Potential Problems when Shooting in Public

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    • #40604

      Pointing out that the world has changed since 911 could easily elicit a response of, “Duh? Ya’ think?” and you couldn’t get mad because it’d be a proper reply.

      Now in industrialized countries there have been major changes in the laws to combat potential acts of terrorism and rightfully so. Here in the States, the Patriot Act is filled with reams of codes and regulations any of us could innocently run afoul of at anytime. As both Amateur and Professional videographers we too are potentially vulnerable to running into trouble while plying our hobby or trade in public.

      In the UK recently an amateur photographer and his fellow hobbyist were shooting in a public square during a Christmas event but were approached by police for ‘taking photographs in an Anti-Social Manner’. Believing they were well within their rights to shoot in public long as they weren’t breaking the law, the two men continued to ask the questioning officers what they were under suspicion of and refused to give their information. Needless to say the men were arrested under the UK’s Anti-Terror Regulations but the duo had a video camera running during the entire process for in their words, “… My own protection.”

      Here’s a link to the video via “The Guardian.com.uk” so you can see what transpired. I’d be interested to read your opinions on this very real topic that affects us all.


    • #174143

      Watched it all. First thing that comes to MY mind is why, when the man’s name is all over the article accompanying the video, there’s a perceived need to put him in silhouette more or less, making it impossible to determine his features or what he looks like – was there some element of racial profiling in play? Was his appearance that of an individual who, in spite of accent or speech patterns, could be considered typical of terrorist activity?

      Then what comes to mind is that in the majority of major stateside metropolitan areas here, most especially Washington D.C., New York, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles, NO police officer would have been as patient OR polite. I fear that such an occurrence here would have resulted in NO video footage because the guy would have been worked over with a baton and the camera and its media inadvertently destroyed in the process.

      Not having read all of The Patriot Act I am not certain how far an officer of the law taking this approach to me, a 61-year-old, white-haired caucasian, would allow me to go, or to continue recording, were I to be approached and asked my “purposes” in videotaping, say, a holiday parade downtown, ANYWHERE, USA.

      I have, when doing some guerrilla-style acquisition in Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, been asked to “cease and desist” when I got “noticed” by respective law enforcement people and I could not present them with the requested PERMIT. However, on several of those occasions I have been able to “convince” them I was simply a visiting tourist from another part of the state, capturing random footage to make a personal travel video.

      Of course I did it politely, without raising my voice and without acting overly weird (I think) in the process. With the ones who came on like heavies, I simply said “yes sir” and stopped taping. Then, when the coast was clear, held the camera at waist level in the crook of my arm, turned my viewfinder vertical (or eyeballed the POV) and resumed shooting again, guerrilla style.

      Sometimes it is better to not start a fight you cannot win. Beats the baton, or being beaten with one. πŸ™‚ But you still have to worry about how bad such things are going to get until we’re all on some form of Prozac and our respective governments are the ones filling the prescriptions just to help keep us “a bit easier to control.”

    • #174144

      The truth is… look at Rodne King, google “Winnipeg, Teachers, lapdance” and there are countless other incidences and you’ll realize two things.

      1) any actual terrorist is gonna do video/phot surveilence on a cell phone while pretending to talk.

      2) Many authority figures in our society who rely on the “Where’s your Proof?” defence, rather than morals or integrity, fear Joe Public walking around with cameras WAYYYYYY more than they ever feared terrorist attacks…

      So were in for a battle if want to keep our rights to carry those cameras with us in public…. or we’re gonna have to take lessons from actual terrorists and pretend we’re talking on our cell phones…

    • #174145

      My main question to the officers who I do understand were in their minds just doing their jobs is, “What constitutes suspicious photography in conjunction with anti-social activity?” What does that have to do with suspected terrorism?

      I mean Google and Bing have made any terrorist worth their salt’s job sooo much easier. If you want to plan an attack, just dial-up Google Earth and there ya’ go. Routes, building sites, addresses, nearby law enforcement all wrapped up in a nice neat package and you didn’t have to set foot outside ‘Cell HQ’. I’ve shot surveillance photos and video on numerous occasions before and after the institution of the Patriot Act and its always been easy to do with a little know-how and a cool head.

      In fact, one of the best series of intelligence photos I ever saw was shot by one of my co-workers mother on vacation! She had no idea what she had shot and had the film processed at a local photomat! So when I picture Earl in a ‘Magnum P.I.’ style Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts, long black socks and dress shoes with a camera around his neck I have no problem believing he would attract little attention (other than for that hideous outfit!)

      Same thing goes for the camera phones D0n mentioned. They’re everywhere!

      One thing is for sure, Earl’s dead on about that whole ‘Baton’ thing here in the States. If confronted by authorities, I guarantee you a simple “Yes sir/ma’am/officer” will probably mean the diff between going on about your business or a trip to the hospital/jail or worse.

    • #174146

      Composite! Cowboy shirt with pearl snaps πŸ™‚ Hawaiian shirts are too cute.

    • #174147


      I stand corrected. However, Cowboy shirts with Bermuda Shorts, long black socks and dress shoes? I think I might have to pull you over for questioning….

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