I take solace in the fact that I am an accredited photojournalist, and I carry press credentials to that effect. Among those I carry are the bonafide offical press identification cards issued to be by the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), WHNPA (White House News Photographer's Association), and NPPA (National Press Photographer's Association), and PPA (Professional Photographers of America). These professional organizations are out there looking out for your interests in more than one way. Here's one which could save you from jail:
Gizmodo reports, in Photographer Mistaken for Gunman, about a photographer wandering with a tripod, and mistaken for carrying a gun. I've watched as federal and state law enforcement have tensed up, or placed their hands on their automatic weapons, as I have walked towards them with my camera equipment, or a tripod over my shoulder. I make sure to identify myself, be conversational/greet them, and not make any sudden moves, as I know I am under close scrutiny. I am always certain to have my press identification out in the open and visible. Among those on my lanyard around my neck are my ASMP and NPPA cards.
The last thing we need, what with all the restrictions already upon us as photographers, is to have a photographer thought of as threatening because it looks like they're carrying a weapon, or worse yet, as challenged as a true threat. I, and friends, have been unlawfully detained by police during protests, and I get very upset when this happens.
One example that, while I hadn't planned on outling in this piece, but which just became a natural fit, is the case of the Associated Press' Bilal Hussein, who too is an accredited photojournalist, but who has been unlawfully detained by the military because they consider him a spy, threat, or otherwise someone working against the US. Now, everyone under the sun that I know places great creedence in the word of the Associated Press, and if the AP says he's not what they are suggesting he is, then he's not. Period.
In the end, it's imperative that we carry ourselves above reproach, and make sure we have proper identification at all times identifying us as esteemed members of the Fourth Estate.
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