National Geographic Photographer Arrested Taking Photos Of Kansas Feedlot

11 Jul

By Rachel Tepper / Huffington Post

A freelance photographer working for National Geographic was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor criminal trespassing in Garden City, Kan., The Associated Press reports.

George Steinmetz, a New Jersey-based aerial photographer, was taking pictures of a feedlot outside Garden City from a paraglider prior to his June 28 arrest with paraglider instructor Wei Zhang. They were held briefly at Finney County jail and each was released on $270 bond.

The Huffington Post reached out to Steinmetz, who would not comment on the advice of his attorney. Steinmetz’s work has also appeared in The New YorkerSmithsonian magazine and in February was featured on NBC’s “Today” show. Steinmetz often works from a motorized paraglider, a lightweight machine with a small engine and parachute that he assembles.

Finney Country Sheriff Kevin Bascue told AP the two men were charged because they didn’t have permission to take off from private property and hadn’t told anyone they intended to take photos. Calls by The Huffington Post to Finney County attorney Susan Richmeier for further explanation were not immediately returned.

The sheriff didn’t mention Kansas’ ag gag law, the Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act, which became the nation’s first when it was signed into law in 1990. The law bars individuals from entering and photographing an animal facility not open to the public.

National Geographic’s vice president of communications, Beth Foster, responded with a statement:

George Steinmetz was briefly detained by authorities in Kansas on June 28, 2013. He was shooting aerial photographs for National Geographic magazine, as part of a series of stories on food issues that will appear next year. We believe he did not break any laws and have reached out to local officials about the incident. We are awaiting more information. If the matter does require legal action, National Geographic will provide for his and his assistant’s defense.

3 Responses to “National Geographic Photographer Arrested Taking Photos Of Kansas Feedlot”

  1. Jon Awbrey July 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    We can’t be having the public know the truth about Soylent Brown, now can we?

  2. pinbalwyz July 14, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Most photojournalists are 1st Amendment absolutists. But trespass is not flying or vice versa. One need not have permission to photograph what can be seen from a public venue. Air space is a public venue. What’s galling, in the face of sympathy for this National Geographic reporter is the hypocrisy of radical political elements who justly criticize such assaults on the public’s 1st Amendment rights to a free press, yet think nothing of supporting assaults on photojournalists at public demonstrations such as the May Day riots in Seattle.


  1. National Geographic “women only” exhibition | cameraconnect - July 18, 2013

    […] National Geographic Photographer Arrested Taking Photos Of Kansas Feedlot […]

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