Another slap in the face comes in the face for tourist photography comes this week as police force Austrian tourists to delete photos of double decker buses and bus stations.
As a dedicated photographer myself (albeit not usually of buses) I’m getting fed up with the increasing number of restrictions being placed upon us for doing nothing other than going about our everyday business of being obsessed with photography.
Last week in Bristol I was accosted by a jobsworth in Cabot Circus. My crime? Carrying a camera around my neck. “You can’t take photographs here!” he exclaimed at me, despite the fact my finger was nowhere near the shutter and Cabot Circus isn’t really that photogenic anyway. I just raised my eyebrow at him and scuttled off, it wasn’t worth arguing over something I didn’t want to take a photo of.
Nonetheless, it begs the question, how much longer are we going to be allowed to take photographs in public places without one law or another attempting to stop us? Presently it is perfectly legal to take photographs so long as you are standing in a public place (this doesn’t extend to using an extreme telephoto lens to peer into someone’s house from the pavement), but ever increasing terror laws are meaning this is becoming harder.
In February, section 76 of the Counter – Terrorism Act 2008 came into effect meaning it became a criminal offence to take photographs of those in ‘intelligence’. Meanwhile, the NUJ is thinking about taking legal action after the police threatened photographers at the G20 protests.
I’ve never been threatened by the police for taking photographs, but quite often I feel wary about having my camera out near them and I’m not sure how I’d react if one of them ever stopped me. I’ve read a few things that tell me to be brave and recite the law to the police. This fantastic guide offers fantastic advice on your rights. Some suggest you carry around a copy of your rights, such as this one, with you to present to police upon inspection.
While I commend anyone that could do that upon having their collars felt by the police, I’m just not sure that I could stand up to them.
Problem is, that’s exactly what they want.