* Posts by Goth Hobbit

1 post • joined 17 Dec 2009

Top cop's 'stop stopping snappers' memo: Too little too late?

Goth Hobbit

Too little, too late ...maybe.

As a dedicated amateur photographer on the US side of the pond, I've been keeping a close eye on these types of stories for quite a while now, and I keep hoping that at some point, a critical mass of public outrage will be achieved. It hasn't happened as of yet, but I keep hoping.

I haven't been hassled by the police for having a camera glued to my face as of yet, but I'm not so naive as to think that it couldn't happen. Like the Italian student in the YouTube video, I spend a lot of my memory card space on architecture -- old buildings are one of my particular passions, and I have scads of photos of the embellishments that used to be commonplace motifs. I'm not really sure how I'd go about explaining to some unimaginative flatfoot that my interest lies in the early-1900s sculptural element ten stories overhead, if that same badge-wearer were convinced that I had to have some motivation beyond documentation.

I'm reminded of the very different experience that I had about six years back in Toronto: I was taking photos downtown, and focusing on the old courthouse. This was only two years post 9/11, and I could understand a certain amount of touchiness. Not only was the police officer with whom I spoke completely understanding (I had flagged him down just to make certain that there wouldn't be a problem), when I went into the Hudson's Bay Building across the street to ask if there was a publicly-accessible area that had a better view of the gargoyles on the bell tower, they directed me to the company lunchroom. After that, the security desk called the maintenance staff, and got them to unlock an empty office suite that had a nose-to-nose view of the tower. They even invited me back next morning, if I wanted to take more shots with better light. I was so grateful for the assistance, I sent an 8x10 print to the management office as a thank-you.

Needless to say, this hasn't been the experience of many photographers, and the fact that someone at the Met is just now getting around to acknowledging that harassment of people with cameras is causing a great deal of ill-will ...well, it has a flavor of desperation. If this memo is supposed to turn the tide of public opinion, Commissioner Yates might do well to take a page from history, and look at how well Canute's ordering the sea to stop washing up on the shore worked out. (Yes, I'm well aware that it was done facetiously as an object lesson to his courtiers; even so.)

Pirate, because when cameras are outlawed, only outlaws will have cameras.


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