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Author Topic: When did "taking photographs" become "suspicious behavior" on a plane?  (Read 7647 times)

endigo

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I am often hesitant to take pictures. I was once kicked out of a train station by the conductor who warned me that he had called security on me. I left rather than hassle with security. I don't feel like I live in a free country when situations like this occur. here is a recent example.

According to Denver's Channel 7, the United flight to Santa Ana, CA, had left the gate and preparing to take off, when a passenger reported suspicious activity — that is, taking photos — by a trio of passengers.

http://consumerist.com/2011/04/allegations-of-photography-cause-plane-evacuation-25-hour-delay-on-united-flight.html

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EYEONE

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People are so dumb sometimes. I guess it's just luck of the draw. I was on a flight to Lima, Peru last year and took tons of pictures with my DSLR in the terminal, on the plane at the gate and on the plane in the air. I wondered if I was allowed to or not but no one said anything to me about it. Did the same thing on the way back actually.

I think a lot of people are suspicious of people walking around with DSLRs. I'm not exactly sure why, but they don't understand that if you're on public property you can take pictures of whatever or whoever you want. There may be a few exceptions. I'm no lawyer.
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Chewy734

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It is the luck of the draw as EYEONE said.  I've seen people had their point-and-shoots confiscated by an air marshall on a flight, but also seen other people rig up a time-lapse camera during their overnight trip.  It's a crap shoot, and law enforcement can become a barrier in the name of national security.  Good luck explaining your rights to them on a flight.

awinphoto

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It's a crap shoot but I think certain airlines also have certain sensitivity levels...  I was on a KLM flight on my way back from europe to san fransisco and seconds after take (literally) people were taking off their seat belts and walking around the cabin and up til the final approach where we were probably 1000 feet off the ground there was a certain photographer taking pictures from the rear door window and ran to his seat right before touchdown.  KLM didn't care about photographers let alone proper safety rules and regulations.  Then I've been on a southwest flight where a passenger next to me lecture me because I dared to text my family as I boarded the plane because somehow my cell phone could damage the plane beyond repair even though we were just boarding.  It's just your luck of the draw. 
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gmrza

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It's a crap shoot but I think certain airlines also have certain sensitivity levels...  I was on a KLM flight on my way back from europe to san fransisco and seconds after take (literally) people were taking off their seat belts and walking around the cabin and up til the final approach where we were probably 1000 feet off the ground there was a certain photographer taking pictures from the rear door window and ran to his seat right before touchdown.  KLM didn't care about photographers let alone proper safety rules and regulations.  Then I've been on a southwest flight where a passenger next to me lecture me because I dared to text my family as I boarded the plane because somehow my cell phone could damage the plane beyond repair even though we were just boarding.  It's just your luck of the draw.

I still have the odd negative from photos I was asked to take by airport security in order to prove that my camera was real!  (Johanessburg in the early 1990s...)
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branden

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To me the ironic part is that if, for whatever reason, terrorists really did need photos of something, they would probably use a crappy P&S camera that nobody would blink twice about seeing. But suddenly pull out an expensive, impractically-large-for-spy-work, obviously-a-camera camera and now you're a suspicious figure.

I guess terrorists really can't make accurate plans without a shallow depth of field and low chromatic aberration.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 12:43:38 PM by branden »

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dstppy

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I am often hesitant to take pictures. I was once kicked out of a train station by the conductor who warned me that he had called security on me. I left rather than hassle with security. I don't feel like I live in a free country when situations like this occur. here is a recent example.

According to Denver's Channel 7, the United flight to Santa Ana, CA, had left the gate and preparing to take off, when a passenger reported suspicious activity — that is, taking photos — by a trio of passengers.

http://consumerist.com/2011/04/allegations-of-photography-cause-plane-evacuation-25-hour-delay-on-united-flight.html

It's a game of telephone . . . the last two years of political news stories have taught me to check and recheck any great conspiracy found online:
1) Article is by Consumerist, quoting another place (the denver channel)
2) Denver Channel article smells less like a conspiracy -- the quote is only found in this one article, and it sounds far from authoritative:
"It's believed that a couple of the passengers were taking photographs, or something like that, while the plane was taxiing, and that raised suspicion, said DIA spokesman Jeff Green."
3) Went to google news, lots of funny articles come up when you're trying to look up why planes got sent to the terminal ;) "santa ana Flight 593" eventually got some better articles -- basically reuters and AP have the core article which DOES NOT MENTION cameras.

It doesn't seem like it's anything sinister yet, just no facts.

Back to photography:
As others said - I found a "photographer's rights" online a ways back and it was interesting and nice to have, but I personally assume I'm hosed when I'm on the 'private property' of the airline's plane (look how poorly they treat you to start with) and am subject to arbitrary acts of stupidity.

What I don't get is why people have their iPods going, digital cameras out etc. when you're on takeoff -- no one takes the rules seriously, which, is concerning since it says no electronics during takeoff and landing.  I think the problem is arbitrary enforcement rather than anything well thought out.

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Gothmoth

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Quote
When did "taking photographs" become "suspicious behavior" on a plane

since 90% of the americans run around like scared chicken.

america overreacted in 2001 and later because it never had to face terrorism.
americans were frightened to death (and still are) and the bush gov. took the opportunity to take away their rights (read the patriot act).

the rest of the world saw that when you scare people enough you can take away their rights with no problem.

good example: great britain....

for photographer in great britain this means that you are a wannabe terrorist when you take pictures of gov. buildings in london.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 01:57:01 PM by Gothmoth »

EYEONE

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Quote
When did "taking photographs" become "suspicious behavior" on a plane

since 90% of the americans run around like scared chicken.

america overreacted in 2001 and later because it never had to face terrorism.
americans were frightened to death (and still are) and the bush gov. took the opportunity to take away their rights (read the patriot act).

the rest of the world saw that when you scare people enough you can take away their rights with no problem.

good example: great britain....

for photographer in great britain this means that you are a wannabe terrorist when you take pictures of gov. buildings in london.

Maybe we shouldn't go political with this discussion. Thanks,
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motorhead

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Eyeone,

I don't see that as political, just honesty.

I live in the south of England, in a medium sized town and everything here is sweetness and light with no one bothered about "photo terrorists". Long may it stay that way.

But in the big cities like London, away from the classic "tourist attractions" where it's odd not to see millions of cameras, it is often a different matter. Then your average keen amateur photographer can easily attract the attention of over enthusiastic private security or the boys in blue on the beat who's knowledge of the law in this area is a bit sketchy to say the least.

And of course, human nature being what it is, start challenging these idiots and the reaction is bound to be "lock the trouble maker up" and let someone else sort it out.

The truth is that the world has become a more dangerous place in recent years, in the main because of the self interest and stupidity of politicians. Photographers rights are being eroded as are the rights of many others and there seems very little we can do about it because the average "man on the street" seems to have been pursuaded into accepting it as a price worth paying.

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