When I saw this poster yesterday via Carlos Miller on Photography is Not a Crime, I thought it might have been fake. Making photographers look like bad people is a bad idea. It will cause more people to be fearful and waste the time of law enforcement officials. Yes, if you see someone by an airport doing something suspicious, report it. Taking photos of aircraft is not suspicious.
Every time I fly I am constantly taking photos. I used to use an HD camcorder, but decided to stop and use a standard digital camera. There have been multiple times I have received odd looks for taking photos using the camcorder and I even had a run-in with the TSA.
If you are a photographer and “get caught,” it might be a good time to inform them of your hobby. Drewski2112 shared on Airliners.net about his run-ins with the law plane spotting in Seattle. He once had five cars pull up on him at the same time. Instead of getting angry, he calmly explained what he was doing, shared his passion and by the time they left, some were asking for his website address to take a look at his photos. I only hope I could keep that calm and collective if I had five cop cars on me due to being a perceived security risk.
Unfortunatly this poster is not a fake, but it is very real. Knowing that many people were upset about the poster, the TSA confirmed on their blog yesterday. They tried to play it off that photographers are important for seeing suspicious activity, but I am not buying it. “In fact, many photographers would be prime candidates to use such vigilance programs to report suspicious activity since they’re extremely observant of their surroundings.” I am guessing this is more of an afterthought.
Photographers are not criminals and they should not be treated as such. If you do take airport-related photos, don’t let fear of law enforcement stop you, but be prepared. Have identification on you, know your local laws and try to talk to them with a smile and be proud of what you are doing. Oh and if you get some good airplane photos, email them on over to me and I would love to share them on the blog!