December 8, 2009

Photography in public – a dying art

By Scotland

Photographers are getting increasingly concerned about attempts to limit or prevent pictures being taken in public. Photography in public is under attack from a diverse range of vested interests from control freak celebrities to police forces who see it as a PR stunt or who abuse terrorist legislation . Parents are told about the threat of paedophilia on every corner .
As far as I am concerned anyone in public can be photographed without hindrance . Unfortunately some police forces see it as a good PR stunt to prevent photography in public places. In Scotland police can use breach of the peace as an excuse to arrest or threaten photographers under the flimsiest pretext . Police often invoke anti-terror legislation to prevent photographers from carrying out their work, and photojournalists are constantly filmed at public gatherings and their details kept on an ever-growing database. Tourists are also targeted by police, as was the case with an Austrian father and son who made the mistake of photographing a building of an extremely sensitive nature—Walthamstow bus station.
Celebrities see every public appearance as a carefully choreographed exercise to promote themselves. They don’t like it when pictures of them behaving badly are published .Them’s the breaks .

Martin Parr has stated “I am most concerned that the basic liberty for a photographer to photograph freely and legally in a public place in the UK is being slowly eroded by these new laws and overzealous interpretation by the police” . This situation has led him to believe that within five years, street photography could be totally banned in the UK. His advice is to get our there while you still can.

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