The Unwelcome Camera

Recently, a friend and I found ourselves at Maponya Mall in Soweto. I had my Canon EOS 450D in a backpack and out of sight, while his EOS 40D was strapped around his neck and balanced proudly against his chest. While walking around, nothing caught our attention. However, the mere fact that my friend’s camera was in plain sight was enough to alert the attention of one of the security staff members. As we continued to look around at the top of the escalators, in the cinema section, one of them, with a two-way radio in hand, approached us and asked if we were photographing, to which I replied no… which was the truth. Yes, we had gone there with the intention of possibly catching a lasting photographic moment, but there were none. Now, Maponya Mall may mean many things to the people of Orlandoand Soweto, but aesthetically, its interior resembles that of many other malls, giving it a generic appeal that wasn’t conducive for what we were looking for, photographically.

The question on our minds was, would the security staff have questioned us had we just been carrying compact digital cameras or better yet, cellphones in our hands? I suspect not. So then, why are SLRs seen as a greater threat then a cellphone camera or a digital compact? Yes, they potentially have greater capabilities then the aforementioned cameras, but that would be assuming a narrow-minded approach to the question. After all, some modern camera phones and compact digital camera come with a dazzling array of photographic ability and with the right application, one can capture revealing photos. Admittedly, the various lenses available for digital SLR cameras ensures greater clarity in tricky light situations, but one still has to know what they are doing.

Many buildings forbid the use of cameras on their premises, yet, if one had investigative or criminal intentions, placing a friend in front of an interest area under the auspices of capturing their picture would be relatively easy to stage. With enough resourcefulness, one could come away with images that serve the purpose for which the mockshot was set up for.

So then, does size matter THAT much?

5 thoughts on “The Unwelcome Camera”

  1. Great article Candice,I was trying to take pics of the big wheel just inside the V&A waterfront in Cape Town with my Canon G11 on a tripod,got chased away by some security guards who claimed I was using a ‘large’ camera?Went back a week later,same G11,no tripod & took pictures to my hearts content,from exactly the same spot as the previous week!(makes one think)regards rossG

    • Sorry guys this comment was supposed to be under Candice Peetz article not this one,although it covers the same subject matter,so fits here too,thanks rossG

  2. If I may, My article is then going to build on from this because I was going to write about the same thing from a different angle because I experienced something strange myself and it makes sense now, but at the time I was a bit off beat about it.

  3. It is just a fact of life that shopping malls are private property and mostly do not allow photography without prior consent of the centre management. It does not hurt to ask and better to do so well in advance of your shoot.
    I found the security staff at Mopanya mall most polite and helpful even though I had a D3s in my hand. I promised not to take pictures inside the mall and that was good enough for them. I wasn’t there for that anyway, I just did not want to leave the camera in the car.
    The picture is outside the mall Tristan and there you can photograph!

  4. Agreed, when I was completing a course sometime back some assignments had to be completed in public areas like malls but as soon as security caught sight of a slr and even worse a tripod… that was it you were escorted to management! Yet cellphone camera is fine! Maybe it’s the secret x-ray function of slr cameras that they are wanting to stop!

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