Relations between police and photographers, already at an all-time low, look set to worsen this week as activists set up a new national campaign group to protect photography, and protesters get ready to take to the streets in Chatham.
The national campaign launched last Saturday in the Foundry pub in East London, with more than 200 photographers showing their support for a new photographers' rights website by being snapped holding up a placard saying "I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!"
Although the campaign is skewed very much toward professional photographers, it claims that it is the rights of all photographers that are currently under attack. According to the site: "Not only is [this attack] corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording."
It goes on: "This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not only photographers."
Materials available on-site include a "bust card", that photographers should carry in case they are stopped under anti-terror legislation, as well as a Google map pin-pointing areas of the country known to be problematic for photographers. Supporters of the campaign are encouraged to upload a self-portrait including the campaign slogan "I’m a photographer, not a terrorist".
There is also a fan page available on Facebook.
Meanwhile, in Chatham, to mark the recent arrest of local photographer Alex Turner for the heinous offences of being too tall and laying claim to his legal right not to give his name and address to the police, Medway Eyes is planning a meet up in the Riverside Gardens and photo walk on August 15th.
Medway Eyes is an informal umbrella organisation that supports, promotes and collaborates with Medway artists and venues.
They have sent an open invitation to photographers and friends, stressing that the event is not a protest, but adding that they will be happy to speak on the subjects of photographers' rights and the value of social documentary photography whilst the group assembles. ®