December 23, 2009

Photography is Not a Crime

StikersWithoutNumbers.jpgEver since 9/11, those of us who enjoy photography have had to think about something that never would have crossed most of our minds previously: Am I going to get in trouble for taking this photo? In the U.S., this strikes me as a particularly absurd question that no photographer should have to ask. This is supposed to be a "free country," and if something or someone is out in public, I should damn well be able to photograph it! Photography is not a crime. Hearing stories like this (and there are plenty of them) really pisses me off.

One of the things I have always admired about Mojoey (Deep Thoughts) is that he actually does what I am always kicking myself for not doing - he brings his camera with him wherever he goes and actually uses it. It is rare that I remember mine and rarer still that I remember I have it when I do have it.

What does this have to do with the subject of photography not being a crime? Short of someone trespassing on private property to photograph something, the phrase "you can't take pictures here" is one that should not exist. Not in the United States.
My questions are always the same. What does it matter what I shoot with my camera? Why do people care?
I am not going to concern myself with why people care. But the idea that someone might call the police to complain about someone taking photos and that this would require explaining oneself to them...that's just too much for me.

I have no artistic talent whatsoever, but that doesn't stop me from taking camera in hand and trying. I may fail miserably 99% of the time, but that doesn't matter because I enjoy trying.

I have always admired those with artistic ability. I will not pretend that I understand art, but I am perfectly capable of being moved at an emotional level by art. I enjoy photography, and while I regularly try my hand at it as a hobby, I continue to be blown away by what those with real talent in this art form produce. As cheesy as this may sound, I find that great photography brightens my day and makes life more enjoyable.

Absurd fears about photographs should not limit the ability of artists to produce great art, nor should they restrict the fun of amateurs like me who will never amount to anything but have so much fun trying anyway. Fortunately, we do have rights.
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