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Old 12-01-2007, 03:24 AM
 
3 posts, read 16,508 times
Reputation: 12
Default Driving/Photography in bad neighborhoods?

I am a photography student who is fascinated with dilapidated houses/buildings/decay. I have seen this in many [presumably] bad neighborhoods in Baltimore (West Baltimore, Northern/Eastern) and would love to drive around and get pictures (from my car) (and really quickly) (I would only be photographing architecture, not people).

Is this safe? The risky part is that I'd want to get these shots at night when everything really looks abandoned and most beautiful. I mean, I would never walk around these neighborhoods alone at night, but what about driving?

I keep playing out this terrible scenerio in my mind that someone's just gonna gome up to my car window with a gun and tell me to get out, or something like that. Am I being overly paranoid and ignorant? How safe is it to drive - not walk - but drive around these bad areas?
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Cheswolde
1,934 posts, read 4,001,852 times
Reputation: 524
Default Do it right

As a photographer you know that good pictures seldom can be taken from a car. moving or otherwise. You must get out, stroll around for best angles and lighting conditions. You may need some people in the pictures to make them real.
I urge you to stroll around. Start in the brightest daylight and see if you are comfortable doing this. If you feel unsafe, go with a couple of friends.
If it is buildings and streetscapes you are interested,you should be fine. If it is drug corners and dealers you want to photograph, send your name and address and I'll promise to come to your funeral.
Several other photographers are doing what you are attempting to do. I met one of them recently at a party. Linda Day Clark Linda Day Clark Artist, Photographer, Educator, Historian and Photojournalist has been documenting changes along North Avenue. She is an African American, a statuesque woman, who may try to blend in but I doubt she can do it successfully.
I have never tried to take photos, but that's just me. However, my walking groups walks in neighborhoods all around the city without any problems. It's interesting that when residents in some "bad" neighborhoods see two or three old white guys walking around and talking animately, someone usually asks whether we are (1) cops, (2) BGE.
The key is to engage people. Be respectful, regardless of the person's status. Greet a homeless person with a good morning just as you would greet a church-going lady, and ask how people are doing. They'll have a pleasant day and so will you.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:34 AM
 
3 posts, read 16,508 times
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Default Thanks

Thanks for the tips, barante! I should note that I am still in highschool (senior) and live a good 45 minutes from Baltimore (in Frederick)

Any other tips? I am more concerned about the risk factor of simply driving through these places, specifically late at night.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Cheswolde
1,934 posts, read 4,001,852 times
Reputation: 524
Default Profiling

Your age complicates matters. Cops working on the basis of a racial profiling will sting you like gnats. You will be stopped because you will look like another suburban kid trying to buy drugs. If you have a car load of kids of the same age it will make matters worse, because that's how kids from Frederick do it.
After sounding kind of encouraging in a previous post, I am not sure that this is a good idea. You need to think about this a bit more. If you decide to go, line up a good lawyer if things get hairy.

Last edited by barante; 12-01-2007 at 10:47 AM..
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Pigtown!! Washington Village Does NOT Exist.
689 posts, read 2,137,462 times
Reputation: 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by barante View Post
Your age complicates matters. Cops working on the basis of a racial profiling will sting you like gnats. You will be stopped because you will look like another suburban kid trying to buy drugs. If you have a car load of kids of the same age it will make matters worse, because that's how kids from Frederick do it.
After sounding kind of encouraging in a previous post, I am not sure that this is a good idea. You need to think about this a bit more. If you decide to go, line up a good lawyer if things get hairy.
I'm with Barante. Given your age...I wouldn't do it. I've done it myself, but it's not something I'd recommend to a kid. Surely Frederick has its own decay you can photograph.
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Old 12-01-2007, 12:29 PM
 
Location: La Crescenta, CA
413 posts, read 1,072,632 times
Reputation: 322
It really depends on the neighborhood. I remember sitting in traffic on Pennsylvania Ave., going to the Mondawmin DMV in the middle of the day, and I was just gazing out the window at a building. Suddenly three guys start walking toward my car saying "What the **** are you looking at, mother****er?" Fortunately, the light turned green, so I waved and drove away.

If you're in the wrong neighborhood (which you probably will be, since you want to see "decay") and just look at people wrong, you can get beat up pretty quickly. And a camera's worth money. In "decayed" neighborhoods, expect to get beaten AND robbed.

Since you're not familiar with the city, stick to downtown and the waterfront. There are plenty of cool buildings there. Expand outward once you've obtained a realistic sense of risk in various neighborhoods. And a gun permit.

Keep in mind that the true thugs aren't at all interested in being your "subject matter."
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:21 PM
 
680 posts, read 1,463,060 times
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I think you're generally OK if you stay on a major thoroughfare where there's a lot of traffic and don't wander off on a side street. I would also stick to daylight hours. You might want to look at the areas around the stadiums on the Gwynns Falls bicycle trail (parts of Pigtown and Westport). There are some pretty derelict industrial buildings and houses, and I think the area seems pretty safe. I've ridden the trail several times.
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Old 12-01-2007, 02:52 PM
 
3 posts, read 16,508 times
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Thanks for all the advice...keep it coming if anyone else has anything to offer.

REMEMBER!!! I will be DRIVING, and most likely not walking. I also WILL NOT be photographing people.

I just want to know how safe it is to DRIVE through these areas. Perhaps if a friend drove, while I took pictures. Am I gonna get mugged/assaulted from my own car? Is it that violent of a place? I want people to tell me if yes, I need to really look out for myself even in a car, or if no and I'm being an ignorant teenage prick and of course I'll be fine.
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Old 12-04-2007, 01:00 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
10 posts, read 27,617 times
Reputation: 16
Default Cops

Just something you ought to know, as well. Have you ever watched the show "Cops"? Have you ever seen Baltimore on there? NO! A co-worker of mine is engaged to a police officer, who comes from a long line of police officers, and she told me that "Cops" won't shoot (no pun intended) in Baltimore because it's too dangerous to risk their crew's lives here. That, my friend, is a SIGN!

I am not someone who stays in the 'burbs and is scared of the city, either. I have worked downtown for several years, as has my husband, but as I get older, my rose-colored glasses are coming off and I'm MUCH more cautious than I was in my youth.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to the WORST neighborhoods we could find in order to buy liquor. One night, a friend and I went out dancing and arranged to meet our other friends back at her house later. It was St. Patty's Day. Our friends went down to North Avenue, looking like the Suburban Geek Squad with springy shamrocks on their heads, and were held up with a sawed-off shotgun. This still did not deter me. I simply laid on the seat of the car the next time we went. These are the nightmare scenarios that run through my head now that I'm a new mom. Do your own mother a favor, and stick to the more historic, and SAFER, parts of Baltimore City! The architecture is much more beautiful without plywood in the windows, anyway.
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Old 12-04-2007, 01:04 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
10 posts, read 27,617 times
Reputation: 16
P.S.
What Barante mentioned about the cops profiling you as drug-seeking is VERY true! And, yes, it's just as dangerous driving as it is walking around (unless you have bullet-proof glass).
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