Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Found on Wired.com: The story of a San Francisco photographer freelancer/hobbyist who blogs not only about his photography, but also his run-ins with
people who don't like him shooting photos. As Thomas Hawk (a blogging pseudonym) tells Evan Ratliff: "Where I'm different from most photographers is that I'm not going to back down."

Hawk is a career investment adviser -- not the kind of person you'd see making public statements and reminding us of our rights. He shoots photography for art's sake; he tells Ratliff he has a goal of taking 100,000 images of the Bay Area over the next 20 years. His mission is noble, however.

Photographers are grouped into two categories: Hobbyists taking grip 'n' grins of their family and friends, and paparrazi. The Mailbox would guess that the public groups journalists in the latter category. And paparrazi are not too well-regarded, because they are intrusive and flaunt their rights in order to get a shot of Britney's hoo-hah.

Which does not bode well for the citizen journalist, photojournalist, artistic photographer or anyone else who appears to have a working knowledge of a camera and is not telling a crowd in front of the Hard Rock Cafe to say, "Cheeeeeeeese..."

Earlier this year, the Dallas-bound
Granny Geek posted great shots of Springfield using taxpayer resources to protect the President. While citizen journalists often report wearing their biases on their sleeves and in their words, they use the same rights that every American citizen is guaranteed. Granny has written several times reminding us of our freedoms. (She even recommends a perfect camera for bloggers, though the Mailbox is eyeing something a little bigger.)

The problem is that people do not know their rights when it comes to photography. Simply put, if you're standing on public property, you can shoot anything around you. However, most people worry about an invasion of privacy. They invoke decency, and choose not to shoot people around them. They eschew invasive tactics. Maybe they ask for permission and, if turned down, find another option. There is absolutely nothing wrong with decency of that sort.

But, the fear of photographers has increased since we began our war on terror. Now, guards, police and other security personnel are taught that anyone taking pictures is acting suspiciously. Hawk reminds us that this is not the case. And should never be.

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