Posted in Opinion on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
by George S. Zimbel
After two weeks hobbling along as the result of a bike crash, I was finally able to go confidently towards my studio/archive with my Leica M4 & old 50mm Summicron at the ready. I forgot to mention Tri-X, always Tri X..until there is no more.
I live in Montreal, a culturally hip city. Multi- lingual, multi-ethnic,multi -artistic, multi-restaurantic..a wonderful environment. When I am in the photography mode, I don’t hide myself or my camera. I am up front, and I hope my pictures are up front.
That creates a problem. Montreal is in Quebec which adheres to the “Code civile” or “Civil code.” What this means in simple terms is you cannot take photographs of people without their permission. France has the civil code and France has spawned some of the greatest street photographers, so you can deduce that they practiced their art despite the legal restrictions and were celebrated for it.
So back to my trip to the studio. When I got off the metro I heard the music of many small voices…it is like a magnet for me. I set my f- stop , speed and distance. There must have been fifty little kids sitting on the floor at the platform across the way. Their camp counselors were leading a sing-song. It was a good scene and I got off one frame. Immediately a young woman yelled: “Monsieur, pas de photos des enfants..c’est interdite.” (“Mister, no photographs of the children. It is forbidden”.) I was across the tracks and there was a train coming so I wasn’t able to go over and explain that I meant no harm. I never mean harm with my camera.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t photograph in Quebec. It is too interesting not to photograph so maybe sometime I will end in jail. Not this time, but for me today will be a black day, photographically speaking.