A photographer in Ireland who was out for a stroll with a tripod at night was mistaken for a gunman by a passerby, who called the authorities. A manhunt ensued. And he had no idea.
One of my biggest fears about photography is that I’ll get mistaken for someone malicious and get tackled, shot, or worse. Once, when I was photographing the Dalai Lama’s appearance at my university a number of years ago, I was almost tackled by the Secret Service for getting off of my media platform — a rule I didn’t know existed. Add to this experience that most photographers wear black, wear gear belts and vests, and carry cases that look like they could hold any number of things that go “boom,” and the nature of how our tripods and other equipment could look to someone who is uninformed about the industry, and it’s not entirely unreasonable to worry that we’ll get mistaken for the bad guy at some point in our careers, which brings us to last weekend.
A photographer in Ireland was recently the suspect in a manhunt mistaken for a bad guy by a passerby on a beach in the South Kerry Bay. He was out at dusk with a tripod, walking along a beach in search of a location to do some astrophotography. After the passerby tipped off the authorities, a dramatic response followed, involving emergency protocols, cordoning off the public, and roadblocks. The Gardaí, the state police force of Ireland, descended upon the area, and at one point even stepped into a local pub and asked to borrow some binoculars to aid in their search.
Eventually, they found the photographer, who was completely oblivious to what was going on. The search was called off after the police realized there was no actual threat. I can’t imagine realizing what would have been going through my mind when I realized I was the subject of a manhunt but hadn’t even known about it, so I figure this photographer was a little worked up about it as well.
Be careful out there.
Lead image via FsHH, used under Creative Commons.