Be careful out there!

Many of the wallpapers available on Digital Desktop Wallpaper have been produced by ourselves. Wherever we go we take our cameras, and very often we will visit a place with the sole intention of taking photographs to make available as desktop wallpapers.

During the past couple of months I have noticed a few news reports about photographers who have been arrested for taking photographs in public locations. The police in each situation have used the excuse of “anti terrorism” as the reason for the arrest.

The latest case high profile case in the UK involved Reuben Powell, an artist and resident of the Elephant & Castle area of London. He has been taking photographs in this locality for over 25 years and is a well known face to other residents.

In January this year Reuben was photographing the old HMSO print works, which is close to the local police station, when he found himself on the wrong side of the law.

“The car skidded to a halt like something out of Starsky & Hutch and this officer jumped out very dramatically and said ‘what are you doing?’ I told him I was photographing the building and he said he was going to search me under the Anti-Terrorism Act”

Powell was arrested and spent five hours in a police cell, his DNA was taken and added to the national (UK) DNA database. He was eventually released without charge, but appears to be very bitter about the whole experience. And who can blame him?

This week another arrest has made the news stands. This time in New York.

Robert Taylor was taking photographs of trains on the New York subway “to use as his computer wallpaper” when he was arrested. It took four officers and a set of handcuffs to remove the (rightly) aggrieved photographer from the subway. Taylor had even shown the police a copy of the MTA’s “Rules of Conduct” which states:

Section 1050.9
Restricted areas and activities

c. Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part. Link to original page on the MTA website.

This made no difference to the officers involved and Taylor was kept in custody for an hour before being released without charge once it was determined that were no warrants for his arrest.

Rules for photography vary around the world and you should always check out the rules before embarking on any kind of photography trip.

It has been proven by this last case that knowing the rules beforehand may not be enough to stop you from being arrested if over zealous police officers spot you with your camera and decide you are doing something wrong, but the more knowledge you have about your rights, the more confidently you can fight your case.

Police and law enforcement officials increasingly view photography as a criminal act
Photographers criminalised as police ‘abuse’ anti terror laws

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