Having travelled during the recent holiday, a few photography-related issues came up during my travels. First off, was the procedures used to handle photography equipment. While travelling, my gear list included the following:
- Apple Macbook Pro
- Canon Rebel XT
- Canon 18-55mm kit lens
- Sigma 70mm f2.8 lens
- Canon 530 Speedlight EX
- Various CF cards, batteries and charging mechanisms
Prior to entering security checkpoints, I pulled my laptop out, set it in its own container, and sent it through the security X-Ray. Nothing I had was ever submitted to additional inspection. This was quite the opposite experience that others have recorded on their blogs (see Scott Kelby’s experience recounted here). It was quite a pleasant experience. One thing that helped me move through my travels with ease was in knowing the expectations of the TSA, and what they look for and like to see. For example, I also know from previous experiences that leaving your batteries inside the flash will display oddly on their X-Ray scanners, so I always make sure batteries are removed from devices when packing. It also helped to check the TSA restrictions and guidelines on their website (especially since my wife enjoys her lotions and potions). So, in the interests of sharing that information with others, here’s the TSA link for permitted/prohibited articles: TSA List. Needless to say, DSLR’s are not subject to additional searches or inspections by any regulation in place with the Transportation Safety Administration.
The other thing that I encountered specific to photography was how and where we are permitted to take pictures. Without regaling all the details, here it’s enough to say that after a frustrating experience with a supervisor, I wanted to report him to the customer service department for his airline. After snapping his picture, he suddenly became much more animated, and dashed off. A few minutes later he confronted me with two local policemen who stated that “You can’t just take people’s picture anymore.” At this point I replied, “Well, I am not sure what he told you, but the only reason I took his picture was to assist in reporting him to his superiors because he refused to even try to help me. As far as taking people’s pictures, legally speaking, he has no right to privacy in a public place, and I can take his picture as long as I don’t use it to promote a commercial product. Here’s a printout on Photographer Rights that may be of interest to you.” For those interested in what I handed them, it said in part that:
” Members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes.”
Suddenly these two officers, who were intending to interrogate me, turned their heads to him questioningly, clearly indicating he had recounted a very different story from what actually occurred. Having this document also bolstered the evidence that I was within my right to do what I was doing. So, I would encourage everyone to carry a copy of this with them. Check it out here: Photographer’s Rights. Thanks to Bert Krages for putting this information together. Other than the flight delays and dealing with less than helpful airline supervisors, the holidays were quite enjoyable, and I hope everyone else had a great Christmas too. See y’all tomorrow!