Losing Focus: CTA Warns Against Excessive Photography

Photography is threat to safety, posters say

Tourists, put your cameras away. The CTA is declaring them a threat to our safety.

One of the features that defines Chicago, for better or worse, is the 'El' train. It's an icon of sorts and a object of much photography.  A quick search online shows that locals and visitors alike enjoy snapping pictures of our trains from every angle.

But signs recently posted by the CTA (pictured here) encourage commuters to report "excessive photography/filming" to authorities.

In fact, the signs suggest that photographers are just as much of a threat to safety as "unattended packages" and "noxious smells or smoke."

Could your next snapshot result in a call to 911?

This isn't the first time the CTA and photographers have butted heads. Numerous camera-wielders have reported confrontations with CTA employees, who obviously didn't know the CTA's official policy:

"The general public is permitted to use hand-held cameras to take photographs, capture digital images, and videotape within public areas of CTA stations and transit vehicles for personal, non-commercial use," a statement reads.

And while the CTA clearly spells out what equipment is and isn't allowed on the transit system, it never specifies what constitutes "excessive photography."

Five pictures? 10? 20? And who's counting? Last month, hundreds of pictures were taken of the CTA Holiday Train. Were those all a threat to safety?

The fact is, photography is not a crime, and the CTA needs to stop treating it as such. They are not enforcing safety; they're instilling fear.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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