Testing the right to photograph in public spaces
August 8, 2011 9:57 PM   Subscribe

"On Tuesday 21 June 2011 six photographers were assigned different areas of the City to photograph. Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4. All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers. All six photographers were stopped on at least one occasion. Three encounters led to police action. This is what happened." (The actual video starts at 1:14.)
posted by John Cohen (57 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I should have added in brackets: "the City" = London.
posted by John Cohen at 9:58 PM on August 8, 2011


Pretty reasonable police. Unreasonable private security. For contrast.
posted by smcameron at 10:17 PM on August 8, 2011


This should become a public project in every city.
posted by LarryC at 10:17 PM on August 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


The private security guys give me the creeps.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2011


I do love the one building manager who - once it was understood what the photographer was doing - was like, "Come on in! You can take better shots inside!". That's how you do it, people.
posted by smoke at 10:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


In my experience, it's usually far easier to ignore the security guards and snap away than to waste time arguing with them. By the time they've gotten their supervisor and the supervisor has gotten his supervisor and they've all conferred with their dispatch center, you've long since left and moved on to something more interesting than their stupid fake public space anyway.
posted by zachlipton at 10:23 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was photographing vintage motel signs along Main Street in Mesa, AZ last year and got stopped by the police. They asked a LOT of questions and couldn't seem to understand why anyone would want pictures of old beat up signs like this one. I think someday it will be like "free speech zones" -- there will be a set of legally sanctioned locations/objects that everyone is allowed to photograph, and everything else is off limits.
posted by hermitosis at 10:23 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pitchers of motel signs? You must be one a them pukes.
posted by smcameron at 10:34 PM on August 8, 2011


*pukes*
posted by hermitosis at 10:48 PM on August 8, 2011


Given that this is in London, there is some real irony at work. London is one of the most surveillance camera dense places on this planet. The security guards saw the photographer on the video equipment that their employer has installed, pointing to the public spaces.

Ask the security guard if they saw you and your camera over their video surveillance system. They will always agree. Ask them to stop photographing you then. "thats not possible" is the only answer they can give. You point out if you can't ask them to not photograph, why do they think they can ask you to stop? Its a question they never can answer, but it may make them go away for a while. (In the very indoctrinated, it may set up a cognitive dissonance feedback loop. Smoke may come out their ears)
posted by rjnerd at 10:51 PM on August 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


This reminds me of an incident involving the photographer Robert Frank when he was taking photos for his famous project 'The Americans' in the South. Great post by the way.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3673127/Robert-Frank-melancholy-and-menace.html
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


couldn't seem to understand why anyone would want pictures of old beat up signs like this one.

Presumably they could understand why a shady character planning a crime or *gasp* terrorist attack would want a picture of an old sign. I mean, that's why they were suspicious, right?

"You're free to g...wait, is that a Holga?"
"Yes, but..."
"Are you taking artsy shots of iconic 50s signage?"
"What?"
"Cuff him, boys, and don't spare the elbows."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:54 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Odd, just last week I was telling polly_dactyl about my travails a few years ago in trying to take some photos of Atlanta's public transit system. Every time I tried to snap a few photos, a transit cop would come up and tell me photography was not allowed. Yet, none of them could tell me who had decided on a blanket ban.

Over the course of a couple months I was pointed to the public relations office, who pointed me to back to the police, who referred me to the communications office, who pointed me to... the public relations office. I eventually phone phished my way to MARTA's office of general counsel, where I was told a) to never call them again and b) since MARTA was "under constant threat of a terrorist attack" the transit police higher-ups had decided that all photography presented a danger to the system. I was then referred to a MARTA police lieutenant who told me that "9/11 changed everything" and that he was "not going to debate this" with me.

I eventually filed a freedrom of information act request to get the actual written policy, which stated that non-commercial photography was fine, as long as it didn't get in the way of normal operations and such. That came in handy when I went ahead and took the photos anyway.

Anyway, point is, this kind of knee-jerk censorship with no accountability is intrinsically unsustainable, operationally unenforceable, and just plain idiotic.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:55 PM on August 8, 2011 [95 favorites]


Panjandrum - I believe the word you're looking for is 'Kafkaesque'
posted by mannequito at 10:58 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe it was just the editing, maybe careful PR, but the London police in this video were really lovely, helpful, reasonable people. No scare tactics. No shittiness. No display of weapons to communicate nonverbally: "Well, I could shoot you, electrocute you, or just beat you with a club. What'll it be today?" No ominous chatter into the radio as if they might be about to call in a pinpoint air strike and they were sending in your coordinates. You never got the feeling they were trying to intimidate the photographers into just "making things easier for everyone" by disappearing.
posted by pracowity at 10:59 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect that without the video camera, many of these situations would have ended much differently. I would like to see the same project with a surreptitious video recording device.
posted by Knigel at 11:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


The photographers, mall cops, and real cops all seem rather polite compared to U.S. stuff I've seen: Photography is not a crime.
posted by kevinsp8 at 11:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think part of the general niceness of the police is: a) that many police officers in England are generally decent when not in a "situation", and b) there was some outstandingly bad reactions to public photography and filming a couple of years ago so they're all had proper training.
posted by Jehan at 11:39 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey I heard there's some rioters that could use a section of London to destroy...
posted by symbioid at 11:53 PM on August 8, 2011


there was some outstandingly bad reactions to public photography and filming a couple of years ago so they're all had proper training

if you don't jump to 1:14, you get to see in the opening info this text -
* There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.

* We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.

* Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service.

* Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it witout a court order.

All forces guidance letter, 26 August 2010, Andrew Trotter,
Chief Constable, Chair of ACPO Communication Advisory Group
posted by russm at 12:02 AM on August 9, 2011


Street level security in London dresses both less paramilitary and more professionally than most you see here. Interesting that some of the guys wearing suits are required to wear safety vis vests over top.

hermitosis writes "I was photographing vintage motel signs along Main Street in Mesa, AZ last year and got stopped by the police. They asked a LOT of questions and couldn't seem to understand why anyone would want pictures of old beat up signs like this one."

Last time I was hassled by rent-a-cops who called the police I was out after midnight taking pictures of manhole covers. No one even makes an effort to understand it because they just don't believes you when you say you are taking the pictures because you collect images of manhole covers. I'm not sure the Mounties believed me either but they told the rent-a-cop to go pound sand so I guess no harm no foul.
posted by Mitheral at 1:07 AM on August 9, 2011


I should have added in brackets: "the City" = London.

Technically, judging by the uniforms, "the City" is "the City of London". They stuck within the security paranoid, financial district, not just any old random site within the M25.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:02 AM on August 9, 2011


Hint to private security people: the person gathering surreptitious photographic intelligence to find weak points in your building's façade is not the sexagenarian gent in the fuscia pink jumper who spends 5 minutes putting his a large camera on a tripod and adjusting its aperture.
posted by rongorongo at 2:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hint to private security people [...]

Ah, but that's just what they would want you to think. What if the terrorists are sending out squads of British pensioners pretending to be photography hobbyists when in fact they are taking pictures of sensitive (i.e., corporate) buildings in exchange for digestive biscuits and cat food?
posted by pracowity at 3:20 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


These London cops seemed like stand up guys.

When I lived in New York City I almost always carried a camera with me because I regularly took the subway and, being something of a country-bumpkin kid, was fascinated without end by a mostly underground transit system, seemingly without its own end. This led to numerous interactions with the police, most of which were quick and painless, with the exception of the day one of them stopped the train I was on to find me and view the images on my camera.

It was a Saturday afternoon and I had been on the Upper East Side for some reason or another, and had descended to the second-to-lowest level of the 63rd and Lexington stop, to catch the downtown F Train. Now, it should be taken into consideration that this was post-911, and the F train at this stop is entering Manhattan via a tunnel from Roosevelt Island and parts beyond. As such, there was a police officer regularly posted at a rather out-of-place office desk that had been placed at the end of the platform.

I liked taking photos of this station and particularly that platform because of the red tile and interesting architecture that could make for cool perspective shots like this. After snapping a few from one end of the platform, I walked to the other to see if it looked any different, and snapped a few more facing back down the platform. At this point I had my back to the female officer who had been sitting at the desk and the male officer who was either her shift relief, or just there to flirt with her. At any rate, I was within enough earshot to hear "Who the hell does he think he is?"

I ignored this and went a few steps further from them as I could feel the "whoosh" of a train in the tunnel and knew that the cars didn't always extend to the end of the platform. As the train came to a stop, I got one of my "Grinch" ideas (a wonderful, awful one) and turned to take a photo of the 2 cops at their desk. The dude one promptly freaked the fuck out, started screaming at me that I couldn't do that and running straight at me. Unfortunately for him, me was stepping onto the car as the doors were closing, which he tried to pry open as the train pulled away.

Of course at this point everyone in the car is staring suspiciously at me, to which I just turned and said "I was only taking pictures" with a shrug. The train soon pulls into the next stop, but the doors don't open, and a moment the later the conductor informs us that the train is being held for a "police action," or some such nonsense. Sure enough, they come straight to the back car and once they see me, indicate to the conductor and the doors open.

I'm a pretty reasonable guy. I was once in the Times Square - 42nd street station and saw a dude in a shalwar kameez actually taking measurements of the distance between the steel support beams on the platform with a measuring tape. I walked up stairs and told the first cops I saw. This was different, though - I realized I could have been anybody - a tourist, a photojournalist, a bored 20-something kid dabbling with photography, or a terrorist. These guys, however, didn't consider any other option than the last one. I was subject to public shame in front of everyone in that car and on the platform, asked an unreasonable amount of pointless questions, forced to produce my ID, and forced to show my pictures on the camera.

I hold high esteem for most of the NYC police I've interacted with, and remain of the opinion that I must have been the victim of a few bad apples. In the end, they insisted I delete all the photos, I pretended to oblige, and showed them the first image I had saved on the camera for just such an occasion.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:54 AM on August 9, 2011 [40 favorites]


Who needs a preterror act photo recon anymore now that there is Google street view?
posted by caddis at 4:44 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a very important thing to do. Rights must always be probed and tested or they will disintegrate if left to rot.
posted by sety at 4:52 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a handy page for US photographers that has a good, easy-to-understand summary of photographers' rights. There's a PDF there that's good to keep in your wallet or camera bag. Might not get you out of a tight situation immediately--I'm sure police won't trust some paper somebody hands them--but it's useful when you want to stand your ground and know that you're in the right and need to fight the eventual fine or legal case.
posted by msbrauer at 5:50 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've worked as a photojournalist in a number of countries, though primarily the US and China (3 years there). I've run into the most difficulty and been thrown out of the most places in the US, and that's even with a press pass. Of course, press passes are a pretty laughable notion to begin with in the US, but they often put the public at ease. In China, I did not have a journalist visa, and so was working not quite legally. But, having a J visa in China invites more trouble than not, and most freelance photographers work like this. The only people with J visas there are staffers for the wire services and newspapers, on either long-term visas or short-term (to cover things such as the Olympics). Anyway, I took pictures of police, military, government, business, construction, infrastructure, and never had a problem, both on assignment and working on my own things. I know of people who have had problems there, but nothing too bad. The situation is much different for Chinese journalists.

In the US, however, I've been threatened with arrest multiple times, hauled off subways, kicked out of state parks and county fairs, asked to delete pictures, physically threatened, been questioned by police and security guards, prevented from entering public space, and so on. Most of these situations have been while on staff at newspapers, armed with a press pass, and with foreknowledge from the organization being photographed or people who manage the location. In some cases, I've managed to get the police officers' badge numbers and get Internal Affairs to reprimand them and let them know that photography is generally a legal activity. In other cases, I've fought long enough to get the pictures I need (just recently a security guard told me it was forbidden to take a picture of the IMF's sign on a public sidewalk in DC). In other cases, I've had my editors call up the relevant organization and get apologies for employees overstepping their bounds. Sometimes the right fight isn't had during the interaction when emotions are high, but afterwards when you can get the person's boss to actually effect meaningful change for future situations.

Also troubling are various states' maneuvers to use wiretapping laws to make illegal the video recording of police activity. Here's a summary article. That article's generally good, but I don't know about the rest of the site; a name like The Freeman Online doesn't inspire a lot of confidence....

I should also think that one of the things that will accompany the decline of large media organizations (not the Fox Newses but the local papers) is the end of legal challenges to government trying to prevent access to information. Here's a case where police confiscated a friend's equipment (apologies for self-link) while he was photographing a fire at a chemical plant from public ground while on assignment for his newspaper. The newspaper, which has considerably more clout than an individual photographer, managed to get a local legislator involved who managed to get a response from Homeland Security. Newspapers also (generally, hopefully) have the funds to mount legal challenges abrogations of the freedom of the press. This can be a costly affair, and is well without the reach of most individual photographers and writers. Here's another friend who was arrested while independently covering a protest outside a power plant (another self-link). Those charges were eventually dropped, but it was difficult for the photographer, as an independent, to prove he was working as a member of the press, let alone to raise funds for adequate legal defense.

Check out the Photography is Not a Crime blog, if it hasn't already been linked above. There's more here, though Hawk isn't a great guy....
posted by msbrauer at 6:23 AM on August 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Based on my experience, you can take all the cell phone pictures you like unless it's during a riot. Weird how cell phones often don't count.
posted by Peach at 6:23 AM on August 9, 2011


Maybe it was just the editing, maybe careful PR, but the London police in this video were really lovely, helpful, reasonable people. No scare tactics. No shittiness.

Yes. This is a great project, but I feel like the framing of the post and the editing makes it unclear until the very end that it really should have said:

"...encounters led to police action...which resulted in police reinforcing the photographer's rights to the private security firms."

The actions of private security firms can indeed be very chilling, especially when people are taught to conflate them with actual law enforcement. I just wish the police were abundantly given credit for acting appropriately in this video.
posted by odinsdream at 6:34 AM on August 9, 2011


This is a very important thing to do. Rights must always be probed and tested or they will disintegrate if left to rot.

It would be an interesting ongoing school project (for photography, journalism, civics, etc.) to regularly send students out with cameras, not only to get the usual practice in taking pictures and getting stories, but to make students and cops better aware of how far a citizen can go with a camera. Every semester, send more waves of students to get pictures of the same "sensitive" local places (public transport, government buildings, etc.) and learn how not to get bullied and scared off by uninformed uniforms. Meanwhile, semester by semester, student by student, the local cops might learn not to overreact to people who are just out taking pictures in public places.
posted by pracowity at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also: Brown Equals Terrorist
posted by Evilspork at 7:46 AM on August 9, 2011


Based on my experience, you can take all the cell phone pictures you like unless it's during a riot. Weird how cell phones often don't count.

It simply isn't perceived as someone taking a photograph, so it doesn't get stopped.

Guess how terrorists will take their photographs?
posted by John Cohen at 8:00 AM on August 9, 2011


See also: Brown Equals Terrorist

Well, yes, there's a huge difference between the London police and those asshole American cops:
A few minutes later, I watched in dismay as eight men descended from the parking lot, down the hill, making a bee-line for me and my tripod.

One of the Seattle policemen, using his strongest, most authoritative voice, gripping his holstered sidearm, was now demanding to see my ID. I asked what this was about and why I had to show him my ID. “Look, we can do this one of two ways. You show me your ID right now! I'm not kidding!” the cop yelled.
Do exactly as we say right now or we will kill you right now. Submit or die.
posted by pracowity at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was threatened with arrest if I did not delete video of a TSA Officer assaulting me. Fortunately, I was able to recover some of the video and photos.
posted by marklyon at 8:29 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on my experience, you can take all the cell phone pictures you like unless it's during a riot. Weird how cell phones often don't count.

I mentioned a problem recently encountered while trying to photograph the sign on the outside of the IMF building in DC. I was using my cell phone in that instance, so security guards are getting wise to cell phone cameras now.
posted by msbrauer at 8:47 AM on August 9, 2011


marklyon - going out to prove that taking photos in public spaces is legal (which this video does) is different to getting told by a policeman that you aren't allowed to take videos in a publicly accessible private space (which is what your video appears to be).

I got seasick about a third of the way through, but if the policeman is right and taking video on that private land is prohibited, then posting it to the internet probably isn't the greatest plan.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 8:48 AM on August 9, 2011


I've gotten into a bunch of weird altercations with people over taking photographs — usually, it's rent-a-cops, and I usually tell them that if they don't back off not only will I take their picture and put it all over the internet as a bit of constitutionally-protected reportage on their dickery, but that I'll go and talk to their managers and get them fired. The only time in recent memory that I've had to back down was when my girlfriend and I were looking for a new chair, and so I was taking pictures of chairs in furniture stores so that I could compare them and their prices when we got home. For some reason, the store owners kept flipping the fuck out. They had the right to restrict my photography, but none of them seemed interested in me saying, "Look, I'm going to spend about $900 on a chair. If you don't let me take pictures, I can guarantee you that you're losing this money. Is this worth $900 to you?" Maybe it was because most of them weren't fluent English speakers, but I was kinda shocked that yeah, they'd rather lose the sale than let me take a picture of a chair so I could remember which one was which. Most of them seemed annoyed that I was taking notes on what the prices were too.

But generally, it's regular people here in LA that flip out, not security apparatus. Part of that may be because I take pictures in marginal spaces a lot, and I think that there's a higher incidence of illegal immigrants who are paranoid about being photographed (especially since I'm a white dude). I try to tell them that I don't usually want people in my shots, and I try to ask as a general rule if people are going to be identifiable, but because they can't see that what I really want is the decaying nouveau columns or whatever, they assume I'm taking shots of them.

That was basically what happened the last time I was taking shots in the subway (which I've since stopped, mostly because they never come out as well as I'd want, and I think flash is kinda dickish): I saw an old guy with a fantastic mustache, used my broken kitchen Spanish to get his permission to shoot him, and some girl flipped out and got the sheriffs to come talk to me. I was in the middle of the car, she was down at the other end (so totally out of the field of view, even if I'd wanted to shoot her), and the sheriffs just had one of those weird, "We can't ask you to stop taking pictures, but this woman has requested that she not be in them. But we can't tell you not to take her picture," conversations. The girl was convinced that I was shooting her and going to be putting her "all over the internet," and she kept going to the sheriffs even after I'd stopped shooting. I got out at the same stop as the cops, and they came over to apologize about it, which was nice, but the whole thing was still weird.

I also remember that I've seen comments from other members on here about how they flip the fuck out when people take pictures of them in public, and it's something that I've never really understood. A couple people have even implied that they'd break the camera if someone shot them, and it's like, seriously? Because I have other cameras, and I would not hesitate at all to have you booked for assault. The escalation doesn't end well for anyone.

"There's more here, though Hawk isn't a great guy...."

Man, that Jeremy Nicholl post makes Nicholl look like a giant douchebag. I mean, seriously, going after a guy's job because you don't like his support for copyleft reappropriation? And alleging that people upset about Maisel were all in Baio/Hawk's pay, based on what seems pretty scant evidence? And anyone who bitches about the Grey Album is part of the problem with copyright.
posted by klangklangston at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2011


This is one of those times when reverse sexism seems to apply, since I regularly take pictures of kids in public spaces, the county fair, and all kinds of buildings and weird things, and never have been approached by anyone. Maybe you should all dress like innocuous middle aged ladies.
posted by RedEmma at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


How expensive is it to have your camera automatically upload to Flickr or YouTube as you shoot? Fuckheads can delete the local copies of your pictures and even break your camera, but if the pictures are already sent they'll have a hard time getting them back or even knowing they went anywhere.
posted by pracowity at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was threatened with arrest if I did not delete video of a TSA Officer assaulting me.

The National Press Photographers Association is one organization in the US working to protect photographers' rights, primarily through advocacy and legal challenges. Recently, they've been pushing against the TSA and gotten official word from the TSA that:
"...TSA’ s goal is to protect passenger’s rights, including the right to record at passenger screening checkpoints, while ensuring that passenger screening operations can take place in an effective and efficient manner. We will continue to strive to meet this two-part commitment." -Margot Bester, Principle Deputy of the TSA's Office of Chief Counsel, 22 June 2011 (pdf)
And here's Homeland Security's bulletin on rules and laws regarding photographing federal facilities in the US, which includes that "officers should not seize the camera or its contents and must be cautious not to give such 'orders' to a photographer to erase the contents of a camera, as this constitutes a seizure or detention."
posted by msbrauer at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


As an urban Canadian who never leaves the house without a camera, what's eye-opening about this is just how far the UK has gone down this dark road. I'd heard—we've all heard—but I suppose I was blissfully unaware.

...which is what makes this fantastic journalism, of course. Imma spread it around now.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:17 AM on August 9, 2011


I should've been clearer with my first sentence: I walk around all day every day with a camera around my neck taking photos of people, police, security, buildings, vehicles, drug deals, arrests, roads, facilities, fires, explosions, and the occasional public display of affection and I haven't been stopped a single time expect to be asked, "Hey, does that thing use film?"
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:19 AM on August 9, 2011


*Except. Sorry.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:19 AM on August 9, 2011


(Also also: Anyone else spot the Mamiya? Yeahhhhh.)
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2011


The officers are trying really hard to appear affable on video. It strikes me that they probably have more comprehensive PR training than the private security guards do.

Not that the point made in this video is not a fair one, but the friendly reaction from the police officers seems to act as a conclusion to this thesis, and I think that reaction is slightly more complicated than it seems in the post-YouTube world.

Does anyone have any insight into 21st century PR training for officers?
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2011


marklyon - going out to prove that taking photos in public spaces is legal (which this video does) is different to getting told by a policeman that you aren't allowed to take videos in a publicly accessible private space (which is what your video appears to be).

I got seasick about a third of the way through, but if the policeman is right and taking video on that private land is prohibited, then posting it to the internet probably isn't the greatest plan.


Um, no. J.F.K. airport sits on land owned by the City of New York. The airport is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which also manages the two other major airports in the area, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia Airport. The Port Authority subsequently leases terminals and gates to airlines and shops, etc. to food vendors, etc. Also, pre-9/1, security screening was also 'farmed out' to private contractors (example).

According to ' The Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey Airport Rules And Regulations' manual [PDF], there are no restrictions on videotaping or photography.

How many people a day do you think photograph and/or videotape family members arriving/departing? Also, at JFK (and LaGuardia) paparazzi can often be seen photographing celebrities as they arrive and depart, etc.

In my opinion -- the cops were spinning 'bulllshit.'
posted by ericb at 10:05 AM on August 9, 2011


"This is one of those times when reverse sexism seems to apply, since I regularly take pictures of kids in public spaces, the county fair, and all kinds of buildings and weird things, and never have been approached by anyone. Maybe you should all dress like innocuous middle aged ladies."

Heh. I have a couple of shirts with cameras on them, and one of the entirely moronic things that I've learned is that by wearing the camera shirts, I get, like, 90 percent less grief from strangers. It's like, "Oh, he has a shirt with a camera on it. It must be OK for him to take pictures. After all, he has the shirt."
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


For some reason, the store owners kept flipping the fuck out.

Could it be possible that the chair was actually a 'knock-off,' counterfeit, cheap version of an original design? A fake Eames Lounge Chair, for example.
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2011


@hermitosis - That is a great Googie Motel sign!
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:19 AM on August 9, 2011


Mostly overstuffed armchairs, but yeah, probably knock-offs or something, but not of Eames (I can tell an Eames chair).

I have had some dickbag security guard at MOCA LA West tell me that I couldn't photograph the building because it was copyrighted. They've got a big plaza and the guy was a real tool about getting right in front of me as much as possible, though I don't necessarily blame him that much, given that he said one of his coworkers got fired because there was security tape of someone taking pictures and that guard didn't go out and stop them. But still, it was like, dude, I'm on public property and MOCA is free to sue me if they want, but it'll make them fucking assholes and abetting their assholery is also stupid.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on August 9, 2011


/wonders what else I could get away with wearing the right shirt
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:07 PM on August 9, 2011


For some reason, the store owners kept flipping the fuck out. [...] Most of them seemed annoyed that I was taking notes on what the prices were too.

Lots of stores just don't allow photographs at all. The goon on the sales floor will tell you to fuck off if that's what he's been instructed to tell you.

I suspect store owners have realized that it just doesn't pay to have well-informed shoppers. If you are able to carefully analyze the data, in the end you will ignore all the fine bullshit the store has hit you with (attractive salespeople, nice displays, memorable advertisements, etc.) and just go somewhere that has the same product for a hundred bucks less. Store A (nice ads, nice location, nice salespeople) makes you want the product but Store B (which doesn't spend anything on nice ads, nice location, etc., but has lower prices) sells you the product.

Stores might also figure that you (strolling around making price notes and taking pictures) could be from the competition, getting one up on them in terms of prices, product selection, display ideas, etc. If unknown competition gets the right pictures, that competition can easily analyze and adjust their own selection, displays, and prices to match or beat the targeted store, but the targeted store can't easily reciprocate because they don't know where the photographer came from. Competitors can always send fake shoppers around to just look at stuff, but why make it easy for them by allowing pictures in your store?

Stores would also rather be able to carefully control their image than let some blogger give the world a different idea about the place. The store pays for ads to get customers to come in; they don't want someone else convincing customers that it's all a load of shit and they might as well stay home.
posted by pracowity at 11:24 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


According to ' The Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey Airport Rules And Regulations' manual [PDF], there are no restrictions on videotaping or photography.

Correct, but it doesn't mention the words "photography" except referring to emplyee ID cards. The Port Authority website clearly states the limitations with regards to the airports.

"The Port Authority reserves the right to restrict videotaping and photography at its airports. Videotaping in runway and taxiway areas at all airports is prohibited at all times. Videotaping and photographing at security checkpoint areas operated by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is prohibited without the consent of the TSA."

All these restrictions and paranoia frustrate me to no end. I used to do a lot of street photography before and the "well you should come inside, we can help you get better images" used to be the standard.
posted by rune at 12:31 AM on August 10, 2011


Long Beach Police Chief: we detain photographers, and I don’t have any guidelines for that policy, photography is classed with attempts to acquire weaponized smallpox
posted by homunculus at 9:51 AM on August 14, 2011


Weaponized Smallpox? Really? Someone needs a lesson in graduation of risk.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on September 6, 2011


« Older Benny and Rafi Fine are video producers filming ho...  |  In August-September 1965, Indi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments