Cal Webster said police visited his home five days after Halloween because he had been photographing trick-or-treaters on his own property.
He said the parents approved of this photography and in some cases, even posed with their children.
Nevertheless, a nosy neighbor called police to complain about his outrageous behavior.
And five days later, a cop actually followed through on the call and knocked on his door.
Apparently, things are kind of slow in Newport, North Carolina.
According to the photographer who goes by the Flickr username Cal Sr., his 23-year-old daughter answered the door and told police he was not home.
It appears that the cop never returned, but that didn’t mean he didn’t disrupt Webster’s life because he spent the next few days researching photography law preparing for another visit, wondering if he was about to embark on a legal nightmare.
Fortunately, he so far has not experienced what a Flickr user named Happy Tinfoil Cat went through last Halloween after photographing trick-or-treaters in San Jose.
A bunch of police cars with their lights flashing squealed up to my house. A group of pissed off cops interrogated me started to search my house. My wife and I explained that the parents were standing right next to me.
Here is his entire story.
It was drizzling outside and I had studio lights in the garage that I hadn’t used in a long while. I opened the double car garage door and set the candy inside; I wanted good shots. The cheapo trigger I had ended up failing more than it worked. (good to find that out prior to my next shoot) I only got a couple good shots. Most of the parents stood next to me while I shot. Pretty much the same story as Cal Sr.
One of our neighbors with a baby on his shoulder gave me this weird look. I asked him to pose the baby, but instead he gasped and headed straight home. He returned a few minutes later and asked me if I was a professional photographer. He asked a few more questions and left. (I’m pretty sure this is the guy who complained)
After the trick-or-treaters stopped coming, I went over to another neighbors house and escorted one of their kids around since she was very unhappy to be stuck at home dishing out candy all night.
Soon after I got home, four or five police cars descended on my house. It was way overkill.
They wanted to look in the garage, so I let them. They asked me what was under the tarps, so I showed them. The female cop stopped them there (didn’t want to taint any evidence). So it was a short search. The big leader cop looked like Duke Nukem and was real angry. I felt that any second, he was going to slam me to the ground. He kept repeating, “So you know why we’re here?” He must have asked me that a dozen times.
“Why are you taking pictures?”
“Did you get the parents’ permission?”
“No, but they were standing right next to me.”
“But you didn’t get their permission?”
“Are you giving the photos to the parents?”
“No. If they want a….”
“So you know why we’re here?”
“They were standing right next to me!”
“Then what are you doing with the photos?”
“Put them on the internet.”
“That’s what I do with all my pictures.”
“You are the only person in San Jose taking photos of kids. So you know why we’re here?”
“My kids were photographed by at least three houses on our block!”
“You are the only person taking photos with professional gear. So you know why we’re here?”
“‘cuz anyone with a camera is either a pedophile or a terrorist?”
That pissed him off a bit. He was fishing for me to say something, but I don’t know what he expected me to say.
“Halloween is a bad time. There are cults abducting children” trying to justify what they were doing.
He kept asking me the same crap.
I promised not to do it ever again. They wouldn’t give me a business card but Duke wrote his badge number down for me. I asked if I could take their picture. It would be a cool shot with all those colored lights in the bokeh, plus there would be a record of the cops involved. They refused, with a snarl. It would have made a nasty experience much better.
It’s great that they are vigilantly out to protect the children. But come on! I wish I had professional gear.
I joked with my wife that I would be passing out condoms this year instead of candy. ;^) She told me in no uncertain terms she would divorce me.