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Photographers Face Ejection Over Lenses 743

destinyland writes "Zooomr CEO Thomas Hawk was ejected from a San Francisco art museum because the security guard apparently thought his expensive camera could be used to spy on female employees. Another photographer notes that 'many people consider a professional-looking camera a threat,' and the state of California has even passed a law against telephoto lenses being used to intrude on celebrities' private lives. Hawk is routinely confronting security guards who argue that photographing their buildings represents a 'security threat.' Ironically, four weeks ago while attending Microsoft's Pro Photo Summit, he was told he couldn't even photograph the lobby of a Hyatt Hotel."
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Photographers Face Ejection Over Lenses

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:21AM (#24613763) Homepage Journal

    Hawk is routinely confronting security guards who argue that photographing their buildings represents a 'security threat.'

    A few months ago I was in the Prudential Center Mall and Copley Place in Boston. I was just looking around after attending Red Hat Summit. I saw a store that I knew my wife would love to have a picture of and took a picture of the front of it with my cell phone. A security guard came over and told me that I couldn't take pictures inside the mall. At first I thought that she was wrong about that, but decided not to challenge it since I already had taken the picture I wanted and didn't want to do anything that would jepordize missing my flight later that day. So I walked away and went over and asked another security guard about the policy on taking pictures and she also stated that you can't take pictures inside shopping malls. I went back to a computer and looked it up and found that they were wrong. If they asked me to leave, I'd have to leave or else face trespassing charges, but they can't stop me from taking pictures in what is considered a public place. They are just using something similar to the chilling effect to try to stop me because I'm guessing the owners of the shopping mall don't want people taking pictures. For the record, I know shopping malls are privately owned, but they let you walk in and out freely without needing a key.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:25AM (#24613815)
      Have similar things happen to me while trying to get picture even outside of few building in and around NYC.

      Have also seen security guards running after somebody whenever they notice them taking pictures of the buildings.

      I am all the more concerned about this because on top of carrying a dSLR, I am also an immigrant and my skin color differs from the locals. That's one of the mains reasons I never got into public photography.
      • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:31AM (#24613879) Homepage Journal

        I am all the more concerned about this because on top of carrying a dSLR, I am also an immigrant and my skin color differs from the locals. That's one of the mains reasons I never got into public photography.

        I'm so sorry about that. One shouldn't have to sacrifice their dreams for this shit.

        Maybe there should be flash mobs of people going into public areas and taking a bunch of pictures to raise awareness about the change in policy due to 9/11.

        • by celardore ( 844933 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:43AM (#24614069)
          A flash photography mob no less.
        • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:45AM (#24614097) Journal

          raise awareness about the change in policy due to 9/11.

          Indeed. Back when I was young I was heavily into photography, and often carried an SLR with a 135mm lens. Back then nobody cared. Ironically, these days they don't want you photographing, yet there are Big Brother cameras (including government cameras) everywhere.

          It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

          • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:46AM (#24615249)

            It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

            The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

            • by davolfman ( 1245316 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:14AM (#24615755)
              That's how terrorism is supposed to work, duh.
            • It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

              The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

              Exactly (and I made the same statement on /. on 9/12), but you're just supporting the GP's point: The terrorists have won. We let them.

              • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @04:03PM (#24620515) Homepage Journal

                More than that. Congress and the president actively took up the terrorist's cause, complete with a color coded chart telling people how terrified to be!

                If terrorism is the creation of fear amongst a civilian population in order to achieve a political goal, then DHS, DOJ, Congress, and the executive office are all terrorists.

            • Terrorists winning (Score:5, Insightful)

              by knarfling ( 735361 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:18AM (#24615831) Journal

              I remember a couple of episodes of Star Trek DS9 that are relevant. (not sure how many DS9 fans there are left, so bear with me.) During the Dominion War a couple of shape shifters were found on Earth. Everyone started panicking, and even Sisko was afraid his father had been replaced by a Changeling. In order to "protect" Earth, a high StarFleet official arranged for a group of cadets to "attack" Earth in order to "raise awareness" of the Changeling threat. It turns out that there were only a couple of Changelings on Earth, and they were sitting back watching what Earth was doing to itself.

              One of the things that struck me was that Sisko's father refused to give in to fear. Yes, there was a threat, but there was little he could do, and he refused to live in fear.

              I didn't like all of DS9, and there were a few episodes with crappy writing (I will leave it to you to figure out the number), but I was impressed with these episodes. Shortly after 9/11 I thought, and still do think, that many people, especially in government, should have a look at these couple of episodes before panicking and imposing some of the security restrictions we have had to, and will continue to endure.

            • by Zatar ( 131299 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:24AM (#24615925)

              Uh, yeah, that's how terrorism works - they create terror which leads the victims to act in ways that are in the interests of the terrorists rather than the victims.

              9/11 was the most successful terrorist attack ever not because they took down the towers but because America is turning itself into a police state and starting wars and destroying our economy because of the attacks. Hence "the terrorists have won" in the sense that we are voluntarily doing their wishes.

            • Trivial (Score:4, Insightful)

              by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:43AM (#24616245) Homepage Journal

              It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

              The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

              Just because it's rare compared to, say, dying in a car accident doesn't make it trivial, anymore than Pearl Harbor was trivial. How many people in Nebraska or Kentucky were in danger from the Japanese fleet?

              I'll agree we've overreacted some domestically, but we were attacked, and the attackers swore to keep going until they got what they wanted... which basically includes things like compulsory kneeling to Mecca five times a day, and taking away your right to post asshat comments on Slashdot.

              And you can't blame it all on the war. Some of this stuff was inevitable in any case. If Osama Bind Laden had never ordered an attack on New York, we'd still have domestic bad guys doing everything from blowing up Federal buildings, to ever sophisticated robbery schemes. The increasingly cheap and advanced technologies available to everyone... including nutbags and criminals... only enhances our natural fear of them. And the era of Big Brother was coming long before the Twin Towers were brought down. After all, Orwell saw this back in the late 40's. Technology itself also guaranteed that. Cities were talking about things like red light cameras long before 2001.

              Much of this stuff was coming anyway. It's just convenient to blame it on 9/11.

              • Re:Trivial (Score:5, Insightful)

                by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:30PM (#24616995)

                You cannot compare Pearl Harbor to the destruction of the Twin Towers unless you are so one-dimensional that body count is the only thing you think matters. I'll grant you it indeed may be the only thing for the purposes of cute statistics about your probabilistic chance of committing suicide. (That's a random thing? Better get some suicide insurance).

                However, the point that the direct impact of terrorism is trivial should not be so easily dismissed. Pearl Harbor wasn't terrorism. It was one part of a much larger scheme of the Japanese which was almost perfectly executed to grant Japan nearly complete control of the entire Pacific Ocean in just a day or two. This was not trivial. The impact on many levels was profound and direct yes even to those in the heartland.

                Although it may be crass to call 9/11 "trivial", it was much more so than Pearl Harbor unless you lived in greater NYC. Who were these attackers who swore to strive towards forced compliance to Islam and the removal of free press? I seem to have missed that part. I seem to recall it being rather dubious who actually did it, why and what their intentions were. Furthermore, who cares what they want to do! Do they (whoever they may be) have the power to do anything? They cannot do that by knocking down buildings. That's why we need intelligent responses rather than goofy things like worrying about everyone with a camera.

                However, sadly one could make another comparison regarding our internment of Japanese-Americans that would suggest our incredibly foolish, irrational, slavishly fearful and horribly impotent responses to 9/11 are indeed rather "normal" given human history.

                Usually these are just "phases" and given a few years we'll get over it. I fear our politicians love for fear mongering and the never-ending use of the terminology of "War on Terror" is seriously delaying that. And in that regard your comments regarding Orwell do indeed seem chillingly apropos.

              • Re:Trivial (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:43PM (#24617241)

                Pearl Harbor was an act of war by an actual official country. It was part of continued efforts by Japan to wage war on our country. Real war. Not this diluted down "war on [drugs|terror|crime]".

                Real state actors with the resources to launch and sustain military actions on foreign territory.

                9/11 only has the surprise factor in similarity to Pearl Harbor. Well and the fact it woke the sleeping giant. Though we were still pretty groggy this time around.

                9/11 happened once. *poof* done. There's no sustained offensive. We aren't fighting to take back Manhattan.

                Really, and this is what "they" don't want you to realize, is that OBL and crew just aren't relevant here.

        • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:24AM (#24614833)
          This stuff is nothing new at all. I got security people telling me that in the days before digital, much less 9/11. Security guards make every attempt to feel self-important. That is all.
        • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:32AM (#24615005)

          Personally, I wonder how exactly people think photography was used by terrorists in the 9/11 incident. Did one of them photograph the World Trade Center so that they could find it from a plane?

      • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614173)
        The law is clear, in a public place, you are free to photograph anything you want, even other people without their permission. While most police officers are aware of that law, security guards usually are not, and so it is likely that they will give you a hard time about photographing the public facade of a building. Also keep in mind that the law is not clear on photographs where the subject of the picture is on private property but the photographer was standing on public ground.
      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:17AM (#24614661)

        There was a security guard yelling at people at 1 Wall Street when I visited NYC 2 weeks ago. If people took pictures he'd walk across the street "No pictures" and then harass them into leaving.

        If my aunts would have walked slower I would have pushed the "Public place" policy. Hell If you were shooting down the street at the church you'd get a good portion of the building in the shot. Not to mention it's up in google street views [] (What idiot decided shooting street views at night was a good idea).

        If he's only a security guard as soon as he leaves that buildings property he's "out of his jurisdiction"

      • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:46AM (#24615241) Journal

        This is absolutely awful.

        However, it's not limited to people of darker pigmentation of skin. I had some douche security guard accost me for having a camera at Mt. Tabor Park here in Portland, and I'm as white as they come.

        I can't imagine why anyone would want to take a camera here []...

        Needless to say, I gave him the standard "am I under arrest? No? Then you don't get to see my camera, and you don't get to stop be from being in this publicly owned park unless you like Title 42 [] lawsuits."

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:31AM (#24613887) Homepage Journal

      Security guards on private property only have you the power to leave and, if you refuse, escort you from the premises. So, if they fuck with you, that's what you should say... "are you asking me to leave?".. as soon as they say no, you just say oh ok, thanks for the advice on your corporate policy. And hey, getting ejected from some random private property because you refuse to conform with their corporate policy is hardly something to be shameful about.

      • policy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:05AM (#24614403) Journal
        I'm not a security guard.

        But do try to see it from their point of view.

        Often they are told by their bosses that "this is the policy, enforce it". It's not like they have the luxury of saying "hey I think this policy is stupid".

        So if they don't tell you to stop, they could lose their jobs.

        If they tell you to stop, and things go the wrong way, they could also lose their jobs (see one of the cases involving Mr CEO photographer[1]).

        It's not like most of them can afford the _time_ and money to seek legal redress if they get sacked just for being put in a stupid situation that's completely their fault.

        If the security guard is really being an asshole, then maybe he deserves it.

        But if the security guard is NOT being an asshole about it, maybe you should take it up with the people setting the policy, not the guard. Do you absolutely have to take that picture?

        Sure you have the right to swing your fist about, as long as it is what the courts may view as a reasonable distance from others. But that doesn't necessarily mean you _have_ to keep swinging it about, when someone requests you to stop for whatever reason.

        When someone wield a gun and a uniform and makes you do something, yes sometimes that can be bullying.

        BUT don't forget, you can wield the law and be a bully as well.

        If my friend asks me to stop taking pictures of him even in public places, I'd probably stop. Perhaps the guard is not your friend, but why not be friendly?

        You can be 100% in the right all the time and have no friends.

        [1] Seems a security guard showed Mr CEO Photographer the finger and lost his job for it. I'm not aware of the full story, and yes maybe the guard was out of line, but I dunno, security guards losing their jobs for showing someone a finger? Heck, real cops don't seem to lose their jobs for doing worse.
        • Re:policy (Score:5, Informative)

          by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:46AM (#24615257)

          I worked as a security guard all through my undergrad years (worked dorm security for the university I went to). For the most part it was a great job (quiet and great for study time), but the downside was that you were a total fall guy for your boss's stupidity. They would come up with some inane policy (or just tell you in private "Don't let people do such-and-such") and you were expected to enforce it, or get fired. But you could also get fired if you did enforce it and someone complained about the stupid policy. Most of the security guards I worked with had been "fired" at least once (and, almost always, promptly rehired 2 months later). The worst part was that we got blamed by the public for enforcing the stupid policies (as if we came up with them). I had people yell at me, get in my face, even had a few guys take a swing at me (watch out for the little guys, especially when they're drunk).

          So before people blast the guards, they should realize that guards often get conflicting messages and stupid directives from the top. They're just trying to keep their jobs.

        • Re:policy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:52AM (#24615361)
          So what you're saying is their defence is [] "I was only following orders"?
      • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:48AM (#24615291) Journal

        If I could mod you to +1000, I'd do so.

        For folks who don't realize how much so Quantum is dead on:

        If you watch the improv everywhere group when they did the best buy stunt [] (linked), they explicitly ask the officers this when they try to threaten people. They say "are you asking me to leave" and "do you have the authority to ask me to leave?" after every time they are threatened with "this is illegal/not allowed".

        From the link (the important part when people threaten about legality):

        Agent Shafer confidently informed the cops that it was not, in fact, "illegal" to film in Best Buy and that they couldnâ(TM)t accuse him of trespassing until he had been asked to leave the store. He pointed out that he was perfectly willing to leave. A manger told Agent Shafer, "I don't come to your house and film you," to which he replied, "Who lives here?" The cops argued for a bit, but finally realized there was nothing they could do. They let the cameramen go and informed the manager, "The worst you can do is ask them to leave."

        Also, the second rule of anything legal but people bullshit that it's not:never do something alone and never respond to any question an officer asks you at all. All things are "I don't know/I don't have an answer". Providing any answers = incriminating yourself and waiving your 5th amendment rights.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:34AM (#24613929)
      Just print out a real looking press badge, and put it in a plastic protector on a lanyard an put that around your neck. They'll let you take all the pictures you want. People like that are suckers for anything looks like authority. They'll only harass people that they think have none.
    • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:35AM (#24613953)

      Shopping malls aren't public places. They can absolutely kick you out for any reason they feel necessary. They can't demand that you hand over your film or prevent you from publishing the pictures that you've taken, but they can demand that you not take pictures or kick you out.

      Sorry, you are dead wrong here. Review this summary of photographer's rights [].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by suso ( 153703 ) *

        Shopping malls aren't public places. They can absolutely kick you out for any reason they feel necessary. They can't demand that you hand over your film or prevent you from publishing the pictures that you've taken, but they can demand that you not take pictures or kick you out.

        Sorry, you are dead wrong here. Review this summary of photographer's rights [].

        Did you read the statement I made at the end of my comment? Read it again. But when it comes down to it, I bet if you did a survey, the majority of people would say that they think that a shopping mall is public property because it gives that impression. From what I read in the photographer's rights document that I read, it came down to being able to get into the facility without a key, special permission or some credential.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) *

          From what I read in the photographer's rights document that I read, it came down to being able to get into the facility without a key, special permission or some credential.

          Not having to use a key or credential does not make it public property.

          Assuming you have a yard, if I went to your house, walked through your yard, and started taking pictures through the windows of your house, is it okay because I'm on public property? After all, you don't have your yard secured by a key or other credential. If you're

      • From the first paragraph of the document you quoted, in bold,

          there are no laws prohibiting the taking of photographs on public or private property. If you can be there, you can take pictures there: streets, malls, parking lots, office buildings. You do not need permission to do so, even on private property.

        I don't know how much more obvious it could be

    • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:40AM (#24614033) Homepage

      As far as I understand in USA, a mall is private property, so the owners can informally prohibit picture taking inside the mall but cannot if you're taking pictures from a public place adjacent to the mall. Had you refused the guard and ignored his request for you to leave, you'd be trespassing and he could detain you for trespass, but not photography. There is no law saying you cannot shoot photos inside a public building, but they can certainly ask you to leave if they don't like it. I don't believe he can confiscate your camera. That would be theft and threats of such is typical of badge bullies who twist the law hoping to invoke fear in you.

      There are two types of law. The law on the books. And, whatever the guy with the gun says is the law. The security guy follows the latter so even though he may be violating your rights, it's best to comply and sue later.

    • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:09AM (#24614469) Homepage

      Man, the same thing happened to me the other day.

      I was on a public beach in South Florida, just looking around after attending a showing of "Pineapple Express" at Aventura Mall. I saw a girl that I knew I would love to have a picture of and took a picture of her with my Canon 40D DSLR. Her boyfriend came over and told me to bugger off. At first I thought he was wrong, but decided to challenge him since I'd already taken the picture and I didn't want to get my ass kicked. So I ran away with my Boots of Escaping. Later that day I checked my computer and found other pictures so it didn't matter.

      (I kid, I kid)

    • by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:29AM (#24614933) Homepage
      You should probably print a copy of The Photographer's Right [] and carry it with you. It should help out in situations like that.
  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:21AM (#24613767) Journal

    Is this all fallout from 9/11? If so, did OBL ever think in his wildest dreams he'd be able to fuck us up this seriously?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:23AM (#24613789)

    Then only terrorists will have nice photos.

  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:23AM (#24613801) Journal

    I was stopped on Christmas Holiday day in Chicago's downtown Ogilvie Transportation Center, the terminal where half the commuter trains come and go. I was firmly admonished to cease and desist taking pictures of my girlfriend in fromt of a Christmas Display in front of one of the stored at the center. I joked that the camera had no film (get it, digital, ha-ha), but the security officer was not amused and said he would have to take my camera and arrest me if I took any more pictures. WTH?

    I understand security is an issue, and scary stuff has happened, but stopping people from enjoying their holidays this way doesn't improve or increase our security a whit. Nada, Zip! If someone wants the information about what a building looks like, it's certainly easy to do on the covert. But, it's probably not even necessary, as blueprints and photos exist on the internet for any target one might find interesting.

    This, in some oblique way is a victory for terrorists, they've cowed us into being such pussies that we no longer can live day to day and enjoy things freely as we should be able. Annoying. Frustrating. Embarrassing.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:36AM (#24613963) Homepage Journal

      Grow a spin. When Mr Security says "I'll take your camera" you say "just fucking try" and if they don't go off to get their superior then you call your lawyer. And that's the problem with authority, people are not willing to stand up to it so people overstepping their position become the norm and then the norm becomes unspeakable and then the unspeakable becomes unquestionable. So take your pictures and when they ask you to stop, say no.

      • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:57AM (#24614283)
        "...then you call your lawyer."

        Because everyone has a lawyer on retainer for just such a situation...
      • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:58AM (#24614297) Homepage Journal

        So take your pictures and when they ask you to stop, say no.

        The problem is most people don't know what their rights are in such a situation and instead cease and desist, just to be safe. If in doubt I suppose you could ask the security guard why you should stop taking photos, but that is probably asking too much. In reality we need to find out what our rights are and use them to educate those who would make out lives difficult.

        Maybe what we need is to organise a spontaneous crowd of photographers going from building to building taking photos. Such an event would certainly get noticed and maybe draw attention to the rights of photographers.

      • by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#24614493) Homepage

        When Mr Security says "I'll take your camera" you say "just fucking try" and if they don't go off to get their superior then you call your lawyer.

        Or, don't. Many of these photographer-versus-security-guard altercations appear to involve photographers immediately acting up with shrill "I KNOW MY RIGHTS!!!!1" tirades against said guards. Okay, you may well be correct, but you're only going to escalate the situation.

        I've found that apologising, immediately moving to put the camera away and politely providing a brief explanation of what I was doing can work wonders - the other week, I ended up being given a potted history and miniature tour of some old industrial architecture by the people working there, and was provided with recommendations of where else to look at.

        Actually engaging with your subject (or inhabitants thereof) and not acting like a total nob is great. And even if the person telling you continues to be unpleasant, defusing the situation, going somewhere else and getting the camera out again works okay...

        (Mr. Hawk is a complete pansy, anyway - was he shouted at by Polish military personnel for taking photos of their security arrangements? Okay, it was their ridiculously fluffy, damp and grumpy-looking guard dog [] I'd taken a photo of, and taking pictures of such stuff in Poland is now legal anyway, but the politely-apologise, put-camera-into-bag-and-walk-away route worked just fine...)

      • I took a photo of an outside Christmas display once and a security guard asked me to hand over the camera so he could delete the images. I dropped the camera into my pants and said, go and get it. He told me to "get the fuck out" of their property but I was on the sidewalk outside his boundary, which I pointed out to him. At that point, he walked away cursing at me. I took a photo of him walking away, and then I ran the heck away from there.

        I'm kind of an asshole.

    • by Fri13 ( 963421 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614155)

      This is not victory for "terrorists" what are called as terrorists.

      This is just a victory for real terrorist what is always the people who is leading the country and who are protecting their power by making these anti-terrorist bills. Those just gives them more power to do what ever they want and no one can stop them.

      It is not about bombing, suicide bombigs or car bombs, those are not reasons or as usually, not even true who is doing them. It is always about the power and who is in control of country, it's like london metro bombings, it just "happend" to happend same time when there was going police trainings, on same stations, on same time and with exactly same scenarios.

      Now the normal people is suffering of the terrorism, what the goverment is doing for people. It is the real terrorism and they use that to control us.

      We cant take photos on holidays from our girl/boyfriends because you can be a terrorist, at least you are threat to national security.

      We cant take photos of our childs to our family albums because it is tought you are taking them for childporn.

      We cant speak freely and express our opinions of our goverments because it is same as supporting terrorism.

      Soon you cant do anything in your own country if your leaders dont like it, they can just throw you to jail with anykind anti-terrorism bill.

    • by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614165)

      If something is publicly visible, and yet sensitive enough to have people worried about it being photographed, I'd suggest that who ever owns it either starts hiding it from sight, changes what makes it so sensitive, or simply gets used to the idea.

      We are not far from the time where it will be technologically possible to take as many photographs you wish, of whatever you can see, at what ever resolution you wish. And Mr Security drone will be none the wiser or be able to stop you.

      Authorities need to face up to the fact that soon it will be a case if you can see it; you can film it. And they'll never know.

    • by Skagit ( 910458 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:07AM (#24614433)
      But, it's probably not even necessary, as blueprints and photos exist on the internet for any target one might find interesting.

      You are absolutely correct.

      Our project manager was doing a site visit to the George Washington Bridge in New York City. The Port Authority people told him he couldn't take any pictures of the bridge, for security reasons. Never mind that dozens of highway contractors, painting contractors, steel contractors, scaffold contractors and scads of engineering firms, architectural firms, government agencies of all forms and engineering schools have structural drawings in whole or part. Never mind one MILLION hits on Google images. Never mind the Historic American Buildings Survey in the Library of Congress [] has wonderful high-definition scans of large and medium format film photos. This one is my favorite. You can check the rivet patterns: []

      It has nothing to do with security. It has everything to do with control. Problem is, when I point out the idiocy of the situation, the contradictory rules and the artificial restrictions this security places on good practice, they tell my boss I'm harassing the (Port Authority|ConEd|MTA) employees. I feel it is my duty as a professional engineer to point out the incredibly poor results (both in construction and in intention) of these rules that a layman may not be able or interested to do. It doesn't help that the (PA|CE|MTA) usually guys start with a nasty attytood, no construction background and no project preparation.
    • by pz ( 113803 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:28AM (#24614917) Journal

      My understanding, albeit a little hazy, is that building plans must be filed with local governmental offices, and that they are available for anyone to peruse. Of course, the building plans may or may not accurately match what was actually built, and it may be difficult to chase through all filed modifications and updates, but they should be available.

  • by apathy maybe ( 922212 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:31AM (#24613883) Homepage Journal

    (The following text applies, I believe, in the USA, Australia, the UK and maybe other places, check with your local lawyer, I'm not one.)

    Unfortunately, inside privately owned buildings they (being the owners, managers or agents) can prevent you from taking photos (or, ask you to leave). (If they ask you to delete your photos, you tell them to fuck off, or just pretend to. But if it looks like someone is going to beat the shit out of you... maybe safer just to delete the photos.)

    However, outside, on public property, they can't do shit, and you tell them that.

    Most of the time, you just need a smaller camera. It won't take as nice photos (perhaps), but it is much less obvious, and beats not being able to take photos at all.

    By the way, the often used "security threat" or "terrorism" bullshit, is just bullshit. If a terrorist wants to take a photo, they don't need a big obvious camera, they just use a small one. More to the point though, tourists (terrorists?) take photos of public buildings everyday, unless you are willing to fuck with your tourist revenue...

    For comments around public photography and laws around photography in the UK: [] []
    For the USA: [] []
    Lots of links for different countries: []
    There are also guides for Australia I believe, and other countries.

  • by Fez ( 468752 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:31AM (#24613891)

    I need to stuff a copy of The Photographer's Right [] in my camera bag in case something like this ever happens...

  • by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:33AM (#24613913)

    The Register has two recent articles about similar stories and general photography paranoia in the UK.

    The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now []

    UK clamps down on bus-spotting terror menace []

  • by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:34AM (#24613943) Journal

    represents a 'security threat.'... he was told he couldn't even photograph the lobby of a Hyatt Hotel."

    Goddamnit, that totally fucks up my plans. Without those pictures, how the hell am I supposed to draft my plan to bomb the Hyatt Hotel? Knowing what the lobby looked like from one fixed angle based off photos from some random dude was totally vital to my ability to plant the bomb properly. Now how in the world could I possibly ever get hold of such pictures? []

  • You dont need dSLR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fri13 ( 963421 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:39AM (#24614017)

    I'm professional photographer and it is more dificult actually take photographs on public places when you are using dSLR camera, because normal humans believe that photos goes right away to news papers etc.

    But these days you can buy compact cameras what are actually better than dSLR on normal use, like camera what shutter speed is 40'000/1 and you can take 60 FPS on 6Mpix. Or you can have camera what has 28-420mm (35mm) objective with 10-12Mpix.

    You dont get dSLR inside to music concert if you dont have press card, because guards takes your camera away because you cant take photos without permission of the show. But they dont stop you taking inside these ultra-compact cameras what has bigger zoom on them, what would mean that you need to carry a huge zoom lens if using dSLR.

    This is now actually gone too far away, it is harder to take even document photos on streets without someone coming to yell to you that they dont like to be in photos. And it was hard enough ten years ago to tell some people that I dont need to remove photos if I take them on public places and they are not in embarrassed situation. Now it is almost impossible to tell someone that I HAVE rights to take photos on public place, and I can remove them if I want to please them, but if they come to yell to me, I'm bretty sure that I do opposite thing and I dont remove them.

    I never shoot people in embarrassed situation, but when people just sees the dSLR, reaction for it is more like someone would say "We must support communistic party" in U.S on the 4th july.
    But I can take photos easily without problems when using pocket or compact camera what has bigger zoom and more megapixels than my dSRL.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:46AM (#24614099)

    When I took the trans-Siberian in the 1970's, there was a long list of things (airports, train stations, bridges) that you weren't supposed to take pictures of. This was enforced (if spottily), too. I heard of people being arrested for photographing a bridge.

    At the time, this was viewed (in the West) as evidence of the paranoia of a dictatorship and a closed society. Now, I guess it is a sign that the Soviet Union was in the vanguard of the development of civilization after all. Who knew ?

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:47AM (#24614131) Homepage

    The museum had a policy of no photographs. This is hardly uncommon: not only do many people find it annoying to stumble over photographers and deal with flashes while they're trying to look at art, but repeated exposure to light flashes can damage art.

    Hawk was well aware of the policy. He choose to violate it, claiming to be some sort of "renegade photographer" whose rights to photograph are more important than those of others to enjoy the venue in peace, and more important than the

    This is not a censorship issue. This is a guy being an ass in a museum and getting ejected.

    There have been legitimate issues of people being unfairly or illegally harassed for taking photographs in public places. This isn't one of them.

    • by cei ( 107343 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:41AM (#24615159) Homepage Journal

      Actually, if you RTFA, the museum had explicitly made a big deal about how they were opening up more to photographers. Both the museum's website and a senior museum employee had confirmed such with the photographer. But one power-mad guy in charge of visitor relations, or somesuch, got on his high horse and shut the photographer down.

      Keep in mind, this was photography in the open atrium of the museum lobby... not pictures of individual pieces in the museum's collection.

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614167)

    In Nigeria. The company I worked for used to hire a lot of fresh-out-of-school interns with no experience and train them up so they could then get better jobs outside (it was part of our CSR to do skills development). Sort of like an internship, but they earned a salary. While I was on a project there, one of the 'youngsters' as we called them was asked to come join me on the project to learn. He had never been on a plane before, or out of South Africa. So of course he took LOTS of pictures, including of the airport in Lagos - since these things were all new to him.

    Next thing he knew, he gets arrested by airport police - his pictures of airplanes apparently constituted industrial espionage !

    Now how you can be guilty of industrial espionage against a country for taking pictures of technology NOT DEVELOPED IN THAT COUNTRY, and on the market to the whole world for 30 years (try finding a plane younger than that in Nigeria) I don't know, but that was their excuse.
    I got one of my local contacts to go bail him out, a bit of money changed hands (this WAS Nigeria after all) and he was released with the charges dropped.

    I just never expected that the idiocies of corrupt guards (whether they are private security acting for corporate overlords or cops acting for the state is really rather irrelevant) being able to intimidate people out of basic rights (taking a picture is a form of art, that's expression = free speech) happening in the so-called DEVELOPED world. You EXPECT that kind of bullshit to happen in Nigeria, you don't expect it in the USA.
    Mind you, these days that's not so true anymore, recent history has made me believe that the US's love affair with civil liberties is pure lip service.

  • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:02AM (#24614361)
    I own a Canon EOS 5D and a few lenses, one of them is a fairly large 70-200mm f2.8L. I usually bring it to outdoor events that my younger family members might be in (sports, graduation, anything where I'll be far from what I'm trying to shoot) and I always feel like people think I'm a creep. They see the huge camera and think "I hope he's not taking pictures of MY kid!"

    I think people have an idea from movies that the bad guys always have some huge fancy cameras and they need to take dozens of photos before they can do their evil deeds. I don't think they realize there already exist hundreds of photos of any potential targets online, and someone would be better off with a small concealable camera, or even a hidden video camera recording the area as you go around.

    There's so much paranoia about cameras, and this isn't just because of 9/11. It's been illegal to photograph the Verrazano bridge from on the bridge or at the toll booths for years before 9/11. I've almost had a camera confiscated taking a photo at the toll booth of a man on a motorcycle waving his ezpass around trying to get it to read.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:09AM (#24614467)

    I think there's something that's missed in all these discussions of photographers' rights: Why *do* people feel threatened by photography?

    It seems that just about everyone feels anxious about being photographed by strangers: police, security guards, but even (most?) regular people.

    Why? Is it a fear that somehow the photos can be used to cause actual harm? Is it the fear that a stranger photographing you can only be up to no good, even if you're not sure if/how he'd use the photos to harm you? Is it the fear that with so many laws on the books, just about anything you're doing is illegal, and photos can be used to help convict you?

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#24614499)
    The UK is rapidly labelling photographers as either perverts or terrorists.

    There are numerous documented cases of photographers being hassled as either child-molesters (if children appear in the frame - even if they are their own kids) or terrorists - even if photographing in a public space.

    The police (well, PCSO's - lite police, with no training worth a dam' or any police powers) regularly harass photographers. Even if you are in the right, there's nothing to prevent them detaining you for several hours without charge.

    For whatever reason, the powers that be have remained remarkably silent on the issue. When pressed, they avoid saying that taking photos in a public place is legal. Instead they put caveats around it, such as mentioning public order offences and invasion of privacy (although the number of CCTV cameras makes a mokery of this).

    As it is, countries like North Korea or Iran have fewer restrictions on what law-abiding citizens or tourists may do in a public place.

  • by ( 142825 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:17AM (#24614671) Homepage

    Just ask the rent-a-cop. It is against the law. Just don't ask them what law, because they don't know. Then when pushed, it is "against the company's law."

    I knew companies bought laws, but I didn't know they passed laws.

  • by Zcar ( 756484 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:34AM (#24615037)
    Shortly after 9/11 (Oct. 2001) a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC issued me a pass to carry all of my photography equipment (ok, no tripod or lights, just an SLR body and about 5 lenses in a Lowepro) throughout the museum. And I didn't need to ask for it: he just signed off on it when he saw I had the equipment.
  • Not being an idiot. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Carik ( 205890 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:48AM (#24615289)

    So, first of all, Thomas Hawk is clearly an idiot. He spends a lot of time bragging (on-line) about breaking the law. Why has he not been arrested -- or at least fined -- yet? I mean, yes, fine, break what laws you find necessary. But honestly... bragging about it on the internet?

    Ok, enough of that. The point here is that Mr. Hawk appears to be making a career out of being an obnoxious, loudmouthed nuisance who refuses to follow lawful directions on private property. Once he's pissed people off enough that they throw him out, he makes himself look good by posting the story online, where crowds of idiots show up to agree with him that he's super-cool for standing up to the man. Ego gratification at its finest.

    I bet that, in the case of the museum, if he had responded calmly and quietly, and agreed not to take pictures in that location, they would have let him stay, and take all the other pictures he had wanted. Of course, in some of the other cases he was completely within his rights, but from the sounds of it he didn't handle those any better. Probably because if he did, he wouldn't get to puff himself up online, where his crowds of adoring fans could tell him what a stud he is.

    Carry a copy of the "Photographer's Rights" pamphlet, speak quietly and politely to security guards, and don't waste your time arguing with people who don't have the authority to let you do what you want. It wastes your time, and annoys the guards.

  • by Rastl ( 955935 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:04AM (#24615587) Journal

    My husband was taking pictures of some industrial building (as reference for use in his model train layout in the future) when a security guard came puffing over the hill and demanded that he hand over the camera. Wisely, my husband said no.

    The security guard was shocked and then demanded that my husband hand over the film. This was a digital camera. So he said no.

    Once the guard realized it was digital he demanded that my husband delete ALL the pictures in the camera.

    At this point my husband just walked away, leaving the guard standing there looking very upset that he couldn't do anything.

    I will elaborate that my husband was on a public road, not on the private property, so trespassing would not apply. He was taking a picture of a building clearly visible to the public.

    Even if the security guard had been a law officer (which they're not, no matter how much they want to be treated as such) there is nothing that will prevent you from taking pictures in public. There is no guarantee of privacy when you're in a public place. If he had planned on publishing the photos then there might be issues with people in the pictures but a picture of a building isn't protected.*

    * I know there were some lawsuits in Chicago about people taking pictures of the sculptures displayed in Millenium Park and the artists were getting up in arms about their 'copyrighted works' being misued. I believe that went nowhere but this being Slashdot someone will come along with more information. If there is more information,

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:01PM (#24618551)

    I'm a photographer. I own $2000 telephoto lenses, lots of gear etc etc... There is a discrimination against photographers. I shoot studio photography mainly but i always fear that if i take good gear somewhere, that i wont be let in.

    The common example is any sport event. Baseball, Football, Tennis etc. They all tend to have a lense length rule. If your camera looks professional, then you must be a processional. So they cant risk you snapping off pictures of their sport without authorization. I kind of understand this... but at the same time, anyone bringing a point and shoot $300 camera to baseball game, isnt going to get a picture of anything.

    Its quite unfair that these camera companies are producing very nice digital SLRS... even entry level models for people to learn with, and they cant use them anywhere.

    The irony is that Canon advertises after every dam football game that "Canon is the official camera of the NFL", while the people they're advertising to cant bring those same canon cameras and lenses to a game if they sit in the stands.

    Photographers are a threat to freedom, as we're denied freedom.

    I tend to side against the "fleas" who snap celeb pictures in private settings. I find it distasteful and insulting. I would be furious if i were being stalked by photographers all day. But in public... fair is fair. And then theres the otherside of it that is complete bullshit, staged publicity... And its usually the photogs are the ones who are still blaimed, despite it being a staged pr stunt.

    A publicly funded museum should be fair grounds to shoot. Cameras are not a threat to security. The museum is just concerned that you will photograph their art and post it on a website. They're afraid of losing patronage.

    This whole terrorism shit has to stop. Its just so bad for the health of our country. It almost makes me think the government planned 9/11t, just to get more power over us. I know thats silly but... it sure does seem like the government loves to take away our freedoms.

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