It’s illegal

Thursday, August 11th, 2016
  • Illegal picture

    As I lifted my camera to take this photograph, a man started shouting and running toward me frantically waving his arms in the air. The portly fellow was losing his mind and clearly very agitated. I couldn’t quite make out what he was shouting, but it seemed obvious that he was objecting to my taking the photograph.

    When he eventually reached me, red-faced and panting heavily, he continued his animated tirade. I waited politely for him to finish then explained, in what little French I can speak, that I wasn’t a native French speaker and so I didn’t quite understand him. He was kind enough to accommodate me by asking if I spoke English, and when I said yes, he started to rant at me in English.

    “You cannot take pictures here, it is illegal. This is private property. What are you doing? You are not allowed. It is not allowed. It is illegal. This is private. You have trespassed to be here. Show me your pictures.”

    His breathless rant was getting quite aggressive and he stepped right up to me, so I put my hand out and asked him calmly to step back, and take a few breaths.

    “You cannot take pictures here. This is private property. What have you done? Why are you taking pictures? It is illegal. Show me the pictures.”

    I explained that I was simply admiring the house and that I was taking a picture of the window because it was interesting. I tried to explain that the wider view was of no interest to me, so the location was not identifiable, however, he just interrupted me.

    “Show me your pictures,” he demanded.

    “No,” I replied.

    This response seemed to completely baffle him.

    “You are trespassing, it is private, you are not allowed to take pictures here.”

    It’s true that I had walked about ten steps down a private road. However, the road is not gated or signed “keep out.” It’s merely a road managed by residence rather than the city. Also, while he objected to my photographing the house, it should be noted that the property, this window, and the entire wall, are absolutely visible in their entirety from the public path. I explained this to the frantic Frenchman, but he insisted that it was illegal, and again he demanded to see the pictures I had taken.

    Not to be intimidated by my newfound friend, I stepped up close to him and said clearly and firmly, “I am not showing you anything. No pictures, no camera, nothing. Do you understand me?”

    He seemed genuinely shocked and began walking backward.

    “OK then, I am calling the police,” he said, as he began to thumb at his phone.

    I congratulated him on that brilliant idea, then continued to take pictures of the building, even though I didn’t need any extra shots. I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t take a picture of him, that might have made a better picture of the day, but after spending a few more minutes being “illegal” I walked off.

    The police never arrived, of course. But because of the sweaty Frenchmans incorrect insistence that I was breaking the law, I feel that this photograph had to be today’s ‘picture of the day.’

    I like the house covered in ivy, it’s very striking. In fact, you can see the house and this window very clearly indeed using Google street view!

    It’s illegal!! To use Google street view?