Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Dealing with the police  (Read 3237 times)
Scott Martin
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1274


WWW
« on: September 17, 2010, 06:58:51 PM »
ReplyReply

As a night photographer, I'm finding that I have to deal with answering questions and harassment by the police with increasing frequency. I've been stopped by police over 7 times recently while in public places (where one has a right to be and photograph). I have friends that have been taken away in police cars for questioning. Seems like we need more dialog and awareness not only for people's rights to make pictures but also how best to deal with unnecessary harassment. A just wrote an article about my most recent experience where I was detained for 30 minutes by a dozen military police, and make some suggestions for handling these situations here:

http://www.on-sight.com/2010/09/17/smells-like-terrorism/

There's also been a lot of press about similar situations recently:
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/photographers-in-hoodies/
http://carlosmiller.com/
http://photographernotaterrorist.org/

Anyone want to add some constructive comments about dealing with the authorities?
Logged

feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2907

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 07:07:42 PM »
ReplyReply

Anyone want to add some constructive comments about dealing with the authorities?

Move to (mainland) Europe? Tongue
Logged

Scott Martin
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1274


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2010, 07:44:57 PM »
ReplyReply

In many European nations, photographers don't have as good of rights as those in the US do. I'm told that in Paris one has to have a permit to use a tripod. 

Here are some links to photographer's rights movement in the UK and Australia:
http://photographernotaterrorist.org/
http://www.artsfreedomaustralia.com/blog/

Harri, are you referring to any particular nation?

Since 9-11 everything has gotten so heightened. Security guards and police aren't always trained well on what citizens can and can't do.
Logged

Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1368


« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2010, 03:16:29 AM »
ReplyReply

Do US military have any jurisdiction over US civilians outside of US military bases? That is extraordinary! I presume you are suing them for false imprisonment/arrest? If not, why not? Land of the Free? What a joke. Here in the UK that would lead to heads rolling (figuratively, of course; the UK isn't Saudi Arabia, or Texas  Wink).
Logged
stamper
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2389


« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2010, 03:43:42 AM »
ReplyReply

Do US military have any jurisdiction over US civilians outside of US military bases? That is extraordinary! I presume you are suing them for false imprisonment/arrest? If not, why not? Land of the Free? What a joke. Here in the UK that would lead to heads rolling (figuratively, of course; the UK isn't Saudi Arabia, or Texas  Wink).

Bill in Britain the military has jurisdiction outside of military bases. Stand on the public highway outside of the Faslane naval base in Scotland and take a picture. You will see the gates open and you will be approached. I use Faslane as an example but it could be any military base.
Logged

Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1368


« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2010, 05:19:07 AM »
ReplyReply

No, MOD Police (MOD Plod) have jurisdiction. Military personnel do not. They could ask you to move on, maybe even exercise a civilian arrest and await the police if they had grounds, but that is an unlikely event. Even at the height of the 'Troubles' in NI, UK troops required the presence of RUC officers on patrols.
Logged
RFPhotography
Guest
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2010, 06:31:06 AM »
ReplyReply

Let me turn the question around.  How do you and your friends deal with the police?  Do you interact with them in a polite and courteous manner?  Or do you take the more typical 'guerilla photographer' approach and treat them with disdain and disrespect, refusing to answer questions or insulting them in some way?  I mean, really, honestly, how do you deal with them?  That blog piece is a nice, one-sided view.  There are at least two sides to every story.  I suspect the truth is not really that close to what you've laid out.
Logged
Scott Martin
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1274


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2010, 07:08:17 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Do US military have any jurisdiction over US civilians outside of US military bases?
No they don't. They eventually admitted that I was out of their jurisdiction and let me go. I wasn't arrested, just told not to move or go anywhere for a while.

Let me turn the question around.  How do you and your friends deal with the police?  Do you interact with them in a polite and courteous manner?  Or do you take the more typical 'guerilla photographer' approach and treat them with disdain and disrespect, refusing to answer questions or insulting them in some way?  I mean, really, honestly, how do you deal with them?  That blog piece is a nice, one-sided view.  There are at least two sides to every story.  I suspect the truth is not really that close to what you've laid out.
The former - polite and courteous! I'm always happy to chat up the work, show my enthusiasm and images on my phone. That approach usually quickly shows there's no threat. And those that know me know that I'm that way all the time - it's not an act. That's why the situation with the military police was so odd. There I was, a friendly guy making images on a public sidewalk. There was clearly no cause for alarm.

Please read my article - in it is a clear message about avoiding the disdain, disrespect and insulting ways that's getting a lot of people into trouble these days.

The parting message here is that these situations can be really scary, and scary situations can make people act differently than they normally would. Don't panic. To quote the article, "If you can control your reaction you’ll probably control the outcome." "And a helping of sanity, patience and friendly communication can go a long way."
« Last Edit: September 18, 2010, 07:19:02 AM by Onsight » Logged

fredjeang
Guest
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2010, 08:34:29 AM »
ReplyReply

In many European nations, photographers don't have as good of rights as those in the US do. I'm told that in Paris one has to have a permit to use a tripod. 

Here are some links to photographer's rights movement in the UK and Australia:
http://photographernotaterrorist.org/
http://www.artsfreedomaustralia.com/blog/

Harri, are you referring to any particular nation?

Since 9-11 everything has gotten so heightened. Security guards and police aren't always trained well on what citizens can and can't do.
I was caught many times in Paris with tripod when I was young. The police just say to you to move away but very annoying...
The reasons in Paris, being a Disneyland for tourists, are only commercials. They have their people who deal the Paris pics, it is a very lucrative enormous business, so they don't want you to take nice night shots of this or that monument.
No security is involved here, just image business.
Logged
feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2907

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2010, 08:50:39 AM »
ReplyReply

In many European nations, photographers don't have as good of rights as those in the US do. I'm told that in Paris one has to have a permit to use a tripod.  

I've taken photos in Paris with a tripod in several locations over 10+ years, never had a problem. There might be local rules which I'm not aware of, but I have a feeling tripods are not permitted on busy sidewalks or parks where they can cause nuisance.

My flippant "move to mainland Europe" -comment was because the complaints about photographers getting harassed are invariably from UK and US. It could be that certain nations' photography forums complain about the same thing, but I haven't run into any issues in the countries I frequent. That's not an exhaustive list of countries, but making any meaningful generalizations about Europe is an exercise in futility.

If some of you are worried about getting in trouble for taking photos, find out the local rules, regulations and laws beforehand, print them out, and courteously and patiently explain it to the security guy or police officer if they confront you. These people are not walking law books, and having someone with a list of what's allowed and what's not will actually make their work easier. Just don't be a dick about knowing more than they do Smiley
« Last Edit: September 18, 2010, 08:53:28 AM by feppe » Logged

Dick Roadnight
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1730


« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2010, 11:44:43 AM »
ReplyReply

If you want to be diplomatic with the police, simply tell them that when photographers

shoot first and ask questions later

nobody gets hurt.
Logged

Hasselblad H4, Sinar P3 monorail view camera, Schneider Apo-digitar lenses
BartvanderWolf
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 3007


« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2010, 07:33:52 PM »
ReplyReply

... making any meaningful generalizations about Europe is an exercise in futility.

Indeed, Europe is a "diverse entity".

Quote
If some of you are worried about getting in trouble for taking photos, find out the local rules, regulations and laws beforehand, print them out, and courteously and patiently explain it to the security guy or police officer if they confront you. These people are not walking law books, and having someone with a list of what's allowed and what's not will actually make their work easier. Just don't be a dick about knowing more than they do Smiley

Indeed again. I've been addressed by security officers at occasions, but nothing that moving a meter or two couldn't solve (although I'm probably flagged in a couple of databases). Knowing the local law, or at least trying to, is all about professionalism. That will usually prevent issues from spinning out of control, although it could still happen.

Having said that, I also expect professionalism from security personnel, which may be stretching expectations.

Cheers,
Bart
Logged
BFoto
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 238



WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2010, 09:16:15 PM »
ReplyReply

May i suggest the following

http://www.rallytorestoresanity.com/

or

http://www.keepfearalive.com/
Logged

EduPerez
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 682


WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2010, 12:59:44 AM »
ReplyReply

In many European nations, photographers don't have as good of rights as those in the US do. I'm told that in Paris one has to have a permit to use a tripod.

Barcelona has similar rules about tripods, too. Some people say it is to prevent someone from blocking traffic and / or pedestrians, some people say it is just to grab money form professional photographer; but nobody thinks it is a rights issue.
Logged

DougieC
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 10


« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2010, 04:49:59 PM »
ReplyReply

We are really quite lucky round here.... I was out a couple of weeks ago shooing on a popular bridge in Glasgow. I had the tripod set up in the bus lane, but it was dusk and the road was quiet: I'd just step out and pick it up if something was coming. I thought it was fine when the police car passed and kept on going, but then it circled back to ask us a few questions and I thought I was going to get into trouble for setting up in the road. What they actually wanted to ask about was my camera bag: the light grey colour under the sodium lights had looked like I was mooning them as they passed!

Once they saw what it was they were really friendly and we spent about ten minutes chatting. They were even suggesting other places to try in the area. Nice folks.


Dougie
Logged
mahleu
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 562


WWW
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2010, 11:16:49 AM »
ReplyReply

I was told the tripod thing was to prevent people tripping over them and then suing the city. Landmarks like the Eiffel Tower have some restrictions on photos, at night you can't publish pics as the lights are copyright or something along those lines.

When I worked for a newspaper they told me to always take a picture and then leave if told to. Most times security/police are reasonable but you always hear horror stories.

Logged

______________________________________________________________________
Anyone selling a 1DSIII or 6D cheap?
Lost
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 71



WWW
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2010, 02:12:47 PM »
ReplyReply

I find it slightly ridiculous that there are restrictions on photographing such obviously private objects as the Eiffel Tower. Such is modern life.

Shooting in urban UK now seems to be a lot less fun these days. Even if the police leave you alone, the public seem conditioned to suspect everyone. I was recently hassled by a shopkeeper in Cambridge, while taking street photographs. And try photographing any place near children...

In contrast, Barcelona seems more civillised. Taking pictures from the Monjuic at night is perhaps not the safest of activities, but the regular police patrols are actually helpful despite supposed restrictions on tripod photography in the city.
Logged

Riaan van Wyk
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 675



« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2010, 02:53:49 PM »
ReplyReply

Cameras and tripods in my neck of the woods ( and most of my country I would guess) are the last thing our police force has to reckon with or even remotely worry about. Things like murder, armed robberies, burglaries ( of which I had the fifth one in about as many months at my place of work) and a host of other crimes tends to make the officers oblivious to whatever I am doing with a camera. 
Logged
EduPerez
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 682


WWW
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2010, 04:30:22 AM »
ReplyReply

I find it slightly ridiculous that there are restrictions on photographing such obviously private objects as the Eiffel Tower. Such is modern life.

Just another one, for comparison: photographs from the "Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciencies" (public) building in Valencia cannot be used commercially; while the could not use copyright laws (any piece of art exposed on a street automatically loses most rights, by Spanish law), they managed to make it a trademark... so now we have a building that is also a trademark, go figure!
Logged

welder
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 40


« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2010, 11:10:46 AM »
ReplyReply

I had an incident with a rent-a-cop once, when I was shooting at night in the fog. I was polite and explained I was doing art photography and even offered him my driver's license so he could record my name/address etc. That did not quell his paranoia and he got even more blustery, and said something along the lines of "don't you know there's a war going on?" At which point I was utterly frustrated and retorted "if I was a terrorist would I really be taking the time to set up a bulky camera on a tripod or trying to get a clear picture of a target in the fog at night?"

I find it very ironic that you get harrassed more often if you are carrying around a big DSLR, and especially if you set up on a tripod. It defies logic to think that a terrorist trying to covertly scout a target would draw attention to themselves by using large conspicuous gear and take the time to carefully compose a scene on a tripod.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad