What Part of "Don't Take My Picture!" Don't You Understand?

I went to the local science fiction convention this weekend. I’ve been doing so for years and was looking forward to it, even though I was expecting to have had knee surgery on Thursday. Instead, I was fitted out with a knee brace. It was a good convention, but there was one woman who amazed me by with one incredibly obnoxious act.

I was hanging out in the con suite, a place where people can relax between events, enjoy good company, and even get a bite to eat. There were about a half dozen or so of us, including a good friend sitting on my right. I only have to wear the knee brace when I put weight on my leg, it was chafing, and I planned on being there for a while, so I’d taken the thing off and put it next to me, also on my right, out of sight of the general public since I’m rather self-conscious about it. The conversation was good; we’d covered quite a range of topics, during which I’d mentioned I’d battled depression and the woman on my left had said something about the virtues of 12-Step programs.

I was enjoying the conversation when I noticed she’d gotten out a camera and was starting to take pictures of people and intended to take one of every one in the room. This wasn’t a group shot; it was one shot of each person there. As she worked her way around to me, I said gently that I didn’t like having my picture taken and asked her not to do so. My friend said, “No, you don’t understand. She really doesn’t like having her picture taken.” The woman continued. This time I repeated more firmly “Please don’t take my picture.” The tone I used would set those who know me, including some Dopers trembling and looking around for a medic. I also put my arm up across my face to prevent her getting a photo. I don’t think I could possibly have made myself clearer. She took the photo anyway. What’s worse, after she did so, she let out a cry of triumph, crowing “Hah! I got your face anyway!”

White-hot fury erupted through me. I’m told there were thunderstorms nearby. I just remember being furious. My friend tells me a guilty look crossed the woman’s face. I just remember her shoving the digital camera under my nose and saying, “Look! I’m erasing it!” I wanted desperately to get away, but it wasn’t going to be that damn easy. The woman erased the photo and left. I picked the brace up from the floor next to me and set about fastening the four straps which hold it in place feeling humiliated and furious. Before she left, the woman said something about taking photos of people being part of her “recovery”. :rolleyes:

Yes, I know my reaction was overly strong and intense. I’m not thrilled about having my photo taken and I figure it’s one of the universe’s little jokes that I’m dating a guy who’s hobby is photography. He, however, wouldn’t have done such a thing – he values his life and his camera equipment too much!:wink: It wasn’t just the photo though, although that’s what I’ll tackle first. You see, I spent my youth being called “ugly” or “fugly”, not to mention a bunch of other things. The closest I got to a compliment on my appearance from my father was, “You might be presentable, if you work on it.” In school photos, I was accused of “pulling my face”. As a result, I thought I was ugly until I was in my mid-20’s and I don’t like the way I look in photos. A part of me is also still hanging on to it’s old training and figures the only reason someone would take a photo of me would be to make fun of me. I know that’s wrong, but old training runs deep. Add to that my self consciousness about the brace which looks a bit like a Borg-type alien is attempting to mate with my leg, not to mention what it does to the wayI walk, and I really didn’t want anyone to take a photo of me.

There were two other factors, though. First, I told this woman not to take my picture three times, twice verbally; once non-verbally. My friend also told her not to. Not only did she willfully override me, acting like what I said was nothing, she gloated about doing so.

Second, I was in a position a lot of people would find unnerving. I was trapped. If my life was in immmediate danger, yes, I could have made it past her and to the door without the brace. Under lesser circumstances, though, I’m not prepared to leave it behind. The thing has four straps which have to be fastened in a specific order tightly enough to stay on. It takes a few minutes. I couldn’t leave the room before she took my picture, even though I wanted to.

Here’s what I wanted to say and a more intense version of what I would have if I’d met her later during the con:

Congratulations. You have just used your so-called “recovery” to harm another human being. I don’t care what your issues are; you exacerbated mine, most notably by acting like what I wanted, a reasonable enough request mattered nothing at all to you. You arrogant git!!! I asked politely. You didn’t care. You left a complete stranger trapped and beaten because your selfish desires mattered more than common courtesy and then you had the temerity to revel in your lack of concern. Go back to your 12-Step program. Tell them your recovery mattered more to you than common courtesy to a stranger. Tell them you harmed someone who’d done no harm to you for the sake of a stupid photo. Finally, next time someone tells you “Please, don’t take my picture,” RESPECT HER WISHES!

Thank you for letting me vent.

Good vent about an encounter with the hopelessly clueless but going by the ‘probable replies’ meter, this is better suited to MPSIMS.

Off it goes.


Her recovery from what, FFS?!

Oh, Siege , that’s horrible. I don’t have much more to say than that, but I can clearly hear the pain in your post.
I’m not sure what it is in some people that makes them turn a simple request not to do something into a challenge to get away with doing that very thing. However, she should have understood that you really, really can’t bear having your picture taken the first time you said it. A picture is an extremely personal thing. And erasing the actual photo clearly did nothing to erase the experience.

I have piccies of you.

Oh, you aren’t supposed to know about that.

Um, could you move that book you put down in front of the bear? It’s blocking half the view…

Smart thinking. When people take your picture, they steal a piece of your soul.

Maybe you try to let people take your photo as part of therapy to get over your trauma. I’ll grant that she should have respected your wishes; but obviously the woman wasn’t taking your photo in order to mock you or call you ugly. The extreme aversion you exhibit to having your photo taken is not a sign of a healthy self-respect. Maybe start by having your boyfriend take your photo without film in the camera. Once you get used to the shutter click, you can begin to work on having film in the camera.

Actually, I have calmed down a lot and addressed the issue over the past few years. However, being strapped into a mechanical monstrosity which makes walking awkward and having been in a fair amount of unaccustomed pain for the past 7 weeks has left me a bit cranky at times. If I hadn’t just started wearing the brace, I probably wouldn’t have objected the way I did. If it had been two months ago or two months from now, I probably wouldn’t have objected. On the other hand, once I did object, no matter how rational or irrational my reactions were, she should have respected my wishes. Surely you of all people understand that different people react different ways to the same stimulus at different times.


“I’ll grant that she should have respected your wishes; …”

That being repeated, you can’t change her. You can only work on your own reactions. That long paragraph in the middle of your OP shows that you know your reaction was irrational and out or proportion. And that’s the only thing you have the power to change.

Sure. CJ does have some self-image issues that need addressing. Hey, we all know that she’s a babe on the inside, and I’m willing to bet on the outside as well. And it makes me sad to see someone so uncomfortable with herself.

Be that as it may, she still has a right not to have her photo taken if she so desires. The intrusive photographer should have respected that.

She was rude and obtuse, and I’m sorry that happened to you.

In her defense, she’s probably used to those coy protestations by family members, the false modesty of those who really want their picture to be taken, but feel they must argue feebly against it in order not to appear vain.

My family is unaccountably afflicted with this phenomenon. I’ll say flat-out that I’m not photogenic, but I’m not one of those who teasingly try to flee from the family group photos we take at gatherings, or who cover their faces with their hands as if overcome by shyness. Last year, I got odd looks when I barked, “Just stand still and let her snap the damn picture!” but it gets old, repeated year after year.

I hate having my picture taken. I am totally with you there. And she should have listened. It sounds like she thought you were just being a bit shy or something, but how incredibly rude!

I’ve known a fair number of 12-strep people, and I can’t imagine what taking pictures would have to do with her recovery. Weird.

Maybe she used to be a serial killer and now she only shoots pictures.

Aaaagh…“twelve-step” not “twelve-strep.”

Posting before coffee = bad idea.

Yeah, sorry CJ.
It obviously caused you lots of discomfort and some pain, which is regrettable, but the average photographer probably encounters several people that sort of act the same way as you did on a regular basis, only they don’t really mean it.
Like Lissa said, there are people that resist a photo just to be coy. We also have one person in our family who happens to be very attractive but never wants her picture taken, yet seems to end up in most of them anyway. ?
It’s hard to tell, without knowing a person, how they really feel about having their pic taken and your resistance might have been brushed off as having been related somehow to the ambience of the overall event itself. Like maybe you were being playful in a wierd sort of way, or acting ‘not yourself’. I don’t know, but if anyone tells me not to take their picture I wont take it. But if it was someone I knew or I thought the capture was more important than their hair not being combed I might take it.

Put me down as someone else who loathes having his picture taken. In your situation, I likely would have gone apeshit, knee be damned. Thankfully, I’m massive enough that if someone was foolish enough to insist on taking the picture, I would be able to grab hold of the lens with my palm over the front and manhandle the camera (or camera wielder) out of the way.

i’m with yBeayf - i likely would have grabbed the camera and smashed it into the ground. but i’m irritable.

Why on earth would the “capture” be more important than the person’s desire to not have their picture taken?

Think about the hundreds of pictures of any one of us that have been taken in other public places, when you aren’t even aware of it. Look at it this way: If the photographer doesn’t respect your request to not be photographed, use it as an opportunity to flip him or her off, or make a monster face, or something else that gets the message across visually.

How else can you blackmail someone without photographic evidence?

I can see some circumstances where the “capture” might be important, for example a family reunion where this might be the only opportunity to get a picture of a cousin that you had never met before and might never see again. But it would still be considerate to ask that cousin’s brother/sister/spouse if they really mean it, or are just being coy.

And to ignore the repeated requests of a stranger, who you have no reason and no pressing need to take their picture (if it was for publication, like in a newsletter, they could be sued for not having a release), is reprehensible.

Best wishes, CJ, I hope you can get past this and not let it bother you – don’t let other people have that much power to make you feel bad about yourself.