Getting harrased at border crossings.

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Remi M., Aug 6, 2007.

  1. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I don't know if anyone else gets the same treatment as me, but I'm catching allot of flak at border crossing for being a amateur photographer.

    I live about 20 minutes from the border between British Columbia and Washington State. I go across the border about 4-5 times a year. Mostly to pick up stuff from a currier company when I order stuff online. I'm always honest about why I'm going across. I get the usual questioning about where I'm going and what I'm picking up and what for... Nice and short.

    Yesterday I decided to drive down to Seattle to take some photos. After a 2.5 hour wait at the border I got up to the guard. She asked me where I'm going and for what purpose. I answered honestly that I'm going to Seattle for a little sightseeing and to take some photos. As soon as I said I'm going to take pictures she became really suspicious. I got asked a ton of questions, if I'm meeting anyone, how much money I'm bringing in, what I do for a living... I got my car trunk searched. I was asked what all the photography gear was for. I resisted the urge to say "for taking photos...". I was finally let go after about 20 questions. (much more then is normal)

    I shot some stuff in Seattle, and drove back when it got dark. I got to have a nice and short 1.5 hour wait at the border this time. When I got to the crossing into Canada again I answered honestly what I did and again I got another round of questioning. Even longer this time. I had my keys taken and my car searched. I was asked allot of questions like: Have I been ever denied entry to the United states, if I have ever been arrested, If I have ever been handcuffed, what I do for a living, what I was taking pictures of... I actually had to show him the pictures I took on the LCD before I was let go.

    It all makes me wish I was back in Europe. Where crossing the border consists of slowing down to notice the sign stating the countries name you are driving into.
     
  2. lifeafter2am

    lifeafter2am TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Messages:
    1,317
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    WOW!!! That is just crazy! Is it still like that in Europe? Me and the wifey were actually looking at some places over in the UK.
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,327
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    The Upper West Side of Mississippi (you have no i
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I don't know if this would help in your situation but print up some business cards with a link to you web site or wherever you have a 'gallery' online, and relevant phone numbers. When the question you about it, try to sell them a sitting or modeling for you. ;)

    Sorry about that.

    mike
     
  4. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I was there a year ago. I traveled between Germany, France and Austria. At each border crossing it was just a sign, and sometimes a line in the pavement. I think most member states in the EU have open borders as the EU has a free movement of persons law. But I think it's subject to member state security policy so some member states may have controlled crossings. They have controlled crossings between any member and non-member state for sure.
     
  5. Peniole

    Peniole TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Messages:
    516
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    where to next?
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Yup I'm packing up and leaving to Europe sometime next year once I finish my thesis (fingers crossed). The stories I hear happening here to foreign nationals are similar or worse to your experience. Sorry you had to go through that.
     
  6. Antarctican

    Antarctican TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Messages:
    24,809
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    The Great White North
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    My experience is with the 3 main border crossings in the Niagara area, between Ontario and New York state. When I tell them part of the reason I'm crossing is to take photos in the US, they always ask if I take the photos for money, what is my occupation etc. When I tell them I don't earn money from the pictures, that's usually the end of it. I've never had my car searched or been detained by more than just a few 'extra' questions. My camera equipment is fairly basic: no big white lenses, which the guards may well equate with 'professional' photographers (even if you're an amateur).

    Your having been searched on the way in and the way out does seem odd, especially the type of questions you got on the way back in. One possibility is that you have a name the same as or similar to someone who has a criminal record and who may therefore have been denied entry in the past. Or if you (or someone with a similar name to you) have/has ever been caught in the past having failed to declare something, the name can pop up on the computer for 'extra questioning'.

    What are your options? In my view, all you can do is keep on being honest about your reason for entry, answer the questions without showing signs of irritability, and if you're ever denied entry, do NOT go to another crossing down the road and try to enter shortly after the denied entry. You really don't want to get your name 'flagged' for special attention, as the flagging lasts for a looooooong time on the computers.
     
  7. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    534
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Germany
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I don´t think it´s really anything new, but I´m also not sure why they are so freaked out...

    I landed in Hawaii in back in´93 and got grilled six ways from Sunday. I was carrying three SLR bodies, 6 or so lenses, and a rangefinder. and just a few t-shirts. I was working for magazines, but this was a personal trip...they were pretty weird about it.

    Is this all because of McCarthy?
     
  8. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    10,417
    Likes Received:
    9
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Remi,

    Very sorry to hear about this. Recently I was messed with for taking pictures of people at a public celebration that included children (as well as old folks, teenagers, fat people, skinny people and obviously stupid people). I know it's not border crossing, but the conclusion I've come to is that if you give facists a button, they've got to push it.

    Good luck, don't let it affect your work. Most of us aren't like that- just the ****heads.
     
  9. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Please don't say sorry. I got it worse from the Canadian guards then the US guards.

    Like I said I go across the border every few months. I usually have no problems, so I don't think my name is on any list unless something changed in the last 2 months.

    I just found the whole thing strange, as what started the whole thing on both ends was mentioning that I take pictures.
     
  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5,327
    Likes Received:
    264
    Location:
    The Upper West Side of Mississippi (you have no i
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    It could also be that there was an alert. I doubt that they tell us everything that goes on.
     
  11. MACollum

    MACollum TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Maybe they know that you come across every few months. If so, they could be suspicious as to WHY you're coming and going. Maybe the reason for the search was to rule out the possibility of smuggling drugs or something. I'd be annoyed too, but keep in mind that it's just their job to be suspicious.

    It's not even close to the same thing, but people ask me if I'm a photography student. Many people can't comprehend that I might just be taking pictures because I enjoy photography and not for some other reason.
     
  12. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yeah could be, but allot people here live so close that they do their grocery shopping in the states.
     

Share This Page