A return to photographic innocence?

Rosemary Neill writing in The Australian has highlighted the idiotic restrictions that are being imposed on photographers in Australia.


I think it an interesting point she makes, that as television co-opts and commercialises their versions of “reality”, photographers are being restricted in their ability to document the world.

She writes: ”

It is ironic that photographers feel under siege when voyeurism has been turned into a national pastime. Witness the enduring popularity of reality television, the celebrities who tweet compulsively about the most mundane details of their lives and ordinary individuals who post dozens of photographs of themselves on Facebook. Our multimedia society is arguably the most narcissistic and (superficially) self-revealing in history.

Yet, paradoxically, the rise of online and mobile media has also bred mistrust of professional photography and has entrenched ideas about the need to control images — and who makes money from them — whether the subject be a private citizen or a well-known landmark.”

Will there ever be a return to the days of photographic innocence? One can hope…but I doubt it.


Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Opinion, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism

10 responses to “A return to photographic innocence?

  1. The paranoia about pedophiles and terrorists in society, and the over the top restrictions on professional photography by local, state and federal governments, border on the ridiculous.

    The strange thing is that pedophiles have all the access in the world on the internet to photos of children taken by their own families. The naive post them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. for everyone to see!

    Professional photographers openly walk around with large cameras, because we have nothing to hide, but because we do so we become targets of zealot officials and parents.

    While professional photographers are constantly harassed and restricted in carrying out our legal work, everyone else can go ahead and shoot covert photos with their mobile phones and tiny digital cameras. What a joke!

    In over 40 years working as a professional photographer I have always been very aware that with each image I take I am recording the history of that very moment. These valuable photos will be lost if authorities keep taking our liberties away. Instead of acknowledging the importance of these professional historic photos, we are being treated as criminals.

    Roel Loopers

  2. Roel / Rob, photographers (professional and amateur) have always been the recorders of our history. It is a very Orwellian society we live in where you as a professionals can be hounded by the populace and government alike for plying a legitimate, skilled and valuable trade yet utter crap can be paraded on Facebook etc. in the name of “free speech”
    The same people who scream invasion of privacy when they see a camera larger than a mobile phone are probably those that post their most intimate of details on the web, little realising that it’s there forever. This irony is obviously lost on them.
    Yours is not the only skill that has been “dumbed down” by advances in technology and a society hell bent on believing that the cheapest represents the best value.
    Keep up the good work, professional photographers are the envy of people like myself, I admire your skill and most of all your creativeness.

    • Thanks Steve…and for my part, I’ll fight this repressive trend as much as I can. I’ve been lobbying the legal profession to arouse interest and been touting the idea of a little civil disobedience to highlight the issue. I reckon there’s nothing like getting arrested to bring a story to the attention of the public. It worked for Peter Cundall…

  3. I am with you anytime on that, Rob. Provoke authorities to take action against us, so the courts and media can deal with it, and shame it all.


  4. Maybe we should compile a list of all the times photographers were restricted in, or prevented from, or harassed, doing their legal work and send it to the Human Rights Commission, claiming it is discriminatory. That would attract media attention for sure!


  5. sure why not go global, or any anti-discrimination organisation we have in Australia.


  6. Hi Rob

    I was just wondering whether you have tested the restrictions on your travels around Australia and whether you have been harrassed at all by any rangers etc for taking photos?

    • I haven’t tested the restrictions in recent years, Jo, though I have been stopped from taking pictures by security guards and officials in a number of situations. Where I have photographed and regulations do apply, so far, I have ignored them.

      This morning, to my absolute delight, I walked into the Back o’ Bourke Exhibition Centre to be greeted by a sign that said, “Cameras most welcome”! I made certain the administrator knew how much that was appreciated.

      • Yes hopefully more places will start to be mroe welcoming as well but it seems to be going the other way at the moment. Have you been stopped by security guards on public land or only on private property?

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