2010: The Photography is Not a Crime Year in Review

Carlos Miller

2010: The Photography is Not a Crime Year in Review

Happy New Year!  2010 was a very productive and successful year for Photography is Not a Crime, where it was named the Best Overall Blog in South Florida in a newspaper contest, mentioned in several national news articles and segments about photographers’ rights and incorporated into a new photo site owned by Barnes and Nobles.

For better or worse, it appears that PINAC has gone mainstream.

I wouldn’t go that far. But people are definitely paying attention. And the mainstream media is finally realizing that non-journalists have as much right to take photos in public as journalists.

And to top things off, I managed to get through the year without getting arrested, although there were a few close calls.

The main lesson I carried into 2010 is that it’s all about video.

The two times I was arrested  (in 2007 and in 2009) was when I was shooting still photography. Video cameras seem to make cops think twice about doing anything stupid.

And now that they have become so affordable, I can’t stress the importance of carrying a video camera in your pocket where ever you go, especially if you’re out shooting stills.

So let’s take a look at the major stories of the year.  And in case you want to go further back, here is the 2009 PINAC Year in Review.


I was fresh won winning my appeal in my first arrest for taking photos of cops, but I had to deal with a second arrest for taking photos of cops, which took a positive turn when the original judge whom I had just beaten in my appeal was forced to recuse himself for my second trial.

And Joel Chandler provided us with some important lessons on how to deal with the police after they harass you for taking photos in public.

In London, thousands of photographers took to the streets in protest against laws that turned photographers into suspected terrorists.

In Virginia, a man was harassed on two separate occasions for photographing an elevator. Yes, an elevator.

In Georgia, some libertarians proved to be not so liberty-minded when Ron Paul campaign workers ordered a videographer to stop filming an altercation between Ron Paul staff and an anti-Semitic man who was trying to crash one of their functions.

And a PINAC story on the Chicago Transit Authority urging commuters to report photographers sparked national discussion about photographers and rail fans, resulting in me getting interviewed by a Chicago radio station.


The second month of the year was dominated mostly by me annoyingly urging readers to vote in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best of Blogs competition – a contest that involved more than 200 local blogs –  which I ended up winning after coming from behind in the polls. (thanks, guys!).

Meanwhile in Texas, a man schooled cops on the law when he refused to provide an identification.

Also in Texas, a cop was arrested for “improper photography” when he was accused of photographing women inside a department store dressing room.

And in Virginia, used a video camera and the internet to challenge speed trap tickets.

In New York, a man who worked for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority won a $30,000 settlement after he was arrested for photographing trains.  

And in Idaho, a man who sodomized by a cop with a Taser won a six-figure settlement.

In California, PINAC reader Rob Hurlbut received an apology after San Diego Trolley security guards harassed him for shooting video in public.

And in New Mexico, a small-town cop fired for beating a handcuffed teen on video was hired by a neighboring small town.


Charges of resisting arrest without violence were dismissed against me when Miami Beach Police Officer David Socarras failed to show up to trial for the second time in a row, even though Miami Beach makes it mandatory for their officers to show up to trial.

New York City continued to dish out multi-thousand dollar settlements when it paid $40,000  and $98,000 in unrelated lawsuits.

But despite the settlements and despite an operations order from last year that informed cops that photography was legal, photographers were still getting harassed in the Big Apple.

Meanwhile, I visited New York and stayed with a buddy in New Jersey, where a state transit guard told me I was not allowed to take pictures in the parking lot of a train station because it was “private property.”

San Francisco blogger and photographer Thomas Hawk came to Miami and got harassed for taking photos. But we hung out and had a blast anyway.

PINAC received a cease and desist letter from some journalist in Vermont who tried to pass himself off as a lawyer if I didn’t remove a photo by a certain time. As a journalist who has also has passed himself as a lawyer during my victorious appeal, I took him up on his challenge by allowing his deadline to pass (by 24 hours) before removing the photo.


Citizen Journalism