This is an anecdote gathering exercise, hopefully creating an opportunity for discussion around photography at geek events.
At present, the confererence anti-harassment policy (which, as a reminder, is designed to be edited to be made more appropriate for individual conferences) includes this text:
Harassment includes… harassing photography or recording…
Discussion after the application of this policy at linux.conf.au 2011 (see my entry Powerful people: Mark Pesce’s linux.conf.au keynote) focussed on this to an extent, with considerable pushback from people who like taking candid portrait photography after some proposals of making portrait photography opt-in at conferences. (I don’t want to focus on specific people’s opinions in this post or its comments, but see the linux-aus threads beginning with Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful and Designated Photography Space at LCA? for some examples. Warning that a considerable number of commentators are unsympathetic to the idea that either Pesce’s talk or any candid photography can be harassing, and sometimes to feminist conceptions of harassment in general.)
It was fairly clear to me that, as is usual in these kinds of situations, people are picturing the most vindictive and trivial possible uses of the policy by overly powerful presumed-women photography subjects against poor defenseless presumed-men photographers. The real situation is of course considerably less sympathetic to some photographers and videographers, and viewers of their output. Recall my entry Conference recordings and harassment which shares a couple of stories about harassment by viewers of event imagery:
S gave a talk at a professional conference and related the following experience in chat:
S: linkedin pm I just got: “wow- you’re alot more younger and attractive than I imagined!.Thanks for showing your picture!”
S: I don’t like photographs and don’t let my likeness out much online. But a professional talk I gave a couple weeks ago was videoed (with my knowledge and consent). This was the result.
C gave a talk at a technical conference and a recorded version was also published with her consent. She subsequently received an anonymous email with a list of time offsets for the video and sexual commentary on her appearance at those time offsets.
The main point of that entry was to talk about official recordings, and how reluctance to appear in them might not just be due to “I hate sharing! I want to control my image for monetary gain!” as some event organisers seem to assume.
It seems we now need to talk about unofficial images and recordings, and how reluctance to appear in them might not (is usually not) “I hate people having pleasant memories and mementos of an event! I wish to end all event fun right now, and wipe people’s memories when they leave! I also hate art!”
There’s also the issue of harassment by photographers/recorders themselves. I’d like to gather stories of experiences if possible. If you’ve been photographed or recorded in a harassing way at a geek event, or have been harassed by viewers of the photograph/recording, you are invited to share your story here, including impact on you and follow-up if any.
Stories here will hopefully be useful to activists, policy designers and event organisers, to give them a sense of what real harassment scenarios are, and the impact they have on attendees.
Notes for commenting:
- participation in this thread is totally voluntary. Do not feel obliged to share experiences.
- this post is focussing on peoples experiences of being photographed and recorded. That means one’s experiences of being a photographer, videographer or recorder, even if you think your practices are far more ethical than those of photographers described by commenters, are off-topic for this entry, as are comments like “I take photographs in [some particular way] do people think that’s OK?”. I will probably put up a companion piece in a day or two for more general discussion of photography, harassment, artistic freedom and ethics, and intersections of same.
- responses are not limited to women (nor do you have to identify your gender in your reply): if you’re not a woman and you’ve been subjected to harassing photography/recordings or responses to them, you are welcome to share
- you are welcome to use a new and one-time pseudonym for this post if you like. Check carefully before you do so that the pseudonym you choose has not already been used in the thread so that there’s no chance that you and someone else are assumed to be the same person. Comments must otherwise adhere to our comments policy.
Notes for using/interpreting comments here: these are not necessarily representative experiences and of course we have not verified them. They have the status of anecdotes.