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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  • Batterybelt

    In the U.S.A., the police and law makers have it so your braking the law all the time. This way they can stop and detain you at anytime. Well, it’s the Russian model.

  • Batterybelt

    In the U.S.A., the police and law makers have it so your braking the law all the time. This way they can stop and detain you at anytime. Well, it’s the Russian model.

  • Batterybelt

    In the U.S.A., the police and law makers have it so your braking the law all the time. This way they can stop and detain you at anytime. Well, it’s the Russian model.

  • Batterybelt

    In the U.S.A., the police and law makers have it so your braking the law all the time. This way they can stop and detain you at anytime. Well, it’s the Russian model.

  • Anonymous

    Run all your pics thru Instagram and Hipstamatic that’ll make em untouchable.

    Really, unless the officer has skinny jeans, is riding a single speed bike and has annoyingly stupid facial hair. What photographer is going to trust their aesthetic?

     Just no, and even then… no.

    No.

  • Anonymous

    Run all your pics thru Instagram and Hipstamatic that’ll make em untouchable.

    Really, unless the officer has skinny jeans, is riding a single speed bike and has annoyingly stupid facial hair. What photographer is going to trust their aesthetic?

     Just no, and even then… no.

    No.

  • Anonymous

    Run all your pics thru Instagram and Hipstamatic that’ll make em untouchable.

    Really, unless the officer has skinny jeans, is riding a single speed bike and has annoyingly stupid facial hair. What photographer is going to trust their aesthetic?

     Just no, and even then… no.

    No.

  • Anonymous

    Run all your pics thru Instagram and Hipstamatic that’ll make em untouchable.

    Really, unless the officer has skinny jeans, is riding a single speed bike and has annoyingly stupid facial hair. What photographer is going to trust their aesthetic?

     Just no, and even then… no.

    No.

  • http://twitter.com/Tracey_Easter φoε†ic φhο†ο φrεss™

    I agree | I am a photographer and I know my limits and my father was military. We cannot allow photographs to be taken in certain locations for security reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/Tracey_Easter φoε†ic φhο†ο φrεss™

    I agree | I am a photographer and I know my limits and my father was military. We cannot allow photographs to be taken in certain locations for security reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/Tracey_Easter φoε†ic φhο†ο φrεss™

    I agree | I am a photographer and I know my limits and my father was military. We cannot allow photographs to be taken in certain locations for security reasons.

  • http://twitter.com/Tracey_Easter φoε†ic φhο†ο φrεss™

    I agree | I am a photographer and I know my limits and my father was military. We cannot allow photographs to be taken in certain locations for security reasons.

  • Taniajanetaylor

    “Sorry officer, I know I broke the rule of thirds, I just didn’t realise it was an arrestable offense.”

  • Taniajanetaylor

    “Sorry officer, I know I broke the rule of thirds, I just didn’t realise it was an arrestable offense.”

  • Taniajanetaylor

    “Sorry officer, I know I broke the rule of thirds, I just didn’t realise it was an arrestable offense.”

  • Taniajanetaylor

    “Sorry officer, I know I broke the rule of thirds, I just didn’t realise it was an arrestable offense.”

  • Anonymous

    What have plane spotters been watching all these years then before the ‘terrorists’ came along?

  • Anonymous

    What have plane spotters been watching all these years then before the ‘terrorists’ came along?

  • Miloartist

    So if I was using a cell phone to take the same photo it would be ok?

  • Miloartist

    So if I was using a cell phone to take the same photo it would be ok?

  • http://twitter.com/richardford Richard Ford

    “Aesthetic” – do people mis pronounce things and then spell it as such out of ignorance and poor education or vice versa?  Crikey language has gone to shit recently.

  • http://twitter.com/richardford Richard Ford

    “Aesthetic” – do people mis pronounce things and then spell it as such out of ignorance and poor education or vice versa?  Crikey language has gone to shit recently.

  • Rob

    I know the cops must have something else to do besides adding “Art Critic” to their list of duties…

  • Rob

    I know the cops must have something else to do besides adding “Art Critic” to their list of duties…

  • http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com Nikhil Ramkarran

    What if you shoot film? They may arrest you on general principle :)

  • http://photography.badlightgoodlight.com Nikhil Ramkarran

    What if you shoot film? They may arrest you on general principle :)

  • Jkileusa

    What if you were shooting film?  Do hold you while they develop the film?

  • Charliewhite1996

    It can be spelled either way. I however just can’t stand it when people mistake mispronounce for being two words! It is miserable!

  • Ranger 9

    “McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.” In other words, if you act submissive and suck up to them, they might let you off; if you insist on your rights (and in the US, photographing in public IS a right) they’ll make you sorry.

    Same old story, and it’s getting worse everywhere — the cops know they can get away with it, because in general the public doesn’t like photographers: they think we’re all (a) terrorists AND (b) pedophiles AND (c) personally killed poor dear Princess Diana.

  • Guest12

    Its good image as background on album spread. 

  • Anatole.

    ..a whole coachload of UK plane spotters  were arrested Greece a few years back and they were held for several months accused of spying.

    in one sense the police are avoiding racial stereotyping.. I’d be fairly uncomfortable with a young Arabic looking guy photographing installations.. or even public transit systems.. just as I’d be uncomfortable with an intense looking white skinhead with a bag near a gathering of liberals.. I think it’s actually better for the police and security to check on everyone regardless of their appearance. So if that means offending unlikely old people with camera’s so be it, for better than narrow profiling.

    Having lived in central London where more than a few appalling terrorist incidents were prevented by police vigilance I think a certain understanding comes into play. One suspect was picked up because he was photographing what appeared to be random areas of Waterloo station.. it turned out it was the emergency gathering points and that, as with the horrific station bombing in Madrid, that’s where follow up bombs would be set, timed to go off when people were herded there.

    I know the police aren’t perfect anywhere, but a bit of imagination as to their role from the public, and a sense of humour on all sides, will get us through.

  • Anatole.

    ..a whole coachload of UK plane spotters  were arrested Greece a few years back and they were held for several months accused of spying.

    in one sense the police are avoiding racial stereotyping.. I’d be fairly uncomfortable with a young Arabic looking guy photographing installations.. or even public transit systems.. just as I’d be uncomfortable with an intense looking white skinhead with a bag near a gathering of liberals.. I think it’s actually better for the police and security to check on everyone regardless of their appearance. So if that means offending unlikely old people with camera’s so be it, for better than narrow profiling.

    Having lived in central London where more than a few appalling terrorist incidents were prevented by police vigilance I think a certain understanding comes into play. One suspect was picked up because he was photographing what appeared to be random areas of Waterloo station.. it turned out it was the emergency gathering points and that, as with the horrific station bombing in Madrid, that’s where follow up bombs would be set, timed to go off when people were herded there.

    I know the police aren’t perfect anywhere, but a bit of imagination as to their role from the public, and a sense of humour on all sides, will get us through.

  • Anatole.

    ..a whole coachload of UK plane spotters  were arrested Greece a few years back and they were held for several months accused of spying.

    in one sense the police are avoiding racial stereotyping.. I’d be fairly uncomfortable with a young Arabic looking guy photographing installations.. or even public transit systems.. just as I’d be uncomfortable with an intense looking white skinhead with a bag near a gathering of liberals.. I think it’s actually better for the police and security to check on everyone regardless of their appearance. So if that means offending unlikely old people with camera’s so be it, for better than narrow profiling.

    Having lived in central London where more than a few appalling terrorist incidents were prevented by police vigilance I think a certain understanding comes into play. One suspect was picked up because he was photographing what appeared to be random areas of Waterloo station.. it turned out it was the emergency gathering points and that, as with the horrific station bombing in Madrid, that’s where follow up bombs would be set, timed to go off when people were herded there.

    I know the police aren’t perfect anywhere, but a bit of imagination as to their role from the public, and a sense of humour on all sides, will get us through.

  • Anatole.

    ..a whole coachload of UK plane spotters  were arrested Greece a few years back and they were held for several months accused of spying.

    in one sense the police are avoiding racial stereotyping.. I’d be fairly uncomfortable with a young Arabic looking guy photographing installations.. or even public transit systems.. just as I’d be uncomfortable with an intense looking white skinhead with a bag near a gathering of liberals.. I think it’s actually better for the police and security to check on everyone regardless of their appearance. So if that means offending unlikely old people with camera’s so be it, for better than narrow profiling.

    Having lived in central London where more than a few appalling terrorist incidents were prevented by police vigilance I think a certain understanding comes into play. One suspect was picked up because he was photographing what appeared to be random areas of Waterloo station.. it turned out it was the emergency gathering points and that, as with the horrific station bombing in Madrid, that’s where follow up bombs would be set, timed to go off when people were herded there.

    I know the police aren’t perfect anywhere, but a bit of imagination as to their role from the public, and a sense of humour on all sides, will get us through.

  • Anatole.

    ..a whole coachload of UK plane spotters  were arrested Greece a few years back and they were held for several months accused of spying.

    in one sense the police are avoiding racial stereotyping.. I’d be fairly uncomfortable with a young Arabic looking guy photographing installations.. or even public transit systems.. just as I’d be uncomfortable with an intense looking white skinhead with a bag near a gathering of liberals.. I think it’s actually better for the police and security to check on everyone regardless of their appearance. So if that means offending unlikely old people with camera’s so be it, for better than narrow profiling.

    Having lived in central London where more than a few appalling terrorist incidents were prevented by police vigilance I think a certain understanding comes into play. One suspect was picked up because he was photographing what appeared to be random areas of Waterloo station.. it turned out it was the emergency gathering points and that, as with the horrific station bombing in Madrid, that’s where follow up bombs would be set, timed to go off when people were herded there.

    I know the police aren’t perfect anywhere, but a bit of imagination as to their role from the public, and a sense of humour on all sides, will get us through.

  • Michael

    Man, why is it that these police officers can beat someone to death and then goes around arresting and harassing people ‘depends on the circumstances’, it’s like Judge Dredd “I am the LAW!”

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    Big loophole here, what is the definition of aesthetic and how does it apply to your photography? Urban Ex, Urban Decay, etc, etc…

    What if my photography is of burnt out buildings and pealing paint? I mean a chick makes a ton of money throwing up colored milk on canvas. People pay tons. So Judge Judy what defines aesthetics…

  • Bob

    Question #1.
    What law is the photographer breaking? (unless he is trespassing or unwilling to cooperate with the policel  NONE!
    If the officer cannot site a law that he is stopping the person for he is violating an American Citizen’s Bill of Rights.  What about the rights of an artist to take photos????  
    By violating the citizen’s rights the STUPID police officer has allow terrorism to win by restricting out freedom of expression!
    DUH!
    Wake up Americans. Speak up for your right against ill informed, self important, disrespectful cops.

  • Bob

    Question #1.
    What law is the photographer breaking? (unless he is trespassing or unwilling to cooperate with the policel  NONE!
    If the officer cannot site a law that he is stopping the person for he is violating an American Citizen’s Bill of Rights.  What about the rights of an artist to take photos????  
    By violating the citizen’s rights the STUPID police officer has allow terrorism to win by restricting out freedom of expression!
    DUH!
    Wake up Americans. Speak up for your right against ill informed, self important, disrespectful cops.

  • Bob

    The Policeman’s job is to enforce the laws. There is nothing in the Long Beach law book or the Patriot act that specifically allows an officer to stop a photographer from taking pictures of ANYTHING that is PUBLIC…period. A cop is not empowered to judge artistic merit nor is he paid to.  HE is paid to enforce laws that exist.
    Dich Cheney is a fascist, guys. What is wrong with America???????  Stand up for your art.  Ask what law you are being arrested for, go to jail, get an ACLU lawyer and sue the Long Beach Police Dept. for false arrest…hello. YOU WILL WIN!

  • Eric

    hmmm i do not find much aesthetic value in images of people cam whoring.. wonder if they could all be detained!… hmmmm

  • Fstopthepress

    They can kiss my ass!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQ54IG5P6I73FWHYGC4LVDZQYI Michael

    Is it April Fools day again?

  • Anonymous

    Disagree. Unacceptable nuisance. Living in fear is surrendering to terrorism. I’d rather people get blown up every now and then than harassed all the time. If you disagree, I say you, sir or madame, do not deserve liberty.

  • None

    This was already happening in London in 2008, I once got a ticket for photographing a thai massage saloon neon sign (near a metro station) I thought the sign looked funny. the police officers told me I couldnt photograph near a metro station.

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    Then our first mission shall be to fire upon thee google satellites!

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    Language has gone to shit? I hope you do realize that the amount of people that can write and read is incredible in this day and age compared to the “good old days when everyone used perfect grammar.”

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    So because you’re a racist paranoid fascist, I have to suffer? Well, that’s just not right.

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    This is fascism. There is no dancing around that.

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se Erik Lauri Kulo

    This is fascism. There is no dancing around that.