Photographers in the United States say they are being denied the right to photograph President Barack Obama and have today vented their frustration in a protest letter to White House press secretary Jay Carney.
The Associated Press is among dozens of news organisations to sign the letter in protest at what they claim is routine denial of the right to photograph and video the President while he is performing official duties.
The letter states: ‘As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.
‘To be clear, we are talking about presidential activities of a fundamentally public nature. To be equally clear, we are not talking about open access to the residence or to areas restricted, for example, for national security purposes.’
The White House has told the press its reason for closing certain events to photographers is that they have been deemed ‘private’.
In the letter, the media hit back at this, saying: ‘That rationale, however, is undermined when the White House contemporaneously releases its own photograph of a so-called private event through social media.’
Associated Press vice-president and director of photography Santiago Lyon added: ‘A small group of photographers and a videographer, collectively known as the “travel pool”, enjoys some access to the Oval Office and other presidential activities but increasingly the Obama administration labels events as “private” before then releasing the official photos shot by White House photographers such as Pete Souza.’
As we reported in 2009, Souza became the first to use a digital camera to capture the official portrait of a United States president. Souza captured the photo of President Obama using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR.
Among the 38 bodies protesting the photo rules are Reuters, The Washington Post, CNN and Getty Images.
To read the hand-delivered letter to Jay Carney click HERE