Taking a picture? You must be a terrorist...

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by mallard, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. mallard

    mallard TPF Noob!

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    In the mid 90s I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Tarrant County Junior College photography program. It was my introduction to "real" photography and my instructors were excellent. One of the subjects that came up were the legalities of taking pictures in public. As I remember it, the whole thing came down to the first amendment right. If something can be seen in public, a photographer has the right to take a picture of it. This could be a building, a car or even persons on the street. If a person for some reason has a sensitivity to being photographed then they just shouldnt go in public. There are many times when photography is being used....newspaper journalists, artists and just tourists taking snapshots.

    One night my instructor had taken a group of us to downtown Fort Worth to do a field trip on night photography (you know, the strange nuances of reciprocity and exposure) and one of the students set up his view camera on a sidewalk to take a picture of a large mural depicting the cattle drives. Along comes a security guard and tells him "You cant take a picture of that, its private property". She proceeded to get an education on the first amendment from the student (who was a hothead anyway) and then my instructor came over and calmed the situation down.

    There are some caveats though. You cant use a super telephoto lens to peer into someones window (other other such place which may have the expectation of privacy), you cant take a picture of someone and use their likeness as a sort of brand name to make money off of (like say marketing posters of them). I dont remember any other such limitations or the exact letter of the law anyway so I welcome anyone elses input on the subject.

    In todays day and age (post 911) we live in a proto Orwellian culture where I fear that people may mistake an amateur taking a photo with a view camera and light meter as "suspicious behavior". What helps further this along is most of the public think of cameras as digital point and shoot and as such (its not like they really knew before about serious photo work anyway) they wont understand what someone is doing when they see odd equipment they arent familiar with. I had finished doing some shooting one night and drove through a fast food joint on my way home and the girl serving me saw my light meter and coiled up shutter release cable and looked frightened and asked what it was. Did she think it was a bomb? This was back in the 90s....today it might result in a phone call. Homeland security in the days following 911 asked citizens to report people "photographing landmarks" because after all, thats what terrorists do to scope out a potential target site. Also today I doubt there would be any leniency from a police officer suspicious of what youre doing....you cant just whip out a copy of the bill of rights and tell him you have the right to do this that or the other. Even though you may be right and them surely wrong, it would do you little good because just "talking back" might be considered "a public disturbance".


    lets hope i dont end up in gitmo
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is a "Brave New World"... indeed
     
  3. mallard

    mallard TPF Noob!

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    holy cow....i was just reading Neal Boortz blog and he posted a link to this news article.....albeit in Britain.

    Father-of-three branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in public park

    By David Wilkes
    Last updated at 1:46 AM on 16th July 2008

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    When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out.

    But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a ‘pervert’.

    The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop.

    [​IMG]

    One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.

    Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong.

    Yesterday he said: ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not?

    ‘This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.’

    Father-of-three Mr Crutchley, a consultant for a rubber manufacturer from Walsall, West Midlands, was with his wife Tracey and their sons when the pleasant Sunday afternoon out turned sour.

    He said: ‘The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop.

    ‘When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

    ‘I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster.'
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome aboard.

    This has been discussed many times on the forum...usually after someone has an incident with security personnel.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Agreed - its appearing in almost all the photography forums and some have letters to mps being sent off and some are signing petitions.
    Infact the only photoforum I am on (and have seen) where its not appearing is a wildlife and nature one - no people or urban areas at all.
     
  6. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Erik Blair and Aldous Huxley... Perfect references for describing the political state of "The West". But let's not forget H.G. Wells "New World Order".


    BTW, they now selectively arrest you and confiscate your cameras at the point of an un-safety'ed machine-gun in some places NYC - On the public streets!
     
  7. mallard

    mallard TPF Noob!

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    and what is usually the final disposition?

    i am an hour north of NYC by train....I would LOVE to take a view camera there for some shots of Saint Patricks cathedral...but they have armed guards with machine guns and german shepherds outside.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Pretty much what you said at first...
    It's usually best to just move along and not stir thing up.

    The best (or just funniest) advice I've heard on the topic...is to wear a goofy hat when shooting in public.
     
  9. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    From what I understand (last month and prior anyway) if you're not being political (no shirts with writing, no signs, no flyers, no running shoes) or perceived as being political, you can shoot stills almost anywhere on the street and permits and appointments are required for the insides of some buildings. I don't know which ones require it and which ones don't though.

    The paramilitary guerilla police there quote some kind of city ordinance when taking your stuff and/or arresting you but it's currently only selectively enforced at the law-enforcement level and from what I understand anyway all cases challenged are kicked out of court as there either there is no such ordinance or it's illegal. I haven't nailed down which it is.

    And I think just the opposite way as Big Mike. I think we all need to show up and demand our rights in mass. I loved hearing about the student that started getting hot about her/his constitutional rights! Awesome! We all need to do that or it's just going to get worse - and worse - and worse...
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree that we 'should' stand up for our rights and fight back against the tyranny of ignorance from those enforcing the law & rules.

    That being said, would you rather just move on or spend a day in 'captivity'? If they are delusional enough to think that they are allowed to stop you from taking photos in public...then you can probably outsmart them and get your shot anyway...and it's probably best to avoid those types of people as much as possible anyway.
     
  11. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Me personally? I would probably go on monday with a goofy hat to get the good pics and then return on friday with 100 friends and video cameras and make an issue out of it. :D
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Exactly... The next step...

    Limit and destroy free thought and the general public's ability to acquire knowledge, process it, and dissiminate to others. oops... already happening with the limitation of free speach and access to college education. Lets not forget it has happened several times in human history already.

    Call me paranoid... call those dystopic novels fiction (they are) but there are deep lessons to be learned. Trade in personal liberties for security... never!


    Big thumbs up to Mr. Crutchley. That was the appropriate action to take.

    I experience this madness to a lesser extent on a weekly basis. My wife and I trade off taking care of my 19 month old son to limit the expenses of child care. A lone father, young boy, camera (as always), in a playground. I get this cold and distant reaction from the other mothers in the area. To the point that I feel compelled to pickup and hold my son as an attempt to reaffirm my "fatherhood". It doesn't seem to be the case when my wife is with me..... It must suck being a single father in this environment.




    btw... attempting to fight for your rights aggressively on the streets in front of a cop will usually result in a disorderly conduct charge (catch-all used to control the situation). No big deal BUT it will ruin and waste your day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008

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