I just read the account of amateur photographer Duane Kerzic, who was arrested for taking photos at the Amtrak Pennsylvania Station in New York just before Christmas. Ironically, Duane was taking photographs for a contest sponsored by Amtrak, entitled “Picture Our Train.” According to Duane’s side of the story, he was unlawfully ordered to delete his photos, and when he did not comply he was illegally arrested for trespassing. Whether or not Duane was in the right here, he makes some interesting points about why photographers (and by extension, videographers) should not be banned. Here’s what he has to say:
“Always remember that making photographs is not a terrorist activity. No one was ever harmed by the action of taking a photo, no buildings were ever destroyed by taking photos. There were no photos found in the property of the 9-11 attackers, no photos found in the London Underground attackers, no photos with any of the suicide bombers, no photos for the attackers of the USS Cole, no photos by Timothy McVeigh, Unabomber no photos, 1st WTC attackers no photos, no photos in the Madrid Train attackers.
After the London Underground attack one of the first thing the police did was ask for copies of snapshots anyone took that day, because they might contain evidence as to what was done and by whom. By taking photos you are actually performing a civic duty and helping to protect all of us. Remember this at all times when dealing with anyone about your rights to take photos, you are making things safer by recording what is happening. Look at all the cameras that various agencies are installing in different places to make photos of our actions. We cannot allow only state sponsored photography. It will be used to control us, to remove our rights. The same thing with photos by big media only, this cannot be accepted. We all have to stand up and fight back.”
If you aren’t familiar with your rights as a photographer or videographer, there is an excellent resource available from attorney Bert Krages called The Photographer’s Right. I keep a printed copy in my video kit at all times.