July 28, 2010

Photog Killed as Wedding Couple Poses With Guns

One of them turned out to be loaded!

A wedding photographer in Italy who convinced the couple to pose with guns got shot to death when one went off. The bride's parents, who provided the weapons, face charges of negligence for not making sure they were unloaded, reports the Daily Mirror. The 45-year-old victim was filling in for the regular photographer.

"From what we have been able to establish, the photographer had asked the parents of the bride and groom if they had any guns to use as props in a picture and one went off hitting him in the head killing him," said a police spokesman.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

July 26, 2010

Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right

By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, on his way to work, Matt Urick stopped to snap a few pictures of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's headquarters. He thought the building was ugly but might make for an interesting photo. The uniformed officer who ran up to him didn't agree. He told Urick he was not allowed to photograph federal buildings.

Urick wanted to tell the guard that there are pictures of the building on HUD's Web site, that every angle of the building is visible in street views on Google Maps and that he was merely an amateur photographer, not a threat. But Urick kept all this to himself.
"A lot of these guys have guns and are enforcing laws they obviously don't understand, and they are not to be reasoned with," he said. After detaining Urick for a few minutes and conferring with a colleague on a radio, the officer let him go.

Courts have long ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of citizens to take photographs in public places. Even after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies have reiterated that right in official policies.

But in practice, those rules don't always filter down to police officers and security guards who continue to restrict photographers, often citing authority they don't have. Almost nine years after the terrorist attacks, which ratcheted up security at government properties and transportation hubs, anyone photographing federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports runs the risk of being seen as a potential terrorist.

Reliable statistics on detentions and arrests of photographers are hard to come by, but photographers, their advocates and even police agree that confrontations still occur frequently. Photographers had run-ins with police before the 2001 attacks, but constitutional lawyers say the combination of heightened security concerns and the spread of digital cameras has made such incidents more common.

In the past month, in addition to Urick's encounter, a retired oceanographer said he was threatened with arrest for snapping pictures of a federal courthouse in Silver Spring, and an Alexandria man was briefly detained for photographing police making a traffic stop in Georgetown.
(Traffic stop video sparks debate over police use of wiretap laws)
Law enforcement officials have a hard time explaining the gap between policy and practice. The disconnect, legal experts say, may stem from a dearth of guidelines about how to balance security concerns with civil liberties.
"Security guards are often given few rules to follow, but they have clearly gotten the message that they need to be extra vigilant," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "In the end, it seems you never know how a particular security guard is going to react."

Clarifying the law
Last year, New York City police sought to clarify the rules on photography with a directive to all officers. It said that photography is "rarely unlawful" and that officers have no right to demand to see photos or to delete them. Like Washington, New York is a potential terrorist target but also a major tourist destination, and as a result, the directive said, "practically all such photography will have no connection to terrorism or unlawful conduct."

Police officials say officers who seek to stop photography are driven by safety concerns and the fact that the presence of a camera can spike emotions.

"When people see a camera, they get more into it," said Marcello Muzzatti, president of D.C. Lodge No. 1 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 11,000 officers in more than 100 D.C. and federal agencies. "Some people will figure, 'I have a right to take pictures,' and we are not arguing with that. An officer also has a right to his or her safety and to control the situation."

The flip side of that coin is that "photography creates a relatively objective record," said Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the ACLU's national office. "The police certainly realize this, which is why they routinely record their interaction with citizens. And there is no reason why people should be deprived of that same tool."

Photographers are challenging unwarranted restrictions by collecting hundreds of photos that prompted police questioning, detention or arrest; the pictures are posted on online photo sharing sites such as Flickr.

Local photographers are also testing trouble spots, especially outside federal buildings, many of which are guarded by the Federal Protective Service, an agency in the Department of Homeland Security that has 1,225 officers and 15,000 contract guards to secure more than 9,000 buildings nationwide.

Erin McCann of the District elicited laughter at a congressional hearing last fall when she described an encounter with an FPS officer at the Transportation Department headquarters in Southeast. The officer told her it was illegal to photograph federal buildings. When McCann asked what law stated that, the officer cited Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Title 18 is the name of the entire body of U.S. criminal law.

Official FPS guidance, issued in 2004, reads: "Please understand there is no prohibition against photographing the DOT or FAA headquarters buildings." The Transportation Department later wrote to McCann, saying that the officer had been wrong. FPS is revising its photography policy, spokesman Michael Keegan said.

Local shutterbugs give higher marks to Metro, saying the transit agency has worked to ensure that its employees know photography is allowed in and around its stations. (The exception is the Pentagon Station, which is Pentagon property.)

"We believe that [the Metro system] is a tourist attraction as much as the Washington Monument," agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

Unwelcome civics lessons
Photographers say police need to be told explicitly not to prohibit photography, because officers often don't respond well to impromptu citizen lectures on constitutional law.

In March, two Transportation Security Administration officials didn't take kindly to First Amendment arguments made by Jerome Vorus of Alexandria. The college student was taking photos on a public concourse at Reagan National Airport for his aviation blog when he was stopped and questioned.

Vorus, 19, said TSA workers told him he was not allowed to take pictures of the security checkpoint or TSA personnel. The TSA does not prohibit photographing, videotaping or filming at screening locations, spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said. TSA employees may ask photographers to stop only if they are interfering with the screening process or taking pictures of X-ray monitor screens, which Vorus says he was not doing.
After a lengthy back-and-forth, Vorus snapped photos of two airports authority police officers who had been called in to help. He says one officer tackled him, took his camera and deleted pictures.

"This is assault!" Vorus can be heard shouting on an audio recording he made of the incident. An airports authority investigation was "inconclusive" about whether the officer tackled Vorus or deleted his pictures but concluded the officer did violate unnamed airport policies. Authority spokesman Robert Yingling declined to comment further on the investigation.

This month, Vorus had another run-in, this time with D.C. police, as he photographed a traffic stop that he happened upon in Georgetown. He was questioned, detained and then let go.

Police say they were justified in stopping him because was taking photos of the inside of the squad car. Vorus, who was 20 feet away, says he "wasn't trying to make a point or cause a scene" but was merely asserting his rights.

Second District Cmdr. Matthew Klein said there is no official prohibition against photographing the interior of a squad car. But he said officers acted appropriately because they thought Vorus was escalating the situation.

"They had a situation developing," Klein said. "They had to make a call."

July 20, 2010

Paris Hilton complains about paparazzi...again

Paris Hilton photographed topless.....is that really a surprise? Aren't the majority of Paris Hilton photos on the web of her partially naked?

Paris Hilton is upset with the photographer who snapped shots of her jet skiing topless this past weekend off the coast of Sardenia. She Tweeted: "Note to Self - Beware. You never know when some perv paparazzi may be lurking and hiding on a fishing boat in the middle of the ocean."

Note to self Paris Hilton...stop taking off your clothes in public! Maybe if you did that you wouldn't have to worry about perv paparazzi taking pictures of you naked now would you? Besides, who are you kidding Paris Hilton? You love this kind of attention. If it weren't for this type of coverage no one would even be talking about you anymore. You are a reality show has-been. Your fifteen minutes of fame are over and done with. You used to be one of the highest searched names in Google and now you are nowhere to bee seen.

If you want to stop being photographed naked then stop taking off your clothes where people can see. If you want to continue to be treated like a piece of meat then continue doing what your doing. You put yourself in this situation Paris Hilton by acting like you did when you first came into the public eye. You can't expect the paparazzi to change their actions unless you change yours.

July 8, 2010

Getty Images referred to Competition Commission in Rex Features acquisition

The Office of Fair Trading had been evaluating Getty Images' acquisition of Rex Features since the deal was first announced in April.

Rex Features was founded in 1954 by Frank and Elizabeth Selby as a daily news and entertainment picture agency. Over the years, it represented the work of photographers such as Richard Young, SIPA Press, as well as the archives of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard newspapers.

On 26 April, Rex Features entered into a definitive agreement to sell its assets to Getty. However, the acquisition had first to be approved by the Office of Fair Trading. Now, the deal is likely to be delayed until the end of the year, as Getty must wait for the Competition Commission's report.

In a statement, the Office of Fair Trading says: "Getty and Rex are two of the largest suppliers of photographic images for editorial use by publications in the UK. Getty has significant strength in the supply of both archive and current entertainment-related editorial images. The OFT is concerned that, if the merger is allowed to go ahead, the loss of Rex as an independent competitor could enable Getty to increase prices for customers."
It adds: "During its investigation, the OFT heard a significant number of concerns from third parties, which supported the view that the profiles and extensive image archives of Getty and Rex mean they are close competitors. The OFT considered carefully whether there would be sufficient constraint on Getty from existing agencies and/or new entrants into the market. However, the evidence available on this was inconclusive, and therefore there remains a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition."
Amelia Fletcher, the senior director of mergers at the Office of Fair Trading, adds: "A number of publishers, the key customers in this market, are concerned about the potential impact of the acquisition. Some of the information available to the OFT in this case was patchy and inconsistent. We have not been able to rule out competition concerns on the basis of this evidence, and so the right course of action is to refer the merger for a fuller investigation by the Competition Commission.'

The Competition Commission is expected to report by 23 December 2010.
In April, Jonathan Klein, Getty's co-founder, welcomed the acquisition. "Celebrity and entertainment content is a growing and vital part of the editorial imagery industry and this acquisition positions us to meet and exceed the demand for nearly instantaneous material," he said.

Getty has said that it would retain the Rex Features brand, while combining the agency's resources with the giant stock agency. It added that "Getty Images’ global distribution channels will increase international customers’ access to Rex Features’ products and services."