Just days after a man was tased in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for illegally operating a drone, photographer Jason Lanier, has shared his personal experience with park rangers and law enforcement, which he describes as discrimination. On his Youtube channel, Lanier shared a 7-minute long clip of two separate interactions he had with law enforcement while on a non-paying shoot with a local photography club.
Take a look:
In my personal experience, park rangers working for the National Park Service (USA), have been some of the most kind, understanding, and, dare I say, helpful members of law enforcement I’ve come across. In the case of the Volcanoes incident, I side with the park ranger–wholly. I visit and photograph that specific park on a near weekly basis and have grown to know many of the rangers on a personal basis during my excursions there.
It’s apparent my experience differs greatly from others such as Lanier; however, despite having a “professional” setup (tripods, sliders, motion control, multiple DSLR’s), never once have I had a negative interaction with any NPS employee. In many cases, they’ve actually helped me out by offering up some especially scenic, off-the-beaten path shooting recommendations. In trade, I make an effort to build a relationship with the parks I visit, especially the one’s I frequent. They share my photos on their social media, bringing traffic to my website. I’ve allowed them to use one of my photos of Papakolea Beach at South Point on NPS.gov (and try not to complain too much to them that it’s inaccurately credited). For me, it’s been a give and get back relationship.
To that end, I also recognize that a lot of my good luck was just that–luck. In Lanier’s video, the first interaction shown came to me as a surprise and I find the officer’s unwillingness to listen and understand what was actually happening completely inexcusable. In Lanier’s blog post on the incidents, he makes several valid points. One of the most potent being:
If anything, I would hope this trend of photographer discrimination opens up a civilized discussion between photographers and park officials. It’s easy to see the stories solely from the perspective of the side in which you are most closely associated with. As photographers who typically geek out when they see a bunch of expensive lights and photo gear, we may not recognize how setting up a mobile studio affects other non-photographer park visitors. On the other side of things, park rangers may not understand the difference between an amateur photographer, an individual professional photographer, or a huge film crew, whether it be from honest ignorance of the subject or an unwillingness to learn.
In no way am I defending the actions of law enforcement officials who are clearly abusing their power–there will always be that one jerk who you’ll never be able to get through to. But, when you’re out there shooting, engage with the park rangers. Spark up a friendly conversation with them, let them know what you’re up to so they are not forced to make an assumption about what your intentions are. Ask them for some of their favorite spots. In most cases, I think you’ll find they are more than willing to help, and you may even be able to teach one another to have just a little more compassion for each other’s line of work. It’s a two way road, and though it may seem to be a little too idealistic, it has worked 100% of the time for me thus far.
[ via Jason Lanier ]