It’s becoming more and more common to hear cases where photographers are being harassed by law enforcement for documenting or filming, recently and most notably in Ferguson, Missouri this past August. It has become so much of an issue that the NYPD chief even issued an internal memo to remind his officers that “members of the public are legally allowed to record police interactions…


As a photographer, you may eventually (if you haven’t already) run into a situation where you are asked to stop recording by a law enforcement official and in that case, you need to know what to do and what your legal rights as a photojournalist are. In the following video, Mickey Osterreicher, General Counsel for The National Press Photographers Association discusses a few situations that you may find yourself in and what to do if you find yourself in a scenario where your first amendment rights are violated.


You should watch the brief 3 minute video a few times to catch all the nuggets of advice. I did find it very interesting that when a law enforcement agent asks you to see or delete an image, they are not only violating your first amendment right, but the 4th and 14th amendments as well, which is illegal search and seizure and “taking someone’s property without due process.” The video also gives you advice on what to do if you get arrested.

I hope you don’t ever find yourself in the situation where you will need to use the information given in this video, but if you do, remember to be respectful, keep calm and be rational less you exacerbate an already tense situation.

Watch A Photographer’s Guide To The First Amendment (And What To Do If You Get Arrested)

Have you ever encountered a situation where law enforcement violated your 1st amendment rights as a photographer/videographer? Comment below.

[Via DIY Photography]