I just watched a video on the Guardian about a man who was arrested and detained for his amateur photography. I have to admit, it is just plain creepy. The video shows a seemingly innocuous day of taking photos that becomes a matter for the paddy wagon.

While the photographer may have made some questionable choices during the three interactions with local police and could have simply cooperated, things seemed to disintegrate to the point of ridiculousness in an unnecessary way.

As a photographer and someone who constantly has dangling cameras around my neck when I travel, I have to wonder about the value of stopping random visitors for roadside questioning and how uninviting the video makes the small seaside town look to potential visitors. I have written both the Lancashire Constable (their web site featuring a toll-free Anti-Terrorist Hotline for a city of 30,000) and the local tourism board, but I really don’t to expect an answer. I will provide the whole response if I receive one.

I offer the video here not to condemn the behavior of either the photographer or the Lancashire Police, both are imperfect. Or to say look at this awful thing and we need to avoid Lancashire, England. I added the video here to point out, that as travelers, we can take this video as something to learn from and be prepared in case we are approached by the police over amateur photography.

The two thoughts I take away from this video are the following: being deceptive and argumentative with the police (especially when traveling) is never a good idea and before visiting a place try to learn a little about the political climate and customs. Decide for yourself.

To see the video and the whole story

PS the photo of the police woman in El Salvador has nothing to do with this story, but I didn’t have a better shot. dg

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