PetaPixel

Long Beach Police on Lookout for Photos with “No Apparent Esthetic Value”

What do you think of this photo of a refinery by photographer Sander Roscoe Wolff? Apparently Long Beach police don’t think very highly of it. Wolff was detained after capturing it last month, and now the police chief is saying that stopping photographers for photos with “no apparent esthetic value” is part of department policy. The Long Beach Post writes,

“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says [Police Chief Jim McDonnell], “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”

Telling police officers to be the judge in determining whether a photograph has any artistic value doesn’t seem like a very good way of catching the bad guys… What if some terrorist is an awesome photographer?

(via Long Beach Post via Pixiq)


Image credit: Photograph by Sander Roscoe Wolff


 
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  • Stuka

    The police don’t issue “tickets” in London.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001083257810 Nikos Carcosa

    Ironic Richard is ironic.

  • Ripcat

    Doesn’t “no apparent esthetic value” describe about 98% of all the photos on Facebook?  

  • http://twitter.com/MLNY Mike Lewis

    This article raises the question of whether police can merely detain someone for taking certain photographs. (Legal photographs.)

    But you are now referring to the question of prohibiting photography in certain locations. This is a similar, but different topic.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    Are the police in Long Beach stupid? Or do they think the public is stupid. Because it’s either one or the other. There is no in-between here. We know they’ve heard of the Bill of Rights. We know they know the First Amendment allows photographers to take photos in public places. And we also know very well that a terrorist is not going to be standing around with a camera obviously photographing situations they could very easily get when the cops aren’t around and at night when there’s nobody around to stop them. (Long exposures, no problem.) 

    My father was a cop. Never lost a case in court in his whole career. Even gave the Governor of Oregon (Bob Straub) a parking ticket in front of the capital building. (The Governor later commended him for it.) He would never be this stupid. He would never issue such a pathetically transparent defense of illegal activity on the part of the police. I hope a rich photographer gets critiqued there and sues them into the next century.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    Are the police in Long Beach stupid? Or do they think the public is stupid. Because it’s either one or the other. There is no in-between here. We know they’ve heard of the Bill of Rights. We know they know the First Amendment allows photographers to take photos in public places. And we also know very well that a terrorist is not going to be standing around with a camera obviously photographing situations they could very easily get when the cops aren’t around and at night when there’s nobody around to stop them. (Long exposures, no problem.) 

    My father was a cop. Never lost a case in court in his whole career. Even gave the Governor of Oregon (Bob Straub) a parking ticket in front of the capital building. (The Governor later commended him for it.) He would never be this stupid. He would never issue such a pathetically transparent defense of illegal activity on the part of the police. I hope a rich photographer gets critiqued there and sues them into the next century.

  • Jmac

    Esthetic is a variant..You must be pretty bored and insecure to take a shot like that. If you are going to get all glib and try to look smart at least cross reference yourself so you can do it successfully.

  • Jmac

    Esthetic is a variant..You must be pretty bored and insecure to take a shot like that. If you are going to get all glib and try to look smart at least cross reference yourself so you can do it successfully.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    Funny thing here. I have a photographer friend who actually has done some spying in Long Beach with his camera. He was working for US Military Intelligence, photographing ships traveling along the California coastline. That’s where the action is.

    As for those who say the photo has no artistic merit, well there you go. You just proved what’s wrong with the LBPD’s argument. Or the definition of suspicious photography by Homeland (In)Security.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    Funny thing here. I have a photographer friend who actually has done some spying in Long Beach with his camera. He was working for US Military Intelligence, photographing ships traveling along the California coastline. That’s where the action is.

    As for those who say the photo has no artistic merit, well there you go. You just proved what’s wrong with the LBPD’s argument. Or the definition of suspicious photography by Homeland (In)Security.

  • Stourleyk

    Yes, we know your limits, too.  And, as a photographer, this is your 15 minutes of fame.

  • Stourleyk

    Yeah, Richard.  Why don’t you keep to writing your hopelessly dated, monotonous novels?

  • Robert Bull

    Maybe the photographer should find some of Franco Fontana’s photos of torn posters, to show the police this is indeed visually interesting?  There’s some similarity with the Wolff image above. 

  • Anonymous

    So… your “father was military.” So you’re a “tax-feeder” even off of his pension… okay, military brat. Really, all you are is a lass, who will kiss the ass of the brass, en masse, when they pass…. NO CLASS!

  • Anonymous

    Tell that to an art history professor!

  • Anonymous

    What if the cop is all “Thaths juth NOT compothithion!, thweetie!  Ooh, and where are your FILTERTH!”

    Yeah, I know most people have gone DSLR…

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, there would have to be some kind of damage (probably physical) perpetrated on the photog to warrant damages.

    It’s also unfortunate that your dad was probably a HABITUAL LIAR (like most cops, so it’s not an insult), and that’s why he never lost a case.

  • Anonymous

    Yup, son of a cop, for sure.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KKNORNNKKRB6PEDD7V3ULU7YTA Sky Fire Photography

    You may know your limits, but you don’t know your rights. No police officer has the right to go through the images on your camera without a search warrant.

    That’s your right, the right of any person upon US soil in either the proper 50 states or territories.

    I too am a military veteran (US Navy), my father is retired Air Force, as is most of my family. And the one oath we all took was to defend the U.S. Constitution from ALL Enemies from without, and within.

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin.As soon as we allow our government to begin dictating when, where, to whom, or what, the Constitution applies, we are no longer free citizens and the government is no longer “By the People, Of the People, or For the People.”

  • http://twitter.com/AshCoolman ACoolman

    Yeah, wtf is up with that?

  • http://twitter.com/AshCoolman ACoolman

    lesson learnt: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/esthetic

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    well, from your respsone, I’m going to guess that you think you’re above the law. Pathetic, mean-spirited response. 

    My dad was never beaten in a case for several reasons. For one he was honest, and never cheated. Second, he was a pretty easy-going guy. You had to be a real jerk to him before he would react with anything other than complete affability. And last of all, he was also in the OSS at the end of World War II in counter intelligence. He was not your usual cop.

    Too bad you’re not an unusual troll.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    Yep, pathetic, hateful troll. You’re going to die early from terminal loneliness I’m guessing.

  • Police out of control

    Long beach is a cesspool Facist breeding ground, based on it’s Police Force antics relating to photographers.

    Police policy like this belongs in cold war Russia, or Nazi Germany. Go eat shit Long Beach Police!

  • A Patriot

    What is the photographer shooting, what is their intent? Sure they could be a ligit photographer shooting an album cover, BUT they could also be scopeing out the lay of the land per say.
      For all the officer knows, they could be planning a crime. That’s why they use their training and expierience to determine the next course of action. I am retired from the military and I would look at this as “out of the ordinary”.

  • firstpin

    You’re an idiot.  You can get upclose “lay of the land” on google Earth and Bing.  You can look into back yards with Google and Bing.  Once you start this type of Fascist behaviour you cant go back.  Im heading to Long Beech to test this out with my camera.  Asshole jarhead cops…whats next, mandatory tattoos to keep track of the people?

  • firstpin

    I hate to burst your bubble about your dad, but cops lie.  In fact they lie more to get a conviction.  Cops lie because they are taught to lie.  They will lie to you to make you think your freind is saying things about you just to convict you of a crime you never committed.  Never talk to a cop, they are not your freind.

  • Kittyrox

    yes, this is very reasonable – to not take pictures of certain places for security reasons. HOWEVER, there is huge huge HUGE difference between not being allowed to take pictures of areas bc the photos would cause a security risk and not allowing them bc they arent “pretty”. who decides whats pretty anyway?

  • Bgale

    This article had to come from The Onion.  It absolutely cannot be real…

  • Lrandallwright

    You mean schit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.nagy Stacey Nagy

    Police officers can detain anybody on “reasonable suspicion:
    You are about to commit a crime;
    You are in the act of committing a crime:  OR
    You have committed a crime

    Uh, ah….the crime of “bad photography”?

    It seems to me that someone could sue and win for a violation of civil rights for illegally being detained.

  • Shoshanna

    Frankly, I’m not at all comfortable with the idea that my personal
    freedom or rights as a photographer might depend on the aesthetic views
    of someone whose idea of a great picture is Elvis on velvet or dogs
    playing poker.

  • hushedxbeauty

    WTF!! Is all I can muster.

  • hushedxbeauty

    WTF!! Is all I can muster.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

    How many convictions did it take to make you this cynical?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1372711366 David Formanek

    No one else is saying, but I think that’s a gorgeous picture.

  • WaronErrorism

    Im a student at Cal Poly Pomona working on a design project in Long Beach and just a couple of hours ago me and two of my fellow classmates got stopped, frisked, and interrogated.  We’re two hispanic Landscape Architecture students and they weren’t playing around. Im sorry my pictures of plants were such a threat to this great country.  Fuck you Long Beach

  • tesseliot

    This is insane. They are in no way able to determine artistic value, and this is taking terrorist fears to an extreme. I am just so disheartened that we are going to end up in a police state because everyone who could have done something dropped the ball on 9/11. This is inexcusable and there is no way all this hysteria is going to make us safe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neoracer-Xox/1037144278 Neoracer Xox

    you could also scope it out with a long lens from a distance, what idiot would expose themselves like that to cameras and personel if they are planning a serious crime. Ridiculous!

  • Hachi Ko

    “Regular Tourist Behavior”
    Watch Out, Long Beach!
    You better find out quick what tourists do in your city, because I’m guessing you might be screwed.
    Standing in your front lawn taking photos of your own house? What Tourist would do that?