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Rideau Project

Rideau Project
Here’s a bit of street theatre going on in Ottawa right now, part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. I sat down to watch some of their performance under the Rideau Bridge.

I sat there for a bit with my camera in plain site hoping to take some photos, but not wanting to do so disruptively. At one point, someone looked over at me, maybe the producer or director or someone I kinda did the eye-ball roll to the camera, camera wiggle in hand, point, glance up and nod move; the universally-known permission asking gesture. An approving nod was given back; though soon after I was asked to stop taking pictures.

I’m not against this request, I asked, and was asked politely when to stop – fair exchange. And he even admitted; it’s public space, but a live performance, so they were in a bit of a grey area. If I was going to a show in a theatre, I wouldn’t have even brought my gear.

So what’s your take on this? Public space, free theatre: are my rights to photograph in a public space suspended? What are their rights in the situation? If I was 20 feet back with a telephoto they wouldn’t have even known I was there – probably would have had tighter shots too.

PLUS hoodlums showed up, swearing and “bop bopping”, which must have been far more disruptive than me clicking away time to time; but they weren’t asked to stop (likely a smart move since they would have created more of a scene having been confronted).

Are my rights worth LESS because I’m less vocal,less… intimidating? Am I a good citizen? Is this the road to serfdom? Tell us what you think, and how you’d approach this situation (or if you have already!).

8 thoughts on “Rideau Project

  1. Younes says:

    Very good points your raise Justin. I think in this case it is a case of balance between your rights and civility, and I believe you did the right thing. It is a public space, and by all means you are free to take all the pictures you wanted. That said being among the audience, it could be construed as impolite to keep clicking away. Now, had you not been part of the audience, I think it is totally within your right to shoot to your heart's content, and no amount of intimidation should stop you from doing it. It's really funny how the minute you start toting around a big slr and lens, people look at you like you are the next Bin Laden…

  2. It sounds like you made all the right choices. Nothing wrong with being civil.

    Personally, if I were the theatre person involved. I would have encouraged you to take pictures, given you a link to a website to post them, and got your URL address. A few nice pics on your site is exactly what theatre folks should be clamoring for.

  3. Wayne C. says:

    I think you handled the situation very well. Unless flashes were going off constantly in the actors faces I don't really see how this could be disruptive. I would follow up and post a link to this page on the magnetic north Twitter page or contact them directly. They might be interested in the image it's a good shot 🙂

  4. As a producer as long as you're not using a flash, and not disturbing the other audience members? (i.e. really loud shutter or motor) I'll let you shoot DURING my show IN the theatre… I'd prefer you ask first and share later. but have at it.

    Under the bridge? Snap away. Courtesy rules still apply… but for us under the First Street Bridge here in Austin? You'd have to have a Tonka Camera to distract…

    But I challenge your right to distribute 😉 Until I review them and THEN license them

  5. Robert says:

    I think you handled it well. Each situation has to be evaluated on its own merit. You managed to capture a terrific shot here, so not much was lost.

  6. JVL says:

    Wow, some really great comments here guys – to be clear – I was not offended or perturbed in the least; it just got me thinking… "What if?"

    And don't forget the hoods, far more disruptive than I ever could have been, but to my knowledge their behaviour was put up with, at least while I was there.

    I should also point out that the performance was quite good, funny, and the gangsta's who stopped by took to it keenly as well, albeit a bit vocally.

  7. Calusarus says:

    I'm waiting for their voices… 🙂

  8. mykl says:

    I agree that you did the right thing. It is public so you're fully allowed to take pictures [for example, their performance is infringing upon your right to take architectural photography in public] but limiting your number of pictures in the situation of a performance is the way to go. And I agree that simply agreeing to share the pics is a good thing. Maybe ask up front before they start if you can take some pics. Maybe later on they will be contacting you for actual work! Always find the opportunity in the situation 😉