Sunday, June 06, 2010

Photography is not a crime!

Being a news photographer has always had its drawbacks.

Many times, photographers are assigned to take pictures of people who are less than thrilled to have their picture taken.

Back in the 1950's, one photographer, the legendary Charlie Trainor of the Miami News, seemed to have an uncanny ability to capture confrontations between news photographers and their reluctant subjects.

Trainor - with Speed Graphic ready and loaded for bear - always knew when to snap the shutter at just the right time!

On Oct. 16, 1957, Trainor got word that a camera-shy Dade circuit judge named Stanley Milledge had just attacked four photographers outside his courtroom.

By the time Trainor arrived, the judge had retreated to his chambers.

Trainor waited.

TIME magazine wrote about the confrontation that soon took place:
[The judge] was just coming out of his chambers when newly arrived Herald Photographer Steve Wever, 41, caught the judge twice in blinks of his strobe light.

"I've had enough trouble with you photographers," roared Milledge. "I want that film. Bailiff, get this man! Take his film!"

Photographer Wever, who stands 5 ft. 4 in. and weighs 115 Ibs., was all but smothered in the arms of the law. Bailiff Charles Michel rushed him head on. while the judge himself grabbed him around the neck from behind. Before they sent his camera and strobe unit crashing to the floor, Miami Daily News Photographer Charles Trainor leaped out of a phone booth in time to get the shot that best pictured the law taking things into its own hands.
Earlier that year, Trainor was ready when sports photographer Herb Scharfman was attacked by a cop a baseball game in Miami.

And a year earlier, in Feb. 1956, Trainor photographed fellow Miami News photographer Don Wright as he was attacked outside the home of a doctor on Palm Island where the wife an atomic spy was speaking.

But back then photographers didn't make a federal case over such confrontations. It was just all in a day's work.

(Note: I wrote about Charlie Trainor and Don Wright, who, in Aug. 1956, photographed Elvis Presley when he came to Miami for two days. Read that story here.)


  1. Bill,

    Your missing the point...

    "In at least three states (Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland), it is now illegal to record an on-duty police officer even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists."
    (emphasis mine)


  2. @g

    I think you're missing the point.

    My post was about news photographers being hassled.

    I support the right of everyone, however, to shoot whatever they please.

    But in that link you supplied, some of the cases involve people photographing police while they are being arrested for something else. In those states you mentioned, hopefully someone will test the statutes and get those laws thrown out.

    Would you like to try? Good luck.

    Lastly, as an experienced news photographer, I can tell you that you won't have much luck arguing the first ammendment on the street.


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