Nostalgia Requires Photographs!

An important part of the process of recording events which in later years will be of historic interest is the collation and storing of images. In 'olden times' this might have included paintings, mosaics, rock / cave wall art, etc., (as well as statues, busts, and more) but since the age of photography this has also included the taking of photographs - both still and moving.

Nowadays the recording of sound and images is extremely easy, and although over time some will be lost (films will fade, hard drives containing digital media will crash irretrievably) it is expected that enough will remain to be of benefit to future generations.

The principle constraint in the present era is not the willingness of people to record sounds and images, nor the quality of these recordings, but the human politics which all too often sees such actions as (quote / unquote) "undesirable". Too often otherwise totally innocent people taking photographs are hounded, arrested, detained for questioning / full anti-terror security checks (ie: treated as if they are pro-human rights and / or democracy activists in a totalitarian state), because of an irrational concern that their real intent is to use the images they are capturing for purposes which can only be described as 'detrimental to the greater good'.

In future generations historians will come to rue the fact that our generation fell victim to so many ill informed and fearful, negatively inclined 'more than my jobsworth' officials who seem to take delight in accusing people using cameras of being paedophiles, or of investigating localities, transport systems, etc., (ie: suspected criminals) with intent to cause harm to the general public. Train / tram / bus 'spotters' are nearly always otherwise law abiding people following a creative hobby / interest - as well as recording scenes of 'everyday life' as this is lived 'at present'. Little regard seems to be given to the fact that the very small number of people whose intents are not of the best will have resource to covert means of obtaining their information, such as mobile telephone cameras and shirt button cameras - the latter being so small that they are virtually undetectable.

See caption for picture information. See caption for picture information.
Nostalgia requires photographs! These images come from London (left) and Strasbourg, France (right).

The London image shows a railway service which has been discontinued so that the line can be rebuilt and switched from being served by the Underground railway to a mainline railway 'TOC' (train operating company).
The Strasbourg image was taken on day when a special service was about to be operated, using historic rolling stock.

Early Day Motion.

By March 2008 the harassment of people using cameras had become so severe that Austin Mitchel MP - a keen photographer who chairs the Parliamentary All-Party Photography Group - tabled an 'Early Day Motion' (EDM) in the House of Commons canvassing the support of fellow politicians in condemning police action against lawful photography in public places.

An EDM is a formal motion that allows MPs to express and publicise their opinions on given matters and gives fellow politicians the opportunity to support it by adding their signatures.

According to a report in Amateur Photographer magazine (link to articlePolice (etc.,) harassment of people photographing public transports Austin suggested that the current climate is 'all daft.' He also cited Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) as among the worst offenders - which is significant because under the Civil Contingency legislation which the Blair government created in the early / mid 2000's these PCSOs will, along with other officials such as Traffic Wardens, be granted extreme human rights busting powers - often with minimal (if any) recourse to judicial redress for their 'victims'. So, if they are getting things wrong now, then how can anyone have confidence that they will do any better when they have even greater powers???

(There will be some people who would suggest that Austin missed out including security guards who [also] often blindly follow rules without judgement as to whether they are applicable and if so how they should be applied... behaving in the process almost like 'organic portal' robots and not real sentient, thinking, human beings.)

The full text of the EDM is below. It can also be seen on the British (London) Parliament's website at the following link: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=35375 .

That this House is concerned to encourage the spread and enjoyment of photography as the most genuine and accessible people's art; deplores the apparent increase in the number of reported incidents in which the police, police community support officers (PCSOs) or wardens attempt to stop street photography and order the deletion of photographs or the confiscation of cards, cameras or film on various specious ground such as claims that some public buildings are strategic or sensitive, that children and adults can only be photographed with their written permission, that photographs of police and PCSOs are illegal, or that photographs may be used by terrorists; points out that photography in public places and streets is not only enjoyable but perfectly legal; regrets all such efforts to stop, discourage or inhibit amateur photographers taking pictures in public places, many of which are in any case festooned with closed circuit television cameras; and urges the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree on a photography code for the information of officers on the ground, setting out the public's right to photograph public places thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without officious interference or unjustified suspicion.

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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
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