Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE ABANDONED MILL: MINNEAPOLIS

Hello Everyone!

One thing a lot of young filmmakers/photographers run into is people who say 'no' to the simple request to photograph. Now I appreciate if individuals do not want to have their face photographed and I would never publish a photograph of any reasonable person who requested that I not. This, however, excludes police officers, security guards, combative property owners, and celebrities.


Most people will say that your best bet is to scram if someone approaches you and says you can't photograph, but I have found this to be the most idiotic thing an aspiring filmmaker/photographer can do. It is the rule, not the exception, that people don't want photographers around. Also, if you are aspiring, it probably means that you don't have the money to apply for permission permits. My advice is that you can NEVER, ever, ever take no for an answer. There are people of all shapes, sizes and education levels who will deny you, threaten you and in some cases harass you if you attempt to take photographs. These people are everywhere and they usually have one thing in common, they have little to no respect for artists. If you let them, these photophobes will greatly reduce, even stop you from getting the most interesting photographs in the most interesting locations.


If you feel passionate about a location, don't ever take no for an answer. You can try negotiate, bribe, you can try find another vantage point to photograph from, dress in a disguise, lie or sneak. Just be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions. Truth is, you may get arrested, banned from a location or, worst case scenario, get your camera taken away or smashed. But you need to ask yourself what price you're willing to pay for your art.


When people see a camera, they are automatically wary. Photographers present a threat, a threat that they will expose secrets, lies, and scams. When photographing in an unfamiliar location, you need to treat every person with a certain level of skepticism . If you see someone walking towards you, walk away, slowly, don't run away. Running implies guilt.  If you hear someone call out to you, the best bet is to say nothing, or if faced with a face to face confrontation, repeat, "I'm just about done," "I will be gone in a moment." "Hold on," and "Wait." These phrases will usually buy you enough time to get capture a few more frames with out being confrontational.


Now I should say that it is never wise to get confrontational with people, in any circumstance, but don't let people bully you. Those with no other recourse will resort to intimidation or smart-assery. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. But also be polite and know when to rethink your plan. As a woman, and as a young person in general, people will often speak down to you and be all around awful to you. But just realize that those types of people don't matter in the long run. The best thing you can do is forget them, get your pictures and stay fabulous. 


Today I exercised the advice I just gave you. Granted, my encounter with a combative (alleged) property owner ended with me cursing him out and finding another (better) vantage point in which to take pictures. This alleged property owner was suspiciously alone and not very friendly, he was acting very strange and shifty. He started harassing me right off the bat, and became very agitated within 30 seconds of our encounter.



Rather than argue with a person who looked to be capable of violence, I found a public path behind the Mill which provided me with the images you see above. Even though these types of encounters make for decent stories, the truth is, I was not interested in that man or his illicit behavior. I just wanted to to show this wonderful location in Minneapolis before they renovate it into something ugly and corporate.  I have every intention of retuning to this location to gather some images from the inside. But I am going to wait until winter, when water fills the basement of the Mill and creates a makeshift indoor ice rink. It is strictly forbidden, but I live life on the edge.

WHAT PLACES DO YOU THINK ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO PHOTOGRAPH?

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