Wednesday, March 05, 2008

London Against Photography

I just read this blog post by Thomas Hawk which pointed me to the London Police department's new anti terrorist campaign. In it, they want the general public to report any suspicious photographers.

Seriously? The general public is going to decide what actions are reasonable for photographers. That's like me telling famous French Chefs that vegetables are not reasonable as food.

Plus London has so many surveillance cameras they make Las Vegas look like Reno by comparison. You could play a game to see who the first person is to take a photo in London without a CCTV camera somewhere in the frame.

All this from the country that gave us Fox Talbot, one of the creators of the camera.

Sarcasm aside, I was quite disappointed and concerned about this so I emailed the following the the London police:

Dear London Police,

I'm an American living in the States and just recently read about your Counter Terrorist campaign and I'm quite shocked by your anti photography attitude. I understand this is a small portion of a larger campaign but your message is leading the public to see every photographer as potential terrorist. I am a photographer, not a professional but just a guy who enjoys it as a hobby. I take photos on holiday just like I did 2 years ago in London. I enjoyed your city very much.

Terrorism is a threat to us all and I understand the importance of safety. I was flying out of Heathrow the weekend those terrorists tried to use fake toothpaste to destroy an airplane 2 years ago. I truly thank you for your excellent work keeping my wife & I safe.

Having said that I fear your campaign is going to lead to the harassment of photographers. Worse its going to spread uncertainty & fear every time someone takes a camera out in public. Photographers are artists & they don't always follow the beaten path. They don't always take photos in the direction you want them to or the normal "tourist" stuff. The public at large does not understand a lot about photography as art and could deem any photographer as suspicious. I've seen it happen here in the States and that's without any advertisement encouraging it.

I hope you will reconsider your campaign & your position towards photographers. I did love your city but to be honest I will not be visiting again if the city creates a negative environment for photographers.

Thank you for reading this & considering my opinion.

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