Self Indulged Online Travel Magazine



Canberra PH

My soapbox is in position and I’m about to get on it.


I’m on it.

I was out and about recently having a play with my camera, not a paid assignment, just having some fun when I made the mistake of positioning my camera (in broad daylight on a tripod) above the train station in the city.  Within seconds security had honed in on me asking what I was doing, telling me I needed permits and permissions and that I should move on. When I questioned the security guard as to what the reasons were he cited ‘security’ as the overriding factor.  So, what if I had of been taking photos (or video footage for that matter) with my 8mp mobile phone….would that be ‘not allowed’ or would I have to put my mobile on top of my tripod before I was moved along?

Now normally I brush these things off but this incident coupled with an incident a few months ago has started to make me wonder what the hell is wrong with our laws and by-laws and why we are moved along without a real reason or justification by ill informed security guards who are ‘just doing their jobs’.

While I was in our wonderful nation’s Capital I experienced the same issue. This time I was on assignment, standing in front of Parliament House waiting for some nice evening light. I could see the security guard over by the main entrance and sure enough he came over.  He asked me if I was a hobbyist or a professional photographer (I’m not really sure what difference this makes as I will explain shortly – see, now I’m on a roll I can’t stop) and I made the mistake of telling him I was on assignment (never been any good at lying….especially when under pressure) and that was it! I was promptly told to move on. When I asked why he couldn’t give me a real answer except to tell me that he’s been told that evil photographer types are not allowed to loiter outside parliament house (or words to that effect) and I would need written permission before being allowed to take any more photos.  Again, he muttered something about security. Never mind that earlier that day I had been up on the roof of parliament house shooting to my heart’s content without a second glance (and strangely enough without my tripod). I also shot Parliament House from the top of Mt Ainslie and from the banks of Lake Burley Griffin is that a security breach too or will these shots not affect their postcard sales? I should also mention that this particular guard informed me that I should have told him I was just shooting for fun and then he would have left me alone….. DULY NOTED for next time but a complete contradiction of what he’d just said….I’m either a security risk or I’m not…whether I’m an ameteaur or professional is completely irrelavant! Grrrr

And if your issue is security explain to me how people are allowed to drive campervans straight into the underground carpark which is actually under parliament house without a security guard or security check in sight.  If my campervan was laden with explosives and I parked it in the carpark under the building would my camera on a tripod still be an issue?

Now, back to the pro/amateur debate.  When I shoot on assignment I obviously shoot in a professional capacity. Is my Editor going to write to all the possible places I may travel to just in case I decide to take a photo while I’m there….of course not! But what if I was just a hobbyist and got some great shots on a trip and decided to then submit them to a magazine in the hope they’d get published and they were….the end result is the same so why am I disallowed to take this image when earlier in the day another bloke was standing in exactly the same spot, completely ignored by security? I can just imagine it, explaining to my Editor that I’m so sorry I wasn’t allowed to take the shot you wanted, “oh that’s OK” he’ll say, “we got a cracking shot from a hobbyist who was happy to sell us his image.”

The irony of this is that the photos were part of a travel feature promoting the A.C.T. and it’s ‘tourist attractions’, one of which is Parliament House!

On a more positive note I was allowed up the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast with my tripod a few months ago. Usually health and safety is cited as a rule for disallowing tripods during the evening at ‘lookout’ venues. Good onya Queensland for not giving a stuff!! Oh, that’s right you get fined there for swearing in public …dammit! I’m moving to Alaska!

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  • Comment by Darren Tierney — June 22, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    Nice post mate. It is crazy that in our own country we are not allowed to take a photo because we make money from it but it is our taxes on the money earned from taking such a photo paying for the councils and governments to put laws in stopping us from doing it haha what a joke!!!

  • Comment by Sandy @ Shots — June 23, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

    Cheers Darren, yup it’s pretty crazy alright! Obviously I don’t mind moving on if there is a valid reason – I once got moved on in London by armed police…very politely mind you, for unknowingly taking shots in the general direction of the M15 building across the Thames just after the London bombings. Ooops! Fair enough!! The police were great and explained everything and we had a bit of a chat. Now that, I understand…the other stuff is just poppycock!

  • Comment by jamiepatersonphotography — June 24, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    A really well written post. Like you I don’t get how I could be a security risk, I’m just taking photos.



  • Comment by Sandy @ Shots — June 27, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

    Cheers jamie…yeah, I don’t get it either….I reckon we’re all pretty nice people :-) Looking forward to the rally in Sydney.

  • Comment by hodgy1 — June 29, 2010 @ 7:40 am

    Hi Sandy,

    Don’t get me started !!!!!!!! hehe
    I on a bit of photographic holiday across northern oz and have been pinned down a few times in national parks, etc and asked the same questions about being pro or not especially as soon as I produce a tripod, I learnt from day one that sometimes rules are made to be broken and my reply now is amateur photographer. They leave me alone then. We live in a nanny country these days with so many BS rules and regulations I think to maintain your sanity you just need to work out ways to get around these issues after all enforcing the rules is not that easy to do I think.
    Anyway thats my spiel and I sympathise with you.

    Cheers Pete.

  • Comment by Sandy @ Shots — June 29, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

    Hi Pete,
    Thanks for your ‘spiel’, glad you got that off your chest hehe
    I think for the sake of ‘peace’ I may have to do the same as you and tell a few white lies ;-)
    As a point of interest, the other day when Miss Gillard made her move on the PM all of the reporters where reporting from the very spot I was moved from….hmmm, I wonder if they all had written permission/security checks etc etc
    Have a great time up there :-)

  • Comment by islandimages — July 8, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

    We have gone from a country that was live and let live to a country where they have legislated against everything all in the name of security! BS!

  • Comment by Sandy @ Shots — July 8, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    Cheers for your comment Tim, it is a bit of a worry…may all be in the name of security but it’s funny how people can often obtain a ‘permit’ without any real security check…just as long as they hand over the cash! Hopefully the 29th of August rally will help change some of these laws :-)

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