View Full Version : Tripod in Los Angeles?

7-Aug-2007, 12:27
I'm planning on doing some large format shooting in downtown LA this week. Has anyone had experiences pro or con using tripods on public property (sidewalks) there? Thanks!

7-Aug-2007, 12:38
No problem that I've ever had.

7-Aug-2007, 12:43
I have heard, but don't know for sure, that some tripod users have been challenged in the Music Center/Disney Hall area. Just internet rumor so take it with a grain of salt.

Louie Powell
7-Aug-2007, 13:34
I have heard, but don't know for sure, that some tripod users have been challenged in the Music Center/Disney Hall area. Just internet rumor so take it with a grain of salt.

Richard Boutwell reported over on the APUG site that he was hassled in that area, but after examining his ID, the rent-a-cop went away quietly.

Jeff Conrad
7-Aug-2007, 14:38
No law bans tripods or requires a permit, but you do need a permit for commercial photography (which isn't defined)--it's in Sec. 22.350 of the Los Angeles Administrative Code. I haven't been hassled in the few times that I've been there, but I know people who have. Almost no one in LA is familiar with the law, so if you do get hassled, simply quoting the law and saying that you want to get back to what you were doing may intimidate your oppressor enough that he will leave you alone.

7-Aug-2007, 15:14
To second what everyone else says, the code focuses on commercial activity as it physically disrupts public goings on of other people, which, if you are a private individual photographing for yourself, you are not doing; this is easy to assert, and impossible for them to disprove. I have noticed that some of the building security folks have become gung-ho about telling people they can't photograph the buildings, vaguely throwing 9-11 around, saying they're going to call the police, that the sidewalk is private property, etc. Just stand up for yourself calmly but firmly if this happens. There is no law against doing so, and, even if it is private property, if you can see it in the public domain, you can photograph it. No law about photographing has changed since 9-11, period.

As others are saying, the only thing you'll need for downtown LA is a pinch of patience and some assertiveness to get these people of your back if they bug you. Have fun; you should be fine.

7-Aug-2007, 16:22
As others have said above, but make sure that you tell them you're a hobbyist. Even shooting for your own "portfolio" may be considered commercial, according to a City of LA Film Dept official.

If you're close enough to the curb in the Disney Hall area, you shouldn't be hassled, but closer to the bldg could put the guards on alert, I've heard. Hand holding a med format, such as an RZ, is no problem. I've photographed inside the bldg, on top of the bldg and in the garden with no problems.

Gordon Moat
7-Aug-2007, 18:05
Another approach is that you could wear a reflective vest and a hard hat.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

Ed Richards
7-Aug-2007, 18:30
I should have grabbed a Homeland Security jacket at the last conference I spoke it. Bet that would reduce hassles.:-)

Jeff Conrad
8-Aug-2007, 00:21
I assume that the "City of LA Film Dept" refers to FilmLA, the private firm that issue filming permits under contract with the City of Los Angeles. Times change and people change, but in their former incarnation as the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation (EIDC), they were notorious for giving out bad information on permit requirements for still photography. I don't think it was intentional; like most areas, LA concentrates on commercial filming and large commercial still shoots, for much the same reason as Willie Sutton robbed banks. The stock or fine-art photographer usually is an afterthought who gets lost in the shuffle.

I've spoken with several folks at EIDC/FilmLA over the years, and have not encountered one who what familiar with the applicable law, so the "portfolio" claim probably is speculation. The truth of it probably depends on what is meant by "portfolio"; if by it, they mean a stock or fine-art photographer who might eventually sell the images, their claim may be correct. Unfortunately, "commercial photography" has several common meanings, and the LA Administrative Code does not provide a definition. Though I've hardly done an exhaustive search, I haven't found any jurisprudence in LA or any other California jurisdiction with a similar that has made the call on the interpretation. The average photographer doesn't usually have the funds to be on the leading edge of jurisprudence ...

Explaining that you are a hobbyist, or if you are of more defiant mind, simply insisting that you are not doing commercial photography, should suffice. Whether or not they believe you (and whether or not it's true), in most cases, I can't see how they could establish probable cause for arrest if they doubted your claim. I've seldom been hassled anywhere in California, but it has been my experience that if you know the law, act as if you know it, and politely but firmly tell the person hassling you that, if they can't cite a law that bans or requires a permit for what you are doing, you'd like to get back to doing it, they will leave you alone. So far, at least, so good ...

Again, I don't photograph in LA that often, so I'd defer to those who do for what's likely to actually happen.

8-Aug-2007, 10:10
Again, I don't photograph in LA that often, so I'd defer to those who do for what's likely to actually happen.

I do, and I think your summary and conclusions are spot on.

While I would never characterize any encounter I have had with security guards as "being hassled", I have encountered a couple of rather persistent, insistent, and misinformed security guards. I once offered to use my cell phone to call the police/sherrif, and him them use my phone to call his boss so we could intelligently straighten out the situation. The security guard left immediately and didn't interfere any further.

14-Aug-2007, 02:22
Followup: I had no trouble at all from authorities, rent-a-cops, or destitute people. What was intended to be an afternoon shoot because an after dark shoot after unexpected errands and dinner. A couple 5x7 neg scans are below.

My only question: How would I reduce the converging parallel in the left image? My camera only has front rise and rear tilt and swing. Thanks!

Robert Hughes
14-Aug-2007, 10:29
(Cue La Marseilles) da ta da da da de dum...
Rise, Rise, Rise!
Rise, Rise, Rise!
Rise, Rise, Rise!

There's nothing you should tilt that can't be tilted.
Nothing that you can filter that can't be filt'ed.
Nothing you can do but you can learn to fix that "V"

It's EAS-EE!

All you need is Rise,
All you need is Rise, (Everybody, now)
All you need is Rise, Rise. Rise is all you need.