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Taking Care of Business
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Old December 18th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #31
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Fairly recently I was taking a quick family photograph (relatives about to fly abroad) at a UK airport and was asked respectfully by a plain clothes security officer (who showed me his ID) to stop. I did so immediately and offered to show him the photo or delete it but he said neither would be necessary but I should be aware of the sensitivity of the situation and advised that it would be better to ask for permission if using cameras in an airport in future.

A different situation here obviously as I was clearly in the wrong, but the point I am trying to make is that I responded appropriately and the situation was not escalated. Two mature adults communicating in a sensible manner kept it all low key. I still have the photo (and my Canon digital SLR for that matter).
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Old December 21st, 2009, 09:01 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
Fairly recently I was taking a quick family photograph (relatives about to fly abroad) at a UK airport and was asked respectfully by a plain clothes security officer (who showed me his ID) to stop. I did so immediately and offered to show him the photo or delete it but he said neither would be necessary but I should be aware of the sensitivity of the situation and advised that it would be better to ask for permission if using cameras in an airport in future.

A different situation here obviously as I was clearly in the wrong, but the point I am trying to make is that I responded appropriately and the situation was not escalated. Two mature adults communicating in a sensible manner kept it all low key. I still have the photo (and my Canon digital SLR for that matter).
Hang on a moment! You were not in the wrong in taking photos of your family at an airport. The guy in the wrong was the security officer as however respectfully he may have asked you he had no right to ask you to stop.

That is exactly the point being made in previous posts in this thread. In Britain taking pictures has long been banned in three areas of airports: the security check, passport control and customs & there are notices reminding people of that ban. There is however no ban anywhere else either in the terminal building or outside & until there is over-zealous security officers (who are not even policemen) have no right to prevent you taking innocent family photos.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 10:53 AM   #33
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From the newspaper article it would seem that the police dealing with the BBC photographer were community support officers, rather than "real" police officers. Having dealt with police and army in real terrorist situations usually they usually just want ID, of course you always get the job worths - often the self appointed.

On the streets of London if the officer gets more that just friendly curious and gets really over bearing you could always request their number, which promises a lot of paperwork for them. Although, I suspect the attitude test usually will sort things on most occasions, however, London seems to a bit of a mine field re what is public and which is private land.

You can get a press pass that will cover you for basic video shooting through the NUJ or BECTU, the latter has an extremely good third party insurance scheme which, with membership fees, actually works out cheaper than buying insurance on your own.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 11:58 AM   #34
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While the recent clarification on taking photos is welcome, it should be remembered that airports are not public spaces, they are private. So just like when you go to the theatre and they say no photos, an airport is just as entitled to put whatever restrictions they like on what we, the public, can or cannot do in their building. I've got a press card, and although it's certainly useful to get access to some 'private' areas, it's by no means a certainty!
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Old December 21st, 2009, 01:36 PM   #35
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Yes, private property is with the permission of the owners. Airports can introduce problems, although if anyone wanted to take recce photos they could do so easily with a concealed camera anyway. We've done this with an Aaton film camera (not in an airport I should add), so a modern digital camera should be easy for anyone with bad plans afoot.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 01:07 AM   #36
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If they don't want you to take photos in the airport they should put up signs saying so. They do in the areas where photography is specifically banned ergo there is no ban elsewhere whatever some security jobsworth may think.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 04:14 AM   #37
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I agree that airports, railway stations etc should allow personal "going away" type photographs, but if they do have a problem they should put up signs as in the security areas. By only having these signs in those areas the reasonable assumption is that family snaps are OK in the public areas.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 04:33 AM   #38
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The issue here is taking pics and video in public places, which is a popular and harmless leisure activity and has been for getting for a century. For most of that time, the only restrictions were around private property and obstruction and we all did very nicely thank you.

Now we're expected to be happy justifying ourselves in participating in this activity. I'm not a pro, so I can't get an NUJ ticket. I'm just a guy who goes around taking pics and shooting vid for fun - mine and my friends'. If I'm breaking the law, or looking to a reasonable person as if I'm going to, I have no objection to being challenged.

But I object vehemently, and will continue to do so, to the idea that I can be challenged for the simple act of photography. It's not illegal. It's not anti-social. It's not a threat. Even the police say that.

Remember those plane-spotters inGreece a few years back? Oh how we raged at the arbitrary and unacceptable nature of a country that arrested innocent holidaymakers for indulging their hobby.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 05:07 AM   #39
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We can't change people's rights just because we don't think our breaking of their rule is fair?

Imagine turning up at a wedding with a proper video camera and shooting the same source material as the proper video person, or the same with stills. Going to watch WCW (or whatever it's now called) and taking pics. My son went to the recent wrestling in Sheffield and took my camera, he was challenged plenty of times and ended up taking covert pictures when nobody was watching him - yet 50,000 snappy snapper were fine. If you have obviously expensive professional style kit, then even if an amateur, it's very understandable why people want to check you out. If you are in an airport, they have official photographers, and maybe the deal is that they get protection of their work?
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 07:52 AM   #40
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There's a difference between pubic and private. Airports, concert halls, wrestling arenas, cinemas, theatres are private, and the owners/managers can make their own rules as they choose. But those rules *do not* have the force of law, and breaking them is not a criminal offence.

My concern is with *public* areas, like the public highway, where proprietary rules don't apply, and where photographers/videographers *are being told by the police and their auxiliaries that taking pics/shooting video *is* a criminal offence*
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 08:41 AM   #41
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The airport in which I had my polite encounter with a security person was the one which had the "drive in check in" attempt a year or so before. So perhaps people were still understandably a little on edge. I certainly got no sympathy from my own family.

My point was that these situations are better dealt with in a non confrontational manner. I have taken video and still photos in other airports and many "public" places since and not had any problems. When somebody asks what I am doing I explain politely rather than being evasive and certainly not engaging in a rant about rights.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 05:45 PM   #42
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350 UK Photographers Sign Sunday Telegraph Letter About Right to Film in Public

Latest development in the long running story of making the Police more aware of our right to take pictures/film in public places is discussed here, a letter in today's Sunday Telegraph signed by over 350 professional UK photographers...

Photographers issue plea to end 'hostile' public searches under anti-terror laws - Telegraph
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Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
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Old December 30th, 2009, 06:35 AM   #43
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Here's another instance.

Royal watchers stunned as Sandringham officers swoop in and seize their cameras | Mail Online
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Old January 17th, 2010, 07:25 AM   #44
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I was in Llandudno photographing the "pier of the year" and some other beach scenery. Whenever there were people close up in the shot, I asked their permission verbally.
I was using my Leica and was wearing a suit (not really appropriate beach attire - I know)

When I go back on the street 2 policecars came from opposite directions and 2 officers jumped out while the drivers remained inside. they came to me and asked me what I am doing. I told them I was taking pictures. Why? they wanted to know. I am a photographer- I replied. and so on. They demanded to see my passport and radioed in the details, only to find out that there was nothing on me in their database.

They wanted to see what kinds of pictures I was taking, but I could not show them, because the Leica M6 is an analog model. I explained to them that I am a professional photographer and showed them a business card and membership card of a professional photographers association. They were friendly at all times and believed me.

When I asked how come they came to stop me, they said that there was a "report of male taking photographs on beach". So I guess they have to come.

OK - no harm done so far. They filled out their report (which is hanging in my office as a trophy now) which has a nice logo in the shape of a stop signal, saying "STOP - YOUR BEHAVIOUR IS UNACCEPTABLE" (also in Welsh)
it bears the handwritten comment "nfa" for "no further action".

The next day, I called the police and asked what would happen to that report now.
They told me it will get filed somewhere. I asked - so what if I take pictures in a park in London or anywhere else and get stopped by the police, they radio in my identity information and then they would hear back that "there was something in Llandudno, but no further action was taken..." this could possibly put me in a disadvantageous position.
The police officer replied, that I should inform the police each time before I take a picture, that I plan to do so...
Hmmmm.... (I think I will just go some other place than England)

Maybe this has been posted, but here it is anyway:

Photographers criminalised as police 'abuse' anti-terror laws - Home News, UK - The Independent

Manchester man arrested for alleged sewer-grate photography, held as a terrorist - Boing Boing

UK Photographers Rights v2 ? Sirimo Photo
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Old January 17th, 2010, 10:46 AM   #45
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I'm deeply sorry and ashamed that you were treated this way, but even more so that you're now a "person of interest" to the police. I think you are well advised not to come back here since it obviously doesn't take much for the protectors of our freedoms to decide you're a threat.

One thing you might want to do - write to Llandudno Council, who will have a tourism section, and explain to them that the police don't like tourists coming to take photos of their pier. They might well have enough influence with the local police to reduce the chance of this happening to anyone else.

Of course, it may be that sophisticated profiling analysis has revealed that Swiss visitors in suits at beaches are a special threat to our way of life - but somehow I doubt it.
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