The September 11 Syndrome

Today, it is increasingly more and more difficult to take photographs peacefully without being challenged by the so-called guardians of the place. It is generally accepted that any place frequented by the general public is in fact a private place. You have the CCTV everywhere to look at you and any single of your movement.

Recently, I was challenged while I was in public place, I mean on the sidewalk of a large street. I stopped in front one of the front door to take the photo of the door. I was surprised because it was the first time this has happened to me that some guards came out from the building to meet me. I was a little bit panicked, I justified myself instead of listening to the gentlemen what they wanted. So they did not say great things. I also do not know the reasons for which they had come to meet me. My idea was to leave this place as soon as possible without creating confusion pretending being a tourist who was passing by simple.

On last Friday, I went to take some photos of a tram station underground. This is one of the few tram station which is underground in The Hague. I though that I can be quite nice picture for DT. I sow some already of that place. Again, a man or a so-called guard came to challenged me with his talk- walky patting me on my back and telling me that I am not entitled to take photographs because it is a private place! Faint! Ha! Having a little experience already and having seen few picture of on DT, I began to chat a bit with the guy friendly. I began to discuss the fact that it is a place where anyone can enter without any restriction ... how this place can be private? He has subsequently said that if I want to take photographs, I would need a written document of the tram company. In my head I thought about all facts of MR, PR and the difficulty of getting those papers. And when he told me that I was not obliged to delete the pictures already taken, I told to myself that this guy is only repeating the instruction issued from his walkie-talkie. I then made a low profile by saying that I am just a tourist who passes through there and I'll go my way. End of the encounter.

I read on-line that there are many places that taking a photograph in public is a crime, is dangerous for the photographer and his equipment (that was the case in Britain, if I remember correctly )

My conclusion is that everyone is walking now with a digital camera, as a mobile phone or compact form see the form of a DLSR but on the other side, where you can use such equipment is increasingly reduced since the collapse of twin towers.

And you? Have you had any experience comparing to mine? How was it for you? What is your opinion on this matter?

Photo credits: Digikhmer.

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September 20, 2011


This reminds me of how a policeman in plaincloth stopped me from taking pictures at Paris Centraal station. He showed me his badge and politely told me "you can go outside and take pictures"
I politely agreed and walked off with my stroley.

August 29, 2011


@Ndore53 From time to time, I come to think that those who throws stones on the cars, trucks on the hight way have more right than photographers ... the world become insane with the camera.

August 29, 2011


I have been stopped twice recently for trying to photograph objects from the side of a public highway. I long as I' m on public land I'll continue to photograph whatever I want

August 24, 2011


Thanks a lot for your comment on my post. I am sure that there is more people who are enjoyed by the so-called guards or the abuse of the authority members. The only thing that I must admit is I am more careful about the place that I want to snap some pictures for DT. And I the other hand, I can easily pretend that I am a simple tourist due to the fact that I am not and do not look local ;)
Good luck for all of you and have a lot of fun with your hobby!

August 23, 2011


The terrorists have won and also allowed our governments to "legally" snoop on us all! 1984 finally happened on 9/11. RIP

August 23, 2011


I have only been stopped a couple of times, but its no big deal, if you shoot with a compact camera (Canon G12 etc) you are much less likely to be stopped than if you shoot with a dslr. Everyone says they are fighting terrorism, however terrorism is the creation of fear [terror] in the population, the stopping of legitimate photography in public show how much fear there is, and shows the terrorists are achieving their objectives..

August 23, 2011


Security is very good anytime, anywhere.

August 22, 2011


I can see both sides of it actually. Even though it really stinks for the honest photographer. And I don't think it's such a bad thing that security in a train station or subway or what have you is that high, that would make me feel safer as a passenger or tourist knowing that, however as a photographer I think it would give me a headache haha! Best of luck to you though, you've got some great shots, well worth the hard work you've put in! :)

August 22, 2011


Don't feel so bad. I was taking a picture of a farmers cows from just off the highway and a farmer blocked my car in with his truck. His wife came out of the house with a .357 magnum pistol in hand and was going to shoot me because she thought I was from PITA. If a cop didn't come along and force the farmer to move his truck I probably would have been shot. In England I've had problems with property owners because they are very defensive of their land. One must be careful of where one places their feet for people can be obnoxious and over protective. Finally watch the farmer trick. They'll block your car with their truck every time. Ask permission to go on their property and don't park on their land.

August 22, 2011


I used to work as a guard for one of the major bank headquarters. This building also housed some government offices. There was a beautiful fountain on the property and was always decorated with the seasons. We had strict instructions - "for security reasons, taking pictures are not permitted on the property."

We also had instructions that if someone tried to take photos of the building from the public sidewalk, we were to stand in the picture. We could not enforce the rule of no photos if they were on a public sidewalk, but we could make sure we were part of the picture.

I understand both sides. With phones nowadays, there isn't anything stopping people from taking pictures in a concealed fashion. Why not let legitimate photographers who are honest about their intentions take pictures?

The flip side is if photographers take legit pictures and put them out there for everyone to see, then the 'bad people' don't have to leave their homes to do their research.

August 22, 2011


parking lot (twice), shopping mall (several times), subway, garage sale (the guy did not have a permit and was concerned of being photographed)...happened to me a lot of times and it is a pretty bitter feeling! A crazy shady guy once also threatened me to throw my camera on the floor and call the police!! I had to delete the pics...

August 21, 2011


The guards just don't know. They are only following orders.

happened to me several times. Ones in a shopping mall and the last time in front of a hospital.

I told the guard what his and mine rights were and that he should call the police (police station was a 100 meter walk from the hospital), and that he should sew google to forbid publishing on google earth and google maps/latidude. He tried to prevent me from taking pictures from the public sidewalk. I warned him (I'm six foot 6) not to touch me in any way to prevent me from taking pictures. After 5 minutes he left and I was able to continue my shoot for a ....... local government agency................

Don't blame the ignorant for being ignorant

August 21, 2011


@Physi28: I do understand that there were attacks in Britain, Span, France, New York etc... But did somebody had the proof that those persons who commit such crime prepared they crime by capturing pictures first ... even if it is the case, it doesn't mean that everybody who hangs a camera on his neck is a criminal right? My concerns is those guards overwrite our right little by little ... I am scared that even the sidewalk will be private and the the road etc... later if nobody does anything !

@Egomezta: As long as they do not ask me to delete my photographies, I will quit the place without any problem. Otherwise, I will prevail my right as long as there is panel showing that I can't capture picture.

August 21, 2011


Same thing has happened to me, in some shopping centers and outside of some buildings, as soon as you grab the camera a security person comes and ask why are you taking images and that it is prohibited for security reasons. So sad, that many people now is crazy about security concerns.

August 21, 2011


I can not find any reason to prohibit taking pictures of a door, in the case of a underground tram, as they were the attacks in Britain and in Spain, you could understand some fears in this behalf, however I agree with you that there is quite a lot of paranoia around which makes some people not to behave on a rational way.

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