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Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 02:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Greetings all,

I encountered a situation yesterday while I was doing a favor for my neighbor and taking some graduation photos of her daughter and this situation has me puzzled and I don’t exactly know what to make of it and I am hoping that the members of this forum can share their experiences/opinions with me.

My neighbor and her daughter had all gotten up at 5:30 AM and we drove out to an open-air marketplace in the downtown area of the city where we live. The place is a photographers dream and a person could spend days there and not run out of photographic ideas. The young lady is from a good, well to do family and she was dressed in a very classy, elegant manner that in no way could have ever been interpreted as cheesy or offensive.

We had the marketplace areas all to ourselves for about an hour and then a few people, mostly walkers and joggers started to drift in. I remember very clearly that I was photographing this young lady in an area that is adjacent to a sidewalk and has a lot of beautiful foliage when this woman walked by and paused just long enough to give us all this look of utter disdain as if to say ‘who in the h _ _ _ are you to be breathing my air?’ I thought nothing of it until about 15 minutes later I saw a Security Guard approaching. I kept photographing our young lady until the Guard stopped adjacent to us and when I looked at him he, in a very polite and respectful manner informed me that we were on private property and that we couldn’t take photographs there and we would have to leave. This Guard was very savvy, polite, and polished and he certainly knew the right way to deal with people.

I explained to the Guard that I was taking the photographs as a favor to my neighbor who was there with us; and the Guard said he had gotten a ‘complaint’ from a ‘lady’. Actually, this person was not by any stretch of the imagination a ‘lady’. She was one of these miserable, horrid individuals who everyone wishes would just hurry up and die and take themselves out of everybody’s misery. The sort of person who just exists to cause as much trouble as they possible can and has absolutely no friends at all.

At that point in time all three of knew what had happened and my neighbor directly asked the Guard who it was who had complained and why they had complained since it was plainly evident that at 7:15 AM in the morning we were not hurting anyone nor were we causing any sort of a disturbance. Without directly answering my neighbor’s question the Guard confirmed to us that it was indeed the woman who had glared at us in such a hostile manner and the Guard actually apologized to all of us and made several suggestions as to where we could finish taking our photographs.

By then I felt there was no point in debating the matter any further especially considering that this Guard was only doing his job and he was clearly uncomfortable at the position he had been put in and he had given all of us the strong impression that he agreed with us that we weren’t causing any harm to anyone but he had to cover himself so I thanked him and we left and went to a park several miles away and finished taking our photos. I probably could have argued the point and maybe won but there seemed no point in it and it would have probably been a classic case of winning the battle but losing the war because I want to be able to go back there and do more photography.

This to me appears to be a questionable call and definitely in a gray area and I am hoping that I can get the input of the members of this forum. I know that for public areas it is different and it is a lot harder to run someone off for simply taking photographs but what is the consensus on taking photographs on private properties? I read an informative article on the Internet in which a practicing attorney and photographer researched this topic and compiled a synopsis of the laws and published it for download, which I have done but again, I think (and I might be wrong) that this synopsis applies primarily to public areas. If anyone wants to download a copy it can be accessed at: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm .

Any and all input on this topic will be highly appreciated. Thanks to all.
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Re: Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 03:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Any time you shoot on private property you need permision. I've shot on location myself and produced a lot of location shoots for people and always have needed to make arrangements, prior to the shoot if possible, for permission and have had the owner(s) sign a location/property release. If the shoot is a last minute find try finding the owners and explain what you're shooting and have something on hand for them to sign and if needed offer some $$. Could be $20, $50, $100, etc.

Some say that if the location is not identifiable you don't need permission or a release but I'd be carefull. There are also times when shooting in city areas that you need a permit from the city also and proof of insurance.

You can also find out if the location is private or public from the local City Film office. They would tell you if you need any kind of permits or not also.
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the bottom line
Old 09-18-2005, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There is public property, and there is private property. Unless you're willing to work in "shoot-and-run" mode (which we've all done) and risk being evicted, you need some kind of permission to shoot on either. If its public property (a city park, beach, mountain trail, or especially a government building) there is propoably a government entity who controls it, and from which you'd obtain a permit (and they don't always charge for it, but you will probably need proof of insurance). If its private property, same thing. You can't just walk onto someone's front lawn and start taking pictures, right? Now..... do I get permits all the time? Obviously not. I shoot at the beach and such all the time, but I'm willing to risk it since I'm usually the client (for my stock file) and I know what I can get away with. If I have a real client looking over my shoulder, you'd better believe I have permits. Now if you're doing personal portraits on a regular basis, you might want to contact the management of the marketplace and make an arrangement with them, give them a certificate of insurance, and have the guards on your side.

Remember that a pubic space, is not necessarily public property. Disneyland, for example, is not public property, but you can shoot there, as long as its not for commercial purposes. (For example, you couldn't shoot a portrait with Cinderella's Castle in the background without permission, because you'd face trademark violation issues amoung other things). BUT... the trick is not to make it look like a professional shoot. Obviously millions of normal people shoot pictures of their family or friends in public parks, or private facilities like Disneyland, even with a pro-looking camera and flash, but bringing out the fold-up reflectors, light stands, and makeup artist will be a dead-giveaway that you're not just dad taking family pix. Also, working the model - giving directions, changing wardrobe, staying in the same setup for more than a few frames, will also make you look like a pro.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
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Re: Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 05:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There will always be "gawkers" at even the most benign shoot. Most are there out of curiosity, but a few will find things offensive. It's a lot like a street musician; most will ignore, some will stop and enjoy, and a few will take offense over the noise.

Art acted out in public evokes differing emotions and responses.

As far as private property, in many cases the old adage "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" often applies, especially with the "public-private" property that is everywhere.
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Re: Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 05:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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you don't mention if the "lady" was the owner of the property or represented the owners of the property. it would seem to me that if she did not either own or represent the owners of the property, she had no right to engage the security guard to ask you to refrain from commiting photography on private property, nor was the security guard acting properly as he does not report to this "lady."
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Re: the bottom line
Old 09-18-2005, 05:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Remember that a pubic space, is not necessarily public property.

[/ QUOTE ]

I would certainly hope not!

(Sorry Andy... I had to. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img])

Sam
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Re: Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 05:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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As others said, leaving was your only option, regardloess of the woman's obnoxiousness. Once 'caught', on private property you need coinsent and on public property, you need a permit. If you had refused to leave, the security guard's only option would have been to call the police and have you charged with trespass. It's unfortunate, but anyone shooting outdoors on property we do not control is subject to being kicked out.
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It doesn\'t matter ....
Old 09-18-2005, 05:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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....if the lady had any authority or not, the security guard DID. The property owner may have given the guards standing orders to evict any photographers without permission, just as they would a sidewalk vendor, no matter how the guard finds out about the photographer. Even if there is no specific prohibition on photography, the fact that it's private property, and the guard is hired to look out for the property owner's interests, means the guard can prevent any activity not part of the intended purpose of the propety owner. Now he could have ignored her, or looked the other way, or patroled a different part of the property, but them what would he do if the lady called the owner's office to complain that the guard didn't do anything? Remember, he didn't need her to be within his authority to evict the photographer, she just pointed out the "problem" as she saw it (for whatever STUPID reason [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif[/img] ). Flip it around: would she need to have any authority to report a man with a gun?

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
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Re: It doesn\'t matter ....
Old 09-18-2005, 06:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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yeah, you're right. problem is with this situation--we don't have all the fact, m'am. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]
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Re: Need Your Help, A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Park.
Old 09-18-2005, 06:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
you need a permit.

[/ QUOTE ]

not necessarilly so.
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