That Photography Petition

If you’re a photographer you may have already come across the petition to “stop proposed restrictions regarding photography in public places” as it’s been getting a fair bit of word-of-mouth action. As well as being all over Flickr like a rash it’s been covered by photography agency Rhubarb Rhubarb and Film Birmingham. 35,000 people have signed it to date and it runs until August so that number is bound to increase.

The chap who started the petition, Simon Taylor of Farnborough, explains his reasons at length here.

I have NOT said that a bill is in preparation, or that legislation is being prepared, but am referring to the ID cards proposed by various bodies which will serve to create an ‘uber class’ of photographer, and restrict the use of cameras by normal citizens. These cards will only further the suspicion and misunderstandings that many photographers already suffer.

It’s unfortunate that the petition is rather inaccurately phrased and that he doesn’t identify these “various bodies”, but then the whole issue of public photography is something of a mess in this country. Cameras are now everywhere, from the ubiquitous cameraphone to affordable SLRs, and photography as a hobby and artform has become much more widespread. On a more prosaic level photography in public places by the public means we have a record of our society and environment like no other time in history, not to mention that these people who might not consider themselves artists are indulging in creativity and learning to see.

I think this petition is worth signing, not necessarily because it’s right but because it sends a signal that the pendulum has swung too far in paranoia’s direction.

Related to this, the UK Photographers Rights guide is a 2 page printable PDF which any photographer is advised to take a look at.


  1. Sign the petition by all means, but don’t expect it to inform the governments thinking in any way.
    From the ‘road pricing’ one to the one pleading for help to stop the dreadful wage slashing in the name of equality that Staffordshire County Council are up to (, the responses are a list of reasons why the govenrment will not change its position.

    They’re in thraw to big buisness and certain pressure groups – ‘the public’ will not influence them one bit.

    If this is a really serious threat, and I’m not sure it is, then what is really needed is an organised campain.

    Is it a conspiracy theory to suggest that the internet pettiton site is one of Tony Blairs great spin materpieces? It’s so easy to set one up that no actual orgaisation or well throught-through campain is needed – people don’t have to communicate, organise or form into groups that can pressure government.

    Put in your email and we can tell you all, individually, why we’re not listening.

  2. Well, I have signed the petition as well and feel that it is probably necessary otherwise we really are heading toward a 1984-style state. Bounder is, unfortunately, right on with his analysis of what is going on here.

  3. It’s probably worth noting that whatever the government’s motivations for adopting the petition site it’s being run with mySociety, a non-partisan, non-profit group who are also responsible for Write to them and They Work For You which exist to help citizens keep their elected representatives to account, so the origins are pretty sound.

    I’m a cynical as hell about these sorts of things and it’s by no means a quick and easy answer to dealing with problems, but it does help to highlight stuff and make people aware of issues, or at least that they’re not alone. If it does turn out that there’s a threat here then I’m sure it’ll lead to something more organised.

  4. I often use They Work.. to keep tabs on Lynne Jones (my local MP) and the Write to.. site was very useful for me to spam loads of Lords over their quite odd support for the (disturbingly random) ‘badger cull to control bovine TB’ bill that was going through Parliament. Great tools.

    I bet mySociety thought the PM might listen to the odd one.

    I’m off to create a petition to urge the PM to “take notice and act upon one of these petitions, instead of just emailing signitaries with a link to a list of excuses.”

    I’ll sign the photo one while I’m there.

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