Taken on 25th March, 2010 in El Guavio, Bogotá, Colombia. Nikon D90, Exposure 1/100s at f/11.0, Focal Length 34mm, ISO Speed 500. Show on Flickr.

I am frequently refused permission to photograph certain areas of Bogotá.

Moments after taking this shot in Parque Metropolitano Tercer Milenio I was approached by park security who notified me it was not permitted to take photographs of the park. I blagged my way out of it, saying I was not in fact photgrahing the park but the city and mountains outside the park.

Not since the U.S. have I been confronted with regular assertions regarding where I may and may not take photos.

I am reminded of the story of Bob Patefield, an amateur photographer who challenged British police's right to interrogate him for taking photographs on a public street in the lead up to Christmas 2009.

Patefield refused to cooperate, eventually leading to his arrest under anti-terror legislation ?due to the fact that we believe you were involved in antisocial behaviour, ie taking photographs.?

I think also of my friend Nathalie Rothschild's photo essay Warning! These photos may be useful to terrorists for sp!ked ?in defiance of a law making it a potential crime to photograph police.?

For my part, I've sheepishly obliged with the will of security guards from New York to Bogotá. Luckily the Colombians, unlike their northern brethren, have not yet taken to demanding I present photo I.D. and delete offending images from my camera.


Very interesting. I hadn't heard of the Patefield case.

  • avatar
  • Cian O'Donnell wrote:
  • 28th March, 2010

Wow the Patefield case is a disgrace. (Although he does come across a bit of a dick...)

I think these things are kind of inevitable if the UK government wants to prevent terrorism. They have to draw a line for investigation somewhere. Exactly where to put that line is tricky. You want to minimise both false positives (like Patefield) and the miss rate (ignoring real criminals), but it's hard. Many people in the UK feel that the current terror laws are getting more and more intrusive. There has been updates and tightenings in the law here more or less every year for the last 5 or 6. I'm not sure what is right.

In your case though, I'd be more wary of the Columbian police's reasons for stopping photos.