cops the bill of rights. The homeowner was ticked off but the cops told him to cool it.

    On the flip side a woman at the zoo took pictures of my cousins’ kids. Two of them were foster kids and there are rules about the foster parents allowing pictures to be taken/published. We politely without hysteria explained to the lady and she deleted the picture. (If not for the foster kids we would not have minded at all)

  46. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    SKL: That is cool your kids were used in ads. Mine were too. The reason I am cool with that is because they asked me to pose and agree to said ads. In exchange we got a free photo session and a free family portrait for our being in the ad.

    I mostly just like people to ask me. Just show respect. I have had several random people ask to take pictures of my kids and I let them. Because they ask and are nice. No big deal. I don’t get why asking someone becomes such a big deal.

  47. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Michelle: The drink thing would probably not be something I would do, but if the lady escalated it enough and mouthed off enough to me, I certainly might go there. It is not an assault to “trip” and spill a drink. She would have to prove it and good luck with that.I got 100 witnesses to testify to my chronic clumsiness.

    I don’t start out rude with people. I would politely ask her why she was photographing my children. Then depending on how she answered it would go from there. If she told me “none of your business” or “wank off” then it would get ugly. If she said “Oh I just thought they were so cute and so I got a pic, hope you don’t mind.” I would smile and say “not at all, thank you for the compliment.” People should be more civil to each other. But if you mouth off to me, darn right I am mouthing off right back.

  48. Heather G December 21, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Dolly, a mall may be private property but they can not legally force you to delete photos. Mall security is not the police (and even they have legal limitations). The most they could do to enforce the photography prohibition would be to ban the photographer from the property. Also, while the photographer should have asked permission if the account is true the mother also skipped the asking step and went straight to screaming in public.

  49. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Kimberly: Good point about foster kids. I remember a woman I know who had foster kids and she was not allowed to post pics of her kids on the message board due to those rules. She had to black their faces out. See perfectly legitimate reasons not to photograph intentionally other people’s kids without asking first.

  50. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    On an unrelated note I wanted to tell a story about a conversation I had with a random mother at a playground.

    She had a maybe 2 year old and a 5 year old. I was there with my 4 year olds. I was pushing mine in the swing while she pushed hers. I was talking to my boys about when they are bigger I can leave them here at the playground while I run to the Walmart down the street to do my shopping and pick them up on my way back. This playground in question is in a safe part of town. Actually it is directly behind the town hall where all the cops park and go in and out all day long. So probably the safest playground around! It is not always crowded but there are usually at least one other family there. So for an older kid perfectly safe for two older kids to stay there together and play while their mom shops at the Walmart 5 minutes down the road. If anything happened they could go to the town hall or I could even leave a cell phone with them which I would probably do.

    Anyway, the mother overheard me say this and says “Not for another 10 years”. I said “Well that would make them 14 and they could probably handle it before then. Maybe at like 9.” She gave me that look like I was horrible and said something about “Safety”. So I actually did a little free range preaching and said “We are behind the city hall where cops are coming in and out all day long. I think it would be perfectly safe. Nothing is ever 100% safe, even their own home.”

    So then the mother said “Well I guess you are right. My 4 year old got some scissors at home and tried to cut his little brother’s finger off.” I was like “What!?” And she said it cut the finger badly but did not sever it or horribly damage it. So I told her “Well see what I mean.”

    So yeah, my kids have never cut their fingers off because I actually childproof my home and keep the scissors out of reach. She fell into that trap of the outside world being so dangerous, but home is the only safe place when really home is where most accidents happen. So there you go. She should have childproofed better and not left the older kid alone with the baby. Yet, I am the horrible mother to let two 9 or 10ish boys play at a playground right behind city hall alone for an hour while I grocery shopped nearby in a very safe area…..

  51. Mike December 21, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    There was a story posted here some months back. A child’s picture was on facebook, someone noticed something unusual about her eyes. They urged the parent to take the child to a doctor, the diagnosis was dire, but with prompt treatment the child lived. Child’s picture online = child lived.

    Here’s an even better way to handle the mall situation. Pull out your camera and start taking pictures of the whole situation, capturing mallcops, harridans, elder legislators and children too. If, all of a sudden, thirty people are taking pictures of her anointed children, what is she going to do? Faint? That would be fun to watch.

  52. socalledauthor December 21, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    @Dolly: you can put scissors ‘out of reach’ and still find that your child has gotten into them. Many, many 4 year-olds climb. Unless the scissors were in a locked cabinet (impractical) it’s entirely possible for them to be “in reach” even if they’ve been put out of reach. A friend of mine went to the bathroom and found her daughter had pushed a chair over, stacked a box on it and climbed up into a top cupboard to get the permanent marker. So Mom put it OUT OF REACH, but it didn’t help. Stop judging people, it’s an ugly habit.

  53. Kimberly December 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Mike I think it is a type of eye cancer. Instead of a flash picture giving a child ‘red eye’, the pupil turns white – like a cat’s eye.

    I took my niece and nephew to the zoo today. Several times they asked me questions I didn’t know the answer to – so they walked over to the nearest volunteer/zoo keeper and asked them. They were complemented several times.

    When we got to the petting zoo – there was a group of young adults speaking another language, I got the impression they were tourist not locals. My niece walked up to the gate and said excuse me and let herself and brother in.

    The young adults were surprised. They followed niece and nephew inside. Niece handed them brushes for the goats and showed them how to brush the goats. The young adults gestured with their cameras and the kids posed for them. Niece and nephew also had a long talk with the zoo keeper. All this while I was outside the gate – because goats will make my skin blister.

  54. Megan December 21, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    A similar thing happened to me last night; it’s what my most recent post is about. I was just taking pictures of my friends, and mall security stalked me for well over half an hour. I feel horrible that this woman was forced to delete her pictures. The world at large freaks out about the smallest things nowadays. It’s sad.

  55. Silver Fang December 21, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Taking photos is a protected right of self expression. Anyone told by a mall rent a copy to delete their photos should refuse.

  56. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    socalledauthor: That mother judged me first out loud so why on earth can I not “judge” her in my head or on a message board? yeah right. Get what you give and all that. I was not judging her so much as laughing at how much of a hypocrite she was for saying I was possibly going to do something unsafe when she actually did something unsafe and her child was ultimately injured from it. My children on the other hand have never had an injury besides minor bumps and bruises. So on that playground, I think I won that mommy war she started by commenting on something I was saying to my kids.

  57. Lila Folster December 21, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    cherokeebydesign, had she refused to delete the pictures, she could have been charged for child porn.

  58. Lila Folster December 21, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    According to the new laws, you CANNOT take a picture of someone else’s child without the parent’s permission, which you had better have in writing.

  59. weathermanswife December 21, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I can’t say I agree with this mother, however, there is another option as to why someone would not want their child photographed. My husband is in the media, and we are careful about where our children’s pictures end up. This, in turn, makes me super careful about photographing other people’s children and putting them anywhere. Often, i will blur out their faces just because I do not know how that parent feels about having their child’s picture on the internet. Typically, I only post pictures on Facebook, and since I’m locked down tight and you can’t see anything on my profile unless I friend you, random people can’t see any of them.

    I obviously can’t stop people from taking pictures of my children, and i realize that I’m in a different situation with my husband being so recognizable that people don’t *want* to take pictures of our kids, but it has really made me more aware of what other people’s wishes may or may not be.

  60. SKL December 21, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Michelle Potter, really. That’s worst-first thinking, to warn me that my friend might sue me for copying my own kids’ Santa photos off her personal (but not private) blog. She’d told me that she would email them to me, and presumably lost my email or didn’t get around to it. How much could she really sue me for, anyway? It’s not like she even posed the kids or anything. I could see her being miffed if she were a professional photographer or something. But then wouldn’t that make her blog photos an advertisement, and hence unauthorized use of my kids in her advertising? I mean, you know, that’s not something I’m going to lose sleep over.

    Come to think of it, I should go over to her blog again and see if she posted pics from the latest get-together. And if she did, I’m totally snatching them too.

  61. El Lobo December 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Gosh, I think people are just crazy. I never understand this issue. Honestly – if some creep wants to do something disgusting with a picture of me, my wife, my son – WHAT DO I CARE? The picture is a two-dimensional representation. It doesn’t include our souls, and it’s not a voodoo doll (or the photographic equivalent). It may gross me out, but I don’t think I have a right not to be grossed out.

  62. baby-paramedic December 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    There is a reason this makes me uneasy. A family friend was a prison guard in a maximum security prison. One of his kids looked ALOT like him. So, they didn’t like pictures with names of this kid being published anywhere, because it could very easily turn problematic.

  63. FrancesfromCanada December 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    @pentamom — you’re right, I don’t know for certain that all the images of kids in the ads I mentioned were there without permission. Though I do know some of them were, because I know some of the kids, which is how it came to my attention in the first place. It’s not really a different issue; it’s an example of a reason why one might question why one’s child’s photo was being taken. There are a couple of other excellent ones in the comments all of which could certainly be addressed civilly.

    I’ve had my own image published, both with and without my permission (with, a spontaneous snowball fight wound up in a Japanese ski video; without, I’m hiking through my local university’s outdoor ed catalogue), and I have to say I was surprised by how much it bothered me to discover my own face looking back at me unexpectedly.

    If I’d been asked, I’d’ve said yes in a heartbeat. As it is, there’s a bit of a sour taste. Once again, not about the law, not about rights, just manners. Which at their best are all about not making the people around you unnecessarily uncomfortable, aren’t they?

  64. Mom's Journal December 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    We went on a trip to Hawaii when my daughter was two and a newlywed couple from Japan asked if they could have their picture taken with her. I was flattered that strangers thought she was so beautiful. That act confirmed that I’m not just biased, my child is gorgeous!! 😉

    What did this mom think would happen with some pictures of her child? It’s not like the photographer knew their name, address, or ssn.

  65. Heather G December 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Hmm, a lot of us have had strangers take pictures of our children. Could there be a correlation between free-ranging and beauty? I can see the sperm donor ads now: 6’2″, blonde, blue eyes, doctor, grew up free-range.

    Dolly, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge about the babyproofing. Just as easily as you can judge others for not doing what you consider a good enough job they can judge you for the fact your kids are four and haven’t figured out how to beat it yet.

  66. Dolly December 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Heather: Or maybe my kids are smart enough to know boundaries. They don’t try that hard to beat the childproofing because they understand that it is there for their own protection. Which is what I tell them. Again, I love how that mom started something with me and yet I am the one getting attacked here. Lovely. Next time I won’t stand up for free rangers and just let them put me down and do nothing about it.

  67. SuzyQ December 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    I’d be a little weirded out if someone took pictures of my kids at the mall, but to make such a stink about it? I don’t know. It’s astonishing how much things have changed since my kids were toddlers (they are now 14 & 12). I hate this modern society…everyone is a pedophile or child murderer if they enjoy kids. Next thing I am going to discover is that the sweet old lady who sits behind my family at church, the lady who has sat in that same seat since before my kids were born, was stalking hubby and me so she could be close to our “someday children.” It makes me sick to think my kids might become “that” kind of parent.

  68. TaraK December 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    This may have been said, but I always remark on this issue! What if the former legislator DID want to use the pictures for yucky things? How would the mother ever find out??? Maybe it is a little creepy in this day and age to have someone taking your child’s picture, but as the infamous Hoodwinked movie pointed out “you can’t arrest someone for being creepy”. (It also may have been good manners for the photographer to mention who she was and why she was taking the pictures, but maybe that’s just feeding into the frenzy.)

  69. ann December 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Karen said it perfectly.

    Sorry, taking pictures of kids from a distance in say a park or something…party pictures on facebook…these don’t bother me. Purposefully taking pictures of individual kids without asking is just plain rude.

  70. ann December 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    and…I’m totally not a paranoid type, but…taking pictures of children you don’t know is just plain weird.

  71. DB December 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    I especially like the blatant racism at the end of the column: “Like a superstitious Mexican native afraid that a photograph will capture his soul…”

    I guess I was the only one who noticed that or thought it was important.

  72. LRH December 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    cherokeebydesign Lafe and Cin are absolutely right. KayleeD and Karen are wrong–it wouldn’t have HURT to have asked permission, but neither does the attitude need to be perpetuated that one HAS to ask. One doesn’t, and this is a major falsehood that has to be stopped in its tracks before it spreads even further than it already has.

    Mireille you ESPECIALLY are wrong. Taking pictures in public is NOT RUDE, just look up Henri Cartier-Bresson and educate yourself a little bit. And Dolly–dare I say, spill a drink on me or touch my camera and you’re not going to like the way I reply one bit.

    And ann, no taking photos of other people’s kids ISN’T weird. Thinking it’s weird, that’s what’s weird. Again, look up Henri Cartier-Bresson and educate yourself.

    I am a hobbyist photographer, and I take photos all the time, and will NOT for a moment back down if the situation happens where someone were to object to my photography. I’m not the paparazzi, I’m not all up in people’s faces, but I photograph what I want, the law allows me, it’s NOT rude or weird (only people with issues think it is, and that’s THEIR issue not mine), and that’s that.


  73. Marianne December 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    “Most people taking pictures of kids are not doing it to get off on ‘em. And for those few who are, dare I ask: So what? It’s like that disclaimer at the end of a movie: No child was harmed in the making of this photo.”

    I’m really glad you said this, because it seems that society has been so obsessed with protecting kids from exploitation that they’ve completely lost touch with what child pornography actually is. Child pornography is a specific thing; media showing children in sexually explicit clothing, positions, situations, etc. Intent (i.e. what the photographer intends to do with a photo/video of a child) does not define child pornography.

    As much as it grosses people out, there are folks out there who are sexually attracted to children. And if a guy wants to, in the privacy of his home, get off to a photo of a fully clothed child jumping rope or sitting on Santa’s lap, then what’s the friggin’ big deal? The fact that some parents feel uncomfortable with the possibility of what some stranger might do in the privacy his/her own home, does not warrant legislation. No child was harmed; no law was broken.

  74. Mireille December 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Taking pictures of a particular child, singling them out, that’s not rude. And, I, one of a few people who have said that, am somehow ESPECIALLY (YELLED AND BOLDED FOR EMPHASIS) wrong and uneducated? Okay. Sheesh. No wonder people don’t think highly of free-rangers. I love the concept but am not liking the tone of the conversation here. How dare anyone have a different perspective, right?

  75. Kristina December 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    I don’t understand why so many people are acting like this mom is a lunatic. The photographer should have asked before taking pictures of this woman’s children, out of respect for her family’s privacy. Common courtesy should allow for parents to have the right to set their own boundaries when it comes to privacy and protection of their small children. It doesn’t matter if the mother’s fear is realistic or totally ridiculous- the fear is real and she has every right to set the kind of boundaries that allow her to feel a sense of security and control with respect to her children’s safety and privacy. To all you parents: how many times did you wake up to check that your newborn was still breathing as she slept? Has anyone pulled the car over because baby was being too quiet in the carseat and you couldn’t see him to be sure he hadn’t somehow begun silently choking on something? Love can be terrifying! This mother LOVES her children and it is not hurting ANYONE if she decides she’s not comfortable with strangers taking their pictures. So let her have some darn peace of mind because it’s really got nothing to do with you.

  76. SKL December 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    For the record, I agree that it would be polite to ask first if you’re going to take a photo of a specific child and have the opportunity to ask the parent. And if the parent says “no,” you respect that, not because there might be a law, but because mutual respect is important too. Perhaps more important.

  77. SKL December 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Another possibility for why a parent might get nuts over an unauthorized photo would be if they were in a difficult custody-related situation. When I hear of some of the “allegations” parents use against each other to gain custody or control or just be a thorn in their ex’s side, I can imagine a parent becoming borderline paranoid about it.

  78. Kevin December 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Sheesh. When did this message board turn into a bunch of hens pecking each other? Aren’t we all supposed to be mature adults on the same side – free range?

  79. Kevin December 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    And I do acknowledge many of the comments are civil. I’m talking to all the ones who are signaling out a specific commentor(s) and putting that person(s) down for their opinions. Let’s uplift each other here, while still respectfully disagreeing.

  80. LRH December 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Um, Kristina, first-off, this mother IS a lunatic. An innocent picture of your child in Santa’s lap–what in the world is that going to hurt? Only in her MIND exists there any sort of sense that such a thing could be harmful. Those thinking rationally rather than subscribing to Nancy Grace or “To Catch a Predator” nonsense fall for this silly fear.

    And what “boundaries” are we talking about here? If you’re referring to the right of a parent to either let their children play outside or the right of a parent to hover over them every second without someone giving them a sermon, I agree. ESPECIALLY where it regards people calling social services for anything other than molestation or drug usage etc, I DEFINITELY agree.

    But part of being a parent is realizing that you are NOT the only influence your child is going to be, well, influenced by, and that many of these influences are good and enrich your life as well as your child’s, if you will only let it. (There is only so much you can do anyway.) As a 43 year-old I remember the influence of my aunts & uncles, including an elderly woman who watched me early in the morning while I waited for the bus to go to school–she wasn’t really my aunt, yet she loved it that I called her so.

    I remember the times playing at my mother’s father’s house with my cousins, in a pile of junk that people nowadays would call “hazardous” and probably report others to social services for. Point is, I had fun, and my parents, other than that they took me there and provided the environment, had nothing to do with it.

    The snapshooter was committing an act which had the chance to ENRICH the parent’s life as well as the child’s, if only she hasn’t been a schizoid about it. I myself consider it an honor that anyone thinks my child is cute enough to take photos of, if they choose to do so, go ahead. I do the same for others, and in fact in 1 notable case the person, who only knew me as someone related to their neighbor, was PLEASED when their child, who saw me photographing one of my own, ASKED me to take photos and I did so, WITHOUT ASKING the parent. The parent didn’t freak, I took a great photo that, frankly, is probably better than she will ever take (I do photography as a hobby), and in return I gave her a framed 8×10 of that photo, no charge.

    THAT is the sort of enrichment this parent & her child could’ve been on the receiving end of, had she chosen not to spoil it with her irrational beliefs.


  81. LRH December 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    And Kristina, in a way, it DOES have something to do with me (or whoever). It creates a “chilling atmosphere” where you’re scared to just be yourself & photograph life happening around you, all because someone has a very warped & irrational view of the world based on NO part of reality at all.

    And it IS hurting her AND her child because of what she could be the recipient of. Maybe this person would’ve, had the photo turned out good, shared it with the parent. Then the parent would’ve been able to talk about this nice snap of their child taken by this nice lady at the mall. Granted, that is her business, but it is worth pointing out–and further, when some nutcase of that type yells at me when I’m just taking photos of what’s around me, then it IS my business at THAT point. I’m in the right to stand up for myself that I’m breaking no laws and not being rude either, and that I refuse to let such schizophrenic paranoia dampen my love of hobbyist photography & the noble and legal pursuit of it as a very NORMAL part of life.


  82. Gigi December 22, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    I just want to point out that some children are in protective custody and sharing their image could potentially open them up to threats. It would have taken the photographer 5 seconds to ask the parent/guardian permission to take their pictures and saved her a lot of grief.

    I worked in an before/after school program and we had kids who were in protective custody. Any image with them in it could not be used by the Non-Profit agency.

    While most of you are thinking of your OWN children (Personally I get so many comments about my daughter and I know her picture has been taken by people with their cell phones, and it really doesn’t bother me when she is dancing in the middle of Target and someone wants a picture), without knowing the child’s situation we can’t really truly judge if it was an over reaction or if she was truly looking out for her children and making sure the wrong people (not necessarily a pedophile but maybe an abusive father) didn’t see them.

    Personally i would always ask for permission before taking another child’s picture for the simple reason I don’t know the child and I don’t know if I could inadvertently harm them. I have lots of pictures at the park with other kids playing with my daughter, took only a few seconds to ask if the parent minded that their child was in the photo. Only once was I told they did mind and I went out of my way to only get shots of my daughter.

    Part of being a ‘free range’ parent is also showing your children that politeness and respect for other people will get you farther in life then being rude and over protective.

  83. Kristina December 22, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    I didn’t want to bring this up but responses are so hateful so here goes. I was molested as a child. Now that I am a parent it definitely affects the boundaries I set for my children’s bodies and their privacy, not just with strangers, but with family as well. I’m laid back when it comes to so many things, but not this. I did not allow my dad to take my son in the shower with him when he was a baby and he was very offended. I know he would never hurt my child but what so many of you seem to be missing is *that’s not the point*. The point is that I need to be allowed to set boundaries that I can live with, that allow me to sleep at night and get through the day without an anxiety attack. As long as it is not harming my child or anyone else, I can be over-protective in this area and that’s FINE. Like this mother, I too would not be comfortable with someone taking pictures of my child like that. I don’t post pictures of my children on facebook. Am I a lunatic? No. I am doing what I need to do to feel safe as someone who has survived something unspeakable. You may think it’s ridiculous, and for YOU it may be, but not for me. Please have some respect, some courtesy, and for God’s sake a little human compassion.

  84. Kimberly December 22, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Lila Folster I don’t believe there is such a law it would be a violation of the 1st admin., please give the law and state.

  85. LRH December 22, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I don’t think anyone has any problem with compassion here. I think the problem is “worst-first” thinking, and no offense to anyone who’s been the victim of molestation or is involved in custody disputes etc, but I am STILL not going to ask permission every time. To do so, to me, is to presume “worst first.”

    Getting back to compassion: if someone were to tell me that they were involved in a custody dispute sort of situation or something like that & ask me NICELY what I planned to do with said photographs, of course I’d be respectful. But the whole “you never know so don’t take any photos without asking first” is, I feel, worst-first thinking. This is especially the case because I’d venture to guess 75% of the kids out there aren’t involved in any such things. Even if the 25% left over is a pretty large amount, that’s still smaller than 75%. And yes, statistics are relevant.

    So Kristina your setting boundaries without your own sphere, sure. My wife doesn’t like our children, not even our 5 year-old, to have chocolate or soda & I’m always having to remind people in our sphere that, no matter how silly you may think that is, respect my wife’s wishes, especially since we’d had social services in our business under no legitimate pretense & it had the effect of making my wife more sensitive than average that people respect what she says.

    But in the world at large, sorry, but you can’t expect people to put their camera away around your kids because of what you went through. What you went through was terrible & awful and no one (except maybe people like Osama bin Laden, if he were still here) deserves any of that. But as awful as that was, it is your choice how you let that affect you & distort your view of the world around you. Just because you see me, a lone male with a camera (I’m not always that way, my wife & kids are around at times obviously), as a threat to you doesn’t mean I need to put my camera away, especially when I don’t know this about you and I’m not going to presume the worst not knowing, I’m going to presume the BEST not knowing.


  86. VH December 22, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    I suspect that more and more people will be using internet-enabled device and using an option to upload a photo the instant it is taken – then deleting the local copy won’t matter. “The net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” and all. Well, the net made of people, so… I guess people regard censorship (sorts of things) as damage too.

  87. Dolly December 22, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Larry: I have probably asked this before, but if someone asked you to delete the picture you took of their child or to not take pictures of their child, would you? Or would they have to tell you it is because of a custody dispute or foster kid issues, etc.? Even though they really should not have to make that your business. Then would you delete them? And if not, then how would you feel if you did not delete the picture and put it on your flicker account or whatever, and somehow the abusive father found it and from the picture was able to figure out where the kid was and then came and kidnapped the kid? Then how would you feel?

    It is worst first thinking and maybe a long shot, but still, that is THEIR kids to make that call. Not yours. You can do whatever you want with your kids barring abuse. The same goes for everyone else. They get to set the rules for their kids like Kristina said and you do have to respect it. Or you can’t whine about people not respecting your rules for your kids if you don’t respect their rules for their kids.

    That is what free range should be about. Letting people parent as they see fit. If they see fit to not want pictures taken of their kid by strangers. You should respect that. You don’t need to know the reason s why and it would just be polite to ask first before taking pics of their kids.

  88. LRH December 22, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    Well Dolly it is NOT their kids to make that call, where it regards public photography. Frankly, as much as I advocate ALL the time on here for people to respect other’s parenting styles, this is not such a case, largely because I don’t consider it a “parenting style” as such. Sometimes, parents take the whole “MY CHILD!!” deal a bit far, and this is one of them. I respect the right of a parent to let their kids play freely or to hover over them every 2/10ths of an inch without preaching and ESPECIALLY without legal intervention, but where it regards this, I don’t respect it & have no intention of doing so.

    This doesn’t mean that I would, say, chase them around like the paparazzi or do anything that in general would qualify as being a jerk, but I’m not going to put my camera away like I’m a peeping tom either. I’m sure not going to cater to stupidity along the lines of the woman who screamed “don’t take photos of my kid, you pervert!” when I was merely photographing the ducks at the lake. I’m surely not going to cater to someone getting upset at me photographing their child who is HOLDING MY CHILD at the time, in that case I’m photographing my child as much as theirs, and I’m being a bigger person than they are by not making an issue of their child (about 12 years of age) PICKING UP my child without asking. I see it as the beautiful & sweet tender moment it is.

    And yes, especially if it’s a public type of situation or something like the last one I described, they would HAVE to tell me that it has to do with a custody dispute or the like before I would respect such wishes, because–frankly, they’re stupid, and based 95% of the time on irrational bologney, and it effects my freedom to just photograph what I want to around me (a LEGAL freedom) as part of the enjoyment & enrichment of life. It’s not just a parenting issue, it’s an issue of creating a “chilling atmosphere” where people who are doing NOTHING WRONG are made to feel like dirty uncles raping your child secretly in the woodshed just because they–egads, have a camera!

    As for someone hunting down a child based on a Flickr posting–the way I do it (no names, no geo-tagging), the odds of that are as likely as someone getting someone’s phone number just by randomly dialing digits, but even if it did happen–I’d blame the criminal. They’re the ones who did the killing.


  89. Gigi December 22, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    The lack of respect for others is amazing.

    LRH – I find it a bit amazing that taking 5 seconds to ask if another parent is ok with you taking pictures is being an over protective society. Things were different when we were kids. There was no such thing as ‘social networking’ or ‘photo sharing’ online. So if someone took a picture of our kid, it likely would have ended up in the shoe box or in a photo album for their personal enjoyment rather then on a blog, in twitter or facebook for the entire world to see and comment on.

    Does that mean I would snatch away someone’s camera or give them grief over taking a picture of my child? No. I might remind them I would have appreciated being asked first but that is about it. Probably the same thing you would say if someone gave your child candy without asking you first.

    Many parents like you make the decision not to put their children’s images online. They expect that their wishes are respected, not unlike your wife’s wishes to not give your children candy or pop. That doesn’t mean it never happens (sneaky grandparents…. like my dad) it just means you wish a majority of people respect your wishes and how you want to raise your children. My brother for example to keep his xbox from sharing pictures of his children he unplugs the internet before they start playing, his reasoning is that if he can’t control which pictures are being shared then he simply doesn’t want them.

    Maybe the difference between us that I don’t simply follow laws, but I go out of my way to make sure the unspoken rules of courtesy, respect and politeness are followed as well. Which it is getting obvious that you do not follow those rules and only care whether or not something is illegal.

    It may be perfectly legal to take someone’s picture, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t disrespectful or impolite the way that you are reacting. It’s not illegal for me to give your kids candy and pop too, does that mean I should do it and completely ignore your wishes? Are you going to take it away after I give it to them? Isn’t that the same as making someone delete pictures?

  90. Heather G December 22, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Dolly: The point was that as much as you judge people on the babyproofing issue you can be just as easily judged by the very same things you draw your sense of superiority.

    Kristina, this would all be a non-issue if the mother had spoken with rather than yelled at the woman and if mall security had not overstepped their authority. With rare exceptions, most of us agree that the photographer should have asked. The problem arises when the photographer is assumed to want to harm the child and is treated like a criminal- and by people with no authority to do so too.

  91. SKL December 22, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    LRH, frankly, I would not want someone taking a picture of ME without asking. Why would it be acceptable to do the same to my child? Just because you’re not touching my child doesn’t mean you’re not invading our space.

    Maybe because you do this as a hobby, you have a different level of sensitivity about it. Not everyone is fond of cameras. Some of us view them as necessary evils. My mom used to take a scissor and cut her face out of photos if her hair, etc. was not perfect. I don’t understand why your hobby should trump everyone else’s sensitivities. Nor should it be up to the individual to have to explain to you his private reasons for not wanting to be photographed.

    Nobody’s saying you shouldn’t take pictures. Just ask if it’s reasonably possible.

  92. SKL December 22, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Of course if you’re in a situation where everyone normally takes photos, like a Christmas party, there would be implied consent.

  93. LRH December 22, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Well, I guess I’m pushing it to the point of being disrespectful, but if a camera bothers you THAT much, to the point of cutting your face out of photos, you need help. You’re just too sensitive, frankly–which is your right, but I’m not going to dumb down my hobby over it. You’re just going to have to get over it or stay inside, frankly, because I think it’s just as rude to assume me to be a pedophile or act all aghast over a photo that can’t harm you as I supposedly am for not asking permission.

    As for taking photos vs giving out candy–apples & oranges. One doesn’t potentially spoil a child & cause it to not want to eat their vegatables, the other does. They’re as different as night & day, and if you see it otherwise–frankly, you just see it WRONG.

    Again, look up Henri Cartier-Bresson. I will NEVER be even remotely 5% the photographer he was, but he photographed people all the time WITHOUT ASKING, and the thing is, that genre he pursued, called street photography, the WHOLE POINT is to not ask, because it ruins the moment. People are now posing artifically, the whole point is to capture a NATURAL and NON-ARTIFICIAL image, and you don’t do that as well when you tell someone & they now start “hamming it up.”

    That’s what street photography is, and the Internet doesn’t provide any logical reason to start acting like schizophrenic dimwits over a photograph that is only as harmful as your warped brain TELLS you it is.

    Sorry if I’m going over the top, Lenore, but I’m tired of arguing with fools.


  94. Brian December 22, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Gigi I totally agree. The barriers to publication have fallen and with them comes a need to re-evaluate standards and mores. I am not sure exactly where/what the line should be but discussing the issue is important. When artists are taking street photos as part of work on a grant for publication there is a natural vetting process which limits the number of photographers and the distribution of the images.

    Now there are millions of people taking pictures and an unlimited ability to reproduce those images. More importantly, even without knowing your name you can be identified in those photos.

    Google already has a feature where you can search for images that match a face in a photo and in so doing pull up all the images of a given person. Pretty cool technology but it sure impacts the debate.

    Let’s say that in the near future employers can use that technology to pull up all pictures of you that appear on the internet. It would dramatically impact how you might behave at parties, bars and clubs. Not to mention your participation in political events or other non-protected forms of expression that might turn off some employers. Suddenly the ever present photographer is stunting social interaction and now the “natural” image has been altered by the presence of the camera.

  95. LRH December 22, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    Now that I’ve exploded, let me give a measured response to Lenore’s words.

    I could not agree more with your words, Lenore. First-off: “Most people taking pictures of kids are not doing it to get off on ‘em. And for those few who are, dare I ask: So what?” Exactly. The great majority of people taking photos are doing it because they saw something CUTE and PRECIOUS, nothing dirty about it at all. To take photos of interesting & soul-enriching experiences around you is the most natural thing in the world to do, and no irrational fears should get in the way of it.

    I especially agree with And let’s hope that what we all get this season is the gift of calming down and connecting, instead of fearing everyone and everything.” You miss the opportunity to connect & have a life-enriching experience that could be beneficial to both you AND your child when you act like everyone with a camera not in your family or circle of friends is some John Wayne Gacy wanna-be.

    Part of the joy in being a parent is sharing your enthusiasm with others, appreciating that others find your child cute, offer it an appropriate treat, hold him/her for you for awhile to give you a break, play with it, etc. So long as they’re not trying to REPLACE you with someone else via calling social services because they don’t agree with your style & they respect that you’re the parent, it’s a good thing. Taking photos poses NO such threat, and a parent should realize it isn’t ALL about them (again, so long as no one is being preachy or threatening you with social services). You should APPRECIATE that others find your child cute & want to help enrich your life as well as your child’s–and, yes, theirs in the process.

    I am NOT a professional, but I do take better photographs than most people I know, and if I land a good photograph of such a child I will offer a free copy to the parent. Therefore, someone who has such a photo of their child, done for them on-the-spot “in the flow of life,” it’s a blessing to them. Of course I take such photos often-times for my OWN benefit, but so what? Again, no one is being harmed. A person’s feelings should IN GENERAL be respected, but frankly, if you see nothing but fear and harm and paranoia over something like this, YOU need a change in your thinking, not me or whoever.

    This should be about connecting, not fearing the non-existent (or over-exaggerated) bogeyman.


  96. LRH December 22, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    Actually Brian I agree, a LITTLE. For someone looking a job, a photo of them doing whatever should have NO impact on their ability to keep & hold a job. In that regard, their concerns are completely legitimate.

    However, as a hobbyist photographer who has waited 20+ years for me to be able to take photos without the barrier of film & processing expenses, “my time has come” if you will, and it isn’t my fault that employers have the lack of proper discernment to pay proper respect towards boundaries insomuch that what a person does outside their job is no employer’s business. Standards shouldn’t change just because employers have this proper understanding.

    The proper response shouldn’t be “my employer may find me online, put that camera away,” but instead a response that makes it to where your employer is not allowed to make hiring/firing decisions based on it. How one does that exactly is certainly a challenge, much as challenging that an employer didn’t disqualify you based on your race, but regardless–my photography shouldn’t suffer just because employers are mis-using the technology. I have nothing to do with that. To blame me is the same as blaming the baseball bat companies just because you have people beating others to death using them.

    And besides, these are CHILDREN we’re talking about here. They’re not exactly viable members of the workforce anyway.


  97. Karen December 22, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    Compassion: The deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the inclination give aid or support or to show mercy.

    LHR, you stated, “I don’t think anyone has any problem with compassion here,” suggesting that you see yourself as compassionate. You also made the following comments:

    “I photograph what I want, the law allows me, it’s NOT rude or weird (only people with issues think it is, and that’s THEIR issue not mine), and that’s that.”

    “all because someone has a very warped & irrational view of the world based on NO part of reality at all.”

    “I refuse to let such schizophrenic paranoia dampen my love of hobbyist photography”

    “I don’t respect it & have no intention of doing so.”

    “And yes, especially if it’s a public type of situation or something like the last one I described, they would HAVE to tell me that it has to do with a custody dispute or the like before I would respect such wishes, because–frankly, they’re stupid, and based 95% of the time on irrational bologney, and it effects my freedom to just photograph what I want to around me”

    “You’re just too sensitive, frankly–which is your right, but I’m not going to dumb down my hobby over it.”

    Perhaps your dictionary has a different definition of compassion than mine does?

    I get that you’re protective of your hobby, but your insistence that your legal rights trump everyone else’s preferences, and that strangers must share intimate details of their lives with you in order for you to evaluate whether their preferences are worth respecting is part of why there are so many ridiculously restrictive laws out there. If people won’t practice common sense and common courtesy voluntarily, then someone’s going to try to legislate it, and that always goes badly and further erodes community and personal responsibility.

    And as for your beloved Henri Cartier-Bresson, he intentionally disguised his camera so that people wouldn’t know they were being photographed, even though he himself disliked being photographed enough that he held a paper over his face when he received an honorary degree from Oxford University. Just because he made his fame photographing people in public without their knowledge doesn’t mean doing so isn’t rude. I wonder how he would have felt if someone had featured his face in an exhibit without his knowledge or permission.

    I respect that you have a different opinion than I do, even if you don’t have that same respect for me or my opinion, or the opinion of anyone else who disagrees with you.

  98. SKL December 22, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    LRH, what’s wrong with just asking if you know people will feel better when you do? Do you also refuse to say “please” / “thank you” or tip wait staff because (a) you don’t HAVE to, (b) it’s not carefree enough, and (c) if people don’t like it, that’s THEIR problem?

  99. Cheryl W December 22, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Ok, I have said it before, and I will say it again. Some people just don’t want their photo taken! It doesn’t matter why, the just maybe want to control their own image.

    There was kid who went to my high school who did not want to be photographed (before age of internet.) He was forced to go to the photo shoots for year book, but ducked down each time. The kids doing the shoot understood that he didn’t want to be in the year book and didn’t retake. As far as I know the only photos of him would be ones that family took, and maybe not then.

    As I recall, he also wore hats and sunglasses, perhaps as part of this. School of course, made him take them off, but he did wear them in public.

    I don’t know why he didn’t want his photo taken. Not religious, certainly considered quirky. If people could take his wishes into consideration then, why can’t people do that now? Why can’t people ask if it is ok? It sounds like there are some legit reasons (foster care, people in the media, family hiding from abusive ex spouse, etc.) Why is so hard to just ask? Even after the fact, and show the parent/kid the photo?

  100. LRH December 22, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    Karen I would say that Henri Cartier-Bresson, if he were with us today, would be more qualified than YOU to talk about his craft. Heck, he’s more qualified than I am to speak of it, even though I participate in photography as a hobby too. I would also suggest that the fact that there are many exhibits & art museums exhibiting his work (and that respectable people visit them) means that there is much in the way of that form of art being totally legitimate, and not in anyway rude whatsoever. Street photography is a completely respectable venture.

    He disguised his camera so as to be DISCREET. The idea is not be all “up in people’s faces,” to do what you do without being obvious about it. It isn’t about getting away with it as if you did something wrong, other than to prevent drawing attention to yourself since there’s always some wacko out there making a fuss over nothing, but rather it is about how you don’t capture an honest “un-posed” expression if people know they’re being photographed.

    SKL I always ask friends or whoever if the time/situation permits, but the distinction is that I don’t HAVE to, nor should I or others be told that to not ask is rude. If someone who KNOWS ME expresses concerns, especially if I find them reasonable (maybe they’ve let me photograph them numerous times before & will do so again but today they just don’t feel up to it, they’re sick etc), then certainly I respect it. But this whole “don’t take my photo you pervert!” or “I don’t know you” or “my child can’t speak to give their consent to be photographed & I don’t want them being disrespected that way” sort of hogwash–it’s hogwash, and I call it as I see it.

    Thankfully most people I know or encounter are nothing like this. Thank goodness.


  101. LRH December 22, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Cheryl W I am not a jerk of a parent, but I do with certain things tell my children to “get over it.” Children should honor their parents, it is more the child’s job to make the parent happy than vice versa, and if the parent wants to take photos of their children (the most natural thing in the world for a parent to want to do), you SUCK UP how YOU feel about it and do as you’re told, or else. Show some honor, show some respect.

    Your parents brought you into this world looking forward to the joy you’d bring, the smiles, the happiness, they do the most natural thing in the world & wish to photograph it as part of this experience, & you the child want to act like a jerk about it? Shame on YOU the CHILD.

    Once a child is an adult, then WITHIN REASON the parent should show more respect, your child isn’t a child anymore. Even then, though, to a LESSER extent, there’s something to be said for tossing out your sour-puss lemon juice face & doing it for your parents. But ESPECIALLY at childhood age, and that particular child you mentioned–if he had been MY child & he had been sick or something or had a tummy ache, sure I would’ve understood if he didn’t feel like being photographed.

    But otherwise? Either he’d cooperate with me and with relatives etc or he would’ve been in for it. Other children would’ve had privileges he wouldn’t have, they’d gotten the best ice cream & etc. In our day that was how it was done–if your mother OR YOUR AUNT etc wanted to take a photo of you, since you were a child you have NO RIGHT to argue, you showed respect and did as you were told. I reward children who RESPECT me as the parent & do as you’re told no matter whether you like it or not. And if you choose to grow up bitter & hate all cameras as an adult, that’s on you for being a prick, not on your parents for holding you to a very reasonable standard.


  102. SKL December 22, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    LRH, I’m pretty sure 99% of the people here who want you to ask are NOT worried about pedophiles etc. If they were, your asking would not make a difference, would it?

    I also don’t understand why you have different standards for friends vs. strangers as far as being considerate. But whatever; that’s not the point of this discussion.

  103. SKL December 22, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    LOL about kids sucking it up for the parents. I just put my kids through that last night, for our holiday cards. I am not sure whether to be proud or dismayed that they have perfected “fake smiles” to put on between glaring at each other.

  104. Cin December 22, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    Sorry, Dolly, in most of N. America, you’re wrong. Civil law makes it clear that if you invite the public into a space (such as the mall concourse, not the stores) and allow them to hang out, you have no right to impose arbitrary rules about legal behaviours. Cruising the parking lot is a safety thing and entirely reasonable, as is limits on sleeping, loitering, etc. — but I bet your bottom dollar that mall would lose in a civil case about the age rule.

    A good example is breastfeeding. In my province, I have the right to breastfeed in any place I am allowed to be. So if a mall lets me in the front door, I am allowed to breastfeed there, and no one is allowed to ask me to stop, move, cover up or leave. No mall policy trumps my legal right in my province to breastfeed anywhere I am allowed to be.

    Another good example is segregation. Businesses tried to use the “it’s my store, and I can serve whom I choose” argument against serving black people. But internal rules do not trump the Constitution, full stop. The south learned that the hard way in the 60s.

    Also, if the mall has security cameras everywhere, then everyone in the place is being photographed — which means of course you can use a camera in the mall concourse. Stores can reasonably argue picture-taking can hurt their bottom line and therefore limit camera use, but the mall concourse can’t. They could try, but it wouldn’t hold up.

    AND in the end, all a property owner can do is ask you to leave. A property owner has no right to ask you to delete your pictures, no right to interrogate you, and no right to touch you. If they are not accusing you of an illegal activity (shoplifting), touching you in these circumstances is assault.

    Just because a mall or other business gets away with something doesn’t mean it has the legal right to do so.

  105. LRH December 22, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    Way to tell them, Cin.

    SKL–what you mentioned in terms of the holiday photo, I agree somewhat. I think you should be “proud.” I don’t know you, but imagine you give your children PLENTY of fun & plenty of choices, and in fact most of the time I do as well. Especially given that you do this, I would venture to say that it wouldn’t kill them once a year to put on a fake smile for your sake whether they like it or not.

    It’s sort of how I used to be with my own daughter, who will be 5 in May. She used to protest her photo being taken, would give a sour face. I would punish her for it by not letting her enjoy our tire swing, while anyone else who HAD cooperated–cousin or brother usually–got to enjoy the perk numerous times over. On the other hand, just last Dec 13th on my birthday she smiled really well & I got one of the best photographs I’ve ever taken of ANYONE, much less her.

    I made a point to show her this photo, tell her how proud I was of her for doing that for me (and especially on my birthday), sat her down at the kitchen table and let her pig out on ice cream.

    There you go–I reward good behavior usually, but regardless, as much fun as I provide because I am VERY free-range with regards to outdoor playing, a smile in a photo every now & then isn’t going to kill you. I don’t DARE to venture to tell you how to parent your children, but I would humbly suggest that the fake smiles for the holiday picture you speak of would fall under that sort of thinking. As much as I (SKL) do for you all year long, 1 picture once a year for the family isn’t going to kill you.


  106. SKL December 22, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    Oh, they were OK with 1 photo . . . 10 . . . 20 . . . I think it started to get old as we approached 25 or so . . . .

    Gotta love those grumpy photos too, though.

  107. socalledauthor December 22, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Is it really practical to make sure you have asked EVERY SINGLE PERSON in a public shot whether they approve of the picture? And how does a picture you don’t know has been taken affect you (or your child?) If a person is, say, at the mall taking photos of children lined up to see Santa, there could be dozens of people in the photo… but if even one says OMG, NO! then a perfectly good photo is ruined.

    Respect (or courtesty) goes both ways. It’s not all about one side– the person IN the photo should also consider the feelings and wishes of someone taking harmless slice-of-life photos for their own enjoyment, imho. This seems to be a considertion that is lacking in most of the discussion here, because, as is often the case, the ‘point’ is that it’s about how *I* feel about not wanting me or my child or my car or my trees in your photo. It’s all about *ME* and to hell with you. Again– how does a photo you’ll likely never see, of a scene that’s inoffensive in nearly anyway affect a person? If that makes you uncomfortable (fair enough) do you also avoid all stores with security cameras? Isn’t a picture a picture?

    And, really, how do you know if you’re the subject of a photo? Why would you assume you’re (or your child) is the most interesting photo subject? (Personally, I don’t like photos of people I don’t know– but I love architecture and urban spaces.)

  108. Dolly December 22, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Cin: I didn’t say they could make you delete it or confiscate your camera. I did say they can make you leave and they do have that right because in the end, it is still private property. I can assure you that mall which is in the South by the way and the main reason they did it was to keep out unruly teenagers mostly of a certain race, has had that policy in place since 1999 and it is still in place. People have tried to fight it and lost. I thought it was awful at the time because I was barely 18 at the time and was negatively effected by it because I had underage friends who could not go to the mall with me during the non teenager hours.

    Now, with all the crime in our area associated with gangs and teenagers, I kinda am glad for the rule. The police are at the mall during this time and enforce the rule. So I assure you, it is legal and binding.

    I don’t understand Larry’s problem with just asking people to take pictures of their kids. He goes on and on about the experience of meeting new people and talking to them and positive interactions. That is how a positive interaction happens! We were at a church Fall festival and we were all in our matching costumes. A mother with her son was going on and on about how cute we were and then asked to get a picture of us. Since she asked nicely I said “Sure” and we posed and had a nice interaction and talked some more. If she just ran up and snapped a picture of us I doubt we would have ended up talking like we did.

    From the way Larry talks I don’t think he is the type to say “Please” and “Thank you”. He is the type to not treat others the way he wants to be treated. Just like he gets mad when someone calls social services on him for the way he chooses to parent, but has no problem insulting the way others parent or ignoring how other parents make rules for their kids such as no picture taking.

  109. SKL December 22, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    socalledauthor, I think it’s a case of “you know it when you see it.” If you’re taking a photo of, say, a whole playground and there happen to be kids in it, then that’s one thing. If you’re zeroing in on one particular kid in an attempt to catch that individual kid in a fun pose, that’s something else. I think most people can tell the difference.

    It’s kind of like staring is rude. This is a basic social rule that we learn as preschoolers. Granted, you aren’t hurting anyone if you stare at them, but you make them feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, so you just don’t do that. If you want a closer look at them, you go up and say hello and talk to them. If you’re just sitting back watching a whole scene that happens to have people in it, you’re not staring and you’re not rude. If your eyes are fixed on someone giving a speech or performance, that’s not rude. It’s also not rude to stare at your own kid or mother. There’s no law against staring (that I know of), but no normal person thinks it’s OK. Similar social norms apply to taking photos.

  110. Dolly December 22, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Very well put SKL. You know it when you see it.

  111. Catherine Scott December 22, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    The first of the neo-liberal leaders of the Western world to be elected, Maggie Thatcher, announced that ‘there is no society’. She and her neo-liberal colleagues have brought this to pass by turning us all against each other, reducing us to isolated and terrified atoms. Makes us easier to govern, if we are too scared of each other to band together.

    In other words, we didn’t make this idiocy up, ‘they’ did i.e. the folk at the top. It’s called ‘governing by crime’: justify constant policing and intrusion into the lives of law abiding people not on the basis of fact (actual crimes) but risk (something bad could happen!).

    I wonder if the legislator considers herself to have been hoist on her own petard? There she was ‘innocently’ increasing her chances of election by the usual ‘tough on crime’ rubbish and she gets caught up in it! Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas indeed.

  112. Catherine Scott December 22, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Back in the old days, I was sitting on the grass in a park at public event with my two oldest children, then aged 2 and new born. A French tourist came up and took some photographs, because, he said ‘it is so lovely’.

    I wasn’t offended, I was delighted that anyone could see a frazzled no time for grooming and it shows mother of a new born and toddler sitting with her kids as lovely.

    I didn’t feel like I was experiencing anything remotely like hostile staring. I felt like a madonna!

  113. LRH December 22, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    “If you’re zeroing inon one particular kid in an attempt to catch that individual kid in a fun pose, that’s something else.” Yes,it’s called street photography, nothing wrong with it so long as you’re reasonably discrete.

    As for staring, the saying I always heard was “take a picture it’ll last longer.” Sounds good to me. Again it’s all in HOW you do it. Even I would never advocate, for example, what.the paparazzi’s behavior was like around Princess Diana in 1997. Be discrete.


  114. Brian December 22, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    Margret Thatcher was a conservative in the vein of Regan or Bush I. Sometimes called “neo-conservatives” or “neo-con.” Not sure why you would say she was a liberal at all. Sometimes liberals are accused of being “socialists” precisely because of their emphasis on society over the individual family unit.

    I think the staring v. “right to photograph” v. polite behavior debate really does get to the heart of this issue. I am genuinely torn on this issue largely because of the discussions on this blog.

    I very much support the idea that this is an issue of developing social mores not legislation. Much as cell phone use in restaurants has diminished as it has been generally accepted to be rude behavior.

    Larry–just because its art does not mean it is not rude. Piss Christ is art but also rude. Artists can also create art even if they are rude. Michelangelo may have been a total jerk to work with but it does not change the value of the art.

  115. LRH December 22, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    PS–Catherine Scott gets it. Enough said.


  116. Cheryl W December 22, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    LRH, the “child” was in high school. And honestly, the strict crap didn’t work with him and some of the others. The middle school he went to (which I did for a short time) literally treated the kids like prisoners with kids walking in lines against the wall and no talking between classes, with Hall Monitors to snitch on you. This was 5-8th grade. High school was more normal, but they had their fair share of arbitrary rules as well.

    Really, what does it matter that he wasn’t shown in the year book? He didn’t want to be in it, his name was in it, but always listed as “Not Shown”. Just like any kid who was absent that day. It doesn’t matter to me that he wasn’t in the year book. I mean, I seldom look at the photos now, and really, stupid hair cuts and pimples in full color. Wow.

    No, it was his personal preference, and I don’t think that just because someone is underage and in a school that they should not have some rights. At home, I have no idea what went on. I have gotten the feeling that they were not a close family so they probably didn’t do family photos. As I said the other students didn’t care. The only ones who cared were the administrators, and they were not the ones buying the books.

  117. Dolly December 22, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    I wish I had opted out of my middle school year book photos especially the 8th grade one. Yikes, I was not pretty during my awkward phase.

  118. hineata December 22, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Wow! What fun discussions happen when I’m off doing Xmas shopping!

    I do feel very sorry for the woman in the original post. And very grateful that in many countries people don’t have the same issues. When we went to Europe, we snapped thousands of shots, almost all of them populated with strangers, as well as our own little ‘darlings’. Of course we were at tourist spots most of the time. And in SE Asia, on the way there and back, the girls were hustled into having photos taken with lovely groups of people we’ll never see again….I just told them to suck it up and enjoy being ‘celebrities’…..What a bad parent I am! (Also, I might add, when you’re in a country where you only speak a little of the language, and you know the local jails are appalling, who would make any unnecessary fuss about anything, LOL!)

    And just to show racial stereotypes are alive and well all over the Western world, my Malaysian Chinese husband takes photos of people and places all the time, including strangers, and not once has he ever been approached in a negative fashion. Everyone assumes he’s ‘just another Chinese tourist’, LOL!

  119. hineata December 22, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    P.S. Anyone want two girls for Christmas? Free to a good home….They are currently outside sawing up their ‘hoarder’ father’s wood from the garage, to build an impromptu fort in one of our trees, and are not likely to be welcome at home when he gets back tonight!

    They can do dishes, clean floors, wash windows….saw up bits of wood (and the deck underneath, probably!)………

    Merry Christmas, everyone 🙂

  120. Verena Beckstrand December 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.

    Douglas Adams

  121. Nicole K December 22, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Tourists love my kid, and are forever taking pictures of her. If I tried to get them all to delete them I’d have a hard time.

    Be glad someone thinks your kid is cute!

  122. arwynquandry December 23, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    I don’t think they legally can demand you delete the photos. They can request it, but what I remember of the ethics section of my college Digital Photography class said that when a person is in a public place, they’re fair game to have pictures taken of. You can’t get up in their face or anything, but because they happen to be in a public area, you can take photos. If this wasn’t true, we could sue stores for video taping us on their security cameras, because who knows what a pedophile might do with a video of a child walking! (Insert eye roll here) Wonderful how people forget that we’re being photographed and taped every time we go outside by faceless corporations, yet single out an innocent person taking photos for the holidays.

    If it was that easy to sue or create legal trouble for people taking pictures of others in public, paparazzi would have a lot harder of a job and there would be less photos of them in magazines.

  123. 1ElleofaWoman December 23, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    I don’t think this is as much a free range issue than an etiquette/consideration issue. The mother probably overreacted. But we only have one side of the story. But we do know the woman didn’t run straight to the security guard, she spoke to the photographer first.

    And regardless of legal rights, common courtesy and respect should still remain. As well as common sense. The mother was clearly upset. The photographer should have offered to delete the photos of the woman’s kids before the security guards got involved. There are lots of other things to take pictures of; just delete the photos of the kids for the upset lady. Why keep them? Just to make a point? Because the mother yelled at you? Maybe legally she doesn’t have to erase them but really, some common sense and some courtesy here would have diffused the entire situation.

    It would have been good etiquette for the photographer to ask for permission, — or at the very least speak to them afterwards if you want to maintain the spontaneity — since it was clear that she was zeroing in a certain kids. While some here are comparing this to photojournalism, this woman was clearly not a photojournalist; she was using a cell phone. A good photo journalist will stop and speak to the people he is photographing (at least those he/she is zeroing in on, not necessarily a crowd photo.) Taking pictures of someone with a cell phone and just walking away is pretty creepy. And that is what might have set the woman off, snapping photos and leaving, not simply the taking of the photos.

    I am surprised that only one person mentioned her “superstitious Mexican native” comment. I am not one to insist on always being PC, but throwing this racial insult out of nowhere gives me a very poor impression of her. It implies that she’s a racist. At the very least, she is not smart. She has been tagged as a racist by political opponents, (I did some Googling) and that one line is just more fodder for them.

  124. LRH December 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    1ElleofaWoman I would hardly classify public photography as “creepy.” It’s nothing of the sort, besides the fact that it’s legal. Again, look up Henri Cartier-Bresson, who DELIBERATELY did not ask for any permission of his public subjects, and made a point to conceal his camera to be as discrete as possible. Just today I saw an early edition 1942 book, one of the first of his work, selling for nearly $200.

    The man has numerous museums exhibiting his work. He became so famous for the very type of photography many of us now denounce as “creepy” that he was commissioned to photograph the inaugiration Ghandi in India if I recall correctly. I am no Henri Cartier-Bresson, and I doubt this lady was either, but the point is–simply photographing what’s around you, in a discrete manner and not necessarily asking permission first, is not any sort of rude or creepy behavior at all.


  125. sexhysteria December 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    This absurdity is only one expression of the hysteria over child sexual abuse. There are many special interests profiting from the hysteria; it isn’t just the masses of Sheeple who have gone astray. The following blog analyzes the hysteria in some detail:

  126. 1ElleofaWoman December 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Public photography is not in itself creepy, but taking pictures with a cell phone and walking away is.

    You can keep saying that it’s not rude, but there are people who think that taking photos in public without permission is rude. This has nothing to do pedophilia or anything sinister.

    Oh yeah, I did look up Henri Cartier-Bresson — HE didn’t like people to take pictures of him. So despite his photographic genius, he didn’t want the camera to be turned on him even when he was in a public place where people had the right to photography him. Imagine that.

    “Cartier-Bresson was a photographer who hated to be photographed and treasured his privacy above all. Photographs of Cartier-Bresson do exist, but they are scant. When he accepted an honorary degree from Oxford University in 1975, he held a paper in front of his face to avoid being photographed.”

    The horse has now been beaten enough so I won’t be responding on this thread.

  127. SKL December 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    LRH, you keep bringing up this Henri dude. The fact that he did X does not prove that X is an OK thing to do. The fact that his doing so earned him fame and fortune doesn’t make it right, either – if anything, it makes it worse. I know that if I’d found a published photo of myself or my kid in an unflattering pose, I would be very angry – and I wouldn’t care if the photo was taken by Mother Teresa.

  128. LRH December 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Well I would say that “this Henri dude” (sort of like calling Babe Ruth “some Babe dude”) touched a lot of very normal & smart people with his pictures for them to get into museums & expensive books. Thus, his hypocrisy aside, I would sat what he did was very normal & the parents freaking out over a normal photo without your full name attached to it, YOU are the ones who need enlightening.


  129. Marion Ros December 24, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Larry, I just wanted to say that I utterly agree with everything you’ve said. We live, unfortunately, in an age where the greatest sin one can commit is to ‘offend’ people. You ply your legal right on freedom of speech or freedom to photograph in public places, and there will always be someone objecting because they are *offended*.

    Because they have no LEGAL leg to stand on, these people will then ALWAYS start whining that you are being ‘rude’. When they act aggressive or attack you, these lunatics will then call on the public for support because you, who are just doing your thing without harming anyone, have somehow ‘invited’ this violence against you because YOU have been ‘rude’ and ‘offensive’.

    It’s the tactic of the bully.

    Too much idiocy is being tolerated and too many freedoms have been curtailed because of the fear of ‘offending people’.

    Steve Hughes said it best:

  130. pentamom December 24, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    Parents should not freak out over photos. People should not insist in their “right” not to take photos of other people, including children, when politely asked not to, even if they really do have that right. It’s called being considerate toward other people’s feelings, even if you don’t share them.

    It’s really no more complicated than that.

  131. LRH December 24, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    Thank you Marion Ros. I’ve seen that clip before but I still like it.

    I do sometimes ask permission in some situations. Today I received a haircut in a rather eclectic sort of place, with tattooed hair stylists & exotic looking décor everywhere. I found it interesting and wanted to take a photo of the interior of it. I did actually ask & the person said “sure, no big deal,” and I did so.

    The difference: it was on the INSIDE of the business, not out on the street. Also there wouldn’t have been an easy way to do so without being conspicuous, and I felt inclined to. Out on the street, it’s a different story, I think.


  132. Dolly December 24, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    I am with Elle. I think that bringing up Henri Shitdon’tstink due just further backs up OUR point since that guy himself did not like his picture taken and went out of his way to keep from being photographed. So obviously he was a huge hypocrite. Not someone worth worshipping.

  133. LRH December 24, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    Well Dolly no one is worth worshiping. However, his weird personal habits aside, his body of work speaks for itself. That body of work would NEVER have been possible had people been as schizophrenic as what I’m hearing here, or had he assumed they were & asked permission all the time.

    And incidentally, as I understand it, he was that way in large part so that people wouldn’t recognize him and his face recognition cause people to stop what they were doing & mug him as if he were a rock star, thus ruining the shots.

    I will take the habits & intelligence of one Henri over 5,000,000 schizophrenics acting like a camera is a machine gun. They’re being completely irrational & their concerns deserve no recognition and acknowledgment.


  134. KyohakuKeisanki December 24, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Technically while security can tell you to do anything, the best they can do to enforce it (unless you were breaking a law unrelated to private-property issues) is to ban the individual from the property. Now, it would be perfectly legal to tell the person to EITHER delete the photos OR leave the mall and never come back; however, forcing the person to potentially do both is definitely an overstep of authority.

  135. J.T. Wenting December 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    @magnum she was on private property. If that private property has published and posted rules against photography she has to abide by those.

    But I seriously doubt the mall has that. They just make up such things as they go along to be able to bully innocent people with impunity.

    I see that a lot as a photographer, rentacops making up “laws” so they can bully us around with threats to destroy our equipment or steal it.

  136. Dolly December 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I looked up Henri Shitdon’tstink’s work and I was NOT impressed. There was maybe one or two shots I was very impressed with and would consider buying and/or displaying in my home. The others were not impressive. So my opinion stands that his work does not excuse him being a hypocrite. I hate hypocrites because it is so lame to not practice what you preach.

    If he did not want people to recognize him he could wear a disguise like a lot of celebs do. There are other ways around it instead of just holding something over your face.

  137. Shannon December 26, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    I worked at a Santa display this season, and we did have a no photography/video rule. It was actually a mall-wide rule (which I didn’t know at first), but for us it was mostly because we were a business that took pictures of people with Santa, and if we just let anyone take pictures then it would take away from our business. Apparently the mall rule is a privacy thing, they just don’t want you taking pictures of people without their permission, and people don’t know what’ll happen with the pictures. But the most annoying part of all this was when I’d say “Sorry but there’s no personal photography allowed,” and instead of saying “sorry, I didn’t know”, they just blow up in my face.

  138. Dolly December 26, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Shannon: Yeah I respect that you should not be allowed to take your own pictures with Santa without buying some. As long as they allow kids to visit Santa without buying something, then they are being fair. Not every parent has the money to buy a pic but their kids still want to visit Santa and they should be able to and if they want a pic they can buy one.

  139. Beth December 26, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Dolly, are you having trouble reading, typing or understanding the last name of the photographer to which Larry is referring?

  140. racheljoyhatten December 26, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    So, when you go to a national landmark (or an international one) and take pictures of your family you want everyone with a camera to first get permission from everyone in the landscape to allow a photo to be taken that they will be in?

    Personally, I feel weird photographing others I don’t know, but really what’s the worst that is going to happen if I’m in a picture that I never see again? I have this awesome photo of my husband in front of the Moulin Rogue, and there’s another girl near him that looks like she’s looking right at us and I could have been taking a photo of her, too. It’s a great shot. And when my husband, brother and I were leaping in front of the Eiffel Tower there were plenty of others snapping pix…of us. Where are those photos now? I don’t know, but they didn’t steal our souls!

  141. Carla December 26, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    I honored another Mom’s concerns over sharing an image that included her child. My son and hers created an amazing video with special effects and a cute plot, ect. My husband spent considerable time editing it and adding music for them. It really was a work of art. After I viewed it with this mom, I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to post the video to my facebook wall. She gasped. Seriously, an audible gasp. “Oh please no!”

    Sure I honored her request but it left me thinking she’s far too anxious for her own good. Does she think my facebook friends will figure out who her child is, where he lives and then stalk him? I told her my privacy settings on facebook make it impossible for anyone outside of my network of friends to view content and posts. This did not satisfy her. I never posted the video because she asked me not to …(as ridiculous as her request seemed to me.)

  142. Gigi December 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I think the big point is being missed here by several people. A little politeness and tact would have gone a very long way on both the mother and the photographers part.

    I think it’s time to stop bringing up the artist, because quite frankly just because an artist does something within their legal rights doesn’t mean it should be repeated by other people. Nor does it allow us to forget to think of others and how they might feel about something – whether we agree with them or not.

    I am pretty sure every parent here strives to teach their children to be polite and respective. This is something I am sure your parent taught you. I was what you would call a ‘free range child’. I rode my bike all over town, including the public pool pretty much every day of the summer. Most places I went were well over a mile from my house and my parents didn’t mind. They did have a pretty set in stone rule, I wasn’t allowed to go any where without asking first, either by calling my parents when they were at work or finding them around the house.

    Why? It’s not that I wasn’t supposed to go to these places – it’s that they wanted to know where I was going, what time I would be back and what I would be doing. I had to ask politely and be prepared to answer any questions they might have.

    I feel like a lot of people seem to forget that other people have feelings and while we don’t necessarily have a legal responsibility to think of them, we owe it to our children to be polite because they learn from us. They imitate us from the time they are born, if you act politely chances are your children will too. If we ask this of them, then don’t we owe it to our children to treat others with respect?

    It was also brought up before but I thought I would reiterate the point that was made, the photographer said some pretty nasty things about the mother and stated that the mother was a ‘superstitious native Mexican’. Not only have I lost any sympathy for the photographer at this point but I have to bring up, maybe she didn’t want her kids pictures taken because she DID recognize the former senator. Perhaps she didn’t want images of her children used in some ‘anti-anchor baby’ ad.

    I don’t really know what the mother was thinking, and to be honest the entire article is written as an editorial – so it is one sided. It could have been easily embellished and exaggerated. It could have even been made up completely. Simply unless the mother and others that were their come forward to acknowledge the facts or dispute them we will never know.

  143. Kevin December 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I agree that’s polite to ask. No big deal and it takes like 2 seconds. As for taking pictures with Santa, I remember the days when stores had Santas and Mom or Dad could take a picture with no hassle. Now everything is about money. Folks took a sweet childhood tradition, figured how to make money off of it, and then set up silly rules to ensure they would. Ridiculous. People need to get in the holiday spirit, loosen up, and let folks take pictures of their little one on Santa’s lap at the mall and forget about the business aspect. I’m thankful for the places that do.

  144. Dolly December 27, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    Beth: nope I am just making fun of him because the way Larry refers to him you would think it was the second coming or something because according to Larry that guy does no wrong.

  145. Dolly December 27, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    Carla: Good for you for honoring that mother’s wish even if you did not agree with it. The thing is even if you know everyone on your friends list. She doesn’t. Maybe she is like me and only has 53 friends and you have hundreds. I only let actual people I talk to and know be on my friends list. Some people add just about anyone to their friends list. So you know, there is a difference.

  146. SgtMom December 27, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    Years ago my a snake charmer in Morocco held a cobra to my Uncle’s throat because my Uncle had refused to pay him $100.00 for a photograph he’s just taken of him and his snake.

    Uncle Ed. a WWII veteran, kissed the ground upon arriving back in the Land Of The Free.

    People didn’t USED to do idiotic things like that here in America. We “used” to be Americans – one for all, all for one. What the hell has happened to you?

    There are HUNDREDS of photos of my children in Japan. Tourists lined up by the bus loads to snap pics of my beautiful kids.

    Imagine me getting al huffed up and asking WHY? (I already knew WHY – those kids were GORGEOUS)! What are you going to do with those pictures? (Please! My kids are gorgeous but they aren’t religious relics).

    Delete those pictures! I didn’t give you my permission from on high!
    (so who do you think YOU are?)

    My granddaughter was eating a chocolate ice cream cone on a hot summer day when a woman politely asked to photograph her. My grandaughter’s attention was riveted on the woman, the pictures were bland ad boring. MY pictures were adorable because she was just being her little unaware self.

    Get a grip, people! Get a life!

    BTW – we’re AMERICANS! ACT like it!!!!!.

  147. Carla December 27, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    @ Dolly~ Well, I think whether I have 50 friends or 150 friends and whether they are all close friends or barely friends is irrelevant in the particular scenario I laid out. There is zero risk to her child if my “friends” view a video on FB of two kids dressed up in a costume pretending they are wizards. No one can figure out who the other kid is and therefore no harm will ever come to this boy via my posting a 60 second video. They are both fully clothed, so no one is going to “get off” on images of my son and this boy and there is no information to lead anyone to him. It is so incredibly irrational and over the top ~ and yet, I will grant this paranoid mother her wish of complete imagined safety.

  148. Sammy Morera December 27, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Pooh & Alex were talking while lock out was still in session.

  149. LifeAsModernWife December 30, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Lol! I like the #2 reason – “we believe a photograph really captures the soul”

  150. Paula January 1, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Working with kids who are in foster care (published photos are not allowed) and one who (we found out later) was on the run with mom from abusive parent, I certainly think people should ask first. I wouldn’t worry about my kid being in someone’s background but if someone was obviously photographing one of my children without at least asking, I’d certainly step in their way so what they would get would be a pic of my back and not my child. If someone was to ask and explain that they were a hobbyist, I’d most likely go along with it. Not asking is rude.

  151. Tsu Dho Nimh January 3, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I spent hours over the holidays taking pictures of children in public places, without asking any kind of permission.
    Where do I get my pervert badge? 🙂

    I see so many unlikely scenarios cropping up: OMG! The child is in a custody fight or foster care! Well, how is anyone to know that photo “A” of an un-named child on website “Y” is of their child? I don’t know them, their child or the horse they rode in on! Are they scanning the entire internet? If so, they have face recognition software the Homeland Security would like to have.

    Here are the rules for using pictures taken in public places:

    1 – Without permission from the subjects or their parents, I can use them for “news”, including articles or blog posts about the site the pictures were taken at or generic shots … for example, a photo of a child sledding can be used (I can sell it!) for illustrating books and other things about snow sports, exercise or whatever.

    The only photo sales that require permission are pure commercial ads such as an ad for the child’s sled or snow gear, or uses that are “sensitive” … I would not illustrate an article about child abuse with a recognizable shot of a crying child.

    I have some excellent shots of a helicopter evac … the patient is not recognizable, and the EMS and pilot don’t care. I can sell those shots. Or post them on my blog.

    I have never been confronted by an irate parent or even mall security, but if I am, they will be firmly rebuffed and educated on the rights of photographers.

  152. Tsu Dho Nimh January 3, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    @Karen “strangers must share intimate details of their lives with you”

    If “intimate” means “something we did in a shopping mall” or a ski slope, or in the public park, you have a really strange idea of intimate.

  153. Tsu Dho Nimh January 3, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Dolly, (and all the other “you should ask” people) you will never know if I am photographing you or your children.

    I have lenses that can photograph high quality “close ups” from 50+ feet away, one that can shoot at right angles to the direction the camera is aiming (yes!), and cameras so good I almost never use a flash.

    Feeling paranoid yet?

  154. H. Reardon January 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Thank you for pointing out that this person’s efforts in her State Legisligature are likely a different manifestation of the same paranoid fear exhibited by the mother.

    But personally, I would rather that strangers didn’t take photo’s of my kids. It’s a personal privacy type of arguement, not a fear that the person taking the photo is a pervert. Not that I would call security or the police on a photographer.

  155. Babs January 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Guess I must’ve been a pervert, too — many moons ago, I took a few pics at my local park for my college photography class, featuring kids. Sad it’s come down to this. (Then again, I can’t tell you how many times I have to sign permission slips asking if any pics of my 8 y.o. are taken at school/Girl Scout events/etc. can be used for publicity purposes.)


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