A Ray of Hope for Nature Photographers

“Ansel Adams Act” is Introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives

Photographs like this one of Devils Tower National Monument are becoming increasingly difficult to take with new rules about photography on public lands being enacted regularly.

One of the ugly sides of being a nature photographer is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to legally access places to photograph; even when those places are on public lands.

Everyone loves a photograph of baby bears, or a gorgeous sunrise in the mountains, but not everyone is aware that for the last several years the right to shoot on federal lands and display that kind of photo has eroded. Several court cases have been filed by photographers to maintain their right to shoot in public places, but what truly is needed is the proverbial “Act of Congress.”

Well, here it is:

On January 2 of this year (2015) H.R. 5893 was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). The bill is called the “Ansel Adams Act” in honor of the iconic photographer who’s images were in large part responsible for popularizing Yosemite National Park.

The current problems are spelled out succinctly and effectively in the first few paragraphs of the bill:

Congress finds as follows:
            (1) In recent years, the Federal Government has enacted 
        regulations to prohibit or restrict photography in National 
        Parks, public spaces, and of government buildings, law 
        enforcement officers, and other government personnel carrying 
        out their duties.
            (2) In recent years, photographers on Federal lands and 
        spaces have been threatened with seizure and forfeiture of 
        photographic equipment and memory cards, and have been arrested 
        or threatened with arrest for merely recording what the eye can 
        see from public spaces.
            (3) Even in the absence of laws or regulations, Federal law 
        enforcement officers, other government personnel, and private 
        contractors have been instructed to prohibit photography from 
        public spaces, and threatened photographers with arrest or 
        seizure of photographic equipment.
            (4) Arresting photographers, seizing photographic 
        equipment, and requirements to obtain permits, pay fees, or buy 
        insurance policies are abridgments of freedom of speech and of 
        the press.

Beyond nature photographers like me, this bill affects ALL photography in the U.S.  I, along with every photographer who shoots in public places, should be 100% behind this bill.

But you, too, as consumers of the images you see everyday in newspapers, magazines and on the internet, should get behind this and give it some traction. Contact your U.S. Representatives and let them know that 1st Amendment rights for photographers are important to the people.

You can find your local representative to the U.S. House here:

 http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

The full text of the proposed “Ansel Adams Act” can be found here:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5893/text

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