General Question

weeveeship's avatar

How to avoid being photographed in public?

Asked by weeveeship (4584points) April 28th, 2014

Near where I live and work, there are sometimes people passing by taking pictures. Some of them appear to be tourists, while others might be locals taking pictures for fun or for work (e.g. photojournalists). Some people even take pictures inside malls.

As much as I can (and of course, within the bounds of reason), I don’t want a stranger to take a picture with me in it. I have no problem having my picture taken when I want it taken (e.g. birthday parties, special events, etc.). However, I do not want a picture of me in an unflattering pose to circulate on the internet. Plus, there have been instances where a person’s picture was used in an unauthorized way to communicate a message that the person might not agree with.

See (Alison Chang story)

(Note: examples for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to show positions that I agree or disagree with)

So, my question is: What are some ways that I could avoid being photographed in public? I am looking for rational approaches to avoid being photographed in public. For example, simply not being in public is not an option due to my work. Also, wearing strange disguises will also not be an option as it will probably cause more harm than good.

Looking forward to seeing your responses.

P.S. I am aware that surveillance cameras might be recording people and might therefore be taking pictures of me all the time. I am not concerned about surveillance cameras, as the pictures taken by such cameras are usually for internal use by a particular business or government entity and are usually not posted on facebook or other social media.

P.P.S. A related question: Is there a good way to tell someone politely that I would prefer not to be photographed?

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20 Answers

jerv's avatar

There’s no expectation of privacy in public areas. Your only real protection is anti-slander laws. If you can be seen by anybody walking by, you’re in the public domain. It’s always been like that; it’s just that nobody cared until photography became ubiquitous.

Buttonstc's avatar

Simply donning a pair if sunglasses will go a long way toward obscuring your identity.

But, as Jerv mentioned, we don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we are in public areas.

However, if someone uses your likeness for profit, you likely do have legal recourse since (presumably ) you aren’t a public figure. But it could also be a huge PITA to follow through in court.

But just wearing dark glasses and a hat can go a long way toward being less identifiable. The eyes particularly are such an important giveaway.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen photos used in medical texts where the authors are trying to preserve some anonymity for the folks involved in the case studies. The simply place a black bar over their eyes.

Sunglasses would do similar for you and adding a hat of some sort helps to obscure your hairstyle.

flutherother's avatar

You cannot have privacy in public places. You will be seen by human eye or by camera lens and there is no escaping it. My holiday photographs have lots of people in the background. They are completely anonymous and I have no way of finding out who they are even if I wanted to.
Personally, I find being filmed by security cameras more intrusive.

jca's avatar

Wear glasses and hats, or avoid public places like shopping malls. Park near the store entrance you want to go to and go to that store, and back to your car. Shop online.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Depending on your style, an umbrella can work. They are good for blockng rain, but also sun.
They are a great blocker from photographers too, especially when you spot the camera before it snaps. Most photographers don’t want such blocks appearing in their work, and will often wait for that person to pass.
Hats can be good, they can also be seen as objects of distinction, and could draw someone’s attention.
There are peel away fearures, such as scars, cuts, burns, etc., but that seems like a costly idea if you have an ongoing problem.
If you have a REAL and lasting issue, I think ski mask is your best bet, but kinda extreme. Lots of people hide in hoodies.

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muppetish's avatar

[mod says] This question is in the General Section. All responses must be on-topic and helpful.

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AshlynM's avatar

Try looking the other way, turn your back to them, or hide behind a tree or lampost or duck into a building. Or walk behind them while they’re taking pictures. A hoodie is a good way to cover the face and head.
You could say,“sorry, I don’t do pictures.”

weeveeship's avatar

I think the best ways are:
* Wearing a hat with a brim (can be a fashion item, covers your hair, can also somewhat obscure your eyes – there’s a reason why Sherlock Holmes wears one)
* Hoodie could also work, but only if the weather outside is bad. If the weather outside is sunny, wearing a hoodie just makes you more conspicuous.

jca's avatar

@AshlynM: There’s no saying “I don’t do pictures” as most people who are photographing in malls or other places are being clandestine. They’re not asking, they’re just snapping.

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