Prompted by bad wedding pictures, bill would regulate photographers
PENNSYLVANIA — Photojournalists could be subject to strict licensing procedures under a bill introduced in December in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would regulate professional photographers.
The law would require those who hold themselves out as “professional photographers” to pass a test, hold a degree in photography, serve a two-year apprenticeship or have worked as a photographer for at least two years in the military or police force and be free of criminal fraud charges. Violators could be fined and imprisoned.
Although the bill is intended to regulate professional and studio photographers, it is unclear how the law would affect news and free-lance news photographers. Sheri Petrich, a research analyst who drafted the legislation, said news photographers would not be subject to the requirements and that the bill may have to be rewritten to make that clear. However, she is not sure whether free-lance photojournalists would have to be licensed. “We haven’t sorted that out yet,” she said.
The general counsel of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association, Larry Boyle, told Editor & Publisher, “If the state starts regulating news photographers, there’s a little problem they’ll run into. It’s called the First Amendment.”
State Rep. Thomas Scrimenti (D-Erie County) introduced the bill in December after receiving a complaint from a constituent about bad wedding photos. Scrimenti’s office contacted the state attorney general’s office and found numerous complaints against professional photographers, most of which were from people who were displeased with their photos.
(HB 2357- Professional Photographer Licensing Act)