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June 12, 2005 12:01 AM

Broken: Anti-photo policies

Anti-photo policies in public areas really annoy me. (The recent policy on the NYC subway comes to mind..) The only people it affects are law-abiding citizens who wouldn't do anything wrong with the photos; given how small cameras are now, the Bad Guys are still free to take as many pictures as they like.

Boing Boing links to this heartening story: Photographer grills security guard about dumb policy.


first comment!

Posted by: Mike at June 12, 2005 12:56 AM

Now that I've said that, isn't there some law against doing that?

Posted by: Mike at June 12, 2005 12:57 AM

First off let me say the exploitation of 9/11 has made me sick from day one. I'm tired of (mostly) businesses blaming 9/11 for everything. "Our customer base has dwindled because of 9/11".

NO!! your customer base has dwindled because your product and/or service sucks but your prices continue to increase.

Now about the picture taking if you are in a public area you have the legal right to photograph anything in plain sight and since the last time I checked buildings were in plain sight snap away. "We don't like people taking pictures of our building because of 9/11" OH How STOOPID

Posted by: kent at June 12, 2005 05:15 AM

I cant believe that they actually try to enforce this kind of thing. I know that the flag that is displayed in DC is off limits (the one from waaay back in the day) from cameras, same with the original dec. of independence, but thats understandable, the flash could *possibly* mess it up and all that, but public areas??? I liked the way that photographer handled the situation, made it sound stupid to the person telling him not to take the pics, but that is *extremely* broken!

Posted by: what? at June 12, 2005 06:08 AM

In 1999 I was creating a new destination site for NYC and part of it was photographing all of the tourist destinations. In order to do a virtual tour of the locations, I brought a tripod so that I could setup panaramas. I was told at numerous buildings, empire state building, world trade center, statue of liberty, rockafeller plaza etc., that use of tripods were prohibitted because it was then professional photography. I ended up holding the camera against my chest and pivoting. The panaramas stitched together pretty well, but I am still amazed just how quickly the camera nazi's were on top of me the second I began taking picutres.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at June 12, 2005 08:43 AM

And congress is in secret meetings to extend the "Patriot Act" this week, which is what many of these rent-a-cops claim set this rule.

As a person who takes pictures as a hobby (primarily railroads and railroad related stuff), it has put a kink in my lifestyle as well.

I have had to stop this hobby, because if I was arrested or questioned on it for any reason, I could lose my security access I need for work (I have to carry a government issued security badge for access to specific areas of my job, although I'm in private industry).

When personal freedoms are restricted in the name of "terrorism", the terrorists win.

Posted by: Michael Jones at June 12, 2005 01:15 PM

Yeah, it's not exactly hard to take stealthy snaps if you don't mind inferior composition. You don't even need a fancy modern camera to do it--I've done it 30 years ago with a el-cheapo that shot 126 film. My father was a psychologist/anthropologist and he would often want street-scene shots in Arab lands where you're not supposed to take pictures of the women. Since there were usually women about that posed a problem and so I often got detailed to take such snaps. Knowing I was going to do it and what the target would be he still generally wouldn't see me do it. (I often would have to wander about a bit to get the shot as when you're shooting like that nobody's going to get out of your way, thus the mere fact that I went near the target wouldn't be enough to say I got it.)

I've also done some of it by means of a good zoom lens. This was normally at tourist sites that charged for taking pictures of certain things. Many times I was really shooting something well in the background when it looked like I was just taking a picture of us. I actually needed the tripod because of the exposure time but I would set the timer and then go get "in" (I would aim it to just miss my wife on one side and then when I got "in" I went to the other side of her.) the picture.

Posted by: Loren Pechtel at June 12, 2005 01:45 PM

It's amazing how stuff like this works. It used to be that if one were carrying around a decent looking camera (any sort of SLR, really), it almost gave the person free reign to go wherever they wanted. Sort of like a 'press pass' or something- it was just assumed you were working and/or 'supposed' to be there. My, how times have changed.

Posted by: ambrocked at June 12, 2005 03:35 PM

You know what's really sad? I love photography and especially of skylines and buildings. But if I were in this guy's position and had the same argument, I'd probably be in an orange jump suit down in Guantanamo. Why? Cuz I'm brown.

Posted by: falafel at June 12, 2005 04:48 PM

Anf after 9/11 the government was pleading for folks to send in any pictures they took that morning. Same with the airports where the bad guys started out, they checked every security camera for images of the bad guys. How about if EVERYONE instead ALWAYS took pictures, that way there would be more evidence than anyone could imagine. Same with Sigfried and cameras allowed in the shows, but as soon as one of the kitties eats Roy, they place is asking, even praying, than someone took an "unauthorized" photo.

Posted by: Robert at June 12, 2005 05:46 PM

If you're on public property and a security guard asks you to stop taking pictures then you don't realy have to listen to them. It's public property, they can't do anything to get you to move.

Just continue to take pictures.

If a place charges you for taking pictures, same thing. If you're on public property then just take pictures, but make sure you make it obvious to piss them off when you don't pay.

There's no reason you shouldn't be allowed to take pictures.

Posted by: bob at June 12, 2005 10:09 PM

I can see where photography in art museums is forbidden:

millions of flashes will eventually fade the ancient

pigments (I came close to getting thrown out of the

Sistine Chapel in Rome for looking at the ceiling with

a tiny telescope: the dumbo guardo didn't know a telescope

from a camera! But trying to stop a tourist from taking

pictures is utterly stupid. I won't go where I can't

take pictures (except the art museums, because I

respect the reason there).

Posted by: Wilmot Fink at June 12, 2005 10:11 PM

Imposter bob!

anyway, i can understand not being able to take pics of things that the flash would deteriorate. but, correct me if i'm wrong, the blueprints of buildings are public record. why would the terrorists use crappy pictures taken from street level when they can have the blueprints?

Posted by: Bob at June 12, 2005 10:16 PM

Hey, Michael do you know about the "secret" Congressional hearings? If they really are secret, and you disclosed their secrecy to the world, you could lose your security clearance. If they're not really secret, then you trying to impress us and the "conspiracy" aspect to your post evaporates.

Posted by: Mike G. at June 13, 2005 12:22 AM

Joshua Wood - I hope you're a better photographer than speller.

To be specific, "panaramas," "rockafeller,"

"prohibitted," and "nazi's." (well, not really misspelled, but, wrong tense)

Posted by: Mike G. at June 13, 2005 12:29 AM

Who gives a fuck if he can't spell?

I'm going to go downtown and take a bunch of pictures so I feel better now.

Posted by: Joey at June 13, 2005 12:38 AM

And if the security guards harass you, take pictures of them too. Google "Photographer's Rights" and print out the PDF you will find there. Hand it to anyone who gets in the way of your freedoms. This is still America. They may want to take it away from you, but don't HAND it to them

Posted by: Robert at June 13, 2005 12:46 AM

There's a law in many places that says you can't take pictures at a race track

The reason is that some people are in fear of compromise to be seen at a racetrack (perhaps spending taxpayers money w/ Dazie-mae on his arm), or has been banned w/ a court order from going there so photographic evidence of their presence would make trouble for them and might be basis for blackmail, which is illegal & we can't have that.

So, in order to preserve the peace, carrying a camera at a race track is illegal instead.

What may we extrapolate from this precedent, concerning public figures & "probable" targets?

While I'm at it, another one that bites is that I can be fined for bringing my un-leashed dog to a state park, reguardless of what he does, because I'm responsible for him even if he does nothing or gets run over. However the state, which is responsible for non-domestic animals, will not admit liability if deer get into your garden, or reimburse for damages if one jumps in front of your car at night. If I hit a deer & took it home to eat, I'd be breaking the law. Fortunately most states say you CAN shoot deer that raid your garden, I guess you have to show proof that they were a nusisence (?). No proof is suficent though, if one wrecks your car & you toss 'em in the trunk to make up for food money spent on a windshield & front end re-alignment.

Posted by: Xznofile at June 13, 2005 12:51 AM


Yeah I suck at spelling normally I try to type everything in word and spell check it before submitting, but since it was the weekend I was lazy. Dyslexia sucks.


Posted by: Joshua Wood at June 13, 2005 08:47 AM

Money! Come on folks, it's all about the money! PPG has probably got some kind of deal with PIT for post cards or something. if you start taking your own pictures you might cut into their margin. you might even put them out of business. so be careful :-)

Posted by: SB at June 13, 2005 09:46 AM

See my previously posted comment about problems I had trying to photograph my own personal property!

It's the very first comment.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at June 13, 2005 10:47 AM

You guys are a bunch of whiners

Posted by: T-1000 at June 13, 2005 09:42 PM

Mike G. - I said that I have a government-issued security badge, not security clearance. The difference is the fact that I am allowed into areas of facilities that the General Public is not allowed. I don't see government secrets, so security clearance is not required.

The secrecy in my job (again, I'm in private industry, and don't work for the government - the company contracts to another private corporation) is covered by typical industry "non-disclosure" agreements that I signed upon employment.

Most of the information about the congressional hearings was reported in both Main Stream and alternate media, so it's not a secret anymore. Goggle for "Patriot Act" and you'll find a wealth of stories about it's renewal in the last week.

Posted by: Michael Jones at June 14, 2005 01:22 AM

"Nazi's" is not in the wrong tense. It is in the wrong case. (The possessive or dative instead of the nominative.) Only verbs can be be in the wrong tense. Since "Nazi" is an abbreviation anyway, there is precedent for including the apos'e.

Posted by: SimonTrew at June 14, 2005 08:45 PM

the ban on video/photo in MTA was lifted.

Posted by: Howard at June 19, 2005 02:21 PM

Two thoughts: isn't it incongruous at best that "they" all have security cameras on every corner inside and outside of every building photographing us--actually making moving pictures--with no compunction, while having fits over our taking pictures of "them?"

And two, NAZI is an acronym, and some usage experts acknowledge an apostrophe for plural acronyms, perhaps to indicate that the "s" isn't part of the code. Abbreviations have their own plurals, either basic (lb. /lbs.) or especially fitted to the occasion (Mr. / Messrs.).

Posted by: dan at June 20, 2005 03:28 PM

I something like this on the news. They said that there are no public anti- photo laws in america at this time. This does not aply if you are in side.

Posted by: I'm pretty! Take a Photo! at August 16, 2005 06:09 PM

Nazi IS NOT an Acronym, it is an abbreviation of Nationalsozialistische. Instead of saying "National Socialists" every time, you say "Nazi". A TRUE Acronym of the Nazi party would be "NS" for "National Socialist" party.

Posted by: Bill at September 30, 2005 09:25 AM

Nazi IS NOT an Acronym, it is an abbreviation of Nationalsozialistische. Instead of saying "National Socialists" every time, you say "Nazi". A TRUE Acronym of the Nazi party would be "NS" for "National Socialist" party, or, if you're using the weird, Navy way of producing acronyms, "NaSo"

Posted by: Bill at September 30, 2005 09:26 AM

Mike G:

Take a chill pill. We're all 'politically correct' enough .. are you even a photographer anyway?

Posted by: Person at October 17, 2005 12:20 PM

This stuff irrtates me. I'm a photographer and have taken plenty of pictures of skyscrapers and the like, but haven't ever really been harassed .. yet. A good telephoto lense and telecoverter help with this.. ..Ah yes I remember once I was asked to put away my camera in NYC. I did until the guy walked away. Give me a break.

Posted by: tallguy at October 17, 2005 12:25 PM

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