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American Restrictions on Photographers

1. xymonau13 July 2011, 11:23 GMT +02:00

I heard someone on a video tell the story of his visit to one of the southern American states. He saw the Mississippi for the first time, and was excited about that. He was travelling without his wife, so he pulled out his camera to take a photo. A large paddle steamer came along, and he wanted to get it in the photo. Just as he snapped, a police car stopped next to him, and two police got out of the car, and told him to "spread 'em!" He says they questioned him for an hour, asking the same questions over and over again relentlessly. He is from South Africa, so he has an accent. Maybe this was deemed suspicious, but tourists generally have accents, don't they? He was allowed to go eventually.

There is something seriously wrong when a tourist can't take a photo of a normal touristy thing. I believe no paddle steamer has been driven into a building to date. I don't think photography was used for anything regarding 9/11. With all the intrusive scanners and all the photographic nonsense, even if I could afford to travel, I would never return to the US. I would end up in prison because I couldn't bite my tongue if something like this happened and I would explain in no uncertain terms why I thought the police were morons.

I'm sure tourism is worth a lot of money to the States. Maybe someone needs to grow a brain.

2. gesinek13 July 2011, 13:16 GMT +02:00

I also couldn't effort to travel to US. But I think there are a lot of fantastic things you can visit and watch and take a photo of it, like tourist are always do. But even if I could effort to travel there I won't go because I won't give them my fingerprints or give them personal data.
I think life in US is very restricted since 9/11. It look like every thing is controlled by authorities, which are there for only one purpose: Controlling the own people and everyone who wants to visit that country. But what you are saying Dez, is really the straw that breaks the camels back.

3. Gramps13 July 2011, 13:39 GMT +02:00

Very strange! I never had a problem out there. I've photographed everything from banks to police cars without a hitch. Maybe it's the English accent don't you know :0)

4. micromoth13 July 2011, 14:30 GMT +02:00

I've not had a problem either. Been in New Hampshire, Boston, Cape Cod, Madison and New York. If you were going to expect difficulties anywhere it would be the latter, but nobody took any notice of my camera at all. Only a few high profile buildings were off-limits - not just for photographers but for everyone - so it's hard to understand the attitude of these policemen that Dez describes. Maybe the poor guy with the South African accent just happened to have a passing resemblance to one of the local mafiosi...

5. xymonau13 July 2011, 15:24 GMT +02:00

That's quite funny. He's of German descent, with aquiline features and a fair complexion.

There have been a few posts on here and elsewhere by Dave Ritter, I think, about him being challenged and links to other stories. I think it's happening in England as well - at least in London. Naturally, it's random. There simply wouldn't be the manpower, and not every happy snapper is seen by the constabulary, but the fact that it ever happens shows the fascist nature of our society today. We are headed down a path that has only unpleasantness at its end. And no-one is free any more.

6. Gramps14 July 2011, 9:26 GMT +02:00

The problem in the UK is not so much what you can photograph but what you can publish. The rule in general is if you can see it in public you can photograph it but it doesn't always work out that way. I had some hastle recently in Covent Garden. A lot of the stall holders there try to operate a 'No Photography' rule to protect their artwork etc. I believe the law is a bit grey in this area, I can photograph the whole market as it is not specific to a particular stall but I must observe the stall owners rights if they do not want the stall itself photographed.

People can get a little upset if you photograph events with children involved, sports days, parades and so on. Understandable but a pain in the rear if you are just trying to get pictures of your own children. I've heard of the police giving official photographers a hard time when they are photographing street parades with children in, even though there is no law against it if it is a public parade on a street.

Certain landmarks are difficult as well. In some cases if a building is photographed from a public place (the highway for instance), you can publish it; if it's photographed from the actual private property it resides on the owner can stop you publishing. Strangely enough, even if I'm not allowed to publish a photograph of a landmark, I can make a painting of it and sell it and multiple prints of it with no problems at all :0)

7. xymonau14 July 2011, 11:34 GMT +02:00

It's not the law. The law is clear on most things, and people can work around that. It's the enforcement, or the enforcement of non-existent laws that's the problem, as in my example above.

You really have to watch/listen to the first video at least on the first link. It made me furious. The British police are better mannered verbally, but just as gung ho when they are proven to be fools. Coppers everywhere are full of their own self importance.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/london-police-attack-photographer-claim-we-don’t-have-to-have-a-law-to-detain-you.html

http://www.disappearednews.com/2010/01/intrepid-blogger-prevented-by-hpd-from.html

http://www.flickr.com/groups/dcphotorights/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/25/AR2010072502795.html

8. Stephen3 November 2011, 17:29 GMT +01:00

Back to the start - "I heard someone on a video tell the story..." - Dez, I am the first in line to question the system, but I am also the first to demand the system produce evidence. I just noticed this topic and have to say that to begin with the words 'I heard someone' 'on a video' 'tell a story' beggars belief. If police used such 'information' surely you'd be the first to baulk?

9. xymonau3 November 2011, 23:14 GMT +01:00

The man was a Christian minister whose life is exemplary, and I personally know his friends. I'm not sure why you think everything here has to be delivered as if in a court of law. Your constant going after things beggars belief. This is a forum.

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