Last month, spurred by Michael David Murphy‘s summary opinion piece I started writing about photographers rights.
I have talked before (and here and here) about the diminished freedoms for photographers in the UK. While the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) led many of the actions, it is the support of the whole photographic community that has driven the issue.
The half-penned piece was rendered redundant by last weekend’s “I’m A Photographer, Not a Terrorist” demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London last weekend. The event looked like a hoot (see here, here, here and here)! Nevertheless, I want to throw down a few thoughts and some links.
In November 2009, the UK police issued a memorandum retracting some of the misguidance it had issued; bobbies on the beat were reminded that it wasn’t illegal to take photos. Seemingly, this was more a PR exercise or simply the rank and file didn’t get the memo. Harassment continued.
This situation has totally degraded. The level of trust between the photographic community and police authorities is at an all time low (more here and here). Granted, the Guardian is my sole source here, but it covers the issue so well.
Outside of Britain, incidents have occurred in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the US. Some might say there is a certain amount of baiting employed by some journalists’ tactics (Paul Lewis outside the Gherkin in London springs to mind), but they are merely testing the communication and enforceability of new directives immediately after they’ve been announced by police authorities (in Lewis’ case, directives from New Scotland Yard).
In 2010, I hope to see less harassment of photographers. But, if hassle does continue I hope (and expect) to see its continued reporting to keep the pressure on police chiefs and politicians … particularly in the UK.
And with that I have a site recommendation. Photography is Not a Crime is a good one-stop shop for the unfortunate new genre of photog/authority face-off stories.
The watchdog is compiled by Carlos Miller a Miami multimedia journalist arrested by Miami police after photographing them against their wishes. He goes into his case at length and I still don’t think it is resolved.
Regardless of his motives, Miller’s coverage is comprehensive. As a silo for moments of confrontation and antagonism, the Photography is Not a Crime blog can be a repeated depressing look at abuses of authority.
More than the individual stories – which warrant extended consideration in themselves – it is the cumulative weight and significance of collected incidents that makes Miller’s site a cultural mirror.
Photography is Not a Crime is a must-read for photographers and other media journalists.