Criminalizing Photography

Over at The New York Times’ Lens blog, James Estrin has an interview with Mickey Osterreicher about the increase in arrests of photographers around the United States.

Osterreicher, who is the National Press Photographers Association’s attorney, has this advice for photojournalists working in tense situations:

If you’re stopped on the street, stay calm. Be reasonable, be cooperative — as cooperative as you can. By cooperative, I don’t mean you have to show them your pictures when they ask. If you’re not getting anywhere ask to speak to a supervisor.

When all else fails, unless you’re willing to be arrested, you have to consider trying a different approach. Walk away, and see if you can get another angle. As news photographers, you’re there to break a new story, the last thing you want to do is stand around arguing with somebody while the images you want to take disappear.

For the general public, just be aware that this may happen to you. Tell them, “I’m on a public street, this is America, I can take pictures.”

Mark E. Johnson

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