March 14, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Recently I came across several alleged photographers or Videographers who claimed that they had the absolute right to photograph anything they wished as long as they were on what they claimed what public land. These individuals were not part of a new team or any organized group for that matter. If challenged, they self reported themselves as a victim, and became antagonistic towards anyone who may even question their "right" to photograph.

On the surface, one may see that these individuals have a valid point. After all, generally speaking if you are on public ground a photographer typically will have the law on his or her side regarding photography. Although it is always a good idea to ask permission to photograph a person, if an event is considered newsworthy, a photographer may still be allowed to photograph a person without a specific release.

In one case, a videographer was filming a public utility (why this project, is unknown). When approached by a utility worker and asked why he was filming, he emphatically stated that it was his right since he claimed to be on public land. The police were notified, and the videographer refused to explain why he was filming, and refused to identify himself, once again claiming it is his right. This adversarial exchange made it to a Youtube video.

More now than ever we realize that we are not in a safe and secure world either domestically or internationally. The concern as why someone was filming was actually valid, since the filming could have been a prelude to an aggressive act against the utility. A simple answer such as "I am an art student" could have eased concerns, and the police may never have been notified. The aggressive stance that 'I am entitled by law to be here' may have been true however the police certainly have the right to investigate suspicious behavior even if it turns out the be harmless.

Consider an unknown person filming in front of your home. That person may have every right to do so, since they happen to be on public property. The photographer may wish to purchase a similar house as an innocent gesture, or may be planning a robbery. Consider an unknown person taking pictures of children at a playground without a child of their own. The county may be trying to close the playground down and thus it could be a very valid reason for showing the value to the community. Another possibility may be that this person is a predator.

While one may be technically entitled, a civil and non-aggressive response may indeed provide many benefits when approached by others. For example, in the case of the playground, one could find many allies to potentially help stop the playground from closing. If police become involved and you are generally cooperative, they may advocate for you toward to potentially nervous person. Even if an authority figure attempts to compel you to leave, how important is the project? Should you have planned better and perhaps asked permission? Should you have gone with a news team or other organized group if you suspected a problem?

An aggressive, "It is my right" or "I am entitled" may easily ruin your day and with a little planning understanding of one may encounter could make the project a picture perfect day!





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