On Sunday 29th of August almost 700 photographers gathered at the Campbells Cove, Sydney to protest against various rules and legislations around the country limiting photographers’ activity. I was there proudly wearing my “’I’m a photographer, not a criminal” t-shirt.
Over the years photography has been hit with numerous, inconsistent conditions and fees from councils, national parks and other authorities and lack of understanding from general public. In all of these cases the photography takes place on public land. The regulations are turning photographers into “criminals” because of these overzealous regulations. Photography is an art form journaling the nature and our lives. It is important to stress here those restriction apply to all photographers, not only professionals. If anyone takes a photograph in some places in Sydney, or in fact Australia, and subsequently sells it, they may be subject to criminal prosecution. This may apply to a good holiday snapshot you have taken on your last holidays thus it applies to anyone with a camera (even mobile phone camera).
Ken Duncan gave a passionate speech to the gathered photographers and repeated the message to a number of media outlets in subsequent interviews. The message was repeated by landscape photographer Peter Walton and Leo Meier. In the country where photography has a rich and noble history the treatment of photographers in recent years is dramatically deteriorating. We may end up being a generation of mass digital media and no historical documentation of our lives because of bureaucratic restrictions.
I had a brief chat with Ken Duncan after the rally and expressed a view that majority of general public is unaware of the restrictions and various legislations and thus will not understand the protest, as on the surface it may appear only to benefit the professional photographers. I am an amateur photographer and I know this is not the case. I think it is important people realised again photography is not a negative activity.
I’d like to quote a number of banners used during the rally, as I think they carry an important message:
“Artists have rights to sell their works”
“Guilty of promoting Australia “without a permit””
“Don’t censor our sensors”
“Artists have rights”
“Capture the moment not the photographer”