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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Are photographers really a threat?
Jim Colburn, Photo Editor, Photographer
McAllen | TX | USA | Posted: 4:35 AM on 06.05.08
->> http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jun/05/news.terrorism
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Rob Dicker, Photographer
Lake Villa | IL | USA | Posted: 8:04 AM on 06.05.08
->> the real threat is the person who flipped the photo
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:14 AM on 06.05.08
->> jim, that was a great read. they should make everyone who wants to be a cop, tsa agent, and security guard read the article and make them able to recite it backwards before getting the job
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Tom Knier, Photographer
Lancaster | PA | USA | Posted: 10:03 AM on 06.05.08
->> Fire police all think we're out to destroy the world.

You PA folks know what I mean.
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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 10:13 AM on 06.05.08
->> Pretty much. A few years ago, whilst enjoying 'Moscow 1941' and listening to the radio near some railroad tracks in Chambersburg, Pa (waiting for a train to photograph), a cop pulled up and asked for my ID, license and registration--out of the blue.

Apparently his wife, who worked in the dentist office across the street thought I was a Paedophile and called him to check me out. "He has a big camera, and I'm worried"

Of course, he 'ran' my info, found nothing, and said "this happens all the time, sorry for the inconvenience." I nodded, rolled up my window and left. What a moron.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Live HVN : Work SFO-NYC | | | Posted: 12:32 PM on 06.05.08
->> Daniel,

A few years ago in New Haven, CT, while photographing the huge oil storage farms for a business story (a company was sold in a multi-billion dollar deal) I was out on the end of a public pier shooting. I was wearing tan board shorts, a bright Hawaiian shirt had three bodies with a 17-35f2.8, 70-200f2.8, 400f2.8, all wrapped in bright orange & purple tape.

Prior to shoot there I had called the USCG First District Public Affairs desk and the New Haven PIO. I didn't need to, but I didn't want a problem.

At some point I noticed my wife's '83 bright yellow Volvo surrounded by cops demanding to know where there camera were. She pointed to me and cops from the NHPD, State Police and DOD Police came at me. One office, an NHPD Lt., had his weapon out of the holster screaming at me demanding to know why I was trying to hide.

......now if I was hiding would I be in plain site, on a public pier, in a Hawiian shirt with a 400f2.8 wrapped in bright purpleand orange tape?

This yutz would not accept my press credentials from the US Senate Press Photogs Gallery, the United Nations, NYPD, Mass State Police or other easily verifiable organizations. He demanded my Connecticut press credentials......Conn issues no press cards and this guy didn't seem to know that.


If I were casing the harbour for some illegal action I'm sure I would have used my Nikon CoolPix 950, dressed more quietly and not waited 20 min to try and get a shot of a tanker docking up in detail.
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 1:51 PM on 06.05.08
->> I carry a copy of "The Photographers' Right " in may camera bag, just to protect myself in case of a confrontation. Better safe than sorry.
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Chris Stanley, Photographer
Lansdale | PA | USA | Posted: 2:00 PM on 06.05.08
->> Daniel, I don't think the Chambersburg cop was a 'moron'. He was doing his job, following up on a call.
I don't think his wife was a moron, either. She was doing what our president and many other scare-happy officials have told us to do; be vigilant. It's not her fault. People are confused by all the scare tactics.
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Jim Colburn, Photo Editor, Photographer
McAllen | TX | USA | Posted: 2:31 PM on 06.05.08
->> "She was doing what our president and many other scare-happy officials have told us to do..."

Act like an idiot?
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Jim Comeau, Student/Intern, Photographer
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 2:48 PM on 06.05.08
->> I love how the author cites himself. Really shows some credibility.
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Chris Stanley, Photographer
Lansdale | PA | USA | Posted: 3:16 PM on 06.05.08
->> I'm not defending her call. I'm just saying people are confused as to what is a 'threat,' and I blame that at least partly on the gov't.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 4:50 PM on 06.05.08
->> Daniel Putz and Jim Colburn,

How is the police officer a "moron" or "act like an idiot"?

Your account "sounds" like he treated you decently.

did your vehicle have "press" stenciled on the side of your car? under the circumstances you described, I would have called to have someone see what you are up to. How is anyone supposed to know what you are up to? Are we supposed to assume your some sort of "news gatherer" and find out later you were a pervert?
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Adam Vogler, Photographer
Emporia | KS | USA | Posted: 5:03 PM on 06.05.08
->> I think the point of this thread is that doing something that everyone has a right to do, photography, is considered to be a suspicious act.

Being hasseled for excersing your rights is well past moronic.

There are just to many lemmings drinking kool-aid if ya'll will pardon the metaphor mixing.
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Adam Vogler, Photographer
Emporia | KS | USA | Posted: 5:51 PM on 06.05.08
->> In answer to your question Jim, yes we really are a threat.
We’re a threat to xenophobia, paranoia and ignorance.
We’re a threat to injustice and disenfranchisement.
We’re a threat to all of those who try to package the world we live in and sell it as the Truth to the masses.
We’re a threat because we show how things really are.
If we do our jobs right we’re a big threat.
That’s why they fear us.
I became a photojournalist because some things need to be threatened.
So your damn right I’m a threat and every day I’m trying to become more of one.
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Thomas Boydston, Photographer, Student/Intern
Conroe | Tx | United States | Posted: 7:11 PM on 06.05.08
->> http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf

There's the photographer's rights that I believe are alluded to in the article. There might be a slightly different version that he mentioned, but the principals are the same.
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Ben Mackey, Photographer, Assistant
Columbia | MD | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 06.05.08
->> Interesting to see this thread on SS and security expert Bruce Schneier's blog for today, "The War On Photography."

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/06/the_war_on_phot.html
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Ben Mackey, Photographer, Assistant
Columbia | MD | USA | Posted: 9:40 PM on 06.05.08
->> Oops, same story, but Schneier's blog has some fascinating comments that the Guardian doesn't have.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 9:49 PM on 06.05.08
->> Are photographers really a threat?

Well I am with all the 'Inappropriate' marks I've received here. I must be a BIG threat. Call Homeland Photo Security, and alert the media.

Ha ha ha ha

All these security people are like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. They need to find a boogyman to justify their jobs, so they pick an easy target called 'Photographers'. All the while they haven't a clue.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:55 PM on 06.05.08
->> you go walter!!
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Jim Donnelly, Photographer
Coral Springs | Fl | USA | Posted: 11:03 PM on 06.05.08
->> My Dad was visiting me in South Florida. I took him to a Heat game and he watched me at work. Then we went into downtown Miami for some fun shots.
A storm was moving in so we moved to the north bridge to shoot lightning over the city scape. We were on the bridge that goes into the Port of Miami. I was ignorant to the new Homeland Security rules that there was no stopping on bridges and no shooting of ports.

We had walked up and were minding our own business getting nice shots of the approaching storm when a Miami Dade PD cop drives by. We wave, he flips his lights on, beeps the siren and keeps driving. I figure we shouldn't push our luck, we had our shots and we pack up the truck and move on.
We drive to the other side of the bridge and there were OVER 20 Miami Dade PD and Homeland Security officers waiting for us. I couldn't believe the show of force for two guys in a Hummer.
Luckily, the lead guy who asks for my DL pulls duty at the AAA for Heat games and I look familiar to him. My Dad is losing it, just convinced we are going to jail!

I have all the proper ID, including my Heat credential.
We get out and I volunteer to show them the shots I was taking. They were more concerned with getting prints from the game action than what else was on the card. Once I rolled though the card, they realized the camera was never pointed at the Port and we talked until the search on my DL came back negative. By this point, my Dad is so white I think he's gonna pass out. The old guy was sure he had made it this far in life without going to prison and now he was gonna be cuffed for taking pictures!
I knew by the laid back tone of the officers that these guys were just going through the motions and that we would soon be on our way.
The lead guys asks, got any aliases? Having seen Ron White in concert at the Hard Rock the night before, I couldn't resist.. "They call me Taitor Salad." I dead-pan in my best Ron White accent.
My Dad shot me a look like, "I'm gonna kill you!" but it was interrupted by a huge roar of laughter.

It seems quite a few in the group were big fans of Ron White's and had taken in the same show. They handed me my DL back and said, "Get the heck out of here Mr. Salad".
My Dad still hasn't forgiven me for the excitement, but its his favorite story to tell.
The officers were polite and fully explained why they were doing what they were doing. I understood why they were doing it and in fact, appreciated that they were so diligent.
Yes, we take our security for granted. Here in the melting pot of South Florida, it would be really easy for terrorists to slide in and disrupt our lives. Mohammad Atta lived in an apartment that backed up to my kids' school.

When you work in a place named after our country, American Airlines Arena, it makes you appreciate when the police do their jobs. It may be a pain and most times inconvenient, but you never know when they find something or someone that meant to do us harm! I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 3:01 PM on 06.06.08
->> Security people / TSA / etc.

A big problem is the people who write guidelines used by security people/TSA are far more educated than the people who actually implement them.

For example, imagine that a manual has a paragraph that reads: "Vigilance is important. If you observe anyone performing detailed surveillance on buildings, transportation assets or infrastructure, notify your supervisor..."

The intent of the paragraph is reasonable: If you see someone spending hours with a transit, a distance wheel and some camera gear writing a bunch of stuff down about a building, you might want to call someone. But the person interpreting the paragraph is probably making $10/hr and doesn't have anything more than a high school education. They probably don't completely understand half of the words in the paragraph...and they definitely aren't being paid to think "big picture". In many cases they might not have even read the manual - they probably received a crash course interpretation of it from a similarly versed coworker.

The end result is when the intent of the above paragraph actually gets implemented, you end up with a guy thinking that people can't take pictures of the building he's guarding. Sprinkle in a few supportive catch phrases uttered by a supervisor...like "better safe than sorry", and you have a really broken system.

Note that I'm not talking about your average police officer - they *should* know better. I'm talking about folks who end up with a uniform with little more than a clean background check and a two-day training course. Although few of these folks have the authority to actually arrest you, they can make you miserable...and hamper your ability to do your job. Arguing with these folks is akin to banging your head against the wall...and quite pointless because they have neither the ability nor the mission to understand reason or logic.

I've found the easiest way to deal with guards at this level is to escalate it above them as quickly as possible. Don't argue with them, have them call a supervisor. If you end up with a supervisor that doesn't understand reason, escalate it even further. If they threaten to call the police, tell them to call the police immediately. Most of the time they give up long before the police get involved - a call to the front office many times clears things up. If not, it's far more expeditious to get it to the top as quickly as possible versus doing 20 questions with someone who is operating with a very limited set of guidelines.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 4:02 PM on 06.06.08
->> Great response, Adam.

Jim, it's a good thing your Dad doesn't have a weak heart. (And by the way, you didn't sell any of the Heat images to those guys, did you? If you think the TSA is tough, just imagine what the NBA or NFL is like if they don't get some $$ via licensing...)

Harpe, that is really good advice. Time savings for everyone involved.

Anyone who doesn't vote in the November elections has no right to bitch. Fear and paranoia have no place in a free and open society.
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Jim Donnelly, Photographer
Coral Springs | Fl | USA | Posted: 10:29 PM on 06.06.08
->> Would never do that Mike... Not worth it...
Dad is doing just fine. I still laugh at him when he tells the story..
Great bonding moment!
and yes, I will vote!
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Live HVN : Work SFO-NYC | | | Posted: 11:19 PM on 06.06.08
->> Yea, so I'm still filing out paperwork for a German dual citizenship, having an EU passport gives me options to flee if the next administration makes life equally as challenging!

I've had some interesting correspondences with the US DHS that leaves me scratching my head while simply trying to do my job.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 3:56 AM on 06.07.08
->> This thread got me thinking about a friend of mine who was Lt. Colonel in the Army. I can't remember exactly what she did in the Army, but it had something to do with logistics or something. Anyway she held the highest position ever held by a woman and actually worked (and I think lived) in the castle formerly owned by Saddam while she was in Iraq. My friend is really (really) high up in the DHS so I sent her an email to see if there's anything she can do to effect policy on the way photographers are approached and dealt with.

I'll let you all know if she can help.

Jody
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 7:49 AM on 06.07.08
->> Jim D - "Taitor" Salad? You must mean "Traitor Salad." You must be a FL transplant from up north, down south we eat taters (without an apostrophe, BTW).
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Jim Donnelly, Photographer
Coral Springs | Fl | USA | Posted: 10:55 PM on 06.10.08
->> Born in Philly but moved to South Florida when I was 6! (36 years! Dang I'm gettin old!)
That's a spell check deal cause it just didn't look right no matter how I tried spelin it! :)
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:08 PM on 06.10.08
->> come on chuck....anyone "north" of carolina is a yankee
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Andy Mead, Photographer, Photo Editor
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:40 AM on 06.11.08
->> Plenty of us -in- Carolina are considered yankees, too....
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Alicia Wagner Calzada, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 11:05 PM on 06.11.08
->> I commented on the story on my blog:
http://photoblawg.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/movie-plot/

One of the best things about the Schneier story is definitely the comments and the trackbacks. It is a wealth of information for someone like me who tracks incidents (frankly they are too numerous to count at this point).

I wrote a column once called "the dangerous photographers," Photographers shed light on the truth. Photography has ended wars, changed legislation, brought down crooked politicians, exposed scams, proved events that some want to deny happened.

You bet photographers are a threat.
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Thread Title: Are photographers really a threat?
Thread Started By: Jim Colburn
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