We Are Photographers, Not Terrorists

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Yn Gymraeg

Okay, so this is some sort of rant about something that happened around Christmas time in a Cardiff shopping centre.

I’m just writing this as I go along, nothing planned, so sorry if there’s anything that makes no sense.

It was a week before Christmas and my mother, stepdad, gran, dad and I decided to go Christmas shopping.

We went to the St David’s 2 shopping centre and because my dad has walking difficulties he decided to take a rest and sit down. Now, my dad is an expert at photography – he’s a retired professional photographer and used to own his own company and all that.

He takes his camera everywhere as it’s still his hobby. He decided to take some photos of the decorations around him. Meanwhile, I was walking from HMV over to the Disney Store (come on, you should know me by now) when I saw two of the managers and two policemen surrounding him.

I walked over and said “Excuse me, has my dad done anything wrong?”

“Yes,” replied one of the policemen. “He’s been taking photos which is against the rules.”

“Uh, since when? There isn’t any sign here? He was taking photos of the decorations, he didn’t pull a gun out to shoot people, did he?”

“Miss, please be quiet, we are speaking to your father, not you.”

So that was me shut up for a minute.

“Look, lads, I’ve put my camera away, can we just leave it at that?” said my dad.

“No, you must come outside with us to have a talking to.”

“So, why can’t you do it here? What’s so different about going outside?”

That’s when they started getting angry. So they took my dad outside to tell him that he had done wrong. When he came back, he wasn’t too pleased.

The thing is, loads of people were taking photos on average cameras, just because my dad has a more professional one than them, why did he get the telling off? If they don’t like photos being taken in their centre because they are worried about things such as paedophilia, then 1. Put a sign up and 2. Don’t tell off some people and not others. They saw other people taking photos and said nothing. So why pick on my dad?

Also, when we went outside, I looked at the ‘do not signs. Photography is not on there at all. I took my dad’s camera and took a photo of it. I’d attach it to this article but my dad hasn’t uploaded it to his PC yet. Oh well.

Things like this really bug me. I’ve also had a row for taking photos of my cousin in this old jungle gym place that used to be near by where I lived. They said photos weren’t allowed. What, I can’t take photos of my then six-year-old cousin enjoying himself?

A couple of days ago I found this website, www.photographernotaterrorist.org and read this quote:

Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.

Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.

I think the quote is 100% correct and people who take photos shouldn’t have to be treated like that. The website continues to say:

This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not just photographers. We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.

I think that my dad is going to take part in the campaign now and I think any photographer who has had similar incidents should be involved, too.

I really like taking photos and my dad got me a Nikon camera for Christmas. He’s going to try and get me on a photography course and I want to be able to improve my skills (they’re not that good right now, but with my dad’s help I’m hoping I’ll improve.)

I hope I don’t ever get something like this happen to me, but if it does, my dad told me to download a ‘bust card’ from photographernotaterrorist.org/bust-card/. I think any photographer would find it handy.

All in all, I think people should leave photographers alone. They’re photographers, not terrorists.

Law & Rights Pages

IMAGE: Shermeee

3 thoughts on “We Are Photographers, Not Terrorists”

  1. CrazyDistortion says:

    I’m probably going to be on the bad side here, but I totally understand where the “He’s been taking photos which is against the rules” thing comes from.

    Last December, I had to film places for an assignment. I tried in St David’s 2, and a few peeps came up to me asking what I was doing and why. We explained that we were filming for university, and needed generic shots of people, you know the thing. They said that we needed permission to do so, even though we weren’t doing anything specific.

    And I totally stand where they were coming from.

    We tried in many places, one of them being Cardiff Library, which the same response came.

    Places like SD2 and the like, they’re just covering their backsides. They want any form of publicity to be covered by their managerial systems. It’s something you can’t fight against. Even if you think you’re doing nothing wrong, they just making absolute sure.

    Also, last year I wanted to film some stuff in my local park, because it’s rather lovely in the depths of December, but it was brought to me that I wasn’t allowed to because of possible children around and I could accidentally have them on camera. Again, pain. Again, understandable

    I know you’re on about photography, but video is just thousands of pictures layered in a sequence. Same rules, eh?

    That said, we were allowed to film in Waterstone’s, as long as we didn’t advertise any of the books. Nice of them to allow four students to do some utter *shirt* being filmed there. #WheezyWaiterIsMyIdol

    And @Ihavethecyrusvirusx, they probably had a problem with your dad having his camera out because it was a profesional one. The usual compact ones are used usually by ammeters, while DSLRs are something that photography (or indie film making) enthusiasts have (and it shows by the cost of the freaking things), and they’re just covering their backsides. Nothing you can do about it. Just comply and move on. It’s easier than putting up a fight that you have no chance of winning (well, in this situation).

    For all they knew, your dad was a pap or something. I don’t know.

    Also, places like Oakwood and the like would probably see photography as a perfect advertising opportunity. Someone who’s paid to come into their area, taking pictures of all their stuff and people having fun. Basically, you’re paying them to allow you to advertise what they are and what they do. It’s a different situation also. There’s far more third-party copyrighted content in St David’s 2 than there is in Oakwood, isn’t there.

    Sorry, rather long comment. And with at least 90% of it either utter tripe or idiotic. M’apologies.

  2. Ollys_Direction says:

    I did write a different comment but my laptop died, so here’s my second attempt.

    @CrazyDistortion Yeah, I get what you’re saying, but was there any need to single him out and make a fuss by telling him to go outside to be told what could have been done inside? Also, SD2 contacted my dad (I just found this out) and apologized for being in the wrong and they SHOULD have signs up. There were tourists there with DLSR’s taking photos, why weren’t they stopped? Just because they were tourists…?

  3. CrazyDistortion says:

    @Ihavethecyrusvirusx If that’s the case, maybe it’s not SD2’s problem, but their staff. If they are only singling out one person for something many do, then that’s rather unfair.

    But, maybe they had permission of some sort? I don’t know, I’m only using my experiences to try to understand why those at SD2 singled him out. I know that if you want to film there, you’ll have to contact their managerial section for permission a few days before the time you want to film, but I’m unsure if that’s the same with photography. Or voxpops, for that matter.

    And if they do put notices up about it, I sure hope they don’t just hastily create one on Word. All about image, my friend.

    By the by, I wasn’t siding with anyone when I wrote my comment, I just try to see things from all sides, eh?

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