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A photographer's rights

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DBrim, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. DBrim


    May 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
  2. Dugg (it got to #6 at the time)

    It's disgusting what we are doing, or allowing to be done to this country in the name of (false ) security. Don't get me started. Any rent-a-cop thinks they are king cos they have a badge. Problem is they have not read the Constitution.
  3. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA

    Truly an unfortunate incident. I'm not sure I would have left based on what a parking attendant said, but I certainly understand your concerns.

    That being said, I can tell you this. I sincerely doubt you would have been bothered in any way by the police. I'm a cop in my town and I can't think of any reason I would hassle someone taking photos of a public structure, unless there was some facts in play that don't seem to be present here (and while I can't speak for the Federal level, I know for certain I would find myself in front of a judge with a lot of explaining to do if I tried to hold someone indefinitely without cause).

    I'm not sure how your local department operates, but I can tell you, at least in Sacramento, I have never even heard of a local agency messing with people based on The Patriot Act. At the very most, they might have just asked you a few questions and then left you alone (There does seem to be a different set of standards for overpasses however, but my experience is that this is due mainly to concern over drivers being distracted).

    Case in point, I was recently taking evening photos of the State Capital. As I as setting up a shot on one of the entryways, I was approached by a California Highway Patrol officer (They're in charge of security at the Capital). He asked me what I was doing. I quickly explained I was taking architectual shots I found interesting. He asked a couple follow up questions to make sure I wasn't taking photos of security camera locations and then wished me a good night and moved on.

    Not once did I identify myself as an officer nor did he even ask for ID (rightly so).

    The bottom line is, if you are in a public place taking pictures of a public structure, there is really not anything that an officer could do to you so I wouldn't worry too much about that. If you aren't violating some Local, State or Federal laws, you are good to go.

    This isn't to say you won't ever run into the cop with the "chip on his shoulder", but hopefully that's the exception and not the rule.

    As for the overzealous parking attendant. . . . he needs a hobby as he has far too much time on his hands. :biggrin:
  4. Daniel,

    I'm curious, what overpass were you kicked off of? One around here? When you took that great shot of Boston?
  5. DBrim


    May 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    I guess I wasn't exactly clear, but the attendant had told my father that it's happened before that police have "chased people away" from the bridge before. This could be extended logically into unwanted questioning or even arrest if I refused to leave. I'm sorry if I left an impression that all officers would do this everywhere.

    The overpass I was kicked off of was in Indio, CA (pictured here). There was a sidewalk, and I was on public property. I've also been asked by MBTA officials not to take photographs in the subway tunnels, but that's private property so I can't raise the same complaint. I was approached by a garage attendant on that photo that you are referring to, but after answering a couple of questions the attendant left me alone.
  6. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    no, no. . . definitely not the impression you gave. I was just offering my 2 cents on the situation.

    Like I said, I understand your concerns.

    The bottom line is, I think we have handed over an awful lot of personal freedom in the name of "security" and this seems to show up day to day in situations like what you ran into.
  7. bob swanson

    bob swanson Guest

    :cool: By the way your images are very nice.

    How would you like to be the airline official that decided not to report the Islamic looking individuals that looked suspicious buying oneway tickets. Or the FBI agent that received reports of Islamic looking persons taking ONLY flying lessons without take off or landing instructions. I think we all need to get used to this. Any public official or person of responsibility has this in mind. They are all spooked because they don't want to be the one that let's X happen on their shift whether its justified or not. The Islamic nations have already won as we are looking over our shoulders, having to bear extra time and expense when we travel and our being questioned when something like this happens. Yes it is futile but maybe just one lapse will be the ONE that matters. They have changed our way of life and continue to do so. Keep the faith baby.
  8. Being a paramedic and having taken many domestic security type classes I can be empathetic to both sides. That said, common sense (which is not always so common and logical) must be used on both sides.

    As photographers we need to be cognizant of the potentially sensitive areas that we want to photograph (bridges, tunnels, refineries, government buildings and any other venue where many people congregate or could be impacted by a terrorist) and how we go about accessing these venues.

    Police officers, security guards and the like must be cognizant of the rights of citizens and allow us access to these public venues while able to safeguard us from terrorists. Unfortunately, due to the current administration, there is the misinformed belief that we have terrorists at every corner...much like the weapons of mass destruction that were in Iraq.

    Obviously, the person photographing the Brooklyn Bridge may be more scrutinized than the person photographing the covered bridge in east Podunk. Now the difficult part: How does Becky Doe police officer, or worse yet John Smith security officer (with less training and worse people skills) determine that you are a law abiding citizen and innocently taking a photograph? Partly, we go back to the discussion of common sense...see the problem.

    There is no real answer to this problem. However, I always carry my picture state driver license on my person. I always have some business cards in my camera bag. I am always friendly and non-aggressive to all passersby. I photograph out in the open where my actions can easily be seen and not giving the appearance of trying to hide.

    I hope this helps,
  9. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    ....Kevin, I will definitely second that one!!! :biggrin:
  10. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    I think a lot of times it comes down to what the person's mindset is. If you are already decided on what you are going to encounter than, in all likelihood, you are going to find just that.

    Obviously this is mitigated somewhat with the additional training/people skills you mentioned but human nature being what it is. . . . .

    You are right in one respect, however. I constantly tell people this job is 95%common sense. . . you either have it or you don't.

    Either way, this is a very interesting thread.
  11. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    One thing that bothers me a little about some of these reports, is that sometimes you hear about a photographer getting hassled by a security guard or other non-govt personel, and somehow this gets twisted into the police using the Patriot Act to treat photographers as terrorists (which BTW, from everything I've heard that Patriot Act places no new/additional restrictions on photography in public).

    It seems like the majority of these incidents fall into one of two categories:

    1) Photographer is hassled by an overzealous security guard who is ignorant of the law and/or on a power trip and claims the photographer is breaking the law.

    2) Photographer is approached by a police officer who asks a few questions and then lets the photographer be.

    The thing you have to realize about situation (2) is that the police probably received a call from a "concerned citizen" about suspicious activity, and when this happens they have to check it out (imagine the claims of incompetence if they didn't and it turned out it really was a terrorist).

    While there have been some cases in which police officers have overstepped their legal bounds and treated citizens unfairly, but they seem to be few and far between.
  12. Well, I have no intention of living my life looking over my shoulder. If folks want to live their lives in fear, then more power to them.

    When is enough, well, enough? Caution- yes. Fear- no. Common sense seems to be in short supply.

    It will not stop. You give anyone an inch, especially in our legal system, and they will always take a mile. It is human nature.

    Perhaps when we get the current administration out of office, things may loosen up a bit. It is going on seven years but it will not be long before this long, national nightmare is over.
  13. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  14. Well, folks, these "stories", a couple reported here, as well as the "comments" and "facts" really REALLY burn me up.

    Daniel, you sound like quite an enterprising fellow, and it is great to hear that your Dad supports what you are doing. And the Vincent Thomas Bridge is indeed quite pretty at night, I remember when had to pay a 25 cent toll to cross the bridge.

    However, after reading your story, I am very disappointed to see how you wrote your story, this quote in particular "I would have stood firm if I was alone, and if I wasn't aware of the fact that I could have been held indefinitely if the police so chose." You have "facts"? No, you don't, but look at the people who jump on this bandwagon and wholeheartedly agree with you. Having been raised in that area, knowing a lot about the Police agencies in that area, I am quite disppointed in how you demean them based on something a "parking lot attendant" tells you. What "fact" do you have there? Am I ragging on you a bit? Yes, I am, and it is because FAR TOO MANY people these days take the attitude that you do, and don't bother to do a bit of research. You question what a terrorist could possibly see at night that would be of interest? Oh, I don't know, but I'll bet if you think reall hard you can figure out a few things, like where buttresses and cables are, how to move around.

    People blame this on "current Administration", I always love that one, forget about the jerks who actually cause these problems, be they domestic or foreign, and we have plenty of home-grown jerks who might have caused issues in that area as well, dependent on when you were there. And rather than comment on the lunacy of the Parking Lot Attendant, you rant about the Police. By the way, did you ever bother to call the folks at LA Harbor Division or San Pedro to ask them? No? Gee, why is that? Perhaps because they might not have supported your allegations about what they would have "done"?

    Again, if you are going to rant about these things, at least check with the agency and back your rant up with "facts". The whole way these blogs and sites work, so many people just jump rather than check any facts. As in your story, the "facts" you claim are both sadly lacking and quite false.

    Now, to be fair, I have also been questioned a fair number of times when around such places as the Ballard Locks here in Seattle. Should they get blown, and lot of the fishing industry here would have problems, and the Sea Lions would lose an easy source of dinner :biggrin:. In every case, a short, non-belligerent explanation of who and what turned into a nice 5 minute conversation about the area. Print out a copy of the Photographer's Rights and carry it with you if that will make you feel better. As has been noted prior in this thread, "Common Sense" is the key. And your "rant" is not "Common Sense". Nor does it help the "cuase" of photographers at all, when you take the word of a Parking Lot Attendant and stretch that into being "held indefinetly" by the police. Get real, get the facts straight.
  15. Now Bill, you and I both know that this current administration rules with fear. It is all they have left to keep the masses in line.:rolleyes: 

    Other than that, how are you, my friend?:smile:
  16. Good morning all. My comment is not directed at anyone in particular but I wanted to remind our members of the Cafe rules which I quote in part.

    "This forum is not a sounding board for political, cultural or religious agendas,"

    Keep in mind the anecdotes described here are one side of a two person exchange. Making broad generalizations about civic agencies without benefit of knowing both sides is pointless and risks crossing our rule about political discussions.

    Thanks very much, Rich
  17. wbeem


    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    Bearing in mind Rich's comment about political discussions, I'll avoid that aspect and touch on something else.

    From reading your post, it doesn't appear that you were kicked off the public property at all. Instead, you were merely intimidated by someone who held no authority over you. You chose to leave before he called the police and now you're angry about it.

    From an author's perspective, your story lacks punch precisely because you didn't stand up for your rights when put to the test. Instead, you left and got angry about it.

    It's important to understand your rights, and how much they mean to you. You feared the threat of consequences more than standing up for your rights and liberty. On the whole, that makes for a weak article.

    That's my opinion, anyway.
  18. DBrim


    May 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    The fact is that that Patriot act can really allow for the police to hold anyone they want if they think that they are a terrorist. I'm not saying that it would have happened in this case, but it could have, and that risk is what drove me to leave. Why should I have had to worry about that at all?

    I know that me leaving made it "weak". When it happened, I wasn't exactly thinking about how strong of an article I could write about it on my website.
  19. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    IMO, if you are confronted by a security guard, or genuine LEO, the best thing to do is stand down and go to the poroper authority. In the case of a security guard, go to the mall management or building management or whoever. In the case of the police officer, remember his name and contact the police department to find out where you actually stood in their eyes. That is the time to whip out your copy of the photographers rights. Any confrontation, no matter how peaceful, is going to end with you on the losing side.
  20. Once again, you have the wrong "facts". Prove your assertion, quit reading so many 'Net blogs and such, and/or trying to prove a point. If you can address such, then please do. But I still think that you go far, far overboard in your assertion of what the police would have, or even may have, done. Have you researched that at all?

    As I noted prior, these types of postings and notifications in general do not address the issues invovled, nor do they do anything to move things forward. If you have "facts", please post them, but just because you "hear" something, or something is "possible", is a far cry from "fact" or even that these things happen at all.

    The "fact" is that if someone decides to go whacko, and I'm in the way, I could get hurt. The "fact" is that I can make choices as to how to handle such situations. The "fact" is that people in droves are not being held indefinitely without cause just because someone thinks they may be a "terrorist". To turn your question of "why worry" around, why should I, a good citizen, have to be worried about walking the streets at 3AM in the morning at Beverly and Rampart in LA and fear for my possesions? Answer is simple, because not everyone bothers to have respect, common sense, and pay attention to the laws, and a percentage of the human population does not agree that my right to live means much. Sucks, in my opinion, but it is also life in the real world today.
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