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  #1  
Old Posted May 3, 2009, 5:33 PM
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Your Rights as a Photographer

Recently, in a Highrise Construction thread, an individual wrote of his experience in Chicago while photographing a structure. This individual was approached by a security guard from one of the most prominent structures in Chicago, the Aon Building. The security guard informed him that taking pictures of the Aon Building was prohibited due to "Homeland Security Concerns". I have heard of many others with similar stories. I experienced a similar confrontation a couple years ago, being told that I could not photograph a certain structure.

When I was approached, it would have been great to have a response for this security guard, letting him know that I am aware of my rights as a citizen. I have done some searching around and found a couple sources. Probably the best source I have found so far is from an Attourney named Bert P. Krages II. Perhaps the laws have changed since, but here is his publications:



If anybody has anything to add, please do.
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  #2  
Old Posted May 3, 2009, 6:23 PM
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Something similar happened to me yesterday downtown. I was about taking pictures then some security guards said, "Can you please not take any more pictures please?" What I was taking pictures of was the TELUS Plaza - a major Edmonton office building. On the site they have a small plaza, and I was around the edge of the plaza/beginning of the sidewalk. Any who they told me to stop taking pictures. It's so retarded because I was outside, and had I been on the sidewalk they wouldn't have said anything. Not to mention it's a plaza, sure it's "TELUS" property, but isn't that public space...like a park? It's like saying you can't take pictures in the park because it is owned by the City. I wonder if they would have gotten mad had I took pictures of other buildings from the plaza. Ugh - that's the first time that's happened to me. Probably had I gone during the day there wouldn't have been a problem because there never is. This I've heard happen in Vancouver, Portland, Calgary, and Edmonton - now it's happened to me. I don't even think it was against the law and it's not like I was doing anything criminal - I was just taking photographs of a skyscraper. I think Canada has similar laws to the ones you posted there. I will have to do a bit of research. But it is dumb. Photographer's have rights.

the photo i took (well the last i mean on telus plaza):

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  #3  
Old Posted May 3, 2009, 9:19 PM
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That exact same article by Bert P. Krages was posted here about 2 years ago as a sticky in the My City Photos N-Z forum. Not sure why it isn't also a sticky in the A-M forum and/or other forums.
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Old Posted May 4, 2009, 2:10 AM
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Bottom line guys: Plenty of rent-a-cops have wagged their dongs at me. Do what I do: Make sure you're not within the property line because if you're not they cannot stop you and if it isn't a sensitive location (use common sense for this one) shoot away. Be cautious (i.e.: surreptitious) in plazas and such areas immediately adjacent to buildings. Even though they are open to the street they often are on private property and you can be asked to leave. If the plaza is paved with the same material as the building, it's part of the building and an asshole can make a case about it. Also, one doesn't always have to stand right under/in front of a building to get a quality shot. Across the street works too.

One other trick I use - if you know a company inside the building you're shooting, say you're doing work for them.
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Old Posted May 4, 2009, 6:05 PM
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Another trick I use is to run really fast when security approaches.

But seriously, if you're on public property, security has no authority over you in Canada or the US (select government/military buildings excluded).
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  #6  
Old Posted May 18, 2009, 7:27 PM
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 7:19 PM
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^Awesome find...



Quote:
Originally Posted by edmontonenthusiast View Post
Something similar happened to me yesterday downtown. I was about taking pictures then some security guards said, "Can you please not take any more pictures please?" What I was taking pictures of was the TELUS Plaza - a major Edmonton office building. On the site they have a small plaza, and I was around the edge of the plaza/beginning of the sidewalk. Any who they told me to stop taking pictures. It's so retarded because I was outside, and had I been on the sidewalk they wouldn't have said anything. Not to mention it's a plaza, sure it's "TELUS" property, but isn't that public space...like a park? It's like saying you can't take pictures in the park because it is owned by the City. I wonder if they would have gotten mad had I took pictures of other buildings from the plaza. Ugh - that's the first time that's happened to me. Probably had I gone during the day there wouldn't have been a problem because there never is. This I've heard happen in Vancouver, Portland, Calgary, and Edmonton - now it's happened to me. I don't even think it was against the law and it's not like I was doing anything criminal - I was just taking photographs of a skyscraper. I think Canada has similar laws to the ones you posted there. I will have to do a bit of research. But it is dumb. Photographer's have rights.
Well, that depends. Typically the plaza may reside on private property, even if the public has access to it. And if it is private property, then they do have the ability to forbid you from taking pictures. The solution is go out to the public sidewalk or across the street when told to stop. However, if the plaza was transferred to public ownership from a development agreement with the municipality; then it would be the same as a public park. Bottom line though is that public access does not necessarily mean public space. When in doubt, stay within a few feet from the street if a problem arises.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 4:31 AM
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Yes, years ago I use to be one of those rent a cops who worked in private and public buildings. Some of you need to realize that are a few guards who aren't even aware the laws regarding jurisdiction but generally most do. Since I've done this for a while (especially highrises) let me give you the do's and don'ts that may be helpful. I too have gone out and photographed photos of highrises but keep some of these measures in mind.

Tips:

1. If you know someone who lives and works in the building ask them to invite you that way you are authorized by them to be on the property. Depending on the scope of the property rules you may want ask before walking around the property with a camera. Private property building managers are the one's who oversee the property rules being enforced by security and it's usually a building governing board or corporate who makes them. It would be best to be accompanied by the person who is hosting your visit on the property. Never walk off on your own without authorization or the host because most security offices can monitor your were abouts and will confront you. Unless it was authorized by property management or hosting resident I wouldn't do it.

2. The public sidewalks, parks, street, squares, parking garages and lots are your best friends. If you're approached by security just tell them you're just a tourist taking photos and that you are standing in public right of way. (it's what I usually tell them) Usually, most of them will leave since they may already know the rules but just wanted to check to see what you were up anyway. If they are gung ho and give you a hard time just simply walk away from them since you are not on their property. They can't do nothing to you.
If they say they will call the cops then you may want to contact them as well
to question the guard's jurisdiction. Most cops should know about public right of way vs private. What can they do unless they have you on camera for trespassing or doing something unlawful.

3. You may want a camera with good zoom if you want get a close up.

4. Remember most of these places have cameras so be careful by not doing something stupid like climbing over a fence to cut through the property to take photos from a public sidewalk on the other side. Not good...they will either confront you or just simply dispatch the police for suspicious activity. Just walk around the property.

5. Don't argue with them or say something threatening. All the reason to call the cops even if you were standing on a public right of way. Some cities and towns can have very strict soliciting and loitering laws that could get you picked up by the cops because you appeared to be loitering and making threatening statements. I've seen this before. (usually with homeless). Just ignore them and keep taking your photos. Don't give them any ammo. When the cops get there just tell them you were just walking though taking photos from a public sidewalk and minding you're business.

6. Keep in mind that every city has different ordinances so you may want to learn about them first. What works in NYC may not work in another city or town.

Hope this helps
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2010, 3:10 AM
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Very interesting. In September 2003 while I was visiting Germany, I was taking a photo of a building in a public parking lot (I hope it was, I'll ask my dad but I think I was...) which was (I didn't know at the time) an American establishment. Someone confronted me in German, of course I speak and know very limited German so I was with my dad and grandmother. Anyway he said "no photos" and so my grandmother (in German) said something like, "does he look like a terrorist!?" and bla bla bla. So nothing happened and we went on our business shopping at the store near the building. A little later, I realized it has been about 2 years since 9/11 so now I don't blame them but of course I was not a threat. Do you know if anything was done wrong here?
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  #10  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2010, 6:02 PM
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Chicago Transit Authority

CTA Photography Policy
6/7/2007

(photo from CTA page)

06/07/2007
CTA Photography Policy

The general public is allowed to take snapshots in public areas.

Equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. is not allowed ? except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA.

Photographers are not allowed to enter or photograph non-public areas of CTA stations.

Photographers are prohibited from obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers and blocking doors or stairs.

CTA personnel may evaluate the actions of photographers on a case by case basis to determine if a photographer is in compliance with guidelines. If a determination is made that the photographer is not in compliance, CTA personnel may ask them to stop.


Full Policy
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2010, 6:56 PM
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^ Yeah - I once made the mistake of using a tripod for some multi-exposures of Trump Tower at the end of an empty CTA platform on Wabash. A conductor stopped her train on the tracks and told me to put the camera away. Ouch.

But I've never had any trouble taking discreet handheld shots at the CTA stations.

Last edited by wrab; Nov 4, 2010 at 5:08 AM.
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2010, 6:58 PM
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In general, I've found that by using a tripod, I increase the freak-out factor for security guards by a factor of about 10.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2010, 7:07 PM
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This settlement applies to courthouses nationwide, not just in New York:

Courthouse News Service
Monday. October 18, 2010

MANHATTAN (CN) - Authorities can't arrest public citizens for taking photographs and recording videos outside federal courthouses, the government acknowledged Monday in a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union. The NYCLU sued the federal government in April on behalf of Antonio Musumeci, a New Jersey man who was arrested after filming a protest outside of the Manhattan federal courthouse.....

.....The U.S. Attorney's Office acknowledged in the settlement that there are no federal laws or regulations prohibiting photography outside federal courthouses. The government also agreed to release the memory card seized from Musumeci's camera, pay him $4,850 and instruct federal officers that it is not illegal to take photographs or video recordings outside federal courthouses.

Read full article at Courthouse News Service here
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Old Posted Nov 23, 2010, 6:16 PM
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(Kuwait) Multi ministry camera ban frustrates artists

Kuwait Times
Multi ministry camera ban frustrates artists
Published Date: November 20, 2010
By Abdullah Al-Qattan, Staff Writer


.....The Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance recently came to the conclusion that photography should be used for journalism purposes only. This has resulted in the ban of Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) in public, on the streets and in malls.....

Full article here
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  #15  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2010, 6:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryc View Post
CTA Photography Policy
6/7/2007

(photo from CTA page)

06/07/2007
CTA Photography Policy

The general public is allowed to take snapshots in public areas.

Equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. is not allowed ? except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA.

Photographers are not allowed to enter or photograph non-public areas of CTA stations.

Photographers are prohibited from obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers and blocking doors or stairs.

CTA personnel may evaluate the actions of photographers on a case by case basis to determine if a photographer is in compliance with guidelines. If a determination is made that the photographer is not in compliance, CTA personnel may ask them to stop.


Full Policy
Yeah, some guy on a power trip came up one time saying "I could get a arrested for photographing (from a platform mind you, not even the system itself). I told him the policies were clearly stated on the CTA website. He was like "Oh." and walked away. I'm glad they have the policy against tripods though. They are incredibly disruptive. I realize people are trying to get the perfect shot, but there's the possible situation where someone may trip on one of the legs, and really it's just slowing people down trying to get around you.
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Old Posted Apr 7, 2011, 12:22 PM
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If their building is restricted for photograph (authorize by law) better they can have the information in front of their building that would be better to avoid these misunderstanding from photographers and securities.
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2011, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrab View Post
Kuwait Times
Multi ministry camera ban frustrates artists
Published Date: November 20, 2010
By Abdullah Al-Qattan, Staff Writer


.....The Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance recently came to the conclusion that photography should be used for journalism purposes only. This has resulted in the ban of Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs) in public, on the streets and in malls.....

Full article here
Huh. Who knew? This explains a lot of the looks I got, especially in the areas around Fahaheel Bazaar. That would've been somewhat embarassing, if I had caused an incident because of my camera.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2011, 12:16 AM
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I've run into problems trying to photograph Metra before. I was approached by multiple security guards last Spring taking pictures at Van Buren station. They really started to resent me when I came back the next day with my camera.

Such a shame. Van Buren is such a beautiful station.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2011, 3:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanW View Post
I've run into problems trying to photograph Metra before. I was approached by multiple security guards last Spring taking pictures at Van Buren station. They really started to resent me when I came back the next day with my camera.

Such a shame. Van Buren is such a beautiful station.
That's surprising. One morning in 2008, ahead of rush hour, I was hanging around the Van Buren platform taking photos of arriving and departing trains. The station manager came out and chatted a bit to see what I was up to, and then introduced me to the security officer just in case a passenger reported suspicious activity later on. Then, he gave me a map of downtown and marked some other good spots for railroad photography. I've been all over Randolph/South Water Street/Millennium Park Station and 55-56-57th Street with my camera many times over the past ten or twelve years and have only been questioned one other time and never prohibited from taking photos.



Click the photo to see the rest of the photo set.
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Last edited by Robert Pence; Oct 7, 2011 at 3:53 PM.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2012, 9:00 PM
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Just curious if anyone has had issues regarding taking people's pictures in a public area? Not so much issues taking the photo, but issues when selling the photo......issues such as having someone sign a release or anything like that? I have no idea what the rules are.

Recently I sold a photo that had actress Annabella Sciorra in it and after the fact, someone told me I might need to get her to sign a release....has anyone come across this situation?
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