It’s not a street portrait, but there’s a little story that goes with this, so I think it’s worth a Saturday post.

I had just gotten off of the seabus at Lonsdale Quay, and was walking to where I was supposed to meet my ride. As I walked by the McDonald’s, I saw the kid in the checkboard getup, and, well, when you’re dressed like that, you’re just asking to be photographed (despite misguided opinions to the contrary), especially with the “i’m lovin’ it” sign in the background. So, obviously, I did.

I might have walked 50 feet, and the other kid runs up behind me and taps me on the shoulder to take out my earbuds.

“Delete that picture!”


“You just took a picture of me - delete it.”

“I’m not deleting anything.”

“Delete it or I’ll smash your camera.” Now keep in mind this kid is maybe a buck and a quarter soaking wet, and the only thing that makes him dangerous in the slightest is that he clearly has a chip on his shoulder, and he’s carrying a longboard that would be more than a match for my $2400 camera. Can you imagine trying to get that much money out of a teenager in another city? Me neither.

“You can try,” I reply. At this point, he tries to pull the “it’s exploitation” card, etc. etc., and so I point out that he was in full public view and I don’t need his permission to shoot him. Never mind that it wasn’t even him I was interested in photographing, and by now his checkerboarded friend has joined in the fun, although he said nothing the entire time.

“I’ll get my dad.” This would be one of the many instances where I have to fight to suppress laughter (I’m trying to be nice about it), but I tell him to go ahead. He calls dad over.

Dad wants to know why I won’t delete the photo, so reiterate my public view/fair game point, and explain that I’m a street photographer taking candid shots. It’s not for commercial use, so no permission is needed. He asks what I’m going to do with it, and I tell him I post the shots on my web site.

“What web site?” I hand him one of the street photography cards that I had made up for just these occasions, and he looks at it and sneers, “Calgary.”

Right away, junior jumps in. “The laws are different here.” I explain that he’s wrong, and again point out that I’m the photographer, and have been at this a while, so I’m pretty sure I know the applicable laws better than he does.

I tell them that if the kid had even been the slightest bit nice about it, I might’ve considered deleting it (although considered is as far as I’d go, since at this point I’ve decided that it’s definitely getting posted). His son argues that he said please, to which I reply that at no point did that word come out of his mouth. Only threats.

After a little bit more back and forth, dad realizes he’s not changing my mind and leaves. As junior walks past me to leave, he leans in face-to-face and says, “If I see you on the street again, you’re DEAD.”

More suppressed laughter.

His dad said that he was going to check out my site, and if he saw something he didn’t like, he’d leave a comment telling people how I won’t delete pictures when people ask. Sadly, this site doesn’t have comments enabled (and I just explained how I don’t delete pictures when people threaten, or ask), but dad has my email address, so maybe I’ll hear from him.

I’m not sure why the kid is so determined not to have his photo taken, but he should likely rethink his approach, black trenchcoat and longboard-as-weapon or not. The next street photographer who takes his buddy’s photo might not be as nice, and might have someone to hand his expensive gear to, and his threats will have him swallowing his teeth in very short order.

I did see top hat again on Tuesday afternoon hanging out in front of the seabus station downtown, and waited for 10 or 15 minutes hoping tough guy would show, but he never did.