The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers

Jan 7, 2015

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers

Jan 7, 2015

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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ansel adams actIn the United States, the work of photographers and photojournalists is protected under the 1st Amendment which states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. And, in a perfect world, the constitutional rights granted by the amendment would never be violated. But, perfect the world is not and it seems like photographers are being unjustly accosted on a regular basis.

Think of all the news stories you’ve read that pretty much read the same: a photographer from Any City, USA was arrested, threatened with arrest, threatened with seizure of equipment, or otherwise harassed for exercising their First Amendment right of taking photos in a public place. A quick search on DIYP alone using the “Photography Is Not A Crime” keyword yields you a dizzying amount of such stories. Not to mention the motions made by the Federal Government, which restrict and sometimes prohibit photography in National Parks.

I’m willing to admit that not every single case of harassment towards a photographer is unjust. In reality, there’s always that one jackass who ruins it for everyone, but a good number of these types of cases violate the rights of photographers and, quite frankly, we’re fed up.

This is exactly why Steve Stockman, a Representative from the state of Texas, has brought forth the Ansel Adams Act with the sole purpose  of restoring the First Amendment  Rights of Photographers. Introduced to Congress on January 2, 2015, the Ansel Adams Act clearly outlines the necessity for transparent clarification and enforcement of photographer’s rights. It states in part:

(a) In General.–It is contrary to the public policy of the United States to prohibit or restrict photography in public spaces, whether for private, news media, or commercial use.

(b) Should a Federal agency seek to restrict photography of its installations or personnel, it shall obtain a court order that outlines the national security or other reasons for the restriction…

(c) Prohibition on Fees, Permits, or Insurance.–No Federal Government agency shall require fees, permits or insurance as a condition to take still or moving images on Federal lands, National Parks and Forests, and public spaces, whether for private, media, or commercial use.

The entire Ansel Adams Act is available to read on It’s only about a page long and is surprisingly easy to read. Definitely  worth the few minutes it would take to read so be sure to click the link or at least save it to your reading list. Especially if you are a US citizen or a photographer who photographs in the U.S.

Upon introducing the bill to Congress, Rep. Stockman’s bill was referred to several committees, including the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where it will be held for consideration for a period of time that is to be determined by a respective Speaker of each committee.  Stay tuned as we will be delivering updates on this very important bill as they develop.

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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13 responses to “The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers”

  1. Chuck Jines Avatar
    Chuck Jines


  2. Chuck Jines Photography Avatar
    Chuck Jines Photography


  3. Dan Avatar

    got here via r/photography and they make a very valid point, movies will always have to pay:

    My guess is you would need a permit for the campers and semi-trucks, not for the act of recording still or moving images. People seem to be concerned that big budget movie types will get a free ride, but I don’t see it. All that excerpt says is that they can’t charge you for taking pictures. They can charge you for all the ancillary stuff

  4. mike Avatar

    We shouldn’t need this, as the rights are already supposed to be protected. But I am glad they are doing it.

    Also, well chosen name, who could possible be against Ansel Adams?

  5. Rob Avatar

    In theory, nice idea. Practically, some work needs to be done. The bill doesn’t leave room for reasonable time, manner, and place restrictions such as no flash photography in National Archives or Smithsonian facilities. Each agency needs to get a court order to protect national treasures? How does the bill reconcile the FAAs rules (restrictions) on the use of RC aircraft? Etc.

  6. Adam Bartlett Avatar
    Adam Bartlett

    A couple of things: the 113th Congress, which this was introduced into the waning hours, is no longer in session, so this bill is dead. Steve Stockman, the representative who put it up, is no longer in office.

  7. EVener Avatar

    It’s a dead bill. Steve Stockman is no longer a member of Congress and he introduced durign the very last days of the the 2013-14 Congressional session. There were no co-sponsors and it died immediately.

    There is no small irony in Steve Stockman calling this the “Ansel Adams Act”. As a Representative, Stockman compiled one of the most anti-environment records while he served in Congress (. and Adams was a fervent believer and loud advocate forprotecting the natural environment from commercial despoliation

  8. Kenny Karst Avatar
    Kenny Karst

    According to, Tiffany Mueller’s last paragraph is true: Stockman re-introduced the bill on January 2, 2015, the day before he left office on January 3, 1015. On January 2nd, the bill was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

  9. JeremiePlourde Avatar

    if only I was American, but useful if I go on vacation there. But should look in to this if we have same issues in Canada.

  10. Rex Deaver Avatar
    Rex Deaver

    I love how everybody glossed over the point that the bill expired at the end of the 113th Congress, which was Jan. 3, and that Stockman is no longer a Representative as of that date. This was a meaningless gesture by a loser on the way out the door.

  11. Larry Pollock Avatar
    Larry Pollock You can check updates here on what, if anything, the 114 Congress does with it and the committees. We will see if it is dead or not soon

  12. Chuck Kimmerle Avatar
    Chuck Kimmerle

    Tiffany, you are dead wrong. This is a horrible bill. Have you even read it? Do you understand the implications? This bill would allow unfettered access to public lands for commercial ventures, regardless of environmental detriment. I would forbid land managers from ensuring a safe and accessible experience for all of us. It forbids fees, bonds or even insurance for commercial entities, no matter how destructive or dangerous their activities are to themselves or others.

    Under this bill, a Hollywood studio could move onto public lands, change
    the landscape with bull dozers and front-end loaders, and do so with
    impunity. Any commercial photo workshop could take dozens of people into wilderness areas, potentially destroying delicate ecosystems or taking over select scenic sites for their own use. A four-wheel drive club would be able to drive off-road under the guise of making photographs. And that is only the beginning.

    This bill gives special interests a toe-hold into utilizing public lands without fees or restrictions. It’s the start of a larger, use-it-til-it’s-gone strategy by conservatives.

    Anyone supporting this bill does so out of emotional blindness and ignorance.

  13. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar

    It’s referring to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, where the bill is originating. The committees are headed by chairmen.