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

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The joys of being able to photograph freely


Here in Australia we kind of take our freedom for granted. And yet those freedoms are gradually being taken away from us with the stroke of a pen. If you want to know about the hoops you have to jump through to photograph in National Parks in this country go and have a look at this fascinating article by Ross Barnett.

The situation has become so ridiculous that finally photographers are standing up and getting ready to fight. There is a big protest march organised in Sydney by Arts Freedom Australia on August 29th. You can find the Facebook page here. If you can I would urge you to come along to help show your support, or if you can't make it sign up on the Facebook page.

Which brings me to what a pleasure it is to take photographs in a country that actually respects photographers. It is such a joy to get out your camera in Japan. Maybe it's because it's a country of people who have taken photography to their hearts in such a huge way. The book stores are full of photography magazines and books on not only the technical side of things but also the spiritual side of our craft. You can find glossy photo books on every conceivable topic. Often when I'm out photographing everybody around me has gear that puts mine to shame.

When you ask somebody if you can take their photo you're not hit with the old twenty questions. Why do you want to photograph me? What are you going to do with the pictures? Where are you going to publish them? How much money are you going to make? Nope, after being shocked that somebody finds them interesting enough to photograph they're actually honoured. Respect for someone with a camera! Who would have thought it.

Where did we go wrong? Why has such a beautiful art form become symbolic of something suspicious and evil? Why are photographers with 'professional' cameras seen as such easy targets for having to have permits to go places 2 million people with a point and shoot can? Ever heard of a permit for writers? I guess I'm a bit confused as to why I'm seen as either a highly dodgy character or a ready source of income for government departments simply because I enjoy an art form that's been around for a couple of hundred years and is something that gives so much pleasure to so many people. Go figure.

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