Taking photos in Tunisia

Last staurday night, riding the empty metro with some jerk friends nd taking some memorial photos (refer to my photolog) when suddenly a security customer (usually assigned to the metro through the hottest nights with increasing violence in staurdays and beyond the midnights service) get out the driver booth and told me :”taking photos in the train is prohibited !! give me your camera !”, so my reaction was a big exclamation, my friends stood up and I told him that we were taking self photos, as he smelt the breeze of alcohol he gave up his fury.
The point is every time I tried to take a photo some guy usually the security forces, or even a simple employee, shows up and ask me to stop taking photos, as if I were shooting a nuclear plant or his daughter naked, damn world ! how can I practice photographing if everywhere my cam becomes a spy’s gadget ?
As locals taking photos of the market, people, the little wood next to your city around is always are not welcome : they will ask you to stop, or who you are ? or in some extreme cases :”show me you ID !”, ans so on, even I have developed many techniques of camouflage such as holding the cam in my hand and press the trigger, or try to find a hideout where nobody would notice me, or just talk with the people around creating some kind of friendship that leads to a unlimited photographing license, sometimes I have even paid to take shots.
Despite, If you’re a tourist to a resident foreigner (or just look like), you’ll just get smiles everywhere and take photos as free as a you were shooting your personnel garden, the police, or the people around won’t disturb your open photo workshop : God Bless Tourism !
I don’t understand this exaggerated awareness about the camera, or is it just about the media ? thus that most of the Tunisian think that all local photographers are working certainly for a newspaper, and their rear is justified as the press has been publishing unauthorized photos of many people without any permission for decades (the law has been fixed a few years ago), and all those photographers were pretending to be just making photos for joy or as souvenirs !
But the point is that Tunisian don’t really understand photography, except wedding or ID portrait, here in this country we don’t trust a man with a Camera, just because we don’t know him or we haven’t asked for his services, we don’t see the photos with art issues as they could harm our life making us uncovered.
It’s in the late years with the increasing popularity of the digital photography, that usual people shoot in the open air and that people are accepting those devices becoming a usual tool to memorize warm moments or just for fun, led by the outnumbering of the cell phones with camera, the freak is still on, but it’s getting less expressed to avoid getting damned as a retarded and primate person.
For the police two main reasons are making photography a real state enemy:
First, as those toys cam make videos, they have lately a useful tool to many people who started a propaganda videos, sex scenes or event took shocking videos who instantly spread over the web. Two stories are making sense to this : Two high school teacher shoot their self while making love, and the other is about a dancing policeman.
Secondly, the terrorism threat is making our national security more aware of … everybody, yes me and you and the guy pissing on the wall, as I’ve said before, we have no thought about art coming through photos, if you’re making a photo of the metro, you’re certainly getting ready to blow it, if you have take photos of an office, you’ll certainly come by night and steal its precious documents and if it’s not you, you’ll certainly send it to someone else, if ever you have no intention to any of those terrifying actions, someone in the web will use you photos as a material to harm our beloved republic. In one word, we don’t need your photos you can still make peaceful pencil drawings in a paper.
I have asked to colleagues graduated in law to find to make research and find me all about photography in the Tunisian law, the output will be published as soon as possible, and then I’ll get rid or may be of all this stupid behavior.
Finally, I just want to say , that I want make photos for fun, I don’t want to get nagged by a dirty bastard every time I tried to make an artistic photo,I don’t want to harm none, and I’d like to hear from your experiences and how do you faces such problems.

Advertisements

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Soly_z says:

    I had the same problem some years ago while shooting some photos at Carrefour and at Champion Lafayette. At the second location, they even wated to confiscate the camera, but the “security boss” renounced after a short conversation. At Sidi Bou Said, I had the pleasure to have a civil policeman behind me the whole time (I could hear his Walky Talky), beacuse of the near presidential palace. Sometimes I ask myself, are our shopping malls may be nuclear plants or strategic military targets or is it just because of other reasons I don’t understand. So I agree with you in all what you said and hope that people will no longer consider photography as an odd hobby.

  2. snawsi says:

    Mouse, buddy,your camera is for art purpose sure but it’s also an honest “witness” for some hidden truth and then here’s some of the “so many” restrictions:
    – you’re not a journalist
    – you’ve no licence to shoot
    – no rules established
    – no freedom granted
    so you can always try πŸ˜‰

  3. GloomK says:

    yes i totally agree, urban photography is hard to practice in our country really sad 😦
    Once while i was taking some pics near a sewage (just shooting frogs for fun πŸ˜‰ an old man thought i was a journalist making a report about pollution and began to tell me about haw ppl throw their garbage ect.. and when i told him that i’m not a journalist but just taking pics he gazed me as for “so what the f… are you doing here?”.
    you forgot another point in some places it’s dangerous to show that you have a nice big high-tech camera, robbery tentation ect…

  4. GloomK says:

    yes i totally agree, urban photography is hard to practice in our country really sad 😦
    Once while i was taking some pics near a sewage (just shooting frogs for fun πŸ˜‰ an old man thought i was a journalist making a report about pollution and began to tell me about haw ppl throw their garbage ect.. and when i told him that i’m not a journalist but just taking pics he gazed me as for “so what the f… are you doing here?”.
    you forgot another point in some places it’s dangerous to show that you have a nice big high-tech camera, robbery tentation ect…

  5. Hatem says:

    Karim it’s not about Tunisian laws, but there is what is called Geneve agreement to protect the civil rights. You are FREE to practice photography, but I’m FREE also to not allow anyone take photo of my face, it’s called privacy πŸ™‚
    Of course there is places where it is not allowed to take pictures : military places, government institutions … etc, this one is called security ! πŸ™‚
    Otherwise the guy you are talking about is concerned by none of those above, just wanted to show himself.
    I agree also with snawsi, probably you can get a journalist pass to have more freedoms to take your photos and practice your hobbies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s