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Downtown Crossing 'Street Photographers' Crossing The Line?

CBS (BOSTON) - It's legal for someone to snap your photo while you're walking down the street, but that doesn't mean it isn't annoying.

A WBZ-TV viewer passed along some video he recorded at Downtown Crossing this week.

The viewer told us he sees a group of six or seven men, armed with fancy cameras aggressively hunting down and photographing women and children nearly every day.

WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong reports 

The video he shared shows what seems to be some sketchy behavior.

His story was backed up by other people at Downtown Crossing, who tell WBZ-TV these guys are constantly getting in peoples' faces and acting very defensively when someone asks them to stop.

"Those guys are out here every single day, following people up and down the street, nonchalantly taking pictures of women's body parts," said Craig Caplan, who owns three kiosks selling various items not far from where these men hang out.

Caplan says he's seen them focus their lenses on women's breasts, legs, and behinds. As for what the men do with their pictures, he has no idea.

"I'd love to know," said Caplan. "I mean, if it was my wife, girlfriend, daughter, I would have a big problem with it."

WBZ-TV's cameras were rolling as some of these men darted in and out of crowds on Friday afternoon, snapping away.

When confronted, a man who identified himself only as "John," said he and his friends were simply 'street photographers'.

He acknowledged that he does "have to be a little aggressive to do this type of photography" and that people shouldn't be bothered by it.

Asked if he specifically targets young women or children, John said, "false."

Another street photographer, Pierre Philippe, admitted he could "understand that people are bothered by this" but also denied taking any kind of obscene or inappropriate pictures.

A third man, named Joe, called it "ridiculous [and] absurd" to think he and his fellow photographers would target children or women. "We don't do anything that's suspect or could be considered suspect," he said.

"There's no law against taking pictures of anything in the street," pointed out Andy Klein, another man in this group.

When asked why so many of their subjects are put off by being in their pictures, Klein responded, "Well, people imagine things."

The men claim that none of their photos ever ends up on the internet as part of pay site. They say their pictures go into their private collections; some, they say, will be part of an upcoming art show that focuses on the work of local street photographers.

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