Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This is getting ridiculous.

Utah, the American state founded by Mormons, is banning the photography of farms and farm animals.

The bill is called HB187, and the Utah Senate passed it on a 24-5 vote. Then the Utah House approved the Senate amendments 62-13. The bill goes to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature of approval today.

No doubt it will pass, and become law, and we’ll have another of those quaint old statutes such as a Welshman caught on the streets in Chester after midnight can be hanged, London cabbies must carry a bale of hay in their boots, and you’re not allowed to photograph Trafalgar Square.

Now every rational human ā€” and quite a few irrational ones ā€” will be scratching their heads and asking, “What is that all about?”

Well, as far as I can ascertain, farmers in Utah are fed up with rogue photographers snapping images of their appalling, brutal, barbarous, inhumane and mediaeval practices. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s the way it looks from this Atlantic shore. By depriving humans of their rights, the Utah legislature is allowing unscrupulous people to go about depriving animals of their rights.

Talking about mediaeval, those Mormons would have been denounced as heretics by the Spanish Inquisition. And everyone knows what happened to heretics. It was appalling, brutal, barbarous and inhumane. And nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Those Americans, eh? What are they like? They describe their country as the home of the brave and the land of the free. Not in Utah, it isn’t. What jolly japes will they get up to next? In the words of Cerys Matthews, longtime resident of the USA, “Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Welsh.”

And I’m not planning to visit Utah any time soon.

Or Chester, come to think of it.


Add your comment


75 Responses to “More photography banned”

  1. Paulo says:

    More and more the basic freedom of citizens seem to be restrained in many ways. Western countries like to look at themselves as democratic and advanced societies. But the approval of laws like this one (and the other one,banning photography of Trafalgar Square). Reminds more the state of autocratic dictatorships than democratic states… Is almost like going back to the middle age,but with different objectives(agendas). A minority produces laws that in little or nothing,favor the basic rights of the majority of citizens.

  2. Martin Klopstock says:

    Hi Gwynn,
    Good blog post! Photography – as pooposed to the verbal arts – can only reveal what is there. Which is why banning it is the only option šŸ˜‰ But I completely agree with you that this kind of practice in 21st century America gives the Middle Ages a bad name…and the US. IMHO it is almost always a sign of real weakness and lack of genuine confidence to have knee-jerk responses to anything. It prevents one from having to think hard about issues and come up with actual solutions. I can’t thank the Lord that i’m Welsh, but I can be grateful for not being a sheep šŸ˜‰

  3. David Chow says:

    What are the Mormans doing? They are dictating what other people should do according to their rediculous ideas!

    • LRT says:

      As I read it, the “Mormans” (sic) are not doing anything nor is there a religious basis for the law…it is the Utah legislature that are passing the bill.

      Your comment is merely a demonstration of prejudice and an inability to separate issues.

  4. Peter says:

    So much for an open society! If you get caught with a picture of an Utah steer in your Fotolibra collection can I take it that you would face immediate extradition and an unspecified time in Guantanamo bay or such like?

  5. Frank Gorny says:

    Does “photography” cover video? How about painting? Will you still be able to look at farm animals in Utah? Will you still be able to eat them, or will you have to close your eyes while you are doing it? Should all religion be banned?

  6. Roger says:

    It is crazy , we have a neighbor that made the school photographer come back and do the school photo again because his son was on it and didn’t want him on it .

    His son also goes to martial arts and the neighbor stopped a parent taking photo’s in case his son was captured ..

    What next stop wedding photographers in case someone is caught in the back ground ..

    Stop TV camera’s at sporting events and concerts .. The world is messed up big time ..

  7. Cliff Belton says:

    This is not as bad as it sounds, I just looked up the Utah bill and essentially it says you may not photograph or video farm operations without permission of the owner of the operation.

    Agree with Frank, religion ought to be banned.

  8. Mervyn Benford says:

    Not strictly related but I photograph surviving red phone boxes, starting when it looked like they were all threatened. They are such a landscape feature! (Now it’s milestones!) One day on a busy main Staffordshire road I took such a photo and, before I could walk back to my car parked on the verge was arrested by an Army segeant and two armed soldiers and taken into the army camp outside which stood the phone box, though not outside the gate, 50 metres down the road almost past the camp.

    They found my story hard to believe, thoeroughhly searched the car and checked where I had taken other phone boxes that day. Luckily I could tell them exactly where they were and so they did not strip my car to the last bolt as they told me they could do. They even allowed me to photo the BLUE box they all used behind the guard room- a rare prize in my collection now!!

  9. alina says:

    Very strange ,if they are so scared of showing the world how badly they treat animals by putting forward idiotic laws ,well it’s too late we all know it just needs some one with guts to do a documentary then there law means nothing.
    I always find it interesting how laws like this come about when you think about it an image is just light that has bounced off a subject and you capture in your camera,are they trying to say they own that little piece of light,very questionable!

    • John Cleare says:

      So beautiful Utah ( they’re not ALL Mormons there ) descends to the level of tin-pot bureaucracy.

      I was once arrested in Tanzania for photographing government servants without official authorisation. I’d shot Masai cattle in a dust cloud against the sun. Only during the process of being charged at the Police HQ did I discover that as all agriculture was nationalised, cattle were government servants.
      I jumped bail – but that was 40 years ago.

      Africa was – and often is still – like that, one is not over surprised, but in good old USA – well….

  10. Martin Lipinski says:

    Get even more creative…photograph a mirror as the subject where the reflection (which just so happens to be an image of a farm and/or farm animals in Utah or of Trafalgar Square) is simply a by-product of your artistic shot?
    ….after all, you’re not photographing the banned subject directly.

  11. Yes, that is the background to the passing of this law. It is designed to prevent animal rights groups photographing animal abuses.

    But to be accurate about what the law forbids – it forbids the photographing of farm animals on a farmer’s property without the consent of the farmer.

    And where you refer to the United States, remember that the country is just that – a federation of States. There is all the difference in the world between Utah and California, for example.

  12. Bob Raftopoulos says:

    Here in Orstralia we also have some quaint laws check the website below

    One of them is if you get caught with some ganja in the Northern Territory the cops will plaster a big sign on your front door declaring it a drug house.

    Check it out it’s worth a laff.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Bizarre. Is it true that there’s a law in Australia restricting the size of a shower head? I just bought an 8″ shower rose and a friend said “They’d sling yer in the boob fer that in Oz, mate”.
      Can it be true?

  13. The wording of the Bill, (U.S. spelling)

    ‘Agricultural operation’ means the commercial production of crops, orchards, aquaculture, livestock, poultry, livestock products, or poultry products and the facilities, equipment, or property used to facilitate the commercial production.

    A person is guilty of agricultural operation interference if the person, without consent from the owner of the operation, or the owner’s agent, knowingly or intentionally records an image of, or sound from, the operation while the person is on the property where the agricultural operation is located; or by leaving a recording device on the property where the agricultural operation is located.

    A person who commits agricultural operation interference is guilty of, for a first offense, a class A misdemeanor or for a subsequent offense, a felony of the third degree.

  14. As the old saying goes… “If you don’t want to be photographed stop reflecting photons into my camera” !!

  15. Peter Bolton says:

    Religion invented by man, organised by men, rule by fear, cause of wars and conflict throughout human history. USA home of the brave (remember the native American) land of the free (if you happen to agree with the majority). Trouble is, it is said that what ever originates in the US eventually filters over here (UK).

    God help us! – whoops can’t say that can I. Yes I can! don’t think he listens anyway.

  16. Ed Buziak says:

    Ah yes… but what else do they allow in that great “land of the free” where it is still legal for a man to have sex with his horse (I believe in 13 States although cannot find a link with a listing) and certainly in Arkansas and Washington where it is perfectly legal to have sex with an animal.

    • Ann Parry says:

      Every day, when I wake up, I appreciate Iā€™m Welsh, Italian, English, German, Swedish, and Irish. And I aim to avoid generalizing about “those [fill in nationality of your choice] people.”
      your teammate from perfectly imperfect New York – Ann

    • Laura C. says:

      Yes, but, to the very point you raise, Ed, it was there in Britain where, I must ashamedly admit, I viewed in part on Five I think it was, a movie called Zoo in March or April 2009. No matter how ridiculous or inconsistent we are, I’m betting heavily that that one won’t be on television here in America any time soon. I am no prude by any means but that was the most depraved, sick movie I have ever seen. Trying to equate a guy who dies from having sex with a horse to gay people. Of course it was the buzz of the Sundance Film festival where it premiered and ever since I was polluted by seeing it, I have seriously wondered just what Robert Redford is doing up there in his solitude in, where? What a surprise, Utah!

  17. Baza says:

    Is this the proof of going over the top

  18. Paul says:

    So you could not take a photograph of a mormon with mutton chop whiskers then ? lol

  19. John Launay says:

    Don’t feel so smug and safe about being welsh, isn’t England as a whole bieng more and more influenced by the so called democratic American way of life. Our Television, zero tolerance on most things and of course extradition is mostly influenced by America, I think there is far more to come (beware Photography??).

  20. PAul says:

    And what about the ban on taking photos that have no aesthetics?

    Was that a hoax, or scarily real?

    “In an interview with the Long Beach Post, McDonnell defended the policy, claiming that Long Beach Police Department officers are able to make a judgement about the aesthetic nature of a subject ‘based on their overall training and experience’. ”

    HA !

  21. Ron Cook says:

    The state of Iowa (USA) just passed a similar Ag Gag bill. They decided it was unconstitutional to prohibit photography as free speech so they made it a felony to lie on a work application to get access to a livestcok operation.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    As a Cestrian, but not a racist, and having a father born in Cardiff, and a mother born in Chester I found as a teenager great fun could be had on a Sunday night after nine 0’clock ribbing our Welsh friends in the pub. Maybe they were fair game because all the Welsh pubs were shut on a Sunday in those days. Oh the joys of life when it was not PC and we all had a sense of humour.

  23. Beth Trissel says:

    Bizarre. Love the saying by Matthews. I’m in rural Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, on a small family farm. Our cows amble about in the meadow and have been photographed upon occasion for a lovely pastoral shot. What’s up, indeed, with Utah?

  24. Jpeg says:

    So what is your problem with hanging Welshmen after midnight?

  25. Ian Hooker says:

    David Chow calls them “Mormans”. Sorry David, it’s “Mormons” – as in “Morons”!!

  26. Michael C A Milne says:

    How polite you are !

  27. There’s obviously more to this than we know. What prompted the legislation? What are the barbarous acts?

  28. Jez Greenaway says:

    Why so surprised? With a ‘governor’ called Herbert, no doubt a multi-millionaire Moron himself, and the combined collective deviant mentality of the occupants of that entire group of untied states – original natives excepted – what would you expect? What a bunch they are: it isn’t the Taliban we should worry about but the millions of happy-clappy, corrupt hypocrites pontificating their fascist views on the rest of the world. It’s about time Yankyland had a dose of the Seven Plagues!

  29. Ian Hooker says:

    Yes, Sorry it was a bit OTT. I’ve nothing against mormons e.g. the Osmonds really are are very good role models. But I do feel the Mormons responsible for the legislation are worthy of such non-PC criticism.

  30. Luke says:

    It’s a pretty common thing. In most states, it’s called tresspassing. Did you actually read the whole bill, or just skim and rant? You can still take whatever photos you want to take from the road or PUBLIC property. This bill only applies if you are on private property.

  31. Image prohibition is gaining momentum. I guess it’s inevitable given that millions of camera phones, digital cameras are out there, many capturing video as well as photographs. A case of authority getting uncomfortable about so much immediate imagery instantly available world-wide.

    The idiocy is that they seem to think new laws will deter or stop the chance of photographs being taken in what is after all publi areas at least in the ‘free’ world. Well that’s not quite right now is it?

    In Britain public disobediance is a strategy I do not undertake, but I see others more than willing to accept the risks and carry it out. May be it is how it will help end the ridiculous influx of un-policable regulations, cap the unchallenged authorities, and bring an end to the security-obsessed governmental gurus.

    With tourism becoming an increasingly important income generator, I see little point for any government enacting policies that will effect it’s tax efficient process, reduce tourisms successful industries and create further British unemployment. A robust managed policed removal of every single mobile phone, camera et cetera from citizens and visitors will be necessary to ensure no photographs of Trafalgar Square and pariament square gardens (another little gem that’s currently threatening freedom) to be implemented.

    All this control is really not going to effect me being mid-sixty years old. I don’t care. It is everybodythat’s younger that should respond.

    Big Brother has been watching, is watching, and will watch until he’s had enough – then everyone will be told to stop!!! Everything he doesn’t like.
    Ain’t democracy GREAT!

  32. Graham says:

    This never ceases to amaze me..

    On the one hand, you Americans are totally opposed to the extremes of religous fundamentalism as exhibited by say the Taliban or other Moslem groups..

    And on the other, you have internal extremist and ideologically entrenched majorities within your own borders supported in part by large parts of your governmental institutions, that to the outer world appear no less zealous or plain crazy than those groups you don’t agree with..

    I’m not making any judgements either way, just posting an intelligent observation from abroad..

    And as I have no plans to visit the USA as a tourist, apart from this post appearing and probably being investigated by your now all powerful “Homeland Security” who see and investigate everything said on the web, I have no worries about arriving there and getting turned over by immigrations authorities and deported as several innocent posts from countrymen have resulted in happening to them.

    God bless the USA.. and all you allow to be done by yourselves to yourselves.. šŸ™‚

  33. Reed says:

    The law prevents any “trespassing person from recording images and sound of farming” it however does not prevent the person from recording images or sound from public property. You cannot be on the farmers property WITHOUT permission for the purpose of photographing of recording sounds. How is this a restriction of rights. In most states you are within your right to use deadly force against someone trespassing (breaking in) in your house. After all would you like me to walk in to your house and photograph you and your children, pets, wife/husband without your permission?

  34. Phil Dawson says:

    Since when has Cerys Matthews been president of the USA?

    Seriously, no comment other than to concur with the exasperaton in your report.

  35. Bob says:

    This is the land of the free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Wayne Brown says:

      Hi all
      You have got to laugh, i was in Nottingham a few weeks back when they had the beach and stuff in the town center. I woke up that morning and just decided to have a walk round with my camera in my home town center, i caught the tram and went into the center.
      I had a walk round and was snapping the Town Hall from the opposite end behind the lake bit with my 35-70 lens, as i pulled my camera down to check my screen a lady community police officer about 45 ish was 6 inch from my face and said “what are you doing” i replied what do you mean she then said ” i want to see what is on your camera you have bee reported for photographing children”

  36. Laura C. says:

    Dear Gwen,

    I am certainly sympatico with your point here, but PLEASE–“Those Americans…”!! That is like characterizing all Brits as though you are all Amy Winehouse.

    I consider myself a bright, intelligent and very academically inclined person, yet it was only in Nov/Dec 2010, whilst there in Britain, that I read for the first time Orwell’s 1984. I am still in shock and perhaps some denial over the prescience this man had in describing our very world today. I’ve been to England eight times since 2007 and each time for a considerable stay.

    I’ve been wanting to write an open and very intelligent letter to all you Brits but this will be a hurried version. I love your country, I believe that collectively you have a greater regard for the language {barring this recent “heche” H phenomenon} than my countrymen here, on the whole, do. I find ebonics about as eloquent as Sylvester Stallone’s character in Rocky. Moronic street smarts with heart will NEVER be more appealing to my Virgo personality than will a well-educated, well spoken person with heart.

    What I want to say to you after eight trips is, for God’s sake, stop following in the footsteps of every banal and pathetic thing we Americans do! I witness all the low-brow tele shows we produce which your countrymen adopt so willingly. You people have BRILLIANT shows on BBC4 and yet you’re jumping right on board with Friends, and Celebrity Apprentice, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Outta Here…

    Sadly all too often we (America) are The Pied Piper and the rest of the world can’t get in line fast enough to be the primary lemmings. Wake up and smell the tea!

    Can you sense that I’m desperate to be an expatriate? Isn’t there one of you who will take pity and adopt me?
    “My name is John Merrick…and I am not a Utahan!”

  37. Lynne Owens says:

    I do not plan to visit Utah and I dont like Mormons either.

  38. Lynne Owens says:

    I am not planning to visit Utah; and I do not follow the mormon faith

  39. Laura C. says:

    Whoops! In my fervor I misspelled your name, Gwyn. See…some of us are paying attention. šŸ™‚

    • Wayne Brown says:

      Ahhhhh Religion, some peoples interpretation is weird.
      Its sad though i was in Nottingham some weeks back first time for 5yrs and was harassed by a community police woman 45ish who appeared 6 inch from my face as i was snapping the town hall with a 35-70mm len from the opposite end behind the lake thing, she demanded to see my images and so it went on for 20 mins i was accused of photographing Kids.
      I was that angry i told her to get the police but on she refused she went on and on following me so i decided to leave but was harassed by her all the way to getting on the tram .
      I got off the next stop and walked back to watch her. Two asian lads were using dslr and merrily snapping away 10 feet from her, as was others round about, when she moved i asked the two lads if she approached them, “no” they said.

      I walked to central police station steaming and went nuts at the guy in charge, he apologized and said “it happens several times a day” i was gob smacked so i said speak to her or some one will hurt her….. blah blah.

      Any way i could of taken it further i had heard of this happening and i find it sad that the majority suffer for the few Teutonic twats trying to get famous or rich quick by images at any cost moral or immoral.
      I have looked up the law and they have no right to approach you with out any legit reason/proof in a public place. Will they ban all and i mean all cameras, mob, compacts, from any town event activity if it involves animals or children. Incidentally my local sports centre dont allow photography, neither does vic and broad marsh centres in notts.

      So “where does it end”

  40. Laura C. says:

    I’ve got to add as well this experience because it’s on point. I live in California–you know, presumably liberal Blue state California? In my youth I attended a private Catholic grammar school in this relatively suburban city 60 miles north of L.A.

    A few years ago, my local Friends of the LIbrary, who run a gift shop adjacent to the library, were discussing with me the possibility of making some postcards of local sites. With that and some inherent sentimentality on board, I went to take photos of this school I had attended. I parked on the public street, got out of my car and took photos of the main building from the sidewalk. At no time did I actually set foot on the school grounds, nor was I taking photos of any children..classes were in session at that mid-afternoon point.

    It was a bright sunny day so I had put my visor in the windshield of the car. We all know too that it’s not easy to view your photos on the small display in bright daylight. So I get back in my car and am reviewing the photos (this was minutes, not hours that could be judged loitering) and suddenly I hear a loud and startling WHACK! on the hood of my car. It was a school secretary who had seen me and was now informing me that it is not allowed to take photos without the school’s written permission.

    Needless to say, I was utterly INCENSED! Last time I checked there is no law saying that I cannot take a photo from a public sidewalk. I later phoned the woman to ask her if we are now living in Russia. Outrageous, and quite frankly–the woman’s behaviour (see my British showing?) begs the question, What is this school so desperate to hide? I just don’t feel so fondly for my old Santa Clara Grammar in Oxnard CA anymore–shmucks!

    This sadly is the fall-out of our paparazzi-laden, we’ve put a digital camera in your toilet paper world. The despicable habits of the few outweigh the legitimate intentions of the many.

  41. Felix says:

    It would be useful if you gave a link to the source of this. HB187 hase been around for about three years, and there’s an awful lot o web to comb in search of the facts behind the story.

  42. Felix says:

    Having made my comment above, i ought perhaps to practise what i preach…

    Here is a link to the document concerned ()

    Top matter from the bill:

    General Description:
    This bill establishes the crime of agricultural operation interference … [it] provides that a person is guilty of agricultural operation interference if the person, without the consent of the owner of the operation, records an image of, or sound from, an agricultural operation while on the property where the agricultural operation is located…

  43. Erika says:

    Well . . . . I guess what goes on in Utah stays in Utah šŸ™‚ Just think what National news we will make when we get arrested for taking a picurte of a cow on the side of the road šŸ™‚ LOL!!! Only in America! At least there are 49 other states.

  44. Richard Coombs says:

    Well, I suppose in one way its comforting to see that it’s not only us British that are barking mad. Apparently some of our cousins across the Atlantic are taking a leaf out of our book.

    The flood gates are gradually opening, we will see more and more of this as time goes by, of that I am quite certain.

    I can confidently predict that, in due course one will require a permit, as with ownership and use of a firearm, to own and use a camera!
    You will have to prove that you are of good character, and that you have no previous convictions. All photographic equipment will have to be kept in a locked steel cabinet firmly affixed to a wall. A Police officer will visit to make sure that security of your equipment is adequate before issuing the appropriate permit.

    A lot of my work is pencil illustration, the way things are going I think I might well major on that. But then, eventually I will need a permit to draw pictures!

    Dear God, where are we going??????

    Nicely written Gwyn, I had to smile despite the absurdity of the situation!


  45. BornInUSA says:

    about 50% of utah mormon
    under 50% of utah ranchers mormon
    mormons against cruelty
    cruel ranchers not religious
    law wont stop activists

  46. Debi Woodward says:

    The Utah legislature has nothing at all to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons). Utah also contains many catholics, agnostics, atheists and a few of many other religions. A lot of them are probably also represented on the legislature.

    I should also point out there are very many Latter Day Saints over in this country, none of whom to my knowledge have more than one spouse or interbreed.

    I have never heard such a lot of ignorant, prejudiced rubbish in my entire life. Get a life.

    • Wayne Brown says:

      Regulation on animal rights should i think be firstly the responsibility of owner Mormon Catholic or whatever a persons religion.
      Probably also regular inspections by gov officials should stop cruelty, if these two areas did there job correctly then there would be no need for activist’s to try and get evidence of cruelty.
      Strikes me as there could be money involved here and politics somewhere down the line.
      Priority should be the Animals ?

  47. Valerie Henschel says:

    1) I am American
    2) I am a photographer
    3) I have the right to photograph from a public owned street or sidewalk.
    4) I own property.
    5) I do not allow you to enter my property to make recordings unless you have my permission or the court has issued written permission for cause.
    6) Not all members of the Utah legislature are Mormon.
    7) The legislation is just clarifying laws already on the books to specifically include newer technologies that could later be used against you in the press or court of law.
    8) No rights have been taken away.
    9) You, even as a foreign person, may stand at the edge of the road and photograph my property.
    10) There are a lot of ranchers in Utah who have no problem with photographers taking photos of their cows from the street.
    11) There are a lot of ranchers in Utah who have no problem with a photographer taking photos on their property after asking permission first.

    So what really is your point?

  48. Gary says:

    All that happens as we progress is the restriction of our freedom. GR

  49. steve says:

    So much for the land of the free

  50. Harold says:

    I think it is a stupid ban, and there seems to be a hidden agenda. As fo Utha I dont think i will be visiting that place, I like my adopted home South Africa better. and by the way I think there is still a law in England that allows you to pass water on the left hand side of your vehicle this goes back to the stage coach days.