Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Undercover Security in LA

One way I like to relax is take the Gold Line from Pasadena into LA with a friend and do a mini photo safari. Los Angeles is so diverse, it has millions of subjects waiting to be shot.... Today, it was as if I were walking around with a gun slung over my shoulder.

I won't mention the location but my buddy and I were shooting photographs and were approached by security in plain clothes. He told us what we can and cannot not photograph.

We were technically on public property and I know my rights as a photographer in United States of America--I even carry an copy of the Photographer's Right in my bag, which I've used to show ignorant security officers.

Technically, this photo is legal, but according to the "rent-a-cop," it is a violation. The gentleman told us while pointing above, "These buildings cannot be photographed or be in any photograph you take." Apparently, the property managers don't want their buildings photographed in fear we may want to take them down.

Rather than argue with the person, I smiled and continued shooting people--buildings or no buildings in the background. We were followed by another security guard for a few minutes until the guard overheard us talking about our rights. Once said, and heard, he turned around and went away.

Did you know that by law anyone can take a video or photo of the TSA at an airport, as long as they are not impeding with their job? And we were simply taking pictures of buildings.


Luis Gomez said...

JT, I know exactly what you mean. In DC it is a nightmare to get your camera out in certain areas.

Sharon said...

I've run into the same thing here in Phoenix. I was stopped once while taking pictures of holiday lights.

J.J. in L.A. said...

Power hungry people tick me off. I'm glad you knew your rights!

Did you know that a solicitor can't call you before 9 am your time? I got one and said, "Do you know it's 8 am here? You're breaking the law." They said, "Sorry!" and hung up. It's essential to know your rights.

JT said...

I have a philosophy when dealing with difficult people, even those that are power hungry: start by treating them with respect.

Some are easier than others.

That same day, a police officer asked me to stop shooting photos of skaters at an ice rink. From where I was shooting, he said I could be arrested. Mad, yet knowing my rights (but not flaunting them), I tried another approach: I smiled, let the officer know who I was and what I was doing, then suggested who should really be arrested: the parents letting their kids skate without helmets on that ice!

He chucked and showed me an even better location to shoot.

Knowing your rights is important, and I think it's equally important to be polite and engage them at their level.

As for phone solicitors: I have a dedicated number for all solicitors to call. I no longer have to deal with them!

Google Voice

alex said...

great shot. love the motion in front of the diversity of architecture in the distance.

stereotyping a little over here, but rent-a-cops are the worst. unlike real law enforcement, they go on power trips without being at all versed in laws and ordinances.

Petrea said...

I carry the "rights," too! I've run into nice security guards and not-so-nice ones, but never had a police officer be ignorant of my rights. That's a new one.

I agree, you get more flies with honey. But some flies insist on being nasty.

Ibarionex tweeted your post, by the way. I saw it on his Twitter feed. Thanks for a great post.

JT said...

I think the police officer was more concerned with my taking photos of kids and tried to discourage me from THAT angle.

Once I presented my Daily Photo LA business card, and explained what I was doing (along with the parents/helmet comment), he changed his tune.

Although taking photos of children is legal, I think it's smart to let the parents know your intentions. I usually give them my card and tell them to look for themselves on my site. Once said, I have more models than I can handle!

The model release is another subject....

Vix said...

I had two security guards chase me away from a highrise office building in the Playa Vista part of LA. They were soooo courteous when they informed me that they wouldn't insist on taking my camera!

JT said...

I just Twitted another document: A Federal Protective Service directive helps if a guard stops you from taking pictures of a federal building... Photographing Federal Buildings From Public Spaces