When shooting in ATL, what prevents "the drug boys" from kicking your a$$ and jacking your camera? I know you say you need some street smarts to navigate "dicey" neighborhoods, but could you elaborate on your approach.
I summon up what I call my inner Forrest Gump. Sometimes it’s my inner Dennis Hopper too. I either come across as being way too stupid to understand that I’m somewhere I don’t belong or I’m too crazy to be messed with.
I’ll be walking around and turn a corner that I suddenly realize is a corner I might not need to be on. If I turn and run for cover at that moment I feel as though I’d be a target. So I walk boldly down the street. Let’s say there’s 4 or 5 dudes hanging out wondering what in the hell I’m doing on that street. I’ll walk right up to them. I’ll put my hand out and introduce myself. I’m either stupid or crazy. Either way I’m an anomaly that most don’t know what to do with. Then I just start talking and asking questions. I’ll make a comment on someone’s tattoo or something and ask to take a photo of it.
I get asked a lot if I’m with the police. “F#ck no I’m not a cop. I know I look like I eat a lot of donuts but I ain’t no cop.” Now… that’s not a dig to cops. That’s just me staying alive for a few more minutes.
“No really. That’s a bad ass tattoo. I’m a street photographer. This is what I do. I wander the streets and take photos of shit that’s cool. I won’t push you though. It’s good. People think I’m a crazy mutherf#cker. I guess I am. Y’all have a good day.”
I show a lot of respect as well. There are times I puff my chest out and take a strong stance but that’s only when I’m dealing with someone who’s just drunk or stoned. The “drug boys” are pros. They aren’t messin’ around and respect goes a long way. I make a lot of eye contact. A stand my ground. I’ll make the first connection. But I’ll bow my head and say yes sir and no sir a lot.
I get yelled at some. I get called all sorts of names. I’ve had people get right in my face. The ones who make the most noise aren’t the ones I’m most fearful of. They’re just the crazy ones that a PhaseOne to the temple could take down pretty quickly. It’s the quiet ones who you look out for. How you handle yourself around them goes a long way.
I’m not saying it’s for everyone. I’m not saying I won’t get my dumb ass jacked tomorrow. Some people skydive for a thrill. I walk the streets of with a PhaseOne. :)
At the end of the day people are just people no matter the profession. Respect goes a long way. When people realize I’m not a threat I’m treated kindly.
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- rustyb78 said: Zack, I’m a cop and I too have found that as long as you treat everyone with respect, they will ‘usually’ return it. After all, I put my pants on the same way you do and the same way they do.
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