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  • Barbarella

Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts. — Abel Stevens

I zoomed in on a glittery globe that contained translucent swirls of pink, purple, and green. The sky was a clear, rich blue, and the sun was high above. My high-def Canon camcorder captured brilliant starbursts in all of the glossy surfaces. I panned over a line of glass sculptures that had been shaped and colored to look like pumpkins. A few steps away, I recorded several seconds of a man playing guitar in the shade of an umbrella. Behind him was a colorful sign that read, “Art Glass.”

“This is going to come out great,” I said. I turned to see that only David was standing beside me. Josue was busy catching up with one of the artists; Rosa had wandered off to check out the show at her own pace. My friends were happy to tag along while I gathered information and collected footage for a segment I do on NBC/KNSD’s News in the Morning. It was a gorgeous Saturday to be at the park, and once I was done filming and they’d finished browsing, we were going to drive 26 miles north to have lunch at Hacienda de Vega in Escondido.

“You know, they’re doing a live demonstration of glass-blowing right now. Over there.” David gestured to his left.

“Fantastic,” I said. “You hang back with Josue; I’m going to grab some action shots.”

Once I reached the spot (a work area about 12 feet square that was enclosed by a waist-high wooden fence), I fumbled to switch on my camera in time to capture a young man pulling a long rod out of the circular opening to a furnace, which David later informed me (and which I refused to believe until I confirmed it online) is called the “glory hole.” At the end of the metal pole was an orange-hot clump of molten glass. Before the furnace stood a middle-aged woman, who stepped forward to assist in the shaping of what was beginning to look like one of the many vases I’d already seen at the show.

Realizing I’d get a better angle from the side, I hustled to reposition myself in the small crowd that had gathered to watch. As I moved in closer, an older woman who had been studying the artists and asking them questions about their process noticed me, smiled, and stepped to her right to give me more room. My eyes were on the video display when I detected a glare of hostility from the woman in the work area. I assumed she was irritated with the lady asking questions until she looked directly at the camera and said, “No video.”

“Isn’t this a public display?” I said.

“Well, it’s our work studio — we could do it inside, but it would be too hot,” she said, despite the fact that on its website, the artistic community known as the Spanish Village invites the public to “Come and watch our artists work!” so that people could “Experience the process of creativity.”

I hit the pause button and lowered the camera. I was itching to argue. The bratty kid in me wanted to retort, “How do you know I don’t have a photographic memory?” This wasn’t the first time I’d encountered a cameraphobe who was not learned in the laws pertaining to photographing in public. Even if my video was for personal use, I was within my rights.

“This is for NBC,” I said. “Still want me to stop?” I tried hard to withhold from my tone any hint of the derision.

The woman lifted her hand to brush behind her ear a few strands of hair that had come loose from her ponytail. “The NBC?”

I nodded. “You don’t have to worry about looking bad on camera, I’m only interested in the process. In the end, there’s only going to be a few seconds of this included in my segment.” I would have mentioned this earlier if I hadn’t been in such a hurry to catch the action, but now I was annoyed that I had to explain myself.

What had she thought I was going to do with images of two people shaping a vase? Run home, fire up my kiln, and flood the market? Sell her trade secrets in the art-glass underworld? I refrained from mentioning that I’d already seen her ten-minute instructional YouTube video (which, at this writing, has received nearly 700 views).

When they realized my intentions were not nefarious, the artists relaxed and I raised my camera to get a few more shots of the lava-like glass. But minutes later, as the man moved to return the blob of melted goop into the glory hole, he looked at me and said, in a polite tone, “Actually, this part is kinda proprietary. I’d prefer it if you didn’t film.” I noticed he did not request anyone in the crowd to avert their gaze.

The indignant bitch in me wanted to point out that even Dale Chihuly shares his process, so unless this guy had figured out a way to spin glass into gold, a few seconds of footage was not likely to ruin his career. Instead, I swallowed my temper and said, “No worries, I have what I need.”

I reconnected with the group and relayed the experience. “It reminds me of when security told you to stop taking pictures in the airport terminal,” I said to David. “As if a guy with a giant-ass camera and tripod would be on a covert mission. You couldn’t have been more conspicuous.” I let out a long, vocal breath of frustration and said, “I hate people.” Not wanting to bring down Rosa and Josue with my sour mood, I brightened a bit and said, “I’m just going to get one more pan of this jewelry and then we can go.”

As I filmed close-ups of some lovely, colorful glass earrings, I sensed someone staring at me and looked up. A man had narrowed his eyes at me. “I don’t think Lori would appreciate that,” he said. Here we go, I thought

I was tempted to say, “If I wanted to steal her designs, I’d just buy a few pairs, go home, and copy them.” I marveled at the absurd level of paranoia in the lower echelons of the arts-and-crafts world. People freak when they see a camera in the vicinity of their work, even though they put it on display to be seen.

“Oh, Jesus,” I said. “Tell her not to worry, I’ll edit it out. No earrings on TV.”

“Well, I’m sure if you asked she wouldn’t mind,” the guy said.

“Forget it. I’m done.” I turned to David, Rosa, and Josue and said, “The only thing keeping me from breaking something right now is the thought of that Hacienda margarita waiting for me. Let’s go.”

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I have had similar nasty "no photos" or "no Photography" here from the same types of artists locally. One at the Farmers Market in Hillcrest and several times at events around town and once in the Spanish Village. I agree with you wholeheartedly and being an attorney, I find it very difficult not to give them a lecture about being in public and the obvious absurdity in their request to not have pictures taken. I wonder, if you had not mentioned you were with NBC if they would have stopped giving you grief?

Ultimately, if they really want to be that rude, and what I am photographing is not for my own photography site (semi-pro on the side) I give them a nasty comment and take a picture anyway. Nothing they can do and if they can dish it, they can take it and I will never buy their wares and tell my friends to avoid them as well. You would think a little self preservation and free promotion would welcome pictures and video: "look what I saw today!" "WOW, you have to visit X artist in XXXX". But no.

Good thing photographers and videographers are not so rude: "You can't take pictures here because I already took a picture of it and now I own that view. And while your at it, close your eyes!" :-)


I've run across this quite a few times in Mexico. Of course, here, it's all about money. You can explain how much value your photography has in terms of potential business, based on your readership, and so on, but in Mexico, they expect cash in hand. I've had several very interesting encounters, including one with a man wearing a gun.

Not sure how it is in Mexico, refried, but here, it's legal to take photos of anything or anybody in public places. The few exceptions include using a person's image to sell something without their permission. Photos of items on tables at farmers markets and shows like this? Totally permissible. They have no reason to expect cash, nor do they have authority to tell someone to turn off their camera.

In Mexico, it's similar except that "public places" is up for interpretation. I snapped a few shots of a fruit cocktail cart several years ago and was practically assaulted. While the street is a public place, apparently the cart is a private business. Hands go out, palms opened. I told the dumbass that my shot of his cart was worth more than a few dollars, but he wouldn't have any of it.

Another time, I went to the old Caliente track with a few pals visiting from other regions. We were all photo-happy, snapping shots of us from inside of the rusted starting gates that were still on the grounds at the time. Armed security held us for a time. They let us go because apparently we weren't worth the effort (read: we didn't care to give them any money).

Now, whenever I go for photos in a place that could be suspect, I take Anna and hand her the camera. She knows the drill.

"What, I'm just a kid, taking pictures!"

Nothing worse than people questioning your intent, especially when the exposure would do them good!! Annoying indeed. As if they are celebrities and you prying paparazzi wishing to exploit them. I'll bet if you were wearing a press badge they would have fallen all over themselves to have you film them and their wares.

As a person with experience in the media, I can tell you that nothing is more irksome to the general public than having a camera turned on you without knowing why.

I'm familiar with the art spaces at Balboa Park. Those are, in part, places of business, and media law states that you cannot go into a place of business and start "rolling" without having first identified yourself, and getting permission from the owner/manager.

You apparently did not identify yourself as a member of the working media until you thought it would gain you access.

Probably the best tactic would have been to say "Excuse me I'm doing a story for KNSD's morning show about the artists here, and I was wondering if I could shoot some video of you while you are working?"

If they say no, move on.

But this way they know who you are, who you work for, and when the story will air.

Jeep, that's certainly the best way to go about it "inside" a store or studio. But "outside," at a public event, whether someone is taking photos or video for their own personal use or for reporting, they do not have to explain themselves or ask permission. People have an inaccurate assumption of privacy. If I can see it from a public place, I'm allowed to photograph it, according to the law. If people want to protect themselves or their work from being photographed, they must take precautions (such as not attending or participating in public events). You must assume that whatever you do or say in public may be recorded. On that note, I should get some blinds in my place. If I can see those guys on the street, they can probably see me! ;)

All I can say is that you are better off asking first. The "in public view" standard is not absolute. (Schools, etc).

RE "All I can say is that you are better off asking first. The 'in public view' standard is not absolute. (Schools, etc)":

And strip clubs. No pictures of local politicians at the strip club. Nope. Not allowed. Warranted cell phone calls being taped about campaign contributions, sure, but no pix!

... especially anywhere near anything referred to as a glory hole. Political kryptonite, for sure!

All I can say is that you are better off asking first. The "in public view" standard is not absolute. (Schools, etc).


Interesting point.

K-12 public schools are off limits to outsiders, you do not have a legal right to just walk in, and certainly not take pics of anyone under 18.

A public university, on the other hand, would be OK.

I think I might also question someone on a public street taking pics of a private area-like inside a home/window/backyard. I don't know the answer to that one, but it very well could be OK, and on the other hand I could also see an invasion of privacy claim being upheld too. i would think the 1st Amendment rights would prevail most, if not 99.99%, of the time.

First off, nice video! Very well done! Second, thank you for calling me a "young man"! I think I actually blushed. :)

So here is the story. I didn't want any video or pics because I feel super fat (look at the size of my fingers in the video) and don't like my grossness being caught on film for eternity. Why would I practice my craft in such a public place you ask? Cuz its close and relatively cheap. Could I stop someone from taking video or pics of me? No way. I am true believer in freedom of press. But I can ask nicely. I hope that my being nice about it persuades someone not to record me without me having to get into a whole therapy session. :)

As far as the "proprietary" thing. Maybe I used the wrong word. What is the word for, "This is the first time I am doing this and there is a real good chance I am going to F' it up and I would like my sucking NOT to be cataloged in the NBC archives."?

I can't speak for the owner of the studio or the artists in it. This is just my opinion and view of things.

I deal with the public A LOT when I create my art. Its fine. I think you would agree that I was pretty nice. Of course my flirting with you probably didn't hurt. ;) You are a Diva after all!!! I asked nice. You asked nice back. I caved. I usually do.

Barbarella, I'm sorry you had such a negative experience at Studio 19 in Spanish Village. I am a student glassblower there and I can affirm that it represents a unique opportunity for the public to observe the art up close. Outside of Seattle, San Diego is perhaps the most active glassblowing region in the country, and of the many privately owned "Hot Shops" in San Diego, this is the only one I know of that allows the public to observe glassblowing sessions. What you saw was a lesson, not demonstration (this is a teaching studio). Andy Cohn is a master of glassblowing and a gifted instructor who is especially good at facilitating a successful experience with a difficult medium for complete beginners. This is a rare opportunity, as most hot shops want nothing to do with beginners. That being said, she can be a bit overprotective of her students. Trust me, a dozen camera flashes in your face is not helpful when learning to work with molten glass, and safety is a concern. There is nothing like the excitement of blowing glass and I enjoy sharing my experience with any interested (respectful)observers. I know you enjoy new experiences, so I invite you to come during one of my Sunday afternoon sessions and I will donate an hour of my lesson time to you, so that you can experience first hand (with Andy's expert help) the magic of making art from molten glass.

Re: #11 Thank you for writing to explain where you were coming from, and you ARE young. You were definitely nice, you both were. It's the whole concept of "no photos" when people are in a public place that I was frustrated with that day (and many other days). I understand, as Kevin in #13 mentions that this may have been a lesson, but staging it in the middle of a very publicized public glass show is not the best way to avoid onlookers. @MdlMkr, I would love to learn how to work with molten glass. If I burned myself in the process, it would make for an even funnier and more interesting follow-up column. ;)

With all due respect this article comes off as pretty… bratty.

On one hand, I understand your point and grief over the situation. On the other, I don’t believe you’re being completely fair to these people; you’re only broaching this issue from a singular viewpoint and not taking their personal situation in consideration.

Yes, I understand that they were doing a public showing of their artwork in progress. I also understand if it is your legal right to photograph this public event (I don’t know this as a fact myself, but I am willing to trust your word that it is true). But it sounds to me like you weren’t taking into consideration that you were photographing a human being who could have had any number of instances leading up to that moment. From what I gather, you didn’t ask if you could photograph this person, nor were you forthcoming with the reason why you were taking the photos. You are within your right to assume if it is a public showing that you can take photographs or video, and you are within legal right. But what about common courtesy? Just because something is lawful doesn’t mean it is decent. Now, putting myself in your situation, I, too, would probably take a few pictures without bothering to ask, but if I was filming the process without giving them a heads-up I wouldn’t be so indignant if they asked me not to.

The biggest thing is, imagine if you were crafting some piece of art in public… Imagine that artwork requires handling delicate materials at high temperatures… now imagine someone is at your side, hovering with a camera you weren’t ready for. It might not be that you want to be rude but you are working on your craft, and let’s face it, a camera can change the comfort level of any environment. Even if I’m doing something I have done a thousand times before, the moment I know I am being recorded my qi is thrown all out of whack because cameras make most people self conscious. I understand that she had a video online, but I am willing to bet that she was well prepared and on her best game for that video. It’s probably not that she wanted to be a b*tch to you that day, but I think it is understandable that the unannounced filming of her work made her uncomfortable because she wasn’t prepared for it. I doubt she was terrified you would steal her process; she was probably just more concerned that she would make a mistake and be made to look bad. With the rising popularity of internet videos I really can’t blame her.

(Sorry, this was a long response that didn't fit in one comment. I apologize, I am not trying to spam!)

Now I have garnered another point from your article; that in this modern society, people need to be less touchy over people taking pictures. Now a days you’re filmed everywhere you go, whether you want to be or not, and if you’re participating in a public event you need to be prepared for the fact that there will be people taking pictures. I agree that it is unreasonable for them to expect their work never to be photographed, but humans are emotional creatures and can’t always control their feelings over something like that. Not to mention that it would diminish a person’s quality of life if they refused to participate in something due to fear of photograph (either of themselves or their work). It is reasonable for someone participating in an event to expect to be able to ask people to not photograph them or their work.

I think there should be a little give on both ends. Since you work in a field in which you are frequently photographing people, for your own sanity and theirs, you might have a better experience if you exercise a little professional courtesy. “Hey, I would like to film this if you don’t mind. I am hoping to use part of it as a piece for _.” You will probably get a nice response and you’re acknowledging their feelings on a human level. And yes, I do understand your point about “I don’t have to because it’s legal” and you’re right, you don’t, but it would just be a nice thing to do. (Do unto others… right?) It is about respect, and treating your fellow people as I-You rather than I-It. Saying, “Well it’s legal so they need to deal with it” is a little dehumanizing. Like denying them their right as a person to have their emotions – I would understand this approach on some gritty, aggressive story where you need to dig deep for the facts… but not on a piece about an art display.

On the flip side, people participating in public events should have polite signs posted if they do not want themselves or their work to be photographed.

And, well, sorry for saying you sound bratty, but that was my honest feeling when I read this in the Reader.


I can see your point, but I don't think that was what was at play in this particular situation.

Notice in the first case cited in the article a man said, “Actually, this part is kinda proprietary. I’d prefer it if you didn’t film.” That doesn't sound like the jitters to me, but rather someone who is thinking he is keeping his process secret.

In the second case, Barbarella was filming some earrings on display in a shop when the person working there said “I don’t think Lori would appreciate that,” and requested her to stop. Definitely no jitters there.

Also, and I know that you can't tell this from the article, but Barbarella's camera is very small -- smaller than most SLRs and she tends to film from a distance and zoom in, so she is very unobtrusive. I could see how a giant television news video camera sitting on someone's shoulder might make one nervous, but I don't believe that was the case here.

Hi David,

Thanks for the reply.

Though it does change things, cameras don’t have to be big news cameras to give people “jitters,” nor do they have to be recording something that will even be published anywhere to make people squirm. Not even “squirm” really, that’s an overstatement, but just feel uncomfortable. Also there was a bit of shuffling and hustling in her description (“. . . I hustled to reposition myself in the small crowd. . .” and “. . . stepped to her right to give me more room.”) so I suppose it gave me the impression that a little fuss was being made about getting the shot which could certainly distract the artists handling hot glass.

It felt like most of the article was geared toward the one point with just a snippet of the other two incidences added in, but I see your point when taking it into a cohesive argument. Really what I mean to stress is not so much that the people (other than the one woman) were reacting due to “jitters,” but more that they want to be treated like people. Agreed, “this part is kinda proprietary” does not fit into what I’m saying, but the other two parts (the woman working on glass and the man about the earrings) seem more like the people just wanted their feelings to be considered. This is evident in the words of her article itself when she quotes the man as saying, “Well, I’m sure if you asked she wouldn’t mind.” All anyone is really guilty of here is looking out for their own (or friend’s, student’s, whatever) best interest.

What I mean to stress isn’t so much about being legal but just being nice - professional courtesy. If you’re not inconsiderate, they probably won’t be inconsiderate. I’m not even saying don’t film just because of their feelings, because then you’d never make a buck, but if you put that out there first you’re likely to get a better response. I feel the author even knows this herself seeing as she writes, “I would have mentioned this earlier if I hadn’t been in such a hurry to catch the action, but now I was annoyed that I had to explain myself.” I think the writer didn’t feel like she was being considered by these people, hence her agitation, and I think these people felt like they weren’t being considered by the journalist, hence their responses. It’s a cycle. So rather than wasting space in the Reader with a very negative, diary-esque article like this, maybe a real story could be presented next time. (But hey, I’m a new reader so I might just not get it. Maybe that’s what they like about Barbarella. I guess she’s gotta earn the title of Diva somehow!) ;)

Despite this, in the interest of fairness, I’m still going to approach her future articles with an open mind (like the one I’m about to go read)!

Maranda, there's a point I think you are missing - and feel free to continue to miss it - concerning the protocol of a photographer in respect to the protocol of the craftsman.


That would certainly solve the problem, just a hand-written sign in plain view. Otherwise, the artist/seller of crafts is getting FREE PUBLICITY. Take a camera into a restaurant and order food and start taking pictures and no manager in their right mind wouldn't encourage you to do so. It's FREE ADVERTISING. Go back into the kitchen, and sure, all bets are off. But if the kitchen is right at your table? Again, it's FREE ADVERTISING.

In this case, the glass blowers were cooks and the kitchen was right at the table.

I just found the answer to your dilemma!! I was reading the NY Times (there is only one "Times", I know, but, you know) and on page four of the Business section there is an article about wearable cameras. One in particular that I think would be perfect for you is called the "Looxcie" (pun intended, I am sure). Check it out.

dang..the U Tube don't work...whine....

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