*Siena* 5:23am, 9 December 2006
Dupain beach snaps draw police attention

THE 1937 photograph of a bronzed sunbather by Max Dupain is the most famous image of Australia's beach culture - but so suspicious have authorities become of cameras on beaches that his photographer son, Rex Dupain, was threatened with arrest while working on a new book about Bondi.

After pulling out his $8000 Hasselblad to snap a couple of backpackers sleeping on the sand, Dupain - one of Australia's most celebrated photographers - found himself surrounded by four police officers who confiscated his camera.

Although it is legal to photograph anyone in a public place, Dupain found himself questioned for 25 minutes by the police.

"Lifeguards and the police are taking the law into their own hands and they regard anyone with a camera as a potential pervert," Dupain said yesterday.

"We sit at home and watch the close-up of people's lives on disturbing television reality shows but someone taking pictures at the beach is seen as a threat. Our days as a free society are completely over."

Dupain started taking shots at Bondi three years ago for his new book, The Colour of Bondi, and wanted to capture the authentic look of the beach by photographing people who were relaxed and unaware they were being snapped. He was questioned by lifeguards and the police on at least half a dozen occasions while working on the project, but said the final confrontation was the most disturbing. "They thought the Hasselblad was some sort of trick camera because they couldn't find a display screen," he said. "They wouldn't believe it wasn't a digital camera."

The photographer said catching people unaware was "how we learn about ourselves".

Dupain approached the local Waverley council for a permit of the type issued to people filming television commercials so he would not be harassed. "They said, 'Sure, it will only cost you $160 an hour'."
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
Poor Rex!!! LOL

Andrew Nemeth has quite a good piece on legal issues for this sort of stuff. Keeping in mind the world has gone completely mad.

www.4020.net/unposed/photorights.shtml
Gayle Morris Reichelt 12 years ago
Wow. How amazing. He is such a great photographer too, just like his father. I saw an exhibition of his in Sydney a few years ago.

It is sad that it is not safe to be seen in public with a camera these days. I love shooting people with the camera too, but we all have to be so careful now, in case we are arrested.
Yorrick from Oz 12 years ago
lots of issues here:

i'm not sure what Rex is trying to say

...poor me by the sounds of it???

If he spends so much time there he would know that the patrolers he metioned and police there have to remove actual pervs on a daily basis, it is the reality of our busiest beach??

...would he prefer less authority so that he and the pervs have a free run????

i wonder how much of that 25minutes was spent trying to explain to Rex their actions....catching people unaware maybe "how we learn about ourselves" but do a web search on "candid" and see what you find.

tis a crazy world no doubt
*Siena* 12 years ago
It's just really sad that it's the end of an era...You really can't just "capture moments" anymore.....which is what photography is all about. Plus I love it how it's all ok, as long as someone gets paid off.
Yorrick from Oz 12 years ago
yeah that sucks hard

wollongong mall here where i live has the same standard...pay me and carry on or put that thing away, there seems to be no real privacy issue?
Rohan Phillips PRO 12 years ago
He should realise that taking photos of some topless girls sleeping on the beach might look a bit odd.
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
In this day and age you are going to get attention doing anything that doesnt quite fit the situation.If a weirdo was going around photographing people on the beach for immoral or illegal use, id rather know the police were going to speak with him.
Museum of Dirt 12 years ago
A lot of interestig points here, and I'm sure more will follow but, - and granted police aren't all camera buffs themselves - wouldn't a $8000 'Blad kind of stick out as a Pro camera as opposed to some perv, or terrorist , or, actually anyone, with a phone cam?
Same with an honest, out in the open SLR.

And this is my point and one of the things that bug me about all this; we as photographers will be questioned etc with our cameras, lenses and kit, but anyone can be shooting anything, with no-one knowing, with a phone cam or one of those little 'toy' digicams.

And this is not going into the areas of freedom, or of documenting the times. Or the public space debate.

Just before I finish my two bobs worth, by SLR i mean Film or Digi, and by 'toy' digi, I mean those little ones JB and those places have without any disrespect to those who do use them.
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
I was down at South Bank in Brisbane with a mate of mine who brought along his old Blad CM. Just wandering about doing some casual street shooting. Got hassled by security cose it was “obviously a big pro camera” and we must have been there on a commercial job. We just laughed.

The place became a bit of a joke for a while with over zealous “private police” that seem to inhabit the great state of Queensland. To do a commercial shoot there costs about 2000 grand up. I can understand this to a point because I could imagine the area being flooded with wedding photoz.

On the subject of Rex Dupain… I’m not that surprised he got hassled… ran into him once a few years back at Joseph Lebovic’s gallery in Paddington. He came across as the not too with the real world vague artist type…
katheric 12 years ago
I've always been aware that its legal to take other people's photos in public. I've also been aware of my moral obligations. If I stand to profit in some way from an image I like to check with people that its ok to use it. I guess that is one of the benefits of having a screen. On one occasion I thought I had checked and I hadn't. It turned out that person objected to their image being used & was quite offended. This person was Aboriginal and regarded the acquisition of the image as a kind of theft. Fortunately we sorted it out & I deleted the image (which I just loved).

I think what this thread is missing is a discussion of our moral obligations to others. Just because you spend big money on a camera & have a "legal right' to take a photograph isn't really the end of it. It bothers me that some photographers take the high moral ground here & claim art, etc. Are we all so concerned with our own rights that we forget those of others?

The police are there to do a job and personally I'm glad they are doing it. I don't really want to sanction a Big Brother society.

kt
famous fly [deleted] 12 years ago
I read this article on news.com.au today and thought of the episode of the bondi surf patrol where they caught the guy using his little camera under his arm to get tit pics.

I am sure there would be a difference between a guy with a phone cam and a guy with a $8000 camera.

Will we get to a stage where you enter a famous Aussie spot (ie Bondi) to take pictures and have to sign a contract to say if you make money off these pics the council get half.

I have turned my phone off, I am worried RSPCA will call about me stalking a pelican and posting her pic on Flickr :0
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
I’m a little surprised at the dialogue here… the issue is the police acted illegally by confiscating Rex Dupain’s camera. That is illegal. Rex Dupain was acting within the law. There is a civil liberties issue at stake here. Our civil liberties are being eroded by illegal behaviour by private security guards and the police services. The police had no right to act in the way they did.

While photographing in he Queen Street Mall (Brisbane) one evening I was accosted by a shop employee (who happened to be standing near by after hours) and informed in a lecturing tone that I was not permitted to photograph the closed shop front (which she worked in). This is crazy stuff! She really believed that she was in the right, but it was not worth the argument. I have better things to do than deal with idiots

There are far more legitimate photographers legally going about their work or pastime than there are perverts. The reaction of society is out of proportion to the problem. That is not to say there is not a problem element out there. But in most cases it is legitimate photographers who are having there legal rights impinged upon because of the perception of problem. And it is mostly a percieved problem. We all suffer as photographers because of the minor creepy element of non legit public photographers. There needs to balance here.

I suggest you all read Andrew Nemeth’s article and carry a copy around with you when you go street photographing. If a police officer, or any other person working in an official capacity, tries to confiscate your camera, your film or attempts to have your dslr files deleted, call your layer immediately. Protect your legal rights as a photographer. This is entirely a different matter to taking “a high moral stand” or behaving in an irresponsibly or immorally. The issues are completely distinct here.
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
The cost or size of someones camera has nothing to do with what they intend to do with it. At the end of the day this guy wasnt probably doing the wrong thing, but in my experience police the majority of time act on a 'complaint'...there in itself lies the answer to this....a member of the public had cause to mention it to the lifeguard or police....society has changed and there isnt anything we can do about it.The man on the beach with a camera isnt just a photographer anymore, he is/or could be a multitude of different things, not all of them nice....depending on your perspective of course...(to us he IS a photographer..lol)

@Museumofdirt:-I must be out of touch...I wouldnt know what a Hasselblad looks like either.:)
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
To follow on from schoolbook… there is a matter of commonsense to be had when out and about photographing. Overtly wondering about beaches with a 1Ds Mk II and 100-300 zoom is just asking for trouble.

The flip side is… some people get funny about being photographed in public… without realising security surveillance cameras follow their every move. In some areas of metropolitan Qld, depending on where and how you live, from your front door and back again. Some of that CCT footage gets into the wrong hands and ends up on the net etc. Now are people screaming to high heaven that security cameras be done away with because of a few dubious security personal?
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
@The backpages:- I think you summed it up.Common sense.
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
I must say I all the years of photographing people in public I’ve never encountered a problem. Generally I think if you are open and honest about your activities then people are pretty much ok with it. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. If you treat people with respect, and allow them their dignity to remain in tack, then it is usually reciprocated. The only problems I’ve encountered have been minor and mentioned above where people in authority (mostly assumed authority) become officious and have usurped powers which do not exist.
James Burton 12 years ago




Its completely feasible to shoot undisturbed on the street. It might be more difficult on the beach.




There is lots to shoot out there. Just expect to be hassled periodically.
Xenedis PRO 12 years ago
I've only been approached by officials twice: once at the Sydney Opera House and once at Parliament House in Canberra.

In both cases, it was the big white lens which drew attention, and both assumed I was on a commercial shoot. After explaining that I was a hobbyist, no problem.

The trick with shooting in public is to know your rights and responsibilities, use common sense, and be respectful of others.
Yorrick from Oz 12 years ago
i read in Andrew Nemeth article on concent:
It is purely a subjective question of etiquette & taste.
katheric also said "morals"

I say: if i came out of the surf to find some guy had snuck up on my gfirlfriend who was sleeping on the beach i would have words for sure....weather its a boxbrownie or a cam phone wouldnt matter, i would still feel violated.

that might be suprising or seem out of proportion to some, but i have spent some time at bondi and i have witnessed some very qeustionable camera behavour from "pro" looking charractors

There are more pro photographers then pervs...maybe... but voyer sites must outnumber photgraphy sites by 100/1 on the web??

a couple of very busy pervs?? is it all in my head??

i think not

tell me i'm out of proprtion whatever, just dont sneak up on me and my girl at the beach!!!! OK
Yorrick from Oz 12 years ago
is that realy too much to ask????
freef0cus 12 years ago
I agree with many of these comments and yOrrik's last comments too. I like to respect other people's wishes regarding photography. I do not feel comfortable taking someone's photo without their permission as I would not feel comfortable with someone taking mine and possibly using it inappropriately (we wouldn't know often would we?). There are ways of taking candid photos after you have asked permission to ensure they are candid. For example ask permission then take one shot, walk away a little and come back when they are acting naturally, no harm then in taking another picture. It is easy to spend so much time thinking of our rights as photographers without thinking of the moral rights of our subjects or ourselves in a similar situation.

On the issue of police or other authority interference, again I believe this is a matter relating to the moral and legal rights of others. If it is not unlawful to photograph in public then the police have no right to confiscate or detain full stop. However I would not feel offended if I was photographing people and a policeman asked me what I was doing. Their job is to protect the public and uphold the law while doing so. They therefore have the right to question someone about their activities in a public place. If photographers were not questioned EVER I would be more concerned, but I would also expect the police Not to abuse their responsibilities towards any member of the community including photographers.
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Schoolbookdepository PRO Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Schoolbookdepository (admin) 12 years ago
@freef0cus:- I didnt read anything in the original posting about police abusing their authority. I read he was '...questioned by police for 25 minutes.'

I wonder how much the truth has been distorted here, or was something not right with this whole situation? I envisage if I was spoken to police in regards to my photographing ANYTHING I could satisfy even the most eager of police officer as to my bona fides within a matter of minutes.Maybe the article meant to say 2 minutes...and they added an extra 5....or maybe he was a difficult customer?

I wont get into a legal debate with you over legislation but I believe police do have certain powers available to them to 'detain and stop' and 'reasonable cause' etc.Maybe you speak to your local member, I personally have no problem whatsoever being spoken to by the police, and im happy to know if someone is out there photographing my children, or half naked women on the beach without their knowledge, they would speak to them too.

I guess its a matter of perspectives....
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
nah you are absolutely right schoolbookdepository …for some daft reason I thought the police confiscated Dupain’s camera.

In that case and I think, and in particular given the locality, the Police acted quite properly. Much ado about nothing really, Rex is whinging about being asked a few pertinent questions.

When out shooting, I’m in the habit of caring ID, business cards and little book of my work (I put together that lives in my camera bag pocket). Cos I still shoot mostly film like Rex I don’t have a little screen to show what pics I have made.
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
@ The backpages....stop showing off....us digital guys (well I do) need 100 frames to make a shot..lol :)
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA 12 years ago
Ha …you will never get to see bucket loads of dross accumulated and clogging up my neg files…
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
Do what I do, blame the camera ;) lol
WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA Posted 12 years ago. Edited by WØRҞING ÇAMEЯA (member) 12 years ago
Wish I could blame the cameras… ;-) At least you can delete yours LOL

Oh… I‘ve not gone totally mad either, I read the original piece from the Australian again and it does say the police “confiscated” Dupain’s camera. If that is so, they overstepped their authority.

What is meant by “confiscated” is another matter I 'spose. “Excuse me Sir may we have a look at your camera”?
selective actor [deleted] 12 years ago
Looking into my crystal ball.... hmmm... Waverly Council experience and "needless hours of patrolling at ratepayers expense" beat-up issue used as a model (pretense) for all Local Governments...in future all togs must have current tog licence issued after police check similar to child care etc.

Thats Tog Licence, not Dog Licence, which is another pleasure-legalised-by-local-Government.

When I'm licenced I'll be able to say I am "An Official Photographer".
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Schoolbookdepository PRO 12 years ago
@CameraJuice....the world has indeed gone silly my friend :)
freef0cus Posted 12 years ago. Edited by freef0cus (member) 12 years ago
I did agree with the questioning by police schoolbook depository if you read my comment in full (my perspective is very similar to yours actually), also it indicated that the policeman had confiscated the camera in the first thread and as stated if this is not within police powers it is an abuse of authority by definition (fairly clear I think). I am taking the information in the thread as it is presented, no-one participating in this discussion can probably be 100% sure of its veracity.
apurdam (Andrew) PRO 12 years ago
@CameraJuice - wasn't it Waverley who had that weird recent stoush with someone who had drink-dived into shallow water and then sued the council for not having a warning-sign saying that you shouldn't dive into shallow water?

Can you fill in on the Tog licence, please? We have little enough to do with the Dept of Local Govt in NSW to know that they are a bunch of anally-retentive wankers. And we live in the ACT!
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