Just a couple of years ago, if you were in the UK and taking photos in London (almost anywhere in London it seemed) you would be stopped by the Police and questioned about what you were doing. There were reports all over the web from photographers who had been well within the law – taking photos from public land – and who had been stopped or asked to moved on. It began to seem that anyone with a camera was being targeted as a potential terrorist.
Things got so bad that discussions on the issue took place in parliament and the head of the Metropolitan Police issued (several) guidelines to frontline officers explaining the law with regards to photography. Namely taking photos of anything or anyone from public land was pretty much okay.
One organisation that set up to make sure photographic freedoms – both professional and amateur – were not lost was I’m a Photographer Not A Terrorist. They’ve lobbied MPs and organised several meet-ups to highlight the issues facing photographers today.
They recently posted the video below on their site. In it, six photographers were assigned different areas of the City of London to photograph. All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. A videographer accompanied each to record what happened. The idea was to see if attitudes have changed.
I’m happy to say they certainly seem to have changed within the Police. Whilst all the photographers had problems with local building security guards, when the Police were called they knew the law, knew the photographers weren’t doing anything wrong, and basically told the security guards they were wrong. It seems that whilst the Police have now been educated around photography law, there is still some work to do with the Security Guards!