blog by

rob kircher

Monday, April 28, 2008

You can't use that here.

All too often I read or hear about people being harassed by security while photographing certain areas of DC. Just yesterday I read blog entry from a guy who had problems in Union Station. Well today I had to bring Amanda to Union to catch a train to Philly so while there I thought I'd test my luck and shoot a few frames. I was not harassed by security, who did keep a watchful eye; however, a very nice old lady did question whether I was allowed to shoot in the station. :-)

Frankly, I've been all over DC with my camera and gear and I've never been harassed. Sometimes I think these reported confrontation are brought on by the photographer simply not using common since. Although pretty innocuous in reality, if you're going to stand out in front of the FBI headquarters with a huge zoom lens attached to your 35mm and take pictures of the building you’re just inviting post 9/11 problems. Of course the folly in all this post 9/11 hysteria is the fact that every one with a cell phone today has a camera in their pockets. If I really wanted to get clandestine photos of Union Station I’d send a bunch of teenage girls into the place armed with pocket P&S and camera phones; apparently they bring about much less suspension.

None the less, I managed to shoot of a few nice frames with my big 1D Mark III in the main hall and ticketing area with nary the stare let along any harassment.

Here are my results. Note they're not necessarily fabulous photos since I was really only shooting to see if I could flush out the security people. ;-)

All shot with 1D Mark III and 17-40L f/4

In this photo you can see in the lower right corner the security guard who kept an eye on me from a distance. At one point I thought about going over and talking to him but I decided not to test fate that much. ;-)

And here's one of Amanda waiting for her train. This was shot with the camera on my lap using Live View for composition. Once set I closed Live View and let the camera focus and take the photo. Again the warming affect is achieved with the use of a CTO gel on the flash.

The moral to my story? Well even though I find any 9/11 paranoia up surd the simple fact still remains; with the use of a little common sense you too can photograph just about anything you want around here.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos. Second one stands out!

    Regarding security and "harrassment" most cases I've found it depended on the personality of the particular security guard. Someone feeling the need to assert their authority will probably gravitate to people with big expensive-looking cameras and ask them in a not-so-polite fashion what they are doing. And though responding in a snarky manner with the obvious, "What does it look like I'm doing Jethro!" might feel good at that moment...try to resist!

    Security guards who are genuinely trying to keep the peace, get along, not get too Barney Fife-ish, will likely approach in less aggressive manner--pretty much ask the same stupid question, but in a way that doesn't leave you wanting to unleash the above response. In either case it is best to simply respond politely that your just taking some pics and didn't know if it was OK or not. No fuss, no muss.

    Unfortunately it happens often enough to make it pretty annoying. Doesn't have to be an asshole either. Even if you are approached super politely's the constantly being approached that starts to grate.

    Anyway, I've never been officially "harrassed." But I am regularly approached and politely (usually!) questioned...but never have I been told to leave. So that's something... I guess.