Thursday, June 12, 2008

No pictures!

For those of few you who have been reading this blog you will know that I have been trying to get this bench project started. I have been working part-time in a friend's office and the building has a wonderful, daylight filled lobby with two nicely designed benches. Quite often someone will sit on one of these benches to wait for a ride or to rest. I am drawn to these images (see the home page of my web site). So much so that I have begun a project of photographing these people, with permission of course. Having their permission is essential in order for me to pose them in such a way that the story comes across. I am interested in the human act of waiting. Whether it be for a bus, an appointment or to catch one's breath, the individual along with the location creates a wonderful visual statement.

All that being said, today I was confronted by a person (let's call her Harriet) who is in a position of authority at one of the medical offices in the building. She was not representing the building in any way rather she felt I was violating the rights of the people I was photographing. Clearly I was not, as I always ask permission. She then went on to say that it was a private building and that I did not have permission to photograph. Once again she is wrong since there were no posted signs saying I could not take pictures and in fact it was a public lobby.

She was nice enough but clearly not aware of the law. She made statements about the legality of it all with having any real knowledge. Why she felt compelled to even start this dialog I do not know. In fact, she had no connection to the building other than working there. It went back and forth for a while and ended up without a conclusion. I had expressed to her that the law allows me to take pictures anywhere, including an office building. That's ok, since I do know the law I will continue to take pictures until I am asked not to by the building's owners. Nuff said.

Below you will find an excerpt from an article about photographer's rights.

The General Rule
Except in special circumstances (e.g., certain government facilities), there are no laws prohibiting the taking of photographs on public or private property. If you can be there, you can take pictures there: streets, malls, parking lots, office buildings. You do not need permission to do so, even on private property. Trespassing laws naturally apply. If a property owner demands you leave, you must. But if a place is open to the public — a mall, office-building lobby, etc. — permission to enter is assumed (although it can be revoked). In terms of the law, trespass and photography are separate events; the former is illegal, but the latter is not. Only if the use of photographic equipment itself violates a person’s privacy (e.g., by using a long lens to look into someone’s private room) might it violate privacy law. Further, while people have a right of privacy, businesses do not except as it relates to trade secrets. Subject to specific limits, photographers can publish any photos they take, provided those photos do not violate the privacy of the subject.

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