Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/07/01

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Documentary Photography 2003
From: "Jim Laurel" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 13:52:41 -0700
References: <r01050300-0921-8130007FABC611D7A7A72EB9644AA8E4@[]>

I read your post with a mixture of shock and rage, even though I don't find
it particularly surprising.  I had a similar experience in Santa Fe a few
years ago, while working on a self-assigned story on water shortages.  I was
photographing children playing in a large fountain-type thing at a public
pool, some parents complained, and I was rudely escorted out by the
management.  A few weeks ago, in Bremerton, WA, I was shooting some cover
footage for a doc film of some decomissioned (WWII and Korean era) aircraft
carriers from a public park and ride parking lot.  As we arrived and began
to set up, a tour bus pulled up and disgorged around 25 people, who walked
around snapping photos and videos of the ships.  Again, these are not avtive
duty ships.  There are no signs whatsoever and no security around them.
They are simply tied up right next to this park and ride.

We got our footage, and as we were walking back to our car, two police cars
pulled up and hemmed us in.  Two officers got out and began questioning us.
We were forthright and told them what we were up to.  They told us sternly
that we had to leave right away.  Apparently, someone had called 911 about
us!  They stepped aside and talked among themselves for a moment and I could
hear them discussing whether or not they should confiscate our tapes.
Afterwards, I spent a few moments talking to them as my crew put away the
video gear.  I asked what the problem was, since it there were no signs
prohibiting photography, that tourists had just been there, etc.  "Well, no
one complained about them.  We were called about you.", they said.  We were
told that we would have to leave immediately or they would take us in for
further questioning.

Once we were ready to go, I mentioned to one of the officers that what had
happened was disturbing to me, since the only place I was accustomed to
seeing such things was in places like Syria, Iran and other countries with
repressive dictatorships.  "I thought we were better then this", I said.
Thier response: "We have to protect ourselves.  This country's changing."

Isn't it the truth.  And not for the better.

I have pretty much given up making photographs here in the US.  It's just
too much of a hassle.  It's why I have started working more on landscape
photography (which I'm lousy at).  Because, with the exception of the odd
family snap, I won'd make picture in the US otherwise.

What on earth are we, as a nation, becoming?

- --Jim

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In reply to: Message from George Lottermoser <> ([Leica] Documentary Photography 2003)