Wetzel County Action Group
Home Index Links Contacts

Photographer's Rights

By Ray Renaud on May 14, 2009

The freedom to gather information about problems is one of the foundations of a free society. On several occasions our photographers have been verbally harassed while taking pictures of accidents and other activities related to the natural gas exploitation in our area. These volunteers are engaged in obtaining information that can be used to improve the lives of the citizens that they are representing.

Our photographers have been trained in the rights and liabilities of making images based on the "Legal Handbook for Photographers" by Bert Krages,Esq. The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or have permission to take photographs. It is permissible to take pictures of accidents, industrial sites, criminal activities, law enforcement officers, etc. from public places.

In addition we have adopted the following guidelines:

  1. No pictures of someone injured or activities with the injured individual in the scene unless requested by the injured individual.
  2. Do not interfere with emergency or law enforcement personnel and do not create a safety hazard.
  3. We have honored requests to remove pictures from public view that were taken legally but created embarrassment for an individual. This was done with the clear understanding that we had the right to take and display the picture.

Restricting the freedom to photograph problems is a hallmark of totalitarian societies. Openness and justice are best served by not restricting photographers, as demonstrated in the Rodney King case and many other cases like it.