Brian's Photo Blog — Article 400
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American Photographers Beware! (part 2)
Saturday 28 March 2015   —   Category: Miscellaneous
Well, here’s quite the story to mark my 400th photography article on this Web site! And to mark my 53rd birthday!

Today I came across a scary news item about some photographers who were physically threated by local residents in West Virginia simply because they were taking pictures.

An article from the PetaPixel Web site — Photographers Shooting in West Virginia Reportedly Harassed and Detained by ‘Mob’ — starts off:
Photographer Marisha Camp and her brother Jessie were recently passing through West Virginia on a nationwide tour for a documentary series when they were reportedly confronted by “a hostile mob.” The residents were suspicious of the photo taking and allegedly harassed and detained the duo until a trooper arrived and escorted the photographers from the scene.
An article from the AmericanPhoto Web site — West Virginia Mob Reportedly Detains Photographers For Looking Out-of-Town — begins:
Residents of McDowell County, West Virginia reportedly held hostage a photographer and her brother while they were traveling through for a documentary project earlier this week. Local network news, which received a flood of emails over the incident, labels the mob “concerned parents” only looking out for the safety of “the kids.” The altercation was captured in an audio recording with local residents heard threatening Jesse and Marisha Camp and demanding to look through their photos.
Apparently, the original source for these two articles was an article from a few days ago on the Web site of NBC affiliate WVVA — Controversy over out of state photographers in McDowell Co. Written locally by non-photographers, it takes a much more sympathetic view of the aggressive residents of Raysal.

This third article has an extra bonus feature: a long, unedited account from photographer Marish Camp about what happened, and the aftermath she is grappling with. Near the end of her account, she writes:
At this point, I would like to know which form of recourse I can pursue. It’s easy enough to sweep this under the rug, to believe, as the husband did, that “The worst thing we done is held you up and upset you,” but it isn’t this simple. Making people fear for their lives robs them of something — the very foundation of their reality is shattered. You don’t know when you’ll truly feel safe again. Whatever fear we may have engendered by not looking like locals cannot begin to compare to instigating something like this. Feeling that a state trooper, with his unabashed bias, local loyalties, and brazen insensitivity, can be complicit is absolutely devastating.
Even though the Camps were not breaking any laws with their photography, false assumptions on the part of the locals, along with their vigilante mentality, put the Camps in a very dangerous situation. After reading these accounts, I know that I will have more fear in my heart the next time I go on a photo outing around other people. What about you? Leave your comments below.

For my other article in a similar vein, see:
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 400
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