One of the most striking aspects of my recent trip to Bruges with my friend Mark was the markedly different attitude to photographers that we experienced compared to that in the UK. You can’t open the paper these days without reading about yet another photographer being harassed by police for taking (legitimate) photographs in a (public) location. However in Bruges, despite the fact that the majority of people walking about were tourists taking photographs, the locals appeared to actively welcome the chance to appear in a photograph (see above). We both felt that we were free to go wherever we pleased, whenever we pleased, even as far as the industrial docks to the north of the city where photographers with large lenses in the UK would probably be accosted by officious staff or police almost as soon as they stepped on the premises. Wandering round the streets and canals at midnight has never been so much fun.
Whilst I don’t want to use my blog to make political points, the Conservative party did promise prior to the election to stop the abuse of stop-and-search powers granted to police under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, and the newly published coalition agreement also makes the same promise. I will be watching closely and hopefully we will see an end to the nonsense that innocent photographers have been subjected to for far too long.