View Full Version : OK help me undertand this whole tripod permit thing

9-Sep-2007, 18:08
Do I need a tripod permit everywhere I take photographs?????? Using any large format camera I always use a tripod and I always use a large format camera. NO need for snide replies as this is a question I haven't been able to find an answer to after a while of searching. Thank you guys.

David A. Goldfarb
9-Sep-2007, 18:27
It depends where you take photographs.

In some cities, permits are required on public property for reasons of safety and liability, but even in New York, this is only enforced in certain parts of town.

Permits may be required in indoor spaces and on private property.

Some historic sites require permits.

Parks don't generally require permits for individual photographers, but they may be required for commercial shoots involving equipment like lighting and a large crew.

If you are in doubt, it's always prudent to ask.

9-Sep-2007, 18:36
Since you have left out your location from your profile, I will assume you are in the USA.

My assumption, when outside the USA, is that I will need a permit for most "historic" places, not all.

When I was in Oaxaca, I used the tripod everywhere except the inside of churches and any place under the control of INAH.

Louie Powell
9-Sep-2007, 19:17
Jordan -

My experience is that there are three circumstances in which tripods are 'discouraged':

1. places where they are perceived to be a potential safety hazard (eg, lots of people in a small place, and someone could trip over a tripod leg). I was refused entry at Fort Ticonderoga several years ago because I had a tripod, and this is the reason that was given. It is also the reason claimed for restrictions in New York, although, as David notes, the restrictions there are not uniformly enforced. I think this concern is exaggerated, but at least it makes some kind of sense. I don't want the hassle of a law suit, and even more importantly, I don't want some bozo tripping over my tripod and causing my camera to crash to the floor!

2. places where tripods are perceived to be a potential risk to the historic building. A good example of this is the Shaker Museum in Hancock, MA. This would be a fabulous place for large format photography (and in fact, there is a book on sale in their give shop that was done there and in some other Shaker museums by a LF photographer). But they restrict general use of tripods out of concern that spiked tripod legs could mar century-old wood floors. This is probably a legitimate concern.

3. the third case is the problem - where use of a tripod is arbitrarily viewed as an indicator that the photography is 'professional' and therefore that it represents potential financial competition to the entity operating the site. Or the corollary situation - where the operators believe that they can extract money out of professional photographers, and equate tripod usage with being a professional. This is arbitrary and capricious discrimination. Unfortunately, it traces its heritage to legitimate issues in museums where the original concern was for the possibility that someone might make a photograph that could later be used to create forgeries of significant art works. That might have been a valid rationale for the policy many years ago, but I'm afraid that it's been distorted pretty significantly over the years.

As a practical matter, I have found that the number of places that really limit tripods (and photography in general) is actually relatively small, and sending a quick e-mail asking what about their policy almost always results in a quick, polite response.

9-Sep-2007, 19:50
Thanks you guys! Especially Louie for his very thorough explanation. Seriously Louie thanks a lot.