8 Weird photography laws in America

“and why you can’t bother Bigfoot with your camera in Washington State (anymore)”

Fox Foto Co
6 min readAug 17


A photo of my buddy John from our last street photography walk in Portland, Oregon USA | January 2023

In a politically charged period of history, and as a former public policy analyst myself, I figured today would be a fine opportunity to bring some humorous photography laws to your attention. Maybe we can learn something deeper in the process!

Also, Europe, don’t laugh too much…you’re next!

1. Idaho: No Fishing Photos: In Pocatello, Idaho, it’s technically illegal to take a photograph of a fish if you’re not planning to eat it. This law was likely intended to prevent people from wasting fish by catching them just for a photo.

I love Idaho, even though I’ve spent most of my time in the PNW in Oregon, Idaho has charmed me each and every time I’ve visited. So don’t take this the wrong way, but y’all have some even weirder laws on the books.

Like, did you know, that it’s also illegal to NOT smile on the street in Pocatello, Idaho?

Also, a common internet joke suggests that it’s illegal to fish from the back of a camel (and also giraffes) in Idaho. Deeper diving finds that the law is more generic (and applies loosely to fishing from any animals back)…but it’s still a funny pesudo-fact to bander about. The true law isn’t that weird I guess.

2. Alabama: No Puppets in Photos: In Mobile, Alabama, it’s illegal to take a photo that includes more than one person if one of them is a puppet.

Alrighty, then.

3. Oregon: No Dueling Photos: In Oregon, it’s illegal to take a photograph of a duel. This law harkens back to a time when dueling was still practiced.

Let’s take a step back and consider this law from the time it was probably written in. Historical and technological context matters.

Two things first come to mind. First, dueling, when dueling was a thing, was a serious and about reputation. I’m almost certain this law was related to preserving the public posterity and dignity of the participants. No one wants a photo of them bloodied and injured in the newspaper.

What’s worse than losing (but surviving) a duel? Probably seeing your almost dead-self on the front…