The last ten minutes of tonight’s Arts Extra programme (starts at 17.55) was devoted to the issues of citizen journalism and the pressures that photographers can come under while out documenting the world. Something AiB is not immune from!
Pauline Hadaway from Belfast Exposed talked about her recently launched report Policing the Public Gaze: The Assault on Citizen Photography, and Belfast flaneur and photographer Moochin Photoman (“recording the present for the future”) backing up the ideas with some personal examples.
The full report is available from Belfast Exposed website. The Executive Summary begins ...
From the late nineteenth century, countless ‘citizen photographers’ recorded almost every aspect of human experience, from intimate family occasions to uncensored images of war. They bestowed a vast photographic legacy, which provides us with a key insight into the past.
Throughout the twentieth century - through wars, cold wars, public disorder, IRA campaigns and countless national emergencies - British citizens enjoyed almost unhindered rights to take pictures of anything or anybody in public places.
Yet today, in peacetime, citizen photography is coming under growing assault. There is no overarching ban on photography, but there has been a creeping restriction of everyday photography - by community safety wardens, private security guards, and self-appointed ‘jobsworths’. The dynamic behind this is a suspicion of the citizen, and the identification of the citizen photographer with the paedophile or terrorist.
There are countless ‘no-go’ or touchy subjects for citizen photography. As a result, many children are growing up with gaps in the family photo album – no sports day or first swim photos - and as a society we have big gaps in our archives.