Fingering the snoops
Can I tell you photojournalist?
Won’t take long because it didn’t last long – about 11 seconds, as I recall.
I had the equipment – a nice 35 millimetre Pentax. I had the location – a mountain village in rural Spain. I had a customer – the Globe and Mail was buying travel pieces from me. I even had the occasion. Generalissimo Francisco Franco had just croaked and I had a chance to record what the passing of the long- time dictator meant to at least some of his countrymen. I decided a photograph of one of the townspeople — a barefoot peasant in a battered straw hat who
a was astride a burro shambling down a rocky path toward me – would make a compelling illustration for my story. I raised my camera; the peasant raised his right forefinger and wagged it disapprovingly.
And I caved. I baled. I chickened out. I lowered my camera and grinned apologetically. Clearly I wasn’t tough enough to be a photojournalist.
Back then, attitudes towards photos taken without permission were a good deal crisper than they are today. In 2013 we all have our pictures taken by complete strangers dozens of times daily. Surveillance cameras snap our profiles in bank lineups, corner stores, at gas pumps – even at stoplights. It is a completely unwarranted and unsanctioned intrusion of our privacy but it happens so often we don’t even think about it.
My computer guru was helping me retrieve some files on my laptop and I happened to mention that tiny Cyclopean eye that sits front and centre on most laptop screens – the camera lens. He chuckled and said “I can’t tell you how many clients I deal with who’ve put duct tape over that lens.”
Meaning what? That some people think their own computers are spying on them? What would be the point? What would a spy see through that lens? In my case he’d see a bald guy with a red face saying bad words about the laptop that just ate his email.
Hard to see how that would enhance the CSIS database of terrorist activity in Canada.
I’m saying CSIS but choose your own initials? CSA, FBI, CIA, RCMP – who knows who’s snooping out there?
Recently I attended an anti- oil tanker rally in a local park. I was having a hard time hearing the Raging Grannies because of a high- pitched droning sound from overhead. I looked up and saw... a drone, I guess. A weird gizmo about the size of a crow with four stiff wings that swept back and forth about twenty feet above the crowd. It wasn’t camouflaged; as a matter of fact it looked sort of like a model airplane – except every few seconds it would stop and hover.
The better to take photographs, I have to conclude.
So who was manning the controls on that drone – the protest organizers? Some municipal crowd control bureaucrat? A constable from the local RCMP unit?
All I know is, nobody identified themselves. And nobody asked my permission.
Well I know something else. The next time I pass a surveillance camera – at the bank, at the gas pump, wherever — I plan to emulate that Spanish peasant who held up his forefinger to me years ago.
But I’ll be using a different finger.
Annual Tim Hortons food drive: Timmies and TC Media teamed up with the Agape Centre to fill the food bank’s shelves for Christmas. Pictured (left): Darryn McPhail, Tim Hortons franchisee, Lori Greer, Agape Centre operations manager, Alyssa Blais, Agape Centre executive director, Tina McNairn, Tim Hortons general manager and Nelson Matos, Tim Hortons owner.