My vigilant amore alerted me to this item in the UK’s Telegraph regarding the increasing suspicion of amateur photographers snapping in public places. Whilst the UK has stricter privacy laws than the U.S., I think parallels in people’s attitudes are valid on both sides of the Atlantic. The comments are interesting and some offer good points. One reader astutely declares that we are being photographed all the time by hidden cameras. True that.
I recall being stopped once by a US Park police person while photographing the Korean War memorial on the National Mall for an assignment. When she stopped me and said, “I’m not sure you can do that.” I gave an involuntary chuckle, and said something smarmy (I was in my twenties, and a bit obnoxious, as opposed to today, when I am not in my twenties and a bit obnoxious) like, “Well, I guess you better brush up on your Consititutional ammendments.”
At the beginning of the last century, when Kodak helped create the amateur camera hobbyist with affordable brownie cameras, the “camera clubbing hobbyist” was dubbed a menace to society, depicted in caricatures as popping out of shrubs to capture their candid moments (presupposing the modern paparazzi, no doubt). But what has changed is the increased use of muscle and “law” to curb the usage of a camera, often in innocuous situations, but innocuous or not, it is a right. Whether our pictures depict people “nicely” or violate someone’s privacy in public, this is a moral and ethical question, at least here in the U.S., and not a legal one. While I encourage everyone to photograph with your conscience, I would just as stridently advocate the fighting of coercive tactics meant to diminish our ability to photograph in situations completely within our rights.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light!