I have always had an interest in photography, ever since I was given a Kodak Retinette when I was a child. I never really progressed beyond point-and-shoot snapshot photography, despite Smurf's patient efforts to teach me the more technical side of things. However, I still love taking photos. When I bought a digital SLR a couple of years ago, I decided it was about time that I learned how to do it properly, and regretted not paying more attention to Smurf's advice. Anyway, I decided to sign up for the Open University's Digital Photography course, and I am really enjoying it, although I don't really have enough time to dedicate to it at the moment.
One thing that has been worrying me a lot recently, is the high number of reports in the press about photographers being harassed for taking pictures in public places. Such is the paranoia raised by the some of the less-reputable media, that many photographers are now viewed with suspicion. If you take a photo of kids playing, you're accused of being a paedophile, if you take a photo of a large public building, you're accused of being a terrorist.
I have been fuming about the stupidity of sheeple for quite some time now, and so I was really pleased to read an article in the Guardian Newspaper by Bruce Schneier about the general ignorance surrounding photography, terrorism and the like. Go and read it now. It makes sense.
In Mr. Schneier's words:
"Fear aside, there aren't many legal restrictions on what you can photograph from a public place that's already in public view. If you're harassed, it's almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. There's nothing in any post-9/11 law that restricts your right to photograph.
"This is worth fighting. Search "photographer rights" on Google and download one of the several wallet documents that can help you if you get harassed; I found one for the UK, US, and Australia. Don't cede your right to photograph in public. Don't propagate the terrorist photographer story. Remind them that prohibiting photography was something we used to ridicule about the USSR. Eventually sanity will be restored, but it may take a while."
Well said, Mr. Schneier, I just hope that those enforcement officials pay attention.
Remember, that under normal circumstances, no-one (including Police, other officials or security guards) has the right to seize your photographic equipment or demand that memory cards are deleted/confiscated without a court order, even if they think they contain damaging or useful evidence. If an enforcement official erases any of your photographs without your permission, it amounts to criminal damage and that anyone who deletes a photographer’s images without permission could face criminal, civil or disciplinary action.
Be aware, though, that in some circumstances, the police are permitted to confiscate your film or memory cards but they are still not permitted to delete any images because the images could be used as evidence for or against you.