Uncle Sam - July 13, 2005

Okay. This is a photo I'm not thrilled with. But here's why I decided to post it.

Today, Making Happy posted a very thought provoking piece which got into privacy and photography. The response I put up there was a little pet theory of mine which may be anywhere between complete bunk and iron clad. Part of it involved passing mention of the fact that Chelsea, MA -- right next door to where I used to live and pretty near where I live now -- is putting up security cameras on every street corner. This might bother me enough as it is...

But then someone else mentioned something that has been sort of bothering me lately: that it's getting harder and harder to take pictures in any urban area without arousing suspicion. Actually, she mentioned that apparently, in some places it's illegal to photograph bridges and subways and such.

I've been there. This photo was actually taken not more than a mile from Chelsea. Right after shooting two shots of this from a bridge, I was asked by the guy in the drawbridge booth if he could "help me with anything," -- typical "polite-speak" for "what the fuck are you doing here?" I told him I was "just taking pictures." And he said "they don't like people taking pictures of the river here with the LNG {Liquid Natural Gas] and all."

I'm not an agitator, so I left. That bothered me somewhat, but I wasn't exactly losing sleep over it.

But now I'm putting two pieces together: the government has the right to take pictures of us in public spaces "for security purposes" but we're not allowed to take pictures ourselves in those same public spaces.

Now THAT, folks, is downright scary.


Scary? Absolutely! I like to take shots of infrastructure subjects (roads, bridges, rails, reservoirs, etc.). All of those things are potential "targets." I have never had an encounter -- not yet anyway -- but have had some strange looks.

Of course, the argument will go that is ok for the government to "monitor" because they are doing it for our security. I tire of hearing people say it is ok to give up a few freedoms to feel safer. Bullshit! If this trend towards loss of personal freedom continues, the terrorists will rejoice in their absolute victory!! We live in "terror."

Posted by: Bob on July 14, 2005 06:53 AM

It is a strange time that we live in and I'm not sure what to think of it. On the one hand, I like to feel that I'm secure, especially considering I've spent a great deal of time on the DC Metro system this week... and on the other hand this completely is outrageous! I thought of printing out some "business" cards with my name and "photographer" to have on hand in those instances. I've heard of other people who actually have actually been hired off the street to take pictures when out in public like that. But as to the above comment, our way of life has changed and in that regards the terrorists have won.

Posted by: Kim on July 14, 2005 10:51 PM

I guess if I thought it really was going to make us more secure, I might understand it a little bit better. But honestly: if some terrorist needs to gather intelligence on some port or bridge, is this really going to stop him? I mean I got stopped standing on a bridge and a crowded throroughfare. There are literally hundreds of places I could have gone to get pictures where the chances of "catching me" would have been almost none.

Those people, if they're out there right now, can do what they want with virtual impunity. And yet I don't get to take a picture of a boat for my photoblog.

Posted by: Tom on July 15, 2005 09:25 AM

Nice point, I hadn't thought about the they can take pictures of us but we cannot take pictures of that idea.

Love the green in this one. I wonder who gets to decide the colours of boats, they choose well on this one.

Posted by: Jeremy on September 10, 2005 07:28 PM