After Reading This Article about a Times-Picayune photographer being detained and summoned to court. I had to blog about it.
Here you have Photographer Ted Jackson geared up to work, being denied access by police to take close range photos while on the scene of an accident near an exit ramp on I-610. as he moved to a further distance clear enough to get a good shot he told another officer that he was going to shoot from a distance. That officer then denied him access to shoot, while also putting His hand over the photographers lens. Jackson then swatted his hand away causing him to be detained and summoned to court on charges of Battery against an officer and crossing into a police area.
In Reference to the investigation, Deputy Superintendent of police, Marlon Difilo said this
"Part of the review process is looking at what areas were accessible to the public, what areas were not accessible to the public,"
The Rest of article refers to a case in the past where police were accused of violating the citizens 1st Amendment rights by not prohibiting citizens to film or photograph police actions…
After Reading All of that and comparing it to situations in the recent past. I’ve come to realize many things in regard to Public Accessibility when video & photography is involved.
It's common knowledge that anyone with a camera can shoot Photos & Video in any public place with the exception of private property ,affairs or invades a persons private life. at that point, there’s a level of consent that must be acquired.
In The Case above, It was a Police Matter, it’s not illegal to take pictures & video police activity. But if you’re asked or told to not take photos of a crime scene, it’s best just leave the area. with what you have. although you may not be breaking the law. you’re now violating the The Authority of the police. .. At the same time, This doesn’t give the police the right to assault you by breaking your camera or covering your lens. at that point that could damage your equipment. but as i said.. the best way to avoid tat is to just not do it….. It’s the same reason Paparazzi is always getting in trouble…
While I’m Out with my cameras, I’m at Events they may be at Schools, Arenas, Stadiums, or just out in the open. depending on the type of the event, I May Need a some kind of consent, or purchase a Media Pass which allows a me certain form of access to these events. Those passes may have Limitations as well. but it’s way better than any normal access.
Here’s just an example of a few events and places.
If I’m just walking the city streets I can take pictures of what ever i want. If I’m taking pictures of people, the proper thing to do is ask them. If I’m taking pictures of a public event. I’m free to snap.. If I’m on private property I need consent.. that’s just the way it is.
When In the superdome, Normal Ticket holders are not allowed to bring video cameras, yet photo cameras are allowed, but your photography rage is only limited to your seating area or while walking the Halls of the dome.
With a Media Pass in the superdome, You’re allowed to roam the building with your camera accessing Skyboxes or close range floor area. the only limitations would be blocking the view of others or stairwells. and maybe Publishing limitations but that’s another story. I’ll probably blog about that some day later.
In Other Places (such as school based functions) There may not be any Media Access Pass. therefore getting consent is the smart thing to do. and if you don’t, At least have the proper identification stating what who you are and what you represent. An Example of that would be the time I was stopped while entering an event with my bag. I was pulled to the side after telling the security that it was a camera bag Unlike every other person toting a camera and bag.
At this point the guard as well as a representative for the event asked me for ID & Proof of My work. as well as if I'm selling anything. I had none of that other than telling him who i was filming with. They Both then told to purchase a media pass if I'd like to bring my bag in. i informed the guard that prior to that confrontation. i went to purchase a pass and I was told there weren’t any.
After all the talking. I then went to get a pass free of charge and was allowed in my bag.. This pass gave me all access. when in all truth I could have gotten Atop the sky box with no pass at all. This pass only allowed me to legally roam the floor of the event without being thrown out.. In previous years I roamed the floor with no pass at all.
In Other Cases I asked no permission but I did have Identity and i paid for a general admissions ticket. I went to the floor to record anyway. had I been stopped, I would have just gotten back in the seating area. .. Also at Mardi Gras Parades, a special city permit is required for Street access or in some areas, elevated access. due to the fact that many times you’re on City property or private property.
with all of that said ..Those are just examples of what I’ve learned or have been through. regarding public photography or videography… My take is that it’s all common sense….and Knowing Is Half The Battle…
Back to the origin of the subject
Ted Jackson is a Professional. he should have been allowed access being that his job requires him to capture on scene material no mater what distance it He’s Technically He holds the same right as any journalist on location.. but even they are asked to stand at reasonable distances. yet are rarely prevented from doing anything… In this case, Ted was summoned to court, and although he was accused of battery against the police. he could actually counter that with the fact that the man touched his Property and could have possibly damaged it .
Now they’re about to Come up with all kinds of law that prevent the public from taking video… In that case. The reasonable way to counter that by using the City's Traffic and Crime came usage against them.