A Photographer’s Guide
to the First Amendment

February 20, 2014 | Andy Cush

What with the recent arrest of Shawn Thomas, a photographer who was arrested and allegedly beaten for the non-crime of recording video of a police officer, it’s an opportune time for Photo District News to be releasing their photographer’s guide to the First Amendment.

In the video above, National Press Photographers Association general counsel Mickey Osterreicher explains the constitutional protections for photographers. What it boils down to: the First Amendment guarantees your right to take pictures — yes, even of cops, or arrests in progress — within reason. That is, cops are allowed to ask you to step back if you’re truly obstructing them or if you’re standing in the street.

He also explains that the cops aren’t allowed to force you to leave the scene, or to demand that you hand over your camera or delete your images (all things that happened to Thomas, for what it’s worth). Watch the video above, and keep this stuff in mind next time you’re out shooting.