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Are You A Photographer or A Terrorist?

Over two thousand photographers gathered in Trafalgar Square yesterday.  They were 'fighting' for their right to take photos in public - without being asked questions.

I've recently returned from London, and I must admit it remains the most photographer-friendly city I visit.  I was only ever stopped once, in front of Ealing Townhall, and it wasn't an unpleasant experience.  The policeman looked at the photos on my camera, I showed him my ID and everyone moved on.  It took less than five minutes.

On the other hand, I suppose the photographer-friendliness of London is in fact due to the high awareness of the British public/photographers.  This is where it gets difficult for me to choose sides.  I fully understand the security concerns, but I've seen examples of other countries where my camera is an unwelcome sight at airport arrivals! Difficult...

For more information, this is a link to the BBC news article about the protest; and for the organisers' website click here.

Image above was shot in summer 2008.  It's of my father's old camera from the Seventies.

Reader Comments (13)

I think its a fine balance between the felt sense of security and your rights. I think governments often take advantage of public fears to gain more control.
Responsible governments should find a way to protect their citizen without restricting rights.

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermyphotoscout

I've lost count of how many times I've been stopped and searched for taking photographs. Were you wearing a disdasha when this happened? :D

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMathai

I've been stopped, too, particularly in malls in Kuwait and Qatar, where I am careful to shoot photos that do not include faces of people. I've also been stopped in France!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterintlxpatr

I was stopped once at Beijing Airport Customs...

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPolar Panda

Perfect summary, my friend.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBu Yousef

:) If I was, I don't think it would have been quite so civilised!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBu Yousef

In malls it's more people's faces than security... so you're right!

Many public buildings and areas are prohibited for photographers in the Gulf.

France?! I didn't think they cared!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBu Yousef

Yup. I had the same at the airports of Beijing, Mumbai, Karachi, Tehran - but it was not security related! They wanted to ensure that it's my personal camera and for my use.

This is clearly for Customs!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBu Yousef

I think the media has created enormous impact on people's mind in the west. When I mentioned about our move to Kuwait, one of my friends (if I still call the person friend - thanks to God there is only one) says several times, "Oh, you’ve decided to go to a terrorists’ country." I can feel my blood was rushing to my face, offended but controlled my tong. Next time I will say something that is not that nice!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPolar Panda

I've been stopped by security officers once in the avenues .. and once at Westfield mall in London :P

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQ80BOY

oh and once i was taking photographs of a police car that was infront of me in a traffic light .. the police man came out .. asked me "are you taking pictures?" i told him no .. he said "akeeed?" i said yeah .. he left :P

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQ80BOY

You should see what happens to places which are unfriendly to cameras. I tend to be hard headed and take them head on!

February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarzouq

i love this camera !! do they sell it in kuwait?

July 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternoon

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