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Thread: FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

  1. #1
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Fwd from Lawyer and Photographer Bert Krages:

    > Last December, a photographer in Portland, Oregon was stopped and > detained > by security guards for taking photographs of the old federal courthouse. > Margie Boule, a columnist with the Oregonian, wrote yesterday about his > experience and her interviews with federal officials in the Office of > Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service, and U.S. > Attorney's Office. > It is a well written column and shows what can happen when photographers > voice their complaints about mistreatment.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/margie_boule/index.ssf?/base/living/1074258241122040.xml

    (you have to do a little zipcode and age thing)

    A couple of quotes:

    "You'd think it would be easy to find out if something was against the law in the United States. Either there's a law on the books or there isn't, right? But this week it took a lot of phone calls to get a definitive answer on whether it's illegal to photograph federal buildings in America....

    Garrison Courtney, with the Federal Protective Service in the capitol, was certain "there is a law" banning the photographs. "What it is offhand I can't say, but you can be charged for taking pictures of federal buildings. I have seen people charged with it since I came here." But Garrison could not cite the law...

    Finally Ken Spitzer, regional director for the Federal Protective Service of Homeland Security -- in other words, the big boss of the security guards who hassled Jeffrey Thorns last month -- had the facts. "It's not true" that it's illegal to photograph federal buildings, he said this week. "They misspoke. It's certainly not illegal. But when we see people in front of buildings taking photos we try to be as vigilant as we can.""
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  2. #2

    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Out of curiosity: Press photographer? Commercial photographer? Free-lance professional photographer? H.A.B.S. photographer? Amateur photographer? handheld shooting? Tripod mounted shooting in street or sidewalk?

  3. #3
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    it's in the column, but in this case, an amateur architectural photogrpaher, using handeld at that point I think. This is actually one of numerous similar cases that have been reported in the last year covering photography students, "amateurs", newspaper photographers, documentary photographers etc, using everythign from LF to Leicas
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  4. #4

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    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Tim, I had a similar experience. I'm a commercial real estate appraiser (though I'd rather think of myself as a LF photographer), and on an assignment at our airport, I was taking pictures of the post office facility on the airport runway apron I was appraising. As I was driving off the airport grounds, I was stopped by security, and asked about photographing the facility. The security man had me wait while he verified my story with the PO manager. I didn't question the legality, but assumed it was part of the post-911 heightened security. Someone in our office was stopped by police after photographing a branch bank. I now try to notify people at the property I'm photographing, rather than doing so un-announced. It saves problems later, and reassures the occupants of the property.

  5. #5

    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Why would it matter the purpose of the photographer or his/her status within the field? The First Amendment applies to all.

  6. #6

    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    "Why would it matter the purpose of the photographer"

    There could be quite a difference if one is openly shooting or candidly shooting the scene. There could also be an issue with setting up a tripod and blocking public access on a sidewalk or street while shooting the scene. There could also be an issue if one returns to shoot the scene at various times and days. May not be illegal but could be suspicious. Especially since 9/11.

    As an aside, when I was 13 my parents gave me a new Minox - the B. I then went on a sales trip with my father's New England sales rep. We passed the submarine base in New London and decided to stop to photograph the scene with my new Minox. Of course we could not get into the base so we stopped at a rest area that overlooked it. Public land not Nave or Groton Ship Works property.

    Within a very few minutes 2 very large (I was only 13 remember) Shore Patrolmen showed up and demanded the film. At that point it seemed like the wisest thing to do so I lost most of my shots with my new camera.

  7. #7

    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Unfortunately "we" have given away our rights. The Homeland Security Administration has been given carte blanche authourity to stop, question, and or apprehend anyone whom they consider questionable. The Patriot act has given "all" governmental agencies the power to detain "anyone" at any time and for no reason. If you think I'm joking you had better read the document. By the power granted "any and all" government agencies by the Patriot Act, you are subject to search and seizure at any time without due process. The Border Patrol, FBI, CIA, or any other agency representative can kick your door down unannounced and take you away for no reason at all. Read the document and weep. While we were being scared of external terrorists we were in fact being deceived into thinking that we were being made "safe" while the real terrorists were busy using our fears to take our freedoms away. If you travle anywhere, not just out of the country but internally as well, you had better read about the CAPPS 2 directive from the Homeland Security Administration. And get your fingerprints ready to hand over to them if you want to get on an airliner to anywhere in the country. Read and weep. 1984 is fast approaching. Don't take my word for it. Read the documents.

  8. #8

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    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Bob, It probably didn't help your case any that you were using the classic "spy" camera, even if you were only 13 at the time.

  9. #9

    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Ben,

    That I guess is the point. There are obvious ways to photograph things and there are suspicious ways. today I would try to be as obvious as possible and gather permission prior to shooting it.

    At 13 I never really thought of it as a spy camera.

  10. #10

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    FW: Columnist writes about Federal guards stopping photographer

    Maybe I have more attitude than common sense, but my response to any police officer/security guard would be to require them to cite the code in which I would be in violation by taking a picture of any buildings or features thereof.

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