As I cruise down a Las Vegas street, I see a large billboard sponsored by Homeland Security that says “See something – say something.” I hear the same garbage on the radio and see it on TV. The implication is that terrorists abound. What is the illustration used by HLS for this billboard? You got it. A photographer. Obviously you equate photographers with terrorism right?
The war on photography has just about any photographer being considered “suspicious” because he/she is engaged in the number one hobby in the country. Despite the fact that there is not one shred of proof that photography played any part in any terrorist incident in the United States, people continue to treat photographers as terrorists, simply because they have a camera. Perhaps this is a feel good solution that makes some people feel safer. If they have an “enemy” to watch out for, they feel less powerless. The truth is – we are ALL powerless. Terrorists can strike anywhere, any time and reporting photographers for taking pictures at Disneyland isn’t going to make anyone safer. To the contrary, it will waste valuable bandwidth on pure BS!
It takes someone with an IQ about the size of his shoes to assume that terrorists need to resort to taking their own photographs of potential targets. Between Flickr, Facebook, and other social sharing sites, and Google, as well as Google Maps, Google Earth, etc., you can get everything from a birds-eye view of any place in the nation to full-blown schematics without leaving your rocking chair. The plans for most public structures are searchable in databases linked through a variety of computer systems. Detailed aerial views of every home in every major city are available through Zillow. Why would a terrorist want to expose themselves to scrutiny when everything they need to plan an attack is online???
Now here comes the irony. With all those shutterbugs out there shooting video, stills, etc., and with CCTV, and other automated cameras nearly on every street, it’s people like us – photographers, videographers, that the police called upon for help in identifying the horrible people who placed the Boston Marathon bombs.
So next time someone you know treats you like a terrorist just because you have a camera around your neck, remind them that it was photography and video that caught the Boston suspects and maybe – just maybe, photography can be a good thing in the never ending “War on terror.”