PetaPixel

“The War on Terrorism Has Somehow Morphed into an Assault on Photography”

The New York Times has published a great interview with Michael H. Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association and the editor of the organization’s advocacy blog. In it, NYT Lens Blog co-editor James Estrin asks Osterreicher about photographers’ rights and the trend of people being stopped while shooting public locations.

Here’s an interesting quote by Osterreicher, responding to Estrin’s observation that it seems like photography is becoming a crime:

Since 9/11, there’s been an incredible number of incidents where photographers are being interfered with and arrested for doing nothing other than taking pictures or recording video in public places.

It’s not just news photographers who should be concerned with this. I think every citizen should be concerned. Tourists taking pictures are being told by police, security guards and sometimes other citizens, “Sorry, you can’t take a picture here.” When asked why, they say, “Well, don’t you remember 9/11?”

I remember it quite well, but what does that have do to with taking a picture in public? It seems like the war on terrorism has somehow morphed into an assault on photography.

If you think about it, cracking down on public photography to stop terrorists from stealthily snapping photos is along the lines of cracking down on public drawing to stop terrorists from stealthily creating sketches.

That might sound ridiculous, but when there’s an “everything for the sake of terrorism prevention” attitude invading a culture, ridiculous ideas start making sense.

We touched on this topic earlier this month after sharing a troubling government sponsored video linking photography and terrorism. Here’s a great article that we linked to then that sheds more like on this topic.

The rest of the NYT interview is definitely worth a read, as many of the common questions people have about photography in public are addressed and answered.

Criminalizing Photography [NYT Lens Blog]


Image credit: On patrol with Task Force Blackhawk soldiers [Image 5 of 10] by DVIDSHUB


 
 
  • http://www.facebook.com/tanja.schulte.7923 Tanja Schulte

    i often think that the UK and the USA have a pretty stupid impression of terrorist.
    no wonder it took them so long to get bin laden.
    as if a terrorist would carry a DSLR around when he can have nearly the the same image quality in a smaller package.

  • fast eddie

    I keep a laminated “Photographers Rights” card that I made in Illustrator (6.5 pt font!) in my wallet. I’ve not had to pull it out yet for taking photos in public, but I am well versed in what my rights are. All photographers should keep one on them, it’s kind of empowering.

  • bab

    I doubt anybody has told security guards ‘don’t let anyone take pictures here’. I believe it is just the pleasure of ‘power and authority’ to stop somebody doing something he enjoys. You can see it on their face while telling you ‘it is forbidden to take pictures here!!!’ Its almost like they are having an orgasm! and they will jump up from their chair to run and tell you that! (in any other case they are just too bored even breathing..)
    But a serious terrorist wants bokeh in his pictures and very low noise levels when shooting at high ISO. I can understand that..

  • bab

    I doubt anybody has told security guards ‘don’t let anyone take pictures here’. I believe it is just the pleasure of ‘power and authority’ to stop somebody doing something he enjoys. You can see it on their face while telling you ‘it is forbidden to take pictures here!!!’ Its almost like they are having an orgasm! and they will jump up from their chair to run and tell you that! (in any other case they are just too bored even breathing..)
    But a serious terrorist wants bokeh in his pictures and very low noise levels when shooting at high ISO. I can understand that..

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Thank you. My next custom T-shirt will have the words “REAL TERRORISTS use SLR CAMERAS” printed on it.

  • anonymous

    The New York Law Journal also interviewed Mickey today. It too is a worthwhile read:
    http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202567738267&QA_Mickey_Osterreicher
    Anyone who has gotten to know Mickey knows that he’s a real mensch.

  • snagglepuss

    Though I agree with the intent of your article…I question you’re using a photo of a uniformed military personnel to prove your point.
    I have relatives in the military…they are (in there opinion) fighting for our freedoms…which include the freedom to be a photographer.
    Tacky!

  • wickerprints

    Due to lack of education in critical thinking skills, the American public is being played for fools by the government, the mainstream media, and the corporations, which is why there is so much misinformation and hysteria. You can’t just blame the people for being so easily scared into giving up their rights. You also have to consider who is doing the scaremongering in the first place, what their motives are, and what they stand to gain from it.

    The government does it because it makes the people easy to control. It keeps them in power, minimizes the potential for dissent, and makes it easier for them to say they’re doing their job. The media does it because inciting controversy increases viewership, which in turn increases advertising revenue. The corporations, headed by the super-wealthy, do it because it promotes consumerism by keeping people pliant and unthinking, and it increases their lobbying influence over the government.

    This is what terrorism aims to achieve–the eventual overthrow of the government through acts of violence against civilians which result in that government’s increasing oppression and rescinding of civil rights. Terrorists do not have the capability to directly engage a sovereign nation’s military power, so they target the people in the hopes that the government will suppress internally perceived threats. Restrictions on photography, warrantless search and seizure, and intrusive body scanning, are just the expected collateral effects that they aim for, to get the government to destroy itself through increasingly draconian acts to preserve the existing power structure.

    An educated public is necessary for the survival and prosperity of a just and civil society. Conversely, an uneducated public leads to oppression, extremism, violence, and totalitarianism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tanja.schulte.7923 Tanja Schulte

    they fight for oil… and all they left behind is scorched earth.

    america and the UK don´t fight where it is necessary… they fight where it is profitable. influence in the region and oil is what drives the decisions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tanja.schulte.7923 Tanja Schulte

    you are right that´s how i see it too.
    only my english is not good enough to say it so eloquently.

  • Nate Parker

    Support the troops!

  • Andrew Thompson

    Agreed on the picture subject! Almost as offensive though is the photoshop job of the random nikon lens floating in space…what the heck is it supposed to represent??

  • nick

    If i was a terrorist I would be using an iphone and blending in, dslr’s draw enough attention as it is from the public

  • Mescalamba

    Hm, thing is..

    We know that, but how we force them?