How to explain what you’re doing to passers-by?

So far, I’ve only had one slightly hostile encounter, regarding privacy, but it all ended well when I promised to delete photos and sharing my contact info with said person.

Would love to read your stories and opinions about how to explain your activity to passers-by and what the reactions have been.

Also, what kind of items could make it easier? High-viz vest, branded car/equipment…

Looking forward to hear your ideas!

On our Trek Pack, we include a link to the Trek View website – it’s a great way for people to discover the project, understand our ethics, and usually what they’re most interested in, to be informed of when imagery of the location they were captured goes online via our Spotter a Trekker form.

We used to print cards with information on, but they were needed so infrequently that we stopped bothering (

Wearing a high-viz vest will make you look more professional, and people will probably be more likely to leave you alone, but I don’t bother personally.

Some people will often want to stop and ask questions. My advice, stop and chat. Stop the camera for a few minutes and explain what you’re doing.

The biggest concerns around privacy, and quite rightly so. Here at Trek View we have a policy of immediate removal of images if there is a complaint. No questions asked. If someone asks us en route to do this, we mark the time, and make sure these images are deleted from the camera before uploading. Despite taking photos being legal in public places (at least here in UK), I just don’t think in such cases it’s moral to take the legal high ground (nor sensible).

Parents with children are usually most concerned. Again, quite rightly so. Therefore we advise trekkers to avoid parks where children congregate, or perform captures during school hours (when schools were open).

At the end of the day be sensible, be approachable, be polite. 99% of the time this should be enough. Occasionally you might get someone who digs their heels in, where nothing you could have said or done would have helped.

I’ve never had any hostile encounters.

When walking I’ve had many quizzical looks from passers by. I usually engage with the people first, informing them of what I’m doing and that their faces will be blurred out. The reaction I usually get is that people are disappointed that they won’t be recognised as the want to appear on Google Maps Street View.

For fun, I quite often have the preview on my phone set to looking behind me. It’s hilarious the number of people who turn round and stare at you as soon as you have walked past.

Do the same when cycling, it makes for a great rear view mirror. Did once get asked while waiting at some traffic lights about the camers above my head. Just told the bloke that it’s my 360° camera version of a dash cam I use while cycling. Good idea he said and walked off :laughing:

I have once had a question, speak to them honestly and explain… (there I have promised to remove the imagery). Most of the time people look at me with a slight smile on their face (might be, because I have used several rather creative setups… so one does wonder if they smiled at me or laughed at me :wink: )

My advise, put up your “serious face” and behave as if you do this daily and you’re working on a serious venture… works great :wink: (if my “serious face” is a “scary face” I don’t know, but it works great :stuck_out_tongue: )

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