There are lots of situations where photographers have encountered police who have wanted their memory cards. Perhaps you were photographing an important moment for the publication you’re working for. Generally speaking, a police officer cannot ask you for your memory card in a situation like this. If you’re photographing in public and in a place where you’re legally allowed, you’re 100% within your rights. So what do you do if it happens? Well, here’s a short list of options.
Make Smart Decisions in the First Place
Think about why you’re photographing the police and what you’re going to do with the images. Everyone records them these days. Use discretion. Are you in public? Typically speaking, you’re free to photograph whatever you want. Are you in a private place? Think a bit more carefully about that. Generally speaking, no judge will give you more than a slap on the wrist when photographing a police officer.
Generally speaking, things work out better when you have the backing of a full publication with lots of money. If you’re a street photographer just trying to do it for yourself, be a more mindful and careful about this.
Use These Settings
Here are some helpful settings to use, we’ll go further into this in other sections:
- Wifi and Bluetooth on
- Two memory cards and images recording to both of them
- Automatically push photos to your phone
These can be a major help as long as you also think clearly, carefully, and stay calm. Realistically speaking, if a police officer assaults you for taking their photo, you’re probably going to win in court.
Make Sure Your Camera Is Backing Up the Images to the Second Card
This is a big one. Hopefully, you’ve got a camera with dual SD card slots. So make sure you’re using both of them. Have RAWs set to go to one card and JPEGs set to go to the other card. Alternatively, you might set both cards to record RAW or both cards to record RAW and JPEG both. If you do this and give them only one memory card, they’ll think their job is done. And you can still keep your images because you’re using two SD cards.
Set the Camera Up to Wirelessly Beam the Photos to Your Phone if Possible and Keep Them Talking
This can be done if you’ve got a single memory card or if you have dual card set ups. It also depends on the camera you’re using. Some cameras like those from Nikon, Leica, and a few others will let you have your phone connected to the camera, beaming images as they’re being created. Think of it as wireless tethering. If your camera does this, make sure it’s set up to do so beforehand and that it’s porting the photos over.
More importantly, if they’re really demanding your memory cards, keep them talking. This will buy more time for your photos to be sent wirelessly to your phone.
Lots of photographers never use the wireless tether feature, but it’s really useful. You won’t always get your RAWs, but at least you’ll have your photos.
When all this is done, make sure to get away from the officers if you can.