Sunday, June 21, 2009
Here’s another post from the old writog.com site dealing with my pursuit of photography and certain police officers who question said pursuit. This also dates back to 2006.
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It's 12:15 AM. Do you know where your writog is?
When I was a kid a TV station used to run this public service announcement:
It's 10:00 PM. Do you know where your children are?
Of course, some parents were glad that they didn't know where their kids were as long as they were out of the house. At the same time, an unsupervised pre-teen wandering around late at night should cause one to wonder, especially when they're only ten or younger.
As an adult, it should be OK to wander around at night, assuming that you're not up to no good. But it seems that even an adult can cause others to wonder when said adult is engaging in an activity that supposedly is only conducted at certain hours at specific locations.
What do I mean? Last night I walked down the street, the main drag, to the corner gas station with my SLR film camera, lens, and tripod. The station is open 24/7 and is brightly illuminated. It's so well lit that a brain surgeon could work under those lights. There's not a plethora of shadowy areas to lurk in. I was interested in photographing the gas station because of the colorful designs on the pumps, and also to document for future generations not only what a gas station was, but also what it charged for a gallon of gas.
During the day the station would be busier, making it harder to stay out of the way and shoot. Late at night the station is fairly quiet. Also, the colors are different, more intense, when it's dark out.
So here I am in plain sight, large SLR camera atop my tripod, taking a shot of the pumps. I made sure to work quickly, being aware of cars coming and going -- basically, staying the hell out of the way so that I didn't interfere with business.
I was looking through my viewfinder when a city police car stopped next to me. The driver asked me what I was doing. He had seen me before in a different location on the sidewalk when he drove in. Before leaving he decided to check me out.
I asked him if I was in the way. He said no, but still wondered why I was photographing the pumps. I explained why, the color and detail. He replied: "Well, it's unusual for someone to be taking photographs of a gas station at 12:15 AM."
I said I photograph all sorts of things at night around town, even at later hours.
Seeing that I was coherent and not a drooling madman, he went on his way.
So remember: don't do photography near a public business when it's after midnight. You might fit a profile.
I wonder what I would document if I photograph a doughnut shop during the late shift? (Gee, I'm profiling, ain't I?)