Don’t Take Pictures of People When They Make it Clear They Don’t Want You To

Stephan posted something on his Flickr that reminded me of something that happened when I was on vacation last.

I work a lot. I’m at home, so naturally I spend time with my family (my brothers) and I make time, as well, but this was a little different as I was on a cruise boat, no internet connection, just taking a real, total vacation. Don’t do that too often. So, it was a nice time, spend some extra time with my family, etc. Me and my middle brother played a lot of ping pong. :)

Anyway, we were playing ping pong this one time when this old lady (let’s say 60). comes up and asks if she can take a picture of us. Um. Anyway, I was very polite and I said “No, sorry.” She persisted, again “No, sorry.” She persisted. And I had to get a little frank with her. No. And she left. I should point out that this wasn’t a photo from a distance. This was up close. And I didn’t want anyone taking my photo or my (then) 16 year old brothers photo for whatever their purposes may have been. But, within 10 minutes or so, she snuck around and took the picture quickly as she was walking by. Nasty old woman. Now, let’s just say I’m “peeved.” She, quickly, walked away.

So, my reaction was to find an attendant quickly and report her before she got away. This is a cruise boat full of vacationers. I have a feeling they have some sort of policy covering some clown just taking pictures of people that they don’t know on the boat. Even if it’s a slap on the wrist. I walked around quickly and found no one. I finally talked to someone (later, I realized that he appeared to be off duty… I should have said I was sorry to bother him, but I was polite, as always). I explained it to him, but… she’s long gone by now. He said that it didn’t sound right and to talk to one of the people in blue pants or something like that. I had spent about 10 minutes on it and, at that point, I just forgot about it and went back to playing ping pong (although I was annoyed for a bit). I didn’t remember her face (besides “ugly old bat” and that’s not very descriptive), so what good would it do. I wish I would have had my camera (I might have… I forget now). Maybe I would have thought of taking a picture of her face and then I could show someone on staff.

Later I realized that I should have followed her. I would have certainly bumped into an attendent on that path and I wouldn’t have lost her. But, hindsight’s always 20/20. And, she only got my face, not my brothers. Not that it bothers me all that much, it’s … just not right, that’s all.

Suffice to say, it was selfish of her. Selfish of her to not consider the feelings and wishes of other people. Selfish of her to affect someone’s (me and my brother’s) enjoyment, if only for a short period of time. It’s not her boat, we’re all on there trying to have a good time. Recognize and respect. But, I suppose she’ll be dead soon enough and then she’ll have to answer for every nasty thing she’s done in her life. ;) (That’s harsh, I know. I’m kidding).

(lol… I realize that this may sound exceedingly harsh toward Stephan, but he’s my friend and in all seriousness, he just served to remind me of this story, that I wanted to pass on. Nothing’s directed at him).

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

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