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I was reading today, Sunday May 18th, Seattle Times-PI (combined edition) and they had a headline about the Washington State ferry system, especially view the photo gallery. Ok, it's a story with some interesting photos. So, why the interest?
Well, I reported last August getting stopped by the Captain of a ferry on one ride and by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) on another ride for take photos of the ferry while enroute. After a few questions and showing them the images in the camera (I never showed them my film camera), they let me go, as one WSP officer said jokingly, but out loud, "Just another stupid professional photographer."
On a later trip I found a brochure for tourist to report "suspicious photographers", except they don't define what that is or who to diffentiate between a suspicious terrorist(s) or just another photographer. After 4 months of repeated e-mail and phone calls to the WSP and State Ferry System about to the WSF's public release about photography on ferries, I haven't received an answer to my questions about the freedom to photograph on a ferry.
I've even sent them the URL for my photo galleries of the ferries, see "WSF..." galleries. I asked them if we, photographers, could get a pass or letter, do we have to contact the captain before we photograph, or what. All I've seen is a public announcement, except they keep publishing and distributing the brochure and giving workshops to employees about photographers and terrorists.
So, when I saw the gallery with this story today, with the two photos of working on a ferry and the engine room, which are not new, since the WSF have routinely invited photojournalists to photograph or videotape the inner workings of ferries, I'm stupified why they teach the ferry workers and invite tourists to report suspicious photographers. Not really. I understand the reality of things, but it's just irritating and frustrating to be hassled for taking photos they invite photojournalist to take.
It's a go firgure, except it's pure and simple public bullshit. But hey, it's our government at work, don't trust the public but trust the media when they want their help.