Last weekend, I became the target of photography haters. But before you dismiss my claim, consider my story, because I have not made myself guilty of insulting anyone:
I was in a crowded square in downtown Munich, Germany (on the "Münchener Freiheit"), watching old men playing a game of chess using huge wooden chess men - a very concentrated, peaceful scene. I shot a number of portraits of an old man in his seventies with a highly interesting face and then walked away. It was warm, the light was perfect and everybody was relaxed and calm.
Several minutes later, I suddenly found myself surrounded by four or five men and women in their late twenties or early thirties. Obviously Germans, so this was not a religion-based problem. At first, the scene looked somewhat like a harmless prank because they all were using water guns to make me wet from all sides, including my sensitive photography gear.
But then, they pulled in on me and started insulting me because I had been taking photographs. Mind you, the people who harassed me were completely unknown to me, and I couldn't even find them in the background of any of the pictures I shot. It seems they were not afraid of having been photographed because none of them asked to see my pictures and have theirs deleted in case they would have been on one of them - a fairly normal occurrence these days in Germany which I would have reacted to by deleting pictures as requested without further discussion.
Instead, they came closer and closer, and the scene became increasingly menacing. What would you do if you would see a situation developing in which you're going to be attacked by a group of young, apparently strong and healthy people, whereas you aren't a very sportsy type and you are in your late fifties? Anyway, the scene became very loud, with three or four of them yelling at me, and myself thinking about what to do next in order to not get beaten up on the spot (Quite remarkable - we were on a square with about two hundred witnesses who sat at the tables of a nearby street cafe. They all watched, but nobody interfered).
I had to do something. Immediately. And I did: Instead of staying on the defensive, I brusquely started an attack on one of the men surrounding me, threatening to hit him with my camera (I had a very solid 80-200 f 2.8 lens attached). I was lucky. I scared the entire gang away without hurting anyone.
I was glad the situation was resolved in a good way, but I'm left with an uneasy feeling, not understanding the reason of the attack. And this was not the only attack i had experienced. Two years ago, I had also been in a crowded place in Munich, trying to test my then brand-new (and huge, highly conspicuous) wideangle zoom lens. I got harrassed by someone immediately after having taken my camera out of my bag, before I had even started taking any pictures at all.
It seems the general 9/11 hysteria with imposed, ridiculous rules on photography is gradually seeping into the subconscious of all those nutheads in our cities....
Have you experienced similar things? What do you feel about this? How would you react, or how did you react when something similar would/has happen(ed) to you?