The Right to Bear SLRs

Atavistic: the home of Evan Ratliff — The photo police Evan Ratliff, who writes for Wired Magazine, the New Yorker and New York Times Magazine, followed me around San Francisco a few months back on an average afternoon photo shoot. He was covering my photography for the Test Issue of Wired magazine which is on newstands now. Based on our photo shoot he wrote an article entitled “The Right to Bear SLRs.”

Wired doesn’t have the article up online yet, but Evan has a .pdf copy and html version of it on his site here.

On our shoot we did encounter some security guards as I do quite frequently while out and about shooting the city. One guard was pretty cool and just chatted with us a bit. I got into it a bit with another guard who threatened to call the Highway Patrol on me while shooting in the TransBay Terminal. Neither altercations were very eventful but did serve to highlight the increasing anti photographer climate that is out there at present.

Thanks Evan for hanging out with me and for writing the story for Wired. I had a great day and your article hopefully will build more awareness about a photographer’s rights to shoot in public.

Be Sociable, Share!
Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. LeggNet says:

    Interesting read. Thanks.

  2. Eddie Dickey says:

    Have you considered writing a book about this subject? It’s an area of photography that has always challenged me – should I take the picture? should I ask permission? – can I post it? I’d like to know what is behind the growing anti photographer climate…

  3. BWJones says:

    Many photographers I’ve known have had problems like this and I really did not believe it was much of a problem until it happened to me . It’s a funny feeling when it does happen and makes you truly think about where we are going as a country.

  4. Raoul says:

    Love the article, Tom! Very nice! Keep up the fantastic photography work, not to mention the valuable advocacy work on behalf of all public photographers!

  5. John says:

    I haven’t had a problem taking photos in SF so far. I’ve been politely asked to not take photographs but luckily haven’t experienced any confrontations. I do notice that people are more prone to question you if you have a slr which is the point of the article. My solution that has worked like a charm is to use a more obscure camera like an old rangefinder.

  6. This is something that’s interested me for quite some time. I don’t live in a big city, but I live near enough to one that I could take day trips to shoot.

    I have only one major concern though: my safety. You obviously know SanFran well enough to know where you can and cannot go safely. When you have your eyes on a structure, looking through the viewfinder, you can’t see what’s coming up beside you. What recommendations would you make to someone visiting a new city on how to get the best photos while avoiding the potential danger around the corner?