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Photography: Intolerance leads to fightback


Photographers are up in arms about irrational and often illegal restrictions on camera use in public places. An article today in London’s Metro newspaper reminds us that photographers are getting unfairly victimised and are now beginning to fight back. With even more restrictions likely during the summer’s Olympics, we can expect more confrontations.

Yesterday I was sitting on an empty London bus waiting for departure from the terminus. I was checking the focus of my camera–not taking pictures–when the driver’s head stretched from his little nest and I got an angry: “Are you taking pictures?” I said I was just focusing the camera, but I was told I shouldn’t, it’s not allowed. Since when?

Street photographers have to be careful these days if they are not to upset people, not to mention officials and police. It’s another reason why massive DSLRs with their long professional-looking lenses are giving way to the new generation of unobtrusive mirrorless cameras and retro-looking rangefinders. They are simply less threatening and less likely to be noticed.

I was brought up in an age of relative innocence when people were simply more tolerant and less likely to take offence at the slightest intrusion. Now, it seems, photographers are being treated as terrorists or, even, paedophiles as soon as they raise a viewfinder to their eye.


  1. I agree with you completely. The way in which people's freedoms are being whittled away by one petty rule after another is rapidly reaching a situation that George Orwell would have recognised easily.

    But this happy use of the phrase "it isn't allowed" by cops on the street and, as you point out, all manner of other totally uninformed idiots needs to be combated and stopped. Happily I live in a Third World country where so far such thoughts have not yet arrived, so I can happily point my camera at anyone I wish, and apart from the occasional grin, or demand for money (I am a white man in a dark skinned country after all) I never have any problems. This includes when I have photographed cops and the heavily armed security guards we have here.
    The state of paranoia that seems to have taken over the entire Western World lately is very distressing and worrying I find.


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