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Thread: Hassled by nosey private security guard.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    I had heard of people being hassled while using view cameras elsewhere in the country, but I never expected it to happen in Evanston. I had gone to the top roof level of a public parking garage to take a picture of the street and city below. (There is frenetic activity tearing down buildings and putting up new buildings, and one of the things I want to do with my view camera is to document the city as it changes.) I had framed and focused my image and was ready to take my picture when I was approached by a private security guard. He asked me what I was doing, which always strikes me as a rather strange question since it was pretty obvious I was taking a picture. He wanted me to go down to the garage office and get permission from the manager there, which I refused to do since I would have had to disassemble my camera, pack up, go down six floors and then come back up and set up again. I ranted a bit about having paid taxes in Evanston for some 40 years and kept going along those lines and promised that I would go seek permission when I was done. It became clear to him that he was going to have to physically restrain me to get me to go down, so he gave up and left me to finish. When I got down to the office and explained who I was, they told me it was fine, I should just go ahead, and I didn't need permission. So it ended up okay in the end. Clearly, this rather mild mannered security guard had acted on his own initiative, and he wasn't going to beat up a 71 year old man taking a picture of downtown Evanston. So I lucked out. but it is still somewhat frightening to realize that this sort of thing is going on in our country, even in the least dangerous locations.

    A bit of irony. Like many garages, the levels are assigned labels based on a theme in addition to their numbers. The theme for this garage is the arts, and the top roof level is called "Photography".

  2. #2

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.


    I can empathize with your plight. I'm sure many of us have been challenged and/or harassed for taking photographs in seemingly public areas by some over zealous employee. I was making a picture in front if a restaurant at night when the manager came out and said that I couldn't take a picture. I ‘politely’ informed him that I was on public property (the sidewalk) and was within my rights to take pictures there. He said that if I didn’t move on he’d call the cops. I ‘politely’ encouraged him to do so. He didn’t. I made my pictures.

    Seriously, I always check first with someone in authority if I have any doubt if I’m on private or public property. Parking structures are (to the best of my knowledge) private property. Even if open to the public. Some one or some thing owns them. Unlike the street, the sidewalk or the beach. Another example I’ve come across is taking architectural pictures of shopping malls (some are kinda artsy). Can’t shoot there without permission. Even though it’s ‘open to the public’, it is private property and they won't give permission.

    But, sometimes ya just gotta shoot first and ask permission later.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    "He asked me what I was doing, which always strikes me as a rather strange question since it was pretty obvious I was taking a picture"

    Favourite here is when I get stopped by the police in my car (not something I do anything to encourage, you understand)... 1st question: "Is this your car sir?". Only the certain knowledge that the average traffic policeman has no sense of humour *whatsoever* prevents me from saying "No, I stole it"...

    There does seem to be a subset of humanity that have the mentality that, if you have not got specific permission to be doing something, you shouldn't be doing it - rather than taking the approach that you can do anything you like as long as you are not specifically excluded from doing it. The question people should ask is "who is being hurt by this" and if the answer is "no one", go about their own business.

    It's probably reasonable for a security guard to have a closer look at what you were doing, but once satisfied you were harmless, and not about to throw yourself off the building, should have just got on with his job. Still, his loss: I'm sure he missed out on an interesting impromptu lecture on the merits of LF photography!


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    Leanord, just chalk it up to an unpleasnt experience produced by the climate of the times. I'm quite sure you don't fit the current profile of the average terrorist, but we should remember terrorists have also come from our own citizenry; just ask anyone in Oklahoma City. The only profile Timothy McVeigh fit was that of a clean-cut North American caucasian male.

    Also, parking garages are a natural favorite for car bomb; the first World Trade Center bombing and the OK City bombing took place in the parking garages.

    Even though the two of you had a confrontation, I suspect by the way you responded it was convincing enough to prove you were a solid citizen, not up to any misdeeds, although a couple words up front with the guard or the manager would have avoided the whole thing. It could be thought of as a courteous thing to do.

    Although most of us are not used to it, and it is unpleasant, its this type of watchfullness that is needed to circumvent a catastrophe. A security guard or police office may ask the question a hundred thousand times, and all of the hundred thousand times the situation is obviously harmless. But, there's that 1 time in a hundred thousand where it proves dangerous.

    Not the guard's fault, not the City's fault, not your fault. Blame it on Osama et al.

  5. #5
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    leonard -

    at least the squarebadge didn't call the cops to surround the building, who then used the bullhorn from the street - "put that 'thing' down and come down to the street peacefully, we have the building surrounded". no, that hasn't happened to me yet, but just the other day i was hasseled too ... then again i fit the "profile" young dark haired, olive-skinned 30-something male ... with a camera

    at least the security guard was keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 1998

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    Alex said: "Also, parking garages are a natural favorite for car bomb; the first World Trade Center bombing and the OK City bombing took place in the parking garages."

    WTC - yes. OK City bombing - no. The truck was parked out on the street beside the building. Get your facts straight.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.


    I just can't resist. Sell that nasty old metal monorail and get youself a non-threatining wooden field camera that everyone loves....


  8. #8

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    Evenston Illinois? I'm a chicagoin , just curious where I should steer clear from. By the way you where on private property, correct?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.

    Leonard, I have often observed that a major personality change takes place when you put someone in charge of something and give him a little hat to wear. I am sure that psychologists must have a technical medical term for the phenomenon.

    In my town, for example, are several school crossing guards which routinely do a superb theatrical impression of Benito Mussolini. Their M/O is to hide behind a mailbox until a long string of traffic is almost upon them. They then jump out, right in the middle of the traffic, and strut their stuff like Il Duce himself amidst squealing brakes, chin stuck way out, waving their little stop sign in the air with great authority.

    And donít get me started on school bus drivers. The local school board has spent thousands on consultants to determine the most awkward, disruptive, idiotic places to stop a bus. On my way to work is a major high-volume intersection where every school bus east of the Mississippi River stops during morning and evening rush hour, screwing up traffic for miles in four directions. They then proceed fifty feet and turn onto a quiet residential street with no traffic. But donít stop there.

    I suspect that these (and parking garage guards) are the only minimum-wage jobs in which the oppressed under-class can enjoy a little delicious mischief with the Establishment. Kind of like adult trick-or-treat. I always try to react with mock outrage, knowing it enhances their titillation enormously.

  10. #10
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Hassled by nosey private security guard.


    Didn't you get the memo? Good attitudes are no longer allowed. Cripes man, it's an election year! ;-)

    Bruce Watson

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