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Restricting Documentary Photography

Published : 19th January 2008

This is really only pertinent to British members, although it proves that the trend to for our governments to restrict our creativity in the name of national security is not restricted to you guys across the pond.

Many of us came up through the ranks to cinematographers through our stills cameras - and this really seems like the thin end of a very thick wedge.

The UK Government is about to propose restrictions on photography in public places which could make street photography and documentary photography against the law. These proposed changes to the law could result in photographers having to apply for ID cards in order to take pictures in a public places.

The consequences of these proposed restrictions to the fields of documentary and street photography could be hugely damaging, potentially wiping out an entire area of photographic practice and certainly provoking suspicion around people simply carrying out their profession or hobby.

The number of iconic photographers whose work would have been severely challenged by these moves is endless. With such limitations and procedures placed on them photographers such as Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Garry Winogrand, Ed Ruscha, Brassai, Robert Frank, Cartier-Bresson, Bill Brandt, Stephen Shore and William Eggleston would perhaps not have been able to make the work for which they are now internationally recognised.

Rob Payton
www.capetowndop.com


>>The UK Government is about to propose restrictions on photography in >>public places which could make street photography and documentary >>photography against the law.

?!? This seems uniquely daft when you consider that just about every phone, PDA and iPod type device will have built in camera function in the near future. Not to mention all the tourists walking around with tiny, high resolution, digital cameras.

Who do they think they will be restricting? Seems unlikely that photography with a malicious motive would be much bothered by this type of legislation. Technology for surreptitious photography has advanced far beyond what some government legislation could restrict.

So who *is* the target of this legislation? And what do they possibly expect to keep out of photographs?

David Perrault, CSC


David Perrault:

>>So who *is* the target of this legislation?

My opinion is : the target is not the common tourist, because as you said it, he is "equipped" with a cell phone or a small digicam. Even if he had a "huge" one he doesn't have the way to get it to an "audience"

>>And what do they possibly expect to keep out of photographs?

This is about controlling information.
(You are not supposed to know what the governments don't want you to know.)

You can take every picture in the world but once you are going to sell it to an editor, he will ask you wether or not you have a licence for shooting in a public place.

If you have not - of course you don't have one for a terrorist attack in the city (first example that comes to my mind) he knows he risks a (probably very high) penalty or getting accused as anti-American (anti-British, whatever - make that "anti-government")

So unless you have that one picture that tells the whole story and cannot be misinterpreted he won't put it on the paper (or in the news) which is actually what we know as censorship.

News will be what the government wants it to be on: examples: G8, elections, terror, police intervention, Hurricane Katrina etc

it is just the next logical step to take from "embedded journalists"

Scuse my English

Kind regards

Phil Soheili
corporate portrait photographer
ANKH Studios
Munich +49 172 74.898.74
Milan +39 335 835.8991
http://www.soheili.eu


David Perrault at wrote:

>>This seems uniquely daft

Believe me, there's nothing unique about something daft from these jokers.

Steve Parker
Editor, Showreel
www.showreel.org


It is essential to consider the social context of the country that this latest development is operating in: one of the most pervasive networks of Big Brother-style security cameras in the world. "WE can film you, and whatever else we choose. YOU have to come to us for permission to film anything."

Much as the United States government is cloaking its operations in ever more obsessive levels of secrecy (Freedom of Information Act restrictions, crackdowns on leaks and journalists, running disinformation projects such as the Office of Special Plans) while broadening the scope of espionage on their own citizens every day (wiretapping, Carnivore data harvesting, surveillance and infiltration of peaceful protest groups, etc).

We must fight this in any way we can.

Brian Wengrofsky
DP
NYC


Brian Wengrofsky wrote:

>>It is essential to consider the social context of the country that this >>latest development is operating in: one of the most pervasive

Any ideas on how to fight it? Certainly something to consider.

I am producing, directing and editing a PBS series on painting and art and looking at 2 cameras for a shoot in France in June.: the Sony Cinealta 900r and the Panasonic AJ HDX900. I recently saw the 2 cameras side-by-side and - although I have used the Cinealta - I liked the Panasonic as well. (Of course it doesn't have the resolution etc of the Sony. ) Has anyone had any experience with the Panasonic in comparison with the SOny? Anyone have a comparison about the post workflow? Any comments are very much appreciated.

Thanks,

Connie Simmons


Connie Simmons wrote :

>>Any ideas on how to fight it?

None at all. But I wonder when this is being debated?

On a completely different note, I think it would be a good idea to have another mass camera test, but this time we could do it outside in natural light. It would have to be somewhere open and bright, with some good historic backdrops. I suggest Parliament Square would be good.

And I don't think we should limit it to CML members. I don't mind posting invites on different forums. OK, we might end up with thousands of testers, all bringing their camera along to Parliament Square, but why not? I might even invite some national press people along, just to be sociable. More the merrier.

Anyway, I went off topic there a minute. I'll find out when parliament is debating this, and see if anyone can come up with any ideas on what to do about it.

All the best

Steve Parker
Editor, Showreel


Connie Simmons wrote:

> Any comments are very much appreciated.

A Z1 in the hands of a very experienced DoP who hates Z1s will be lit well, but will look like a PD150 on a bad day.

I work with a great DigiBeta crew who had to do a 2 cam Z1 shoot with me. They insisted on DVCAM, default Z1 settings. It looked better than a PD150 but still pretty nasty - too much sharpening, cheap look.

If we can't stretch to a DSR-570, I prefer a Z1 shoot to use HDV, correctly exposed, long lens, good white balance (none of this Preset WB crap), and a Picture Profile that takes sharpness down to 7-10, and engages black stretch. But it's hard. I get all the usual 'gotta shoot DVCAM, gotta get audio at -18 on tone, no black stretch, no HDV'. HDV downscaled to SD gives me almost 4:2:2 colour rez. Audio peaking at -3 gives me the dynamic range on HDV that a compressed format needs over an uncompressed DVCAM audio stream at -18, and the Z1 can record two copies of the same mic input at two different pads (so where one blows the levels, the other is a great backup).

The Z1 is a Swiss Army Knife that does a lot of things, but if you really need scissors, pliers and a magnifying glass on a regular basis, you're better off with getting a good set of each. If you're in a McGuyver fix, the Z1's Swiss Army Knife approach is hard to beat. It's not the best "anything" but it will do "anything" better than most others.

Matt "I really wanted an F-350" Davis

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Matt Davis | H: 016 2866 0698 M: 079 6631 2250
Write, shoot, edit, publish | W: 020 8133 6647 skype:mattandrubydavis
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Phil Soheili writes:

<< My opinion is : the target is not the common tourist, because as you >>said it, he is "equipped" with a cell phone or a small digicam.
>>Even if he had a "huge" one he doesn't have the way to get it to an >>"audience"

A few weeks ago some police got violent with a middle-eastern-looking UCLA student who couldn't produce his ID card when it was demanded of him, because he didn't have it on his person. The boy was roughed up pretty badly and Tasered several times.

Cellphone video (with audio) of the incident was seen around the world, on YouTube, within an hour of the event.

Abysmal as it was, the quality of the image and sound was entirely adequate for this purpose.

Dan "we're all journalists now" Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



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