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Thread: NYC "tripod law"

  1. #1

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    NYC "tripod law"

    Twice today I was approached by city park officials (in an outer borough, not Manhattan) for using my 8x10 field camera on a tripod. Never mind that people were using DSLRs on a tripod within 50 feet of me and were not hassled.

    One of the officers just asked about my camera and left me alone after he satisfied his curiosity. The other one asked for my permit sternly and told me to immediately stop what I was doing. After I showed him, as I was disassembling the camera by his order, that there was nothing but air inside the actual camera and that it was not some high tech device, he took pity on my crazy hobby and allowed me to continue.

    Months ago, I called the New York City film commission and asked if I need a permit to use a view camera and they said no, that I did not need a permit to use a view camera under any circumstances and that the law was meant to regulate commercial film crews and photographers. Yet it seems city officers do not understand the intent of the law.

    We live in a very sad age, where drug dealers in Washington Square Park are never arrested after years of dealing on the same street corner (I know their faces well by now), but people using an 8x10 view camera are called into question twice in two hours.

  2. #2

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Yeah, the cops most likely stepped over three dead hookers, and drove by a few meth labs, on the way to hassle you.

  3. #3

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    They stopped at the second (meth lab) to score.

  4. #4

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    What are you complaining about? Both of the officers let you to continue with your hobby. They asked questions - that's their job too. The more cops know what a view camera is the better for the rest of us.

  5. #5

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Quote Originally Posted by John NYC View Post
    Twice today I was approached by city park officials ...

    Months ago, I called the New York City film commission and asked if I need a permit to use a view camera and they said no, that I did not need a permit to use a view camera under any circumstances ...
    I don't know what park you were in, but in New York there are additional rules that apply to them and some of these rules are park specific.
    Cheers!

  6. #6

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Don't even attempt to set up your tripod at the US Capitol or Mall without a permit. The rule applies to commercial as well as non-commercial shooters.

    That said, no police officer can remember all the laws exactly, so they apply a broad interpretation by assuming everyone with a camera they do not recognize as being commercial. An 8x10 isn't something they see everyday.

    Best approach is to be polite and try to educate, while telling them that you called the Permitting Office and they told you it wasn't necessary.

    It is a pain in the f/stop to have to go through what happened to you, but ever since 911 photography has become an unwritten crime unfortunately.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  7. #7

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Of course, I was polite. How do you think they let me keep going if not? ;-)

    I found this document from the Mayor's office that defines the rules pretty clearly. See the "Use of Tripods" section on page 5. I'm going to start carrying this document with me, but I wish it had some official letterhead on it and wasn't just a bare pdf.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/downloa...s_QA_final.pdf

  8. #8

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    I don't know what park you were in, but in New York there are additional rules that apply to them and some of these rules are park specific.
    Yes, I know about those places (the Great Lawn at Central Park, for instance). I wasn't in a place like that. I was in a neighborhood park in Long Island City.

  9. #9

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Quote Originally Posted by GPS View Post
    What are you complaining about? Both of the officers let you to continue with your hobby. They asked questions - that's their job too. The more cops know what a view camera is the better for the rest of us.
    I'm complaining because they don't know their own laws (see my post just above) and it is ridiculous to hassle someone engaged in such a peaceful activity, who is following the rules, in a free country.

    Also, he didn't let me continue. He forced me to take my entire setup down before he relented. In the meantime, the light had completely changed (sunset) and I didn't get to take the original shot I had set up for.

  10. #10
    Greg Greg Blank's Avatar
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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    It was before 911. Back during the Clinton admin, I was hassled in Rock Creek park, by a park ranger. He specifically told me I was violating Federal Law. I went to the ranger office after taking my camera off the tripod. I told them I wanted them to show me in writing where the law existed. & They couldn't. Later that day I saw the same ranger speeding through a red light without his flashing lights on....I emailed the NPS Executive for DC and informed him of my observations concerning the events that took place.

    That said its sort of obvious if your in a busy location not to set your gear up where you will be an easy mark to hassle. Unfortunately for John that occured in a less trafficed area. Police are always going to be curious most have my respect for doing a difficult job. Having a business card, being polite and having an easily understood purpose for your being there, should resolve most issues.

    I still carry the part of the NPS Federal law that states that I do not require a permit for my specific type of photography-in my knapsack.


    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Calahan View Post
    It is a pain in the f/stop to have to go through what happened to you, but ever since 911 photography has become an unwritten crime unfortunately.

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