Jamie MacDonald describes himself as a “guy who loves life, and adores his wife and kids.” A cursory glance at his blog reveals that the Michigan man has a passion for snowboarding, science fiction and traveling.
Just your average American guy who stays out of trouble, right?
Well, he also has another, more controversial passion; a hobby that makes people suspect him of being a possible terrorist or maybe even a child molester. A hobby that might one day get him arrested.
That passion is photography.
Here is how MacDonald describes the first incident where he was deemed suspicious:
My buddy and I were headed out west to do some snowboarding and I decided to snap a few shots of the commuter jet we’d take during the first leg of our trip. A passing airport employee saw me shooting and proceeded to ask me what I thought I was doing. I knew what I was doing, but she then informed me that I was not allowed to photograph the planes and that I needed to immediately erase the pictures. Why? There are (nor was there) any TSA rules stating that. Did my camera secretly house a rocket launcher with which I was going to blow up the jet? No. So why the paranoia?
And here he describes his second incident.
Cut to yesterday ( August 17, 2008). I was grocery shopping with my family at the local Meijer. I decided to bring along my camera to snap photos of the kids, and of course of all the nice and neat little rows of products. We were at the end of our shopping and my sons spied the cake display case. So I snuck up and snapped a few pictures of them peering into the display case (priceless). The woman in the bakery saw me doing this and asked If there was a reason I was taking pictures. I replied that, “no, there isn’t one particular”. After this “encounter” I observed her walking to the back of her department and picking up the phone. Within 2 minutes the store manager was in my face asking me what I had my camera in the store for. I told her that I was a photographer, and that I always have my camera with me. She then demanded…yes…demanded that I tell her what I was taking pictures of. I told me that I was taking pictures of my children and some general still life shots of the aisles.
The reason I even posted MacDonald’s story’s is that he comes across on his blog like such a level-headed family man who truly enjoys life. He even strikes me as someone who would rather not rock the boat, unlike some of us who frequent this blog, myself included.
But he also strikes me as a very observant man.
In this new era of “eminent terrorist attacks” I have seen a shift in the acceptance of photography in the public eye. There are numerous stories floating around online about photographer being harassed in public locations for taking pictures. Some of these incidents are being called security concerns due to their location i.e. shipping ports, train stations , and airports. Others aren’t necessarily al Qaeda influenced, such as the photographer who was told he couldn’t photograph a duck pond in a public park because there were often children playing in the park, and he could be a potential pedophile for all the authorities knew
All I can say is, people are beginning to take notice of this “War on Photographers” that seems to have kicked in after 9/11.