I saw the MoMA ad for the Cartier-Bresson show and began taking some snaps through the chainlink fence. Within seconds I was accosted by a man who requested/demanded that I stop photographing the children. I told him I was photographing the whole scene, not the kids in particular, and that I would not take any more pictures, because he had asked. As I began to walk away, a girl on the other side of the fence asked if I was “videoing” them, and I answered, “no, just still photos.” The man, presumably a teacher at a nearby private school, then admonished the girl for talking to me, saying “you know what we’ve said about people like that.”
I understand the concerns about protecting children from predators–I am, after all, the father of an 11 year old boy–but this is simply another example of the demonization of photographers. Had I wanted to surreptitiously photograph the kids, I could easily have done so without being noticed. Moreover, I was standing on a public street, and the students were using a public park, not even a private school playground, for recreation. A pattern of undue interest might well be considered worthy of some level of intervention. But simply taking photographs in a public place where kids are playing does not constitute suspicious behavior, and it is certainly not illegal.
More photos of children in public places: