Art 100E - Photography
Motion Study Artist’s Statement
by Ian Spiers

Humiliated, Angry, Ashamed, Brown. (continued)

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Being a Ballard resident, the Ballard Locks seemed like the best available subject for my project. I knew I’d be able to set up my tripod and work under fairly consistent conditions. Having spoken with the park ranger in charge of the facility on Monday, I also knew that I had every legal right to photograph from that location. So, I went to the Ballard Locks, in the rain, found the best location I could, and waited for passing trains and boats.

Within about thirty minutes of my setting up my tripod I noticed a lone security officer coming down the hill to ask me a few questions. Well, no… that’s not exactly accurate. He wasn’t politely asking me questions. He’d accessorized his ensemble with a ninety-pound German Shepherd, and was talking at me in authoritative and degrading tones. He wanted me to know that he was an authority.

I responded carefully, being as polite and cooperative as I possibly could. I explained my student status and produced a photocopy of my class assignment, and then translated my intentions for my composition into non-technical terms. I presented my camera bag, tripod and camera. I even casually mentioned some of the considerations regarding 50 ISO black and white film, and introduced my brand new yellow filter, all of which was intended to authenticate my student status. I told him everything I thought he needed to know, but I guess that wasn’t enough.

“Can I see some ID?” he asked, leaning on me verbally, asking without really asking.

OK, I’ll admit it: I’d really had enough at that point. I was tired of confrontations with small people with authority complexes. I was tired of feeling scared. I knew that I’d done absolutely nothing wrong, and that I’d presented clear evidence that I was not a threat. In fact, all things considered, I still think I’d been more than pleasant about the whole thing up until that point. I saw no good reason why I should have to give this canine patrolman my ID. He seemed intelligent, and I assumed that someone in his position was supposed to be reasonable. I also assumed that someone in his position would know that if I’d really wanted to take secret photos of this public landmark that he would never know about it. Sure, I knew why he was asking for my ID, and why he was really asking for my ID. And he knew why. But I was wondering if he had the balls to actually say it to my face. I was back to wondering when I could start saying “no.”

Proceeding thoughtfully, I calmly and politely responded to his request for my ID by asking him if I was legally obligated to show it to him. He replied, “No". I responded, in that case, that I’d felt I’d provided him with all the information he needed regarding who I was and what I was doing, and told him that I felt that my constitutional rights were being infringed upon. Not being legally obliged to do so, I told him that I was not going to be providing him with my ID.

That pretty much ended that conversation. As my confronters ascended the hill, I couldn’t resist spinning my camera around and taking a quick shot of them returning to their security vehicle. I then got back to waiting for a train or boat to enter my composition so I could finish my class assignment. Of course, I soon realized that they weren’t leaving.




2004 Ian Spiers - All Rights Reserved