When filming in Israel and Jordan in 2011 and 2012, I was amazed at how easy it was to record video without a special permit. This hasn’t always been the case, especially at historical sites. So how was I able to do it? I shot most of my footage using DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. Why didn’t guards or other people in charge question me? They assumed I was a tourist doing what tourists do – just taking pictures.
It may be more difficult now since it’s common knowledge that anyone with a smart phone can record video. I expect there are more signs saying NO PHOTOS OR VIDEO. Some places may even search your pack or clothing to make sure you don’t bring in a smart phone or camera. Several museums in Israel were doing that when I was there and are probably still doing it now.
With the advent of digital photography and video and the quality associated with it, almost everyone has the capacity to be a filmmaker. In years past, in order to be a professional photographer or cinematographer you either went to film school or worked with a more experienced professional to learn the craft. You also had to invest thousands of dollars in equipment and sometimes wait for weeks to see the images you shot. Now it’s instantaneous and movies are being made with smart phones. A great example is Searching for Sugar Man, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2012.