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UPDATE: Friends pointed out Ustream or other streaming apps are best for making sure your video gets saved. My picks are aimed at those with mobile data caps, which make streaming a less-viable option.

In hectic settings like the Zuccotti Park police riots on Occupy Wall Street earlier this week, those gathering photos and video from the scene face dangers including arrests, violence, threat of having equipment lost, stolen or broken and, in some instances, having cops delete your footage.

While none of those are welcome outcomes, having your footage deleted is the most heinous to plenty of journalists. But for those shooting with smartphones, the Google+ app and Apple’s Photostream part of its new iCloud services can offer a way to save your photos on the fly in case someone tries to delete them.

Both services allow you to automatically upload your footage to the Web immediately after you shoot it. Google+ saves it to your personal album on its service called “photos from your phone.” Google+ also gives you the option to have it shared on your G+ page immediately, or to keep it to yourself in that album until you’re ready to release it at your convenience.

To activate the automatic upload, turn it on in the photo portion of the app’s settings. And don’t ignore those “When to upload photos” (Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and mobile networks) and “on battery” options to ensure that your photos get uploaded ASAP. If you’re being accosted in a park, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to make it to a Wi-Fi hotspot or an electrical outlet in time to save your shots.

Apple’s iCloud for iOS devices serves a similar purpose with Photostream, but the automatic upload doesn’t work for videos; they must be uploaded manually. Since I don’t have an iPhone, I’ll leave the explanation to somebody with one. Also make note that Photostream saves only your 1,000 most recent photos and they expire after 30 days.

The big thing with each service is to make sure that the automatic upload features are on before you go out shooting. I can understand not wanting all your photos uploaded to G+ all the time, so make sure to toy with the options before you go out.

It’s important if you find yourself in a situation where someone’s trying to delete your photos that you limit their access to your phone, buying it time to upload your shots. One of the easiest ways to hold somebody up is to lock your screen with a PIN. Don’t forget you have the right to remain silent, including remaining mum on your unlock PIN. Your upload will go through unless the officer removes your battery or you’re in an area with shoddy service. Also don’t tell him that the footage is in the process of uploading. Then he’ll be even more likely to pull the battery. I know it’s fun to gloat when you’ve outsmarted someone, but trust me here.

If you know of some other apps that serve this purpose, feel free to share them in the comments. Offer up your own tips for keeping your photos safe in such a situation, whether with a smartphone or a DSLR.

For more on photographer and photojournalist intimidation by civilians and police, check out the Pixiq blog.

And remember: Photography is not a crime.


The biggest hesitation I had about my new job was working behind a paywall. In fact, I requested a meeting with the website’s editor during my job interview to talk about it. After a couple months working here, here’s some notes on how it’s affected my online life.


• In my previous job and at my campus paper I always wanted to help promote my reporters’ work. Call it my way of showing them I appreciate their work as much as I fantasize they do mine. Because of the paywall, I can’t link to shareworthy stories I look at during my shift. It would be a useless link for most because stories that make print edition require a subscription to read online.
Note: The paper also has some Web-only reporters who cover daily breaking news. Their content is normally free online. Some breaking wire content is also given away. Videos, blogs, graphics and the like are free because they’re considered supplemental to the print edition.

• My other issue is what I like to call “link jealousy.” Back in Lynchburg, if I saw central Virginia Twitterers linking to competitors more than us I got bit frustrated and felt like we were losing out. Now I’m in a situation where seeing links to my own company is extremely rare. It took quite some time for me to adjust to seeing rivals get all the links from the Little Rock Twitter users I follow.


• While my eye still twitches when I see rivals’ links posted more often, not being able to link to my office’s work has enticed me to read the rivals’ websites without feeling like I’m being disloyal. I imagine my old habit of refusing to look at rivals’ sites is exclusive to me, but my new situation has broken me out of it and made me more of a consumer and less of a link dumper. Reading rival content leads me to often consuming the same facts more than once and helping me get familiar with my new area quicker. Maybe soon enough I won’t have to hit up Google Maps to check every intersection or search for each North Little Rock alderman’s name every time.

• The increased consumption ties into my top advantage to my new environment: I’m more of an online listener now. Before, I was the one wanting to tell the community what links to consume. Now, I find myself the one weighing which links to look at. It makes for interesting observations from the other side of the glass. I’ve been able to spend more time reading content from Little Rock-area bloggers than I did in Lynchburg. As a result, I give more of a crap about my new online community than I did in my past (at least as far as with people I’ve met less than three times).

In conclusion, while the paywall idea is still odd to me, the lessons I can adapt to my online life are very valuable. It’s good to get in touch with and observe your consumer side.

Luke Morris

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E-mail: lukesmorris [at] gmail [dot] com

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