Raided and Arrested: A Street Photographer's Nightmare
By Antony Soren
22 Aug 2014
Living in beautiful St Ives, Cornwall, there's no shortage of wonderful shots to be had. One can point a camera in virtually any direction, in fact, and be confident of capturing something that wouldn't look out of place in an exhibit.
Growing up here, however, it's easy to get spoiled, and my childhood love of photography didn't last much beyond my early twenties.
Then, in the Spring of 2013, as a bored thirty-something, I read an article about street photography and decided to give it a go. I was soon sharing my pictures on-line, often within hours of taking them, and getting a lot of positive feedback.
Not everybody was happy, however, and some started to question my focus upon girls (examples on the right).
No matter, I thought. As an unashamed girl-lover, I had no qualms about adding this fact to my profile, naively believing that it would end the controversy.
Instead, it was interpreted by some as a euphemism for "paedophile" and my account was subsequently bombed and attacked in a number of different ways.
I persisted throughout the summer months, nevertheless, but finally abandoned the project in September 2013.
Then, on one dark morning in November, I heard an unexpected knock at the front door. It appeared that two women were standing outside, so I decided to see what they wanted. As I opened the door, however, about a dozen police officers suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, and poured into the house, obviously intent upon searching it.
To say that I was shocked would be an understatement.
As the search continued, I was driven to a nearby police station, where my fingerprints and DNA were taken. I also had to remain in a cell until my solicitor arrived.
During the interview itself it emerged that somebody had complained about my photographic "focus" upon girls (there was no complaint about the images themselves, it's worth remembering). This means that I was essentially being accused of a thought crime, and some of the subsequent questions tended to confirm this. For example, I was asked whether I masturbated over the pictures! I was then questioned about what was on my hard-drive, and among the list of possibilities that were offered to me were "snuff movies."
At this point I began to feel quite sick, and I seriously wondered whether I might actually still be asleep in bed, having some sort of horrendous nightmare.
But no. Unfortunately this was, and is, the nightmarish reality of life in modern-day Britain, during what has unquestionably become a modern-day witch hunt.
It has taken me this long to be able to write about what happened to me last year. And whilst I certainly haven't given-up on street photography altogether, I've decided that working with models may be a better way to go from now on. I have also founded an organisation to help tackle this thorny subject and to represent those who identify themselves as girl-lovers. For more information, please visit...