Senator Neal Kurk’s Bill Could Ban Aerial Photography

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Drone technology has caused quite a stir lately, more specifically “mini-drones” and their implications. Senator Neal Kurk has proposed a bill that makes aerial photography illegal in the state of New Hampshire or more specifically, “an act prohibiting images of a person’s residence to be taken from the air”.

The bill states the following:

A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects. In this paragraph, “dwelling” means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more individuals.

Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2014.

What I find unusual about such a proposal is how it excludes government officials from the same restriction, when a good number of the complaints that have arisen against the drones are against the government using them for official business, and not against commercial flights, aerial photographers or even services like Google maps.

This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.

This section seems a little too nitpicky to me because that could mean no buildings, vehicles, power lines, sheds, fences, greenhouses or even a clothesline. What if I take a photo from the tallest building in the world? What if I take some photos of the city from the window seat of a plane?

Or what if someone has a pole they can use to extend their reach, like in the photo below? Photographer Michael D. Martin explains how he was able to capture this shot without even leaving the ground.

Neely Mansion w/Mt Rainier in background
This shot was taken using my pole. I do what’s called Pole Aerial Photography (PAP). My particular pole can be raised to about 35 feet. I had no idea that Mt Rainier was there until I got home and looked at my photos.

Another possible implication of the bill would be the ban on people’s hobbies and in some cases, even professions. How will this affect them?

No one wants an invasion of privacy, but this bill seems a little too invasive. Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.