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Thread: "You can't take pictures here" - Restrictions on photography

  1. #1

    Default "You can't take pictures here" - Restrictions on photography

    I take lots of pictures of architectural details, and today I was *told again, "You can't take pictures here!" by a security guard. *I was taking pictures of the *sidewalk* in front of office building along 6th avenue in midtown. *Which, I know some of the plaza space in the city is private, and I have been chased off them, but this particular bdg. only has a narrow sidewalk between it and sixth.

    I have even been told by a guard not to take photos of a corporate building all the way over on the other side of Park Avenue (he came from a building behind me owned by the same corporation).

    And down behind City Hall one time, I was asked not take pictures anywhere "in the area" by a cop.

    I think this stems from 9/11 jitters, and wonder if other NYC photographers on this site have encountered this, and where, and how they feel about it. *I think it is an overreaction. *

  2. #2

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    I was not allowed to take a picture of the lobby of 101 Barclay Street (one of my all time favorite buildings).

    This was before September 11th.

  3. #3

    Default

    As long as the pictures are taken in the public realm and are not used commercially, you are propably in your right. I bet you would win a legal challenge and find such attitudes scandalous and revolting. Since when do corporations own the streets?
    Last edited by Kris; August 6th, 2005 at 02:34 AM.

  4. #4

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Yeah, its quite sad that one cant even PHOTOGRAPH a building from the outside. But if you are on a public sidewalk you can tell the guards they can call the cops, because you have every right to photograph from a public place.
    As far as lobbies go, its private property so they can ban photos. What's worse is when they close off lobbies to the public, which is lousy public relations. Many buildings in Rockefeller center had their lobbies closed during "Operation Iraqi freedom". Some buildings like the Celenease (1211 6th) still have their lobbies closed, even though they put in a brand new escalator from the concourse up to the street.

  5. #5

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Hmm... A bad case of over-protectiveness. I've taken plenty of pics without anyone telling me any thing, but most of them are from a distance or near the building, but with much caution.

  6. #6

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Quote: from DominicanoNYC on 3:18 pm on May 14, 2003
    Hmm... A bad case of over-protectiveness. I've taken plenty of pics without anyone telling me any thing, but most of them are from a distance or near the building, but with much caution.
    Same here. I haven't yet been stopped.

  7. #7

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    There's another explanation : there's many places, especially touristic ones where you can't take pictures just because there's a contract between the place -mostly a cathedral or museum- and a photographer who has exclusivity. The goal is to sell postcards, so if you want a picture, you have to buy postcards, as simple as that. Try to find out if there are postcards available, I'd bet a beer that there are, for sale off-course !

  8. #8
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Most of the places we're taling about are regular office buildings, not cathedrals and museums. Besides, no one can stop you from taking pictures of anything from the street, no matter how "touristic" the building is.

  9. #9

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Yep, some people can : those watchmen ! :biggrin:

  10. #10
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Right. Add that to the list of things you can no longer do in New York.

  11. #11

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    I did find an ACLU lawyer's site devoted to this topic, which includes a valuable "The Photographer's Right" PDF. *The site is:

    http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

    Quoting from the web page:

    "The right to take photographs is now under assault more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples include photographing industrial plants, bridges, and vessels at sea. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

    * * Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has contributed to improvements in civil rights, curbed abusive child labor practices, and provided information important to investigating crimes. These images have not always been pretty and often have offended the sensibilities of governmental and commercial interests who had vested interests in a status quo that was adverse to the majority in our country.

    * * Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back to the acts of terrorism that have occurred over the last forty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would have not prevented any of these acts. "

    Would anyone in this forum care to play Devil's Advocate and argue how documenting NYC's physical characteristics COULD aid and abet terrorists? *I.e., I read somewhere that Dave "the Bridge Man" Frieder was asked to take certain bridge photos off his site by the authorities for this reason. ...

  12. #12

    Default "You can't take pictures here"

    Quote: from NYatKNIGHT on 12:06 pm on May 16, 2003
    Right. Add that to the list of things you can no longer do in New York.
    What's suprising was that during the war, most RFC buildings still allowed cars to park in front, with no searches of them. Also suprised they never put large planters at some RFC buildings. Yet I couldnt walk in the lobby during the war. Go figure!

  13. #13

    Default The MTA!!

    They Lifted Their Ban Recently About Taking Photos in The Subways!!

  14. #14

    Default what is this, Uzbekistan?

    Last time I was hassled about taking pics in the subway was in Uzbekistan in 1998. Sad to think we are now in that group.

  15. #15

    Default

    A few weeks ago, the following letter and response was published in the Battery Park City Broadsheet.

    To the editor,
    In the Disturbances section of the last issue, there is an item dated June 13th about unauthorized photography at the Mercantile Exchange and the Irish Memorial.

    I am not aware that it is illegal to take pictures at these two places. Could you provide further information regarding this.


    Editor's note: You're right; it is not illegal to take photographs of the NY Mercantile Exchange or the Irish Hunger Memorial. The "unauthorized photography" in the item actually refers to two potential problems that Park Enforcement Patrol officers are trained to watch for. Leticia Remauro, community liaison for the BPCA explains: "Officials have asked us to watch out for photography at high-risk places like the Mercantile Exchange. The Irish Hunger Memorial is not high risk, but it's a copyrighted work of art. If it looks like a professional photo is being taken, using a tripod, we have to check to see if the photographer has a permit and also understands that the artist must be given credit. People interpret the directives given to PEP in different ways, and officers want to err on the side of caution. since it isn't always obvious whether photographers are professionals or laymen, there may be a need for a PEP officer to question them."



    The use of a tripod is not exclusive to professionals.

    A photographer by profession does not necessarily need a permit to set up a tripod on a public street to take photos of copyrighted art. It could be his day off.

    Permits are generally needed to cover safety and public inconvenience issues, not to protect art copyrights.

    Copyrights are not violated until you use the photos commercially.

    These restrictions can be applied in the public spaces of private property, such as the TWC. Management can simply restrict any photography that might appear to be professional - or just ban all photography.

    Some museums do not allow any photography of their exhibits, professional or amateur. But it is private property.

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