Wednesday, 20 August 2008


The evening post has an article on someone in Bedminster arrested for photographing the police reversing up a one way street.. Given that our data shows driving and parking the wrong way down a one way street is somewhat common in some parts of the city, at least the police were being subtle in their parking.

That does not give them any rights to take the camera, delete the photographs or arrest the photographer. You are free to take a photo of pretty much anything and anyone in a public area -a street- and if anyone has an issue with that, that is their problem not yours. Here are the rights of a photographer in the UK. At least in theory. In practise, waving a camera in the face of a policeman, car driving down the pavement outside your house or a group of road builders digging a hole in the ground can create an fairly confrontational response, especially with a bigger camera. Holding up phone is more subtle.

  1. Be careful. We welcome photos of traffic situations, but there's no need to start arguments in the street in the process.
  2. Be subtle. Take a photo from a distance, or hold a digital camera low when taking a picture. Wait until they have driven past before snap them, or act like you are photographing something nearby.
  3. If someone does start arguing with you, and your camera does video as well as stills, go into video mode and start recording the conversation while pointing the camera down (get their feet in or something). That gives you evidence (and a video for our site) without letting them know what is going on
Sometimes people do come over and ask what you are doing when you have just photographed their parking or driving. In this situation, the best way to defuse seems is to avoid being negative about what they've done, but instead be grateful for their contribution, explain that we run a site vaguely affiliated the Bristol Cycling Campaign and all that will happen is that it will be up online; no formal consequences. And we are grateful. Without all the entertaining pictures we get every week, this site would be dull.

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