"Don't be a terrorist"

Two nights ago and 30 minutes before sunset, armed (wrong word maybe in this situation) with my tripod and DSLR camera, I setup on the footpath above Brisbane's Southbank Train Station and framed for the shots I would take when the sun goes down. Something I do in around Brisbane at least 3 or 4 nights per week.

At no time was I obstructing people or doing anything that I would deem suspicious.

I had probably been there for around 40 minutes when I was approached by two Police Officers, Only one officer spoke, who started off by saying that I wasn't allowed to take photos of infrastructure. I replied that I was on public property and wasn't aware of any laws prohibiting it. He advised that there are new counter terrorism laws that do prohibit exactly what I was doing and later stated that he was sure if I was to take photos of Parliament House, I would be detained.

They walked away without asking for any ID, or pushing the issue any further, although made a strange and somewhat ridiculous statement... "Don't be a terrorist".

I was and still am rather shocked at how I could be seen as a terrorist.

Did they in fact know the law regarding this? I don't think so. It is for this reason, I decided to write this blog, as I would certainly like to know what I am and aren't allowed to do.

Shortly after a QLD Rail worker with a broom, also approached me with much the same questions and remarks about not being allowed to take photos.

Southbank Station

I posted one of the photos I took on my Instagram account and also tagged both QLD Police and QLD Rail, asking for clarification of the laws, with regards to the taking of photos in Brisbane.





QLD Rail to their credit replied by the next morning. The document can be viewed here.

There is a paragraph in the guidelines that confused me though...

"It is a condition of these guidelines that people taking photographs or filming Queensland Rail assets do not make those images / footage available to the general public or place them on the internet where they may be freely accessible by others. This ensures images are not misused and rail enthusiasts can continue to enjoy their hobby."

QLD Rail have their very own Instagram account and they have featured other photographers work, clearly showing QLD Rail infrastructure.

Their guidlines allow you to take photos, but not post them anywhere???

To date QLD Police have made no comment.

I really don't understand how the act of taking a photo such as this can be seen as terrorism or aiding terrorism, when there is as much if not more to be seen on Google Maps, as well as every man and his dog with a phone camera doing the very same thing.

It's not the first time I've been harassed while taking photos in the city and I'm sure it won't be the last, but I would literally love to know where I stand.

Would love to hear photographers experiences around the world, taking photos in their own city, or perhaps whilst visiting another city.