Last Wednesday I found myself with my camera and some extra time at lunch. I drove through one of the neighborhoods close to the Citadel and found a place to park. The homes in the area date back to the early 1900's so they are not as ornate as the homes on the lower Peninsula but they are still very interesting. As I walked down the sidewalk I found myself snapping shots of several unique doorways.
One thing about Charleston is that the whole city is full of tourists. It seems that everybody's running around with the camera and these days everybody has a camera since everyone has a phone. The nice thing about being in a neighborhood is that you not bumbling around with tourists. But I am also very self-conscious in neighborhoods because I realize I'm running around the camera. I have always respected everyone's property and never gone up someone's walkway or through their gate when I was photographing the front of their house.
As I moved down the street I became engrossed in the architecture. Since that was the middle of the day it was very quiet and there was very little traffic. I notice a police car coming slowly down the street and stopping right in front of me. A police officer got out of the car and approach me.
He introduced himself and ask what I was doing with my camera. I explained my project that I had been working on for several weeks photographing different doors throughout the city.
He laughed and said, "That's fairly harmless. However we have had a complaint from someone in the neighborhood. They said that someone suspicious was taking pictures of their home."
I explained how I tried to be very respectful and would never want to upset anybody and that I never photographed any person..
Before I could say anything else he laughed and said he understood and he was sure there was no harm. Some people were just alarmed by almost anything these days. Then we started this discussing the beauty of the doors in Charleston. He stated that his favorites were the heavy wooden doors like the one I was standing in front of at the time. He also suggested several streets I might want to look at in the neighborhood that had particularly interesting architecture.
He then said he realized I was probably on my lunch hour, he didn't want to hold me up, and he would be on his way. I thanked him and assured him again I was harmless.
With that I turned and made my way back. As I approached the block where my car was parked I noticed an older man standing on a porch leering at me. No doubt he was the one who called me in as the perpetrator and obviously he was disappointed that I had not been apprehended. I just smiled, wished him a nice day, got in my car, and drove back to work.
In the five or six years that I have been taking photographs, in the many states and countries where I have traveled, and with the hundreds of thousands of shots I've taken this was the only time I have been accused of anything nefarious. I will not make the accusations sound as glamorous as spying, And given I was on the sidewalk with the camera in broad daylight, I hardly think that qualifies as covert.
So I had my "run in with the law". Thankfully there were no blue lights or embarrassing moments.