Photography: Intolerance leads to fightback

Posted on by Mike Evans

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.

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