Asian Heritage Street Celebration of San Francisco

I have been volunteering as a photographer for the Asian Heritage Street Celebration for the last two years.  I have been photographing on an official basis out of fear of getting physically assaulted because of this incident which happened to me in 2009. 

I was ready to volunteer again this year when the organizer asked me to remove a blog entry I made about the incident.  She wrote me this email:

Re: AHSC Photography Volunteers

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 6:26 PM


“Fine Photography Leland Wong” <>

Hi Leland,

Thank you for your interest in photographing our event!
Before we move forward in having you volunteer, a few years ago there was an unfortunate incident with you and some of our street fair volunteers which you blogged about it on your website: I am sorry you had a misunderstanding and bad experience at the festival. Would you please remove the post and all associated photos? Our concern is that it brings negative publicity to the street fair and is counterproductive to our mission. 

-(name withheld)

I replied and told her that my statement in the posting was sufficient to not bring any negative impressions of the street fair as a whole.

“Please don’t get me wrong, I believe this is a great annual event. I’m just sad that they have to involve such people to run this event.  They have to educate people about photographing in public places.”

Well…as it turns out.  I was not issued a photo pass because I would not take down the post.   I attended the event today.  It was great as always.  well…not really…there seems to be less exhibitors and vendors.  The bands were bunk.  They had this real weird section where they had these psychic qigong healers.

I thought I’d repost the original blog entry from 2009:

I have been photographing Asian American community events since I started seriously photographing in 1968. I have attended and photographed this annual event since the very first one.  The event is like a big party with food, music and a great sense of community.

I was more than happy to contribute my images when asked by Tamiko Wong, Program Director of Asian Week for their website. 

After taking this photo, the woman on the left demanded that I delete the image. That I did not have her permission to take her picture.

Being a public event, I was in my right to photograph anything and anyone I want. She accosted me for two blocks with threats, profanity and even attempted to confiscate my camera.

After walking around the fair, I returned to the stage area to continue photographing and enjoy the music.  The woman apparently told her stage crew friends about me.  I was approached by this staff person, Macela Padilla, of the Asian Heritage Street Celebration, who me that I cannot photograph.

I tried to explain to her that this is a public event and that I was within my right to photograph freely.  But she did not take that take that for an answer. 

She began yelling at me and accused me of photographing people’s crotches. (?!?!)  “What integrity is there to photographing people’s crotches?”, she asked.  I assume the woman made up that story to just to get back at me.

As Marcella Padilla was yelling at me, the woman in the middle then made another attempt to confiscate my camera out of my hands.  While fellow photographer Frank Jang looks on.


Barney Garcia of the Asian Heritage Street Celebration made this gesture at me as I was photographing.

The word was now out among the stage crew about me. I continued to enjoy the music and photograph the event. The staff was in high alert of this photographer.

After taking this picture, the woman on the right, Sonia McDaniel, came over to swear at me then took my picture with her cellphone.  Sonia McDaniel later posted my picture on Yelp saying I was a pervert who photographed upskirts.

“Great fair, but in crowded places beware of Pervs who will take pictures up your skirt!  See photo section for guy with camera!”, wrote Sonia McDaniel
I was ready to get a lawsuit going on this.  Yelp took down the picture.

Then this man from the stage crew comes over and tries to pick a fight with me. I thought I could talk some sense with him being that he was an older person.  Instead he began pushing me around.

After a strong warning he backed off and only had his middle finger. 
He threatened to break my camera and called me a pussy.

His wife holds him back. 

Thus saving him.

I think she’s trying to say ‘putang ina mo’.

“ah told ja mo’fo not ta take ma pitcher!”

Please don’t get me wrong, I still believe this is a great annual event and I will continue to attend it. It’s just sad that they have such uneducated people running this event.  The organizers have to let their staff know that this is a public event and anyone with a camera can photograph freely in a public event.

Here are a few links to read more about photographer’s rights:

A downloadable PDF about your rights as a photographer

Misinformation about your photography rights continues to spread (USA Today)

Photographer’s Rights Overview

Photographers’ Guide to Privacy

Your Rights as a Photographer – Tutorial9

…and here’s where I’m glad to be a member of the Professional Photographers of America where they have a legal team for members.


2 Responses to “Asian Heritage Street Celebration of San Francisco”

  1. Wow, being a photographer is a dangerous occupation! Some people just want to be in your face!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: