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Amateur Vs Press photographer

Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 9:05PM
At the scene of a road accident I was taking a few pics (the emergency services were there) and was approached by a Police Officer, who was perfectly pleasant, who inquired if I was from the Press.
I was wondering what difference it would have made if I had been from the Press. Anyone with experience able to say?

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Nyx 15 533
24 Aug 2003 9:06PM
no idea

what did you say?
Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 9:26PM
I assured the officer that I would not take pictures of the injured and respect the dead. He did try to get me to leave but I countered with an assurance I would keep well out of the way. Again his attitude was fine unlike one of the firemen, who had come over first and who had therafter gone to fetch the officer. The fireman was a total tosspot (there were loads of them standing about).
There was a press man there, recognised as being from the local rag who encroached much nearer than I did with what looked like a 300/400mm lens and another longish zoom, he was not spoken too. I believe the fireman was just trying to be a bully, allways a mistake, but the police Officer was fine. I wondered if the Press got more/less access or whatever.
Carabosse 15 41.0k 269 England
24 Aug 2003 10:04PM
You could always say you were taking pics for that well known publication - ePhotozine! :O)
SuziBlue 15 16.2k 10 Scotland
24 Aug 2003 10:08PM
I can't speak from a professional photographic point of view but can from the emergency services point of view :O)

Possibly the reason for your having some flak from the fireman was not really anything too personal - although it can't have been comfortable for you, especially as you meant no harm or intrusion. I think emergency situations like that, especially when someone has died, are tough for the services who have to deal with them despite their training, and possibly his reaction was a general one to anyone perceived to be an onlooker with what they can tend to think is an inappropriate interest in taking photographs if they're not from the press (who do seem to have carte blanche ..). And maybe he was also irritated at the press chap with his long lens! but didn't feel he could have a go at him because the guy is kind of 'expected' to take photographs, so you got the brunt of that too. Who knows.

There's a sense of wanting to 'protect' the dignity and privacy of trauma victims, and it's hard to be on the receiving end of what might be sharp comments from the emergency services in this situation. But that's what it stems from I'm sure .. simply an instinctive urge to protect .. and maybe that was one too many bad calls over a short period.
Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 10:34PM
Attitude of the fireman was that of a bully in uniform, he was protecting nothing but an ego. I suspect he would not have had a go at the press chap because of the chance that the press man would be more able to answer him back than he thought a mere amateur would, I was only using a digital compact. However folks with attitude are no real problem.
It is hard for the emergency services, thats why I stood well out of the way, kept back (after being sure I could be of no use) The fireman had to take the effort to walk a fair distance to speak to me, no one else was bothered and there were many more people looking on. My work brings me close to police and ambulance staff and I respect them and the trauma they experience. The fireman should have been placated with my reasable assurance that I had respect for the injured and dead but as I say he had an ego.

Wish I knew what to do with the pictures after taking them, the pro would have covered the papers on that occasion but what do you do if you have something you suspct to be of interest and how much do you ask for. A comment from the freelancers?

Anthony 16 5.6k 17 Scotland
24 Aug 2003 10:57PM
Without being too controversial here, but what was your interest in photographing the accident? Did you have an aim in mind in any way, as to what you might do with the photographs?

amingram 15 141
24 Aug 2003 11:08PM
Seems to me there are only really three reasons you could be taking photographs of a fatal road accident.

1. Press photographer - you job to cover the news

2. Forensic photographer - your job again

3. Some form of sick voyerism taking photographs for your pleasure or to sell them.

I do not apologise for being controversial. I am appaled that someone even has the nerve to complain that they didn't have free access to get whatever photographs they like at the scene of a fatality.
Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 11:24PM
It was a scene, Police, fire and ambulances, an air ambulance and the police helicpoter overhead. A drama played out in front of me and close to home. I usually carry a camera and tell myself that if I was to record some newsworthy event I would try and sell it to the papers, just as I will stop for a landscape or other pictorial scene.
If I had stumbled upon the event prior to any emergency services then my priorities would have entirely different, the camera would have been left aside without a thought.

Anthony 16 5.6k 17 Scotland
24 Aug 2003 11:31PM
Thanks Andy, that explains that.

Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 11:40PM
"I do not apologise for being controversial. I am appaled that someone even has the nerve to complain that they didn't have free access to get whatever photographs they like at the scene of a fatality."

I was not complaining about access. You seem to have missed the point of the original post. Perhaps your knee jerked and you missed it. I was not photographing the dead/injured (again clearly stated) but the scene surrounding it. I hope that if I am ever involved in a serious accident that there are people who do take an interest and do not just ignore the event and pass on because they find it distasteful.

Real life occurred in front of me, to not be interested, to ignore it, to not be respectfull of the injured would be the more unusual reaction.

User_Removed 15 2.8k 11 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2003 11:43PM
For christ's sake Andy, do you really need someone to answer that question or are you trying to start an argument! get a life man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
scrumpypaul 14 18
24 Aug 2003 11:48PM
i'm very new to photography, but very experienced in attending traumatic scenes in my job.
there are a host of factors which can influence a persons attitude to what you were doing. firstly, it is important to note that it ain't against the law. however, emergency services of whatever kind have to consider a variety of implications. these range from the obvious, such as preservation of life of any victims, preservation of life of onlookers (accident scenes by their very nature are dangerous places due to the risks of fires, chemical contamination, getting run over by "rubber-neckers" etc) and the safe access of other emergency vehicles, to the less obvious aspects which can very easily include public disorder if onlookers feel such actions are "ghoulish" and also the preservation of evidence (which is all-too-easily compromised or even destroyed by people walking all over it). also, there are often people present who may have a very real connection to the incident, be it as witnesses or even as relatives, and the perceived image of someone snapping away can be massively distressing. there are other factors which can also play a part, not least the significance that an early photographic record can have from a purely evidential point of view.
clearly, the tabloids all like to display lurid and graphic images of these sorts of things because they have a very tangible ability to sell papers.
the bottom line, i believe, is that to show some respect both to the victims and to the emergency services is very important.
i myself carry a disposable camera in my car for any such eventualities. i hope it never gets used.
UserDeleted 15 3.6k
25 Aug 2003 8:54AM

To answer your original question, and as a freelancer here are some remarks.

As an offical member of the press (staff or freelance) you are afforded additional access to scences of crime, or accidents for the purposes of reporting the news. This access is usually granted on the basis that you hold a press card and can present it to identify yourself.

Access is restricted to members of the public in situations such as these for many of the reasons stated above, practical and emotional.

Your assessment of the local snapper could well be correct - he would have been allowed closer if he had presented his press card. However, don't assume that he was using very long lenses unless you are certain. Most pro lenses are considerably larger than their consumer equivalents. For example my 70-200 zoom is often mistaken for a 400mm lens as the f2.8 aperature requires a longer lens and wider barrel.

On the matter of submitting to local papers the means to get your pictures published is to contact the picture editor of the local newspaper(s) and let them know what you have. If interested they will ask you to email over a sample/final file of a certain size and resolution. Most papers would not deal with you if you were using film (unless you had a major event - and then they might have you express processed). As you indicated it may be that the staff snapper had the pics in which case you are unlikely to get a look-in, especially as they would probably have emailed the pics from a laptop/mobile phone in the car direct to the picture desk - however you might be surprised.

Finally on the subject of compensation this will vary depending on the placement of the image, size and number used but most likely by the importance of the story/pic. Many local newspapers would either only credit you or pay a small fee (10-25) for a pic unless it was very newsworthy and unique (in which case you should head for the national news picture agencies and not the local papers). In most cases a credit might be the first or only thing you get offered.

You should consider in this circumstance whether you are using the contact to get more work/visibility/access to events or if you are just trying to make a one off payment...

My tack was/is to use the local press to gain further access to events and accreditation rather than to make a profit from them...

Hope this helps
Andy80F 15 326 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2003 9:59AM
Thanks for the answer. The press chap was using a biggish lens but he is also known to cover local sports so his having one to hand was probably not unusual. He is doing a job, should know how far to go and it could be considred proper that he/she have a degree of access not given to the non-pro.

Thanks for the information regarding approaching the papers. If a credit of nominal fee was all that was expected then I would not be unhappy as long as I was not being ripped off. Having had a few pictures published for the price of a pint (in small circulation hobbyists publications) there is a deal of satisfaction from seeing work in print.

I wonder if the subject was worth an article from someone in the know.


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