A young woman recently shared a TikTok video of herself confronting a street photographer in Washington. He publicly called him a creep for taking photos of her and went on ranting even after he deleted the images. “TikTok, do your thing,” she wrote in the caption. And TikTok did –her followers called out on her instead of the photographer.
The 19-year-old woman named Natalie has over 151,000 followers on her TikTok profile. In the video she shared with them, you can hear her saying “this man is taking pictures of me” and the voices of people defending the photographer. One woman told her to call the cops, mentioning something about being in public, but the rest can’t be heard. Another man said that he would vouch for the photographer.
Natalie added a title in the video reading “This old man is a creep. I was just riding a lime scooter and he took pics of JUST ME so I was sticking up for myself and they called me crazy like it’s crazy to take pics of a young girl… He had 5 pics of my whole body then zoomed in on my face.”
She further claims in the caption that she had asked the photographer to delete the photos three times before he actually did. Yep, he did delete all of them – you can see that in the video, too. The photographer approached Natalie, showed her the camera display and deleted photos in front of her. She described this as the man “getting into her face” before calling him “a f***ing weirdo.”
I suppose Natali expected her TikTok followers to be on her side. But you don’t always get what you expect, right? Bellingham Metro News managed to get some screenshots of the comments before the young woman disabled commenting on the video.
PetaPixel got in touch with Natalie, who still believes that she was in the right. She and her friend reportedly asked the photographer three times to delete the photos, and he kept on walking. Then she decided to whip out her phone and start filming.
“I finally bring out my phone to record hoping maybe that will make him delete them and that’s when I started getting really angry and I started recording and that’s when he wanted to delete those photos. Then after I asked him to delete those photos and he deleted them, his family is saying that I’m harassing him and this is hysterical. If I was that man’s family I would call him a creep because what he did was very creepy… The fact that I had to ask him 3 to 4 times to delete those photos is ridiculous.”
“I’m 19 years old,” she added. “I am a young girl. He is 60 to 70 years old. I just find it disgusting it wasn’t even pictures with me in the background it was straight-up pictures of just me.” She said that she was concerned what the photographer could do with the photos. “He could’ve Photoshop to me naked, he could’ve used it to [stalk] me, you could’ve used that to sell them. You never know people‘s intentions. That’s why I wanted them deleted,” she said.
“The people telling me I’m overreacting and there’s nothing wrong with that, how would you feel if your young daughter came home telling you that they feel scared because an old man was taking pictures of just them? I’m pretty sure it would worry every single parent and if you see nothing wrong with this, then you’re a part of the problem…”
On the one hand, I understand where Natalie’s concerns are coming from and I understand her fears. It’s probably something only women can understand, as most of us feel unsafe in the streets. And if I ask you nicely to delete my photos – just delete them, don’t be a smartass.
On the other hand, I think she overreacted. There are much classier ways to act in this situation than throwing a tantrum, calling someone a creep, and humiliating them publicly. All fears and concerns aside, you really can’t expect privacy when you’re in a public place (that’s why it’s called public). Also, the photographer approached her, deleted the images in front of her, and she remained rude to him.
Now, as PetaPixel notes, things are shifting a bit when it comes to public photography. There’s a Photo Bill of Rights, signed by many notable people, that deals with “informed consent.” In its Toolkit for Lens-Based Workers, it suggests a dialog for public photographers. According to the Toolkit, this dialog “applies to fast-paced situations like protests, in situations that are rapidly evolving, or situations unbalanced in power for the source like an immigration case or a criminal proceeding”:
“Hi my name is [X], I’m an independent photographer working for [X]. Do you feel safe with me making your photo at this time? Listen for a confident yes or leave. Here is my business card with my information. Contact me if you have questions later or if you’d like to follow up. This may be published on my social channels and there is a possibility that a publication licenses it after the fact.”
Can you imagine this dialog in a fast-paced situation? No, me neither. I still think a better solution is to ask parents for the photos of kids, but otherwise, take photos in public as you please. And if someone explicitly asks you to delete a photo of them – just do it and you can both move on with your life. But that’s just my two cents, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.