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England: Continuing Erosion of Photography Rights

Posted by Matt on June 13th, 2009 filed in Photographers Rights
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The British Journal of Photography (BJP) have another worrying article on the continuing erosion of the rights of photographers in Britain to take photos in public spaces. British police now have the right to stop photographers and seize their equipment should they be taking photographs of ‘sensitive’ buildings or areas. There’s only one problem… no-one knows the official list of where these sensitive buildings are other than the Police.

All is not lost though. The BJP in an attempt to redress the balance for their members has requested a list of these restricted areas from the government. Of course the government has just said “we can’t tell you – that’s sensitive information”. So how are photographers supposed to know where they can and cannot take photos without the risk of their camera being confiscated? You can just see the exchange: “I’m sorry, sir. You can’t take a photo here. We’ll need to take your camera.” “I can’t take a photo here. Why?” “I can’t tell you that, it’s a secret”. Sigh.

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President Obama Photos on Flickr

Posted by Matt on May 2nd, 2009 filed in Digital Photography Hints & Tips, Photo Exhibitions, Portrait Photography
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President Obama the Photographer
Image from Whitehouse Flickr Stream

In his continuing efforts to bring the US Government further into the world of the modern web, Obama’s Whitehouse has embraced Flickr. You can now see a wonderful selection of Presidential moments on the Whitehouse Flickr Stream. Ranging from meetings with world leaders, through happy moments with his family to quiet moments along with his football. Obviously all the photos are carefully chosen to portray him in the best light, but this is an unprecedented, intimate look at the man of the moment.

As an aside, these photos have raised an interesting question: why are they tagged as creative commons on Flickr rather than the Public Domain licence that they should be under? The short answer is that Flickr does not offer a Public Domain setting for their licencing, which means that under the terms of the CC licence each of the photos in this stream can be used as you want but must be attributed – rather than the open use that would be allowed by Public Domain. Either way, they are still wonderful images and I’m very glad we have such easy access to them.

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New Toy Sunday: LED Ring Flash with Side Arms

Posted by Matt on March 8th, 2009 filed in Camera Buying Guide, Photo Toys, Portrait Photography
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LED Ring Flash with Side Arms

Ring flashes are now common, especially in the world of late night New York club photography. What was once the domain of medical photographers is now a handy tool in the arsenal of many great portrait photographers. But what if the ring flash isn’t giving you enough on-camera flash options? Well then you should check out this amazing LED ring flash with side arms. Although designed for taking macro photos, but we know you can be inspired to try it out in many different, unexpected ways.

Thanks to the excellent Core 77 blog for pushing this our way.

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Feb 16, 2009: Protest Your Rights as a British Photographer

Posted by Matt on February 15th, 2009 filed in Digital Photography Hints & Tips, News, Photographers Rights, Urban Photography
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Tomorrow, Monday February 16th 2009, a peaceful protest is arranged for outside Scotland Yard in London. This protest is in response to the newly enacted amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, an amendment that makes it possible for people who photograph police officers in public places to be jailed for up to ten years! There’s more info on this act over at the British Journal of Photography, and it’s something that has a lot of professional news photographers worried – let along those of us who just like taking photos for fun.

Realistically, the law is set up to enhance police stop powers when they see someone acting suspiciously – ie, taking photos of a public location considered to be a terrorist target. However there are now specific clauses that enabled police to stop and question photographers who take their photos while carrying out their duties. Most journalistic photographers worth their salt won’t be discouraged from carrying out their job, however those of us who are not used to being harassed may find this all a bit much. Personally if a Police officer came up to me after I’d taken a photo just because I wanted to, I’d be hugely nervous, especially with this new law in place and the onus of ‘prove your innocence’ it puts on the photographer. Of course the government doesn’t have this requirement as they constantly video us on CC TV going about our daily business – but then that’s for our ‘protection’… and not really an excuse to put less police on the street. I mean, obviously, if I’m being attacked on the street then the thought that there are no police around but that the CC TV footage will help catch my attacker is scant comfort!

Imbalance aside, my biggest issue with this approach is the lack of realism. Out of all the people who take photos in public spaces, the number of potential wrong-doers, terrorists or whatever is minimal. A 0.000001% level or less for sure. Think about this though.. if everyone is taking photos then the chances of one of those photos capturing a wrong-doer is high. Conversely, if those in ‘power’ are abusing their position (Rodney King, anyone?) then we need citizen journalists to report on this. CC TV is no help here, in all honesty I do not believe that if the Police were under severe investigation for malfaisance then I suspect the CCTV footage would go AWOL – much as the BBC’s footage of the day has mysteriously disappeared. There are just too many people who want to, unsurprisingly, protect their jobs.

So, for those of you in the London area tomorrow with some free time on your hands – head down to Scotland Yard and make your voice heard. It’s a peaceful protest, for peaceful reasons to protect our rapidly eroding personal freedoms.

London Exhibition: Ghost of the Faithful Departed / David Creedon

Posted by Matt on January 25th, 2009 filed in News, Photo Exhibitions
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For those of you in London right now there’s a good looking exhibition of David Creedon’s ‘The Ghosts of the Faithful Departed’ at Brixton’s PhotoFusion Gallery. The photos are up till 6th March ’09, so pop along if you’re in the neighbourhood. CoolHunting].

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