Yesterday evening I was admonished by a pair of private security people for taking photos of a private building from public property. I was not seeking to photograph any people entering or exiting (though legal, in this case it’d be an invasion of privacy) – in fact, all I was interested in were circular forms for a photo project (pictured here are my earlier snaps from my Flickr set of squircles – dangerous looking stuff, eh?).
Of course I’m not the first person who’s had an encounter (or worse) with private security or even the cops. But I think it bears repeating to everyone here that you are free in this country (at least at the moment) to snap photos. Really. There are very few places where you’re not allowed to take photos and it’s good to be reminded of that. Most subjects shot from public property are fair game, as I understand it, this includes copyrighted works (as long as you don’t attempt to copyright your work of their work).
I know it’s being bandied about a lot, but this quote just sums it up: “Those who are willing to sacrifice essential freedom for security deserve neither.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Basically, I’m not here to bash the folks who shoo-ed me off, I just wanted to point everyone to this resource to educate yourself about your rights. If you take a lot of photos, you might want to print this out and tuck it into your camera case:
Honestly, I want to hear from you about this, I know we have a lot of photographers among our readership … post comments here, or better yet, hop onto the metroblogging forums.
UPDATE: BoingBoing posted a great exchange a fellow had in Pittsburgh about photographing the PPG building (I was run off from there twice back in 1991/92 for taking photos of the buildings and security).
There’s also a Flickr group that you can join to share experiences and photos of places where you were told you couldn’t take photos. You Can’t Take Pictures Here.