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Thread: Stopped by the police

  1. #1

    Default Stopped by the police

    This is not a complaint thread but more a fyi thread.

    I think most of the photographers here would have realised that taking photos of certain public buildings might get you questioned by the authorities but I just encountered something a little different.

    Today (14th March), I was walking down Paterson Road towards Borders from the junction with Grange Road and taking some pictures of the scenery and buildings. Well, further down, near the bus stop along Paterson, a police car pulls over and I'm half-thinking "It can't be me right?"

    And of course, it is me. They stop me and ask me for identification because I was taking pictures of a building where some VIP stays. The police officers were polite about it, so I saw no reason to pick a fight with them, I cooperate, show them my IC and all.

    I ask one of the officers who the VIP is and he doesn't really say.

    They leave me with all my gear intact and that is hopefully the end of that (unless I hear loud knocks on my door tonight )

    I don't really blame the officers, they are just doing their job and there was no point kicking up a fuss with them over it, but this does give me a few things to think about. These questions are mostly rhetorical, so feel free to ignore them.

    1) This whole situation is a Catch-22. I don't know which buildings these VIPs are staying in, I just know that the buildings look good and are nice to photograph. The authorities, of course won't tell you which buildings these VIPs are staying in because it's (I assume) confidential. So how should I know which buildings are esp with private ones?

    2) Who is a VIP?
    Minister? MPs? Really Rich man? Foreign dignitaries? Mistress of all of the above?

    3) I keep thinking about a photographer's right. I'm on a public street and I take a photograph of a public building. Will I be bothered by any police officers who happen to be in the area? Are there any buildings I'm not supposed to take a picture of from the outside (e.g. Ministries)?

    4) It pays to be important. I don't think I would have gotten the same reaction if I was taking pictures of HDB flats, unless a VIP stays in a HDB flat. hmmm, now what are the chances of that?
    Last edited by radedward; 14th March 2005 at 03:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    1) Of course, just like you visit a hotel, you ask for the room no of somebody, nobody at the counter will tell you, they will call the room instead for verification before releasing information.

    2) The problem is that these buildings are definitely for expats or high society status people so very naturally any form of photography, video would suffice as a reason to stop anybody, at least they didn't rough you up but was polite, anyway they were just doing their jobs, it's just like in the army, you have to protect the installations and the buildings, others will think it's ok to shoot from outside, but how many knows the consequences and importance if these kind of images leak out? Photographer's right is one thing, using brains is another.

    3) Well true to an extent. Can't stop you from thinking that way. If singaporean dies, singaporeans will blame singapore, if expat gets killed, sg has to be under tremendous pressure to talk to the expat's country & etc etc, or worse, if the person is an ambassador. Head big liao.

    Life is never fair move on, next time use a hand phone cam.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by espn

    2) The problem is that these buildings are definitely for expats or high society status people so very naturally any form of photography, video would suffice as a reason to stop anybody, at least they didn't rough you up but was polite, anyway they were just doing their jobs, it's just like in the army, you have to protect the installations and the buildings, others will think it's ok to shoot from outside, but how many knows the consequences and importance if these kind of images leak out? Photographer's right is one thing, using brains is another.
    Ironically, If they never told me there was a VIP, I would never have known.

    Life is never fair move on, next time use a hand phone cam.
    Actually I was using my lomo, but it was probably the 20D strapped to my hand that gave me away

  4. #4

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    Actually, did they stop you from further taking pics... what exactly did they tell you when they stop you... did they warn you or something like that?
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  5. #5

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    Actually, did they stop you from further taking pics... what exactly did they tell you when they stop you... did they warn you or something like that?
    No, they didn't tell me to stop me from taking further pics. They just recorded my particulars and told me why they stopped me; because they wanted to know why I was taking pictures in the first place.

    I just replied that it was a hobby and the buildings looked nice.

    After that they were off. Whole thing take about 5-10mins

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by radedward
    No, they didn't tell me to stop me from taking further pics. They just recorded my particulars and told me why they stopped me; because they wanted to know why I was taking pictures in the first place.

    I just replied that it was a hobby and the buildings looked nice.

    After that they were off. Whole thing take about 5-10mins
    then it's norm lah... juz getting to know you better...heeheehee

    nest time juz be more sensitive when shooting in "distinguished" neighourhoods... wait till you shoot around the house with body guards...hahaha
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  7. #7

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    Last time I went to this building where a VIP was visiting. When he needed to go to the restroom, the security staff made sure that the toilets on the floors below and above were checked and vacated. Maybe they were worried that when he's doing business, a bomb suddenly go off below him.

  8. #8
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    I was also stopped before when I tried to shoot outside this building near Raffles Place, the security guard stopped me because I was trying to shoot a couple using the fountain.

    We had to explain that it's for their wedding album and we wanted to use the 'waterfall' as background.

    Surprisingly the guards were ok with it, as they were just worried because the building is not local company, it's a foreign co and they do get edgey about security.

    V normal.

  9. #9

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    then it's norm lah... juz getting to know you better...heeheehee

    nest time juz be more sensitive when shooting in "distinguished" neighourhoods... wait till you shoot around the house with body guards...hahaha
    Didn't really expect to be stopped, probably because, I didn't realise there would be any VIP living there. Rich people, of course but didn't cross my mind that anyone important would be there.
    unfortunately, all the houses with good architecture are in these 'distinguished' neighbourhoods

    Guess, I'll just have to content myself with taking pictures of HDB flats.
    Haiz...

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    I was also stopped before when I tried to shoot outside this building near Raffles Place, the security guard stopped me because I was trying to shoot a couple using the fountain.

    We had to explain that it's for their wedding album and we wanted to use the 'waterfall' as background.

    Surprisingly the guards were ok with it, as they were just worried because the building is not local company, it's a foreign co and they do get edgey about security.

    V normal.
    Shoot the couple using THE fountain..

    Anywayz... in Sg... it's pretty OK if you dun shoot "critical" installations loh.. those other places like Raffles hotel..etc can be quite accomodating..provide you also respect their rights also.... got plenty of "oops" cases for myself also... but in the end juz smile and understand that they are doing their jobs loh.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by radedward
    Didn't really expect to be stopped, probably because, I didn't realise there would be any VIP living there. Rich people, of course but didn't cross my mind that anyone important would be there.
    unfortunately, all the houses with good architecture are in these 'distinguished' neighbourhoods

    Guess, I'll just have to content myself with taking pictures of HDB flats.
    Haiz...
    Not to worry lah... still can shoot mah.. juz comply to whatever "instructions" given to you loh (AFTER they are given )
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by radedward
    This is not a complaint thread but more a fyi thread.
    My question is not meant to be racist in any way. Can you tell us what your race is?

  13. #13

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    . . . what camera were you using and how were you dressed as well. I curious as to what kind of profiling the police is using to identify people whom they stop.

  14. #14

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    My question is not meant to be racist in any way. Can you tell us what your race is?
    Actually I'm chinese.
    The two police officers who stopped me; One was chinese, the other malay.

    I was wearing polo and jeans, with a crumpler bag
    don't think it was the camera (Canon 20D) unless the 2 officers were Nikon-siao
    Come to think of it. probably looked a bit touristy

    So you can draw whatever conclusions you want.
    I don't think there was any profiling. just 2 guys doing their jobs
    Last edited by radedward; 14th March 2005 at 04:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parchiao
    . . . what camera were you using and how were you dressed as well. I curious as to what kind of profiling the police is using to identify people whom they stop.
    I was once stopped by the on-site manager when I photographed the workers laying gas pipes. I told them I was a student and they didn't bother with me.

    I wonder, had I used a P&S instead of a DSLR, would they feel less intrusive?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by radedward
    No, they didn't tell me to stop me from taking further pics. They just recorded my particulars and told me why they stopped me; because they wanted to know why I was taking pictures in the first place.

    I just replied that it was a hobby and the buildings looked nice.

    After that they were off. Whole thing take about 5-10mins
    Aiyah, normal lah.

    Sometimes I call my friend up den we sit at da flat's void deck tok until damn shiok until forget time den see a patrol car come, 4 officers approach the 2 of us and den asked for our IC, ask what we're doing there, etc.

    Come to think of it, it wasn't really fun. They are juz doing their job. And of cos, quite funny in a way. It's like 1 guy taking down particulars and checking with HQ, the other 3 guyz ready to jump on us kinda thing.

  17. #17
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    Guess the local police force needs to attend a terrorist 101 course or watch more episodes of Alias.....

    Can't imagine a hardcore terrrorist walking in town brandashing a DSLR like nobody's business....


    I'm kidding, of course....

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zplus
    Guess the local police force needs to attend a terrorist 101 course or watch more episodes of Alias.....

    Can't imagine a hardcore terrrorist walking in town brandashing a DSLR like nobody's business....


    I'm kidding, of course....
    Hahaha... they rather shoot @ 30fps
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zplus
    Guess the local police force needs to attend a terrorist 101 course or watch more episodes of Alias.....
    Haha.. It's the same on MRT stations nowadays. Last month, I went backpacking and decided to take the MRT from my place to the airport. This security saw me, the moment I acrossed the gentry, asked me to stop. I was carrying my 45 Litres backpack bag on my back, and a day-pack on my chest. He told he that he wanted to check both my bags. Upon opening my backpack, he asked me to remove the contents from my 45litres bag. I told him he must be joking becos I spent so much time packing them, and I insisted that I won't remove the contents. I guess he got no choice but to just look through my day-pak and let me go. This MRT security is plain crap.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by radedward
    No, they didn't tell me to stop me from taking further pics. They just recorded my particulars and told me why they stopped me; because they wanted to know why I was taking pictures in the first place.
    But if anything happens to those VIPs living in those buildings, they might just come and look for you

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