Taking pictures of people with and without permission



I was at the computer lab yesterday, trying to do my work. For some unknown reason, I felt the urge to take pictures of the lab, and started doing so. I stood up and started taking pictures without flash. I was about to take a second picture when, through the LCD screen, I saw someone flapping their hands like a duck. I look at them directly and notic that they were waving at me. “Oh hmmmm, probably someone who works here who’s going to tell me it’s against University regulations to take pictures or something“, I assumed.

The lady walked over and before she reached my table, started smiling and saying out loud “You can’t take pictures of people.” I thought she was one of the staff, so I said “Oh ok“,while reviewing the pictures I just took on the camera’s LCD screen. She kept walking and stood right next to my chair and said “You need my permission to take my picture.” I looked at her and realized that she was a student, and I said “I wasn’t taking your picture but of the lab.” She said “Oh, you can’t take pictures of me since it intrudes privacy and you need my permission to even have me in the picture.” I had no time or intention to argue, so I said “Oh ok“, smiled at her and kept looking at my LCD screen. Such a response seemed to throw her off, as she couldn’t tell whether I was agreeing with her or indirectly flicking her off. I wasn’t; I simply acted that way since I respected her wish and didn’t want it to be a big fuss.

Anyhow, she walked back to her seat and I saw that her back was toward me; even if she was in the picture, all anyone could see was her sitting on her computer with a hundred other students, with her back toward the camera. At this very point, some people around me became high school kids. I could hear people say something along the lines of “Oh, she’s retarded“, “Haha, he didn’t even give a damn” and “Wow, she took care of him.” Whatever. I did the things I had to do on the computer and then I had about 25 minutes or so when I decided to google about pictures and privacy. I found an article on taking pictures of people and asking for permission. According to it, one can take pictures of people unless it intrudes privacy. Privacy refers to any scene that one does not allow others to see voluntarily. Thus, inside a computer lab, there is no privacy, so I could take pictures repeatedly and no one could do anything unless I sold that exact picture, with someone or some people in it, for some monetary compensation. I left a message for Valerie, and decided to go tell the lady that she was mistaken.

I walked over to her and asked her if she had a minute or two. Since I was polite, she was polite also and said “Sure“, smiling and probably wondering if I was going to apologize for the picture or something. I told her that I double confirmed what I already knew, and that taking pictures of people without their permission is “ok” unless it is of something that is private and not know or seen by others around that person, or if it used to make monetary gain, even in which case nothing can be done until after I have made money after such a thing. I thanked her for letting me know how she felt. She looked a bit puzzled, and I walked back to my computer. I thought I was going to leave normally, as any tension between her and me that she may have felt had supposedly been eliminated, but no; I saw her walking toward me through the corner of my eye.

It took her about 5 seconds to get to my table, and that was the only time I had to decide if I should simply back off of any upcoming argument, or go ahead at full speed. She came and said “No, I have been at this university for a long time and I know these things. I’m a professional and you cannot take my pictures without my permission, or you can get expelled from the university or get into legal trouble. So don’t try to be a smarty kid and take my picture, OK?” Before I could say anything, she walked off and shook her head along the way. I don’t know why she got so offended when I told her nicely about how she was wrong, and yet had still acknowledge her reaction as being something I respected. Everyone around me was trying to look at me, and also tried to make sure that I didn’t know they were looking at me. “Oh hmmm“, I thought again, and I decided to leave with a farewell notice. I packed my stuff, took a small paper and a pencil and wrote something down.

I walked up to her table, took a picture of her table with her sitting on it, after which she looked at me and was really mad, I guess. I walked up to her and put the paper right next to her keyboard and said, loud enough so others around could hear too, “Here is my website address. I’m going to put your picture on my website. Let me know when I’ll be expelled or when I’ll get into legal trouble. If nothing happens by by Monday, I hope you won’t be hiding yourself from me in the lab the next time I run into you, as I’ll take more pictures. Now I’m going to take another picture of the place. Tata!” I turned to the side and took the picture of the lab from another angle. I looked at her and she was furious. I started walking toward the exit without looking back. Woooohooooo. What a retarded way to retard a day!

Here is the picture I took by walking in front of her table so she could be visible in the picture. It is, unfortunately, a blurry picture. Anyhow! Picture taken yesterday, April 6th, 2006, at the computer lab, because of which I’m going to be expelled from the University. I don’t like posting only blurry pictures, so I’m including the second picture also, which was a shot of the other side from the same location as the previous picture.

Picture of someone getting mad at computer lab

Picture of students at the computer lab