Photographers becoming security concerns

Images-58 NPR’s Morning Edition has an interesting show about Photographers Becoming Security Concerns. Photographers across the country have complained of getting harassed by law enforcement officials citing security concerns since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Here’s the flyer mentioned in the broadcast. Link.

5 thoughts on “Photographers becoming security concerns

  1. As an avid aviation photographer I read a lot about this (though I rarely encounter it myself).
    Most accounts seem to me to be blown way out of proportion. Someone gets talked to by a police officer (who is only doing his job, he’s obliged under law to follow up on calls from “concerned citizens” whether he thinks it’s BS or not) and gets argumentative about their “rights”.
    Police officer looses his temper (or has to protect himself from irrate photographer threatening and shouting) and arrests photographer.

    Or alternatively photographer is tresspassing (or parked in a no-parking zone because that was close to the place he wanted to do his thing) and gets confronted for that, then complains loudly on some forum or blog that his civil rights as a photographer were intruded upon.

    These kind of examples make up the majority of “harassment” stories I see on photography sites. There are indeed a few genuine ones but those are usually linked either to officers having prior experience with irrate photographers and not taking any chances or to private security guards working way outside their jurisdiction and basically trying to bully people.
    Sure there are some in law enforcement who don’t know the law or just want to bully people around, but they’re a small minority and complaining to their superiors will almost always get the situation corrected easily IF you (as a photographer) remain calm and well behaved. Instead of screaming and shouting that your “rights” are intruded upon, demand to see his superior officer instead.

    A LOT of photographers think they’re above the law and the simple fact that they’re carrying a camera makes them immune from having to comply with such things as private property (they think they can just walk into areas marked as “no entry” for example) or basic good manners (pushing others aside to get a good shot is the least of this).

  2. As much as I would like to agree with the above poster, I cannot help but disagree. I was with my family and was taking a day trip to San Juan one morning from the beautiful old train station in Santa Ana (both places are in Southern Claifornia). Security noticed that my fathers companion had a camera with her and became verbally aggressive towards us about not taking pictures of the train station. Had we actually been taking pictures or had actually taken the lens cap off of the camera the dicussion with the officer would have been valid. I, to this day, feel that I should have confronted him about his legal standing. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos that day in that location (as beautiful as it was). The officer certainly spolied the atmosphere unneededly.

  3. Sorry jwenting…the whole point of living in a free society is that we are, well, free.

    That means that the police need to defer to me, not the other way around.

  4. I am an amatuer photographer, I work close to a highway in Sunnyvale California and being an early riser I go to work around sunrise.

    One day I saw a breath taking sunrise as I was cross the bridge over the highway, I was walking on the side of the bridge in the pedestrian lane and I stopped to take a few photographs of the sun rising behind the mountains. Within seconds there were 2 police cars behind me and a police van who came from the opposite side of the road and parked where I was standing.

    I was stunned by all this, I offered to show the officers the photographs I took and that I was just trying to capture an exceptionally beautiful sunrise. They continued to ask me questions for 30 minutes, noted down my contact information and told me that I should not take photographs on any bridges. I kept calm, fully cooperated with the police officers but the whole ordeal made me feel almost guilty of an unforgivable sin.

  5. Today, I went to the Solana Beach train station in San Diego County to take some photos of a great work of architecture. As I was setting up, a secuity guard with the North County Transit District stopped me and said essentially, “Before you set up, taking pictures here isn’t allowed”. When asked why, he said it hasnt been allowed since 9/11. He provided me with his supervisors phone number and I will be filing a complaint. This is ridiculous!

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