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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, March 23, 2009

War on Photographers

When did photography become something practised by terrorists and pedophiles and nobody else? When did it become such a filthy occupation that we are vilified wherever we go?

Am I exaggerating things? Maybe, maybe not. This Monday's link is more of a rant than a link but it was prompted by this article here.

Printed a little while back in my local newspaper The Cairns Post it tells the story of a local attraction - the Esplanade Lagoon. This is a photo of the Lagoon taken before sunrise.

If you have a read of the article it mentions that one of the reasons that they charge hundreds of dollars for a photography permit is so they can register professionals and make sure they're not pedophiles. I mean call me stupid but if you were a pedophile would you go to the Lagoon at 5.30 in the morning and photograph with a giant zoom lens on a tripod?

Has anybody ever heard of somebody dodgy being arrested carrying thousands of dollars of photographic gear? From what I can see it seems to be mostly camera phones and the like stuck to people's shoes. It is just getting ridiculous.

I've just heard that in the UK they've passed a law that makes it illegal to photograph, amongst other things, policemen! No more travel photos of your friendly neighbourhood bobby. Where does it all end?

It's funny how all these places around the world are cracking down on so-called professional photographers but how do the security guards who have to enforce these rules decide who is a professional? Apparently in many cases it's how expensive your gear looks and whether you have a tripod or not. If you have a tripod you must be a professional. What a joke.

When these rules here in Cairns first came in I rang the local council because there was a clause in the permit contract that said that if the photos were used to promote the local area you didn't need a permit. When I explained to the lady on the phone what I did for a living she told me I didn't need a permit. When I asked if the security guards down there would know this she said, and I quote, "Nah, just tell 'em you're an amateur!" When I asked her if it was official council policy for people to lie in order to take photos she told me that she hadn't said anything.

And that's why I have never been back to photograph the Esplanade. This photo was taken before the permit system came in. In my view they should be paying me to promote their lovely Lagoon not the other way around. The stories about foreign tourists getting thrown out by overzealous security guards makes you cringe for those tourism bodies trying to attract people to our shores.

What's it like in your part of the world? Is photography free and open or are you being hounded? Let me know in the comments as it's always nice to get a world perspective on this.

Rant over! seeya tomorrow for a happier post. :)


Jonny said...

The world seems more an more to be run by the little sh_ts...! Less and less real comprehension combined with the need to be seen to be doing things.

I haven't yet experienced the overzealous security guards but am outraged just at the thought of it.

I think Scott Bourne in the US has campaigns going about this - you could even buy the T-shirt saying photography isn't illegal!

A rant, but on a worthy topic. Thanks.

Paul Dymond said...

Thanks Jonny, I'm glad you haven't come across the security guards yet but I guarantee they'll find you eventually. :)

The thing that really gets me is that for the most part it just seems to be knee-jerk and, in the case of fees, opportunistic.

If I go to some of these places and decide to do an etching nobody could care less but as soon as I reach to press the shutter button I'm labeled a creep.

I have to say one thing I love about Japan is that photography is really respected as an art form and photography as a profession is considered a reputable occupation.