My first violent confrontation as an event photographer.
In the month of June 2014, I was shooting an event in the Los Angeles area. At the event I was shooting candids of the guest at a distance to get those authentic non-posed moments and also the usual group and individual shots of guest who requested a picture. Halfway through the event, I was getting ready to shoot the surprise dance when a guest begins to approach me, an older man around his 50's.
As I saw him coming towards me I thought to myself, " he will probably ask me to take a picture of his table." As he was getting closer, so did I and once we were at a close distance I said " Hey, how can I help you?" He did not replied and just quickly grabbed my camera and started squeezing it, mainly my flash, attempting to break it. Then I quickly moved his hands away from my gear with one hand and move him back with the other hand. I did not want to push him or shoved him hard either but just moved him back away from me without hurting him.
When I had moved him back I told him "what are you doing?" and he replied "why are you taking pictures of me and stop it or else I'm going to kick your ass." When he said it, I could smell the alcohol in his breath and I had a feeling he was drunk because he was also stuttering when he was speaking to me and looked as if he could barely stand still. Then I told him I was hired by the host to photograph the entire party and that I have not taken a picture of him at all. Then he said, " If you take one more picture I'm going to kick your ass." I replied that he should not worry at all, that I wont take any pictures of him.
At the same time as he made his threat, his wife saw the confrontation and was telling him to go stop it and go away because he was drunk already.
To make things worse, as he was walking away my gear bag hit my camera's shutter button and flashed another picture and he turned around and was headed back towards me. Then his wife yelled at him again and sent him home or left on his own.
In my mind, I wanted to end the confrontation as fast as I could without bringing any attention to both us. I did not want to fight him either because I knew it would be unacceptable for me and the people who hired me.
Once the confrontation was over, I shook it off and continued to get back to work. But on my drive home I was thinking on ways to avoid such situations. I figured if I'm going to be shooting events I need to learn how to deal with people who have had one too many drinks.
So I thought maybe when people who seemed drunk and are walking towards me, I should put my gear behind me or in my bag so they won't be able to reach it and have my both hands free to stop anyone from doing any damage to myself or my gear. In addition, I was smart enough to have a section in my contract to let my clients know if it comes down to a guest damaging my gear they will be held responsible for it and pay for the damages. Luckily for both the client and I, none of my gear was damaged.
If you have better ideas on how to deal with such situations, or provide how you dealt with such a situation please share it and comment below.