Used to be I carried around my big Nikon in an equally big and cumbersome – not to mention obvious – bag. Taking a photo was a production. I’d have to take the thing out of the bag, remove the lens cover, make some manual adjustments, stand just so.
By the time I was ready to snap a picture, everyone in a five-country area knew just what I was doing.
Not so anymore.
Now I just pop my tiny little Nikon out of my pocket or purse, nonchalantly zoom in on something and snap away. No biggie.
Well no biggie unless you happen to be here in Saudi, and happen to get caught.
Which is exactly what happened to two Saudi guys recently who decided to snap a few shots of a public lashing that took place in Jeddah.
It must have been just too tempting – third convicts, a public lashing, a lot of people, and a little camera.
The guys were arrested and are facing trials.
Irony would suggest that the penalty for their so-called crime be lashing, but who knows.
Whether or not taking photos in public is legal or not seems to be one of those infamous grey areas here. Years ago it was ok, then for awhile it was banned. Then it was okay again. Now, well now I'm not too sure.
Even when it is ok to take photos in public, there is a long list of things you can't photograph - everything from women without their permission to government buildings and military installations. At one point, I was told it was also a big no-no to photograph mosques and people coming out of them, but who knows what the ruling is now.
For my part, I go by the AA logic - if you think you can't then you can't.
What are the benefits to no-photo zones? Have you ever defied one? How did it make you feel and was the photo worth the effort and/or guilt?