TAG | Photography
Comments off · Posted by admin in Rese-bilder
I just got back from shooting for a week in Los Angeles and have to say that the highlight of my trip was shooting industrial stuff down in Long Beach Harbor with Photographer David Sommars. David is an amazing photographer who regularly shoots industrial stuff around L.A. and he shared with me some of the most fantastic vantage points to shoot this sort of photography in Long Beach. David also maintains a photography related blog here.
Unfortunately our photowalk around the Port of Long Beach was not without incident. Three times we were blinted while photographing. I’ve been stopped plenty of times while legally shooting in the past. Most of the times I’ve been able to be respectful but insistent on my legal rights to shoot wherever I’m shooting. Every so often though an incident turns into a more serious altercation.
The first two times Sommars and I were stopped we were stopped by private security agents working for Securitas on behalf of BP’s Carson Refinery. They asked us not to shoot the refinery and suggested that it was a "double standard" that we’d insist on our constitutional rights to shoot in public while not honoring BP’s request that we not shoot their facility from a public sidewalk. I couldn’t quite get my arms around the "double standard" argument coming from BP. Ironically one of the shots that I took of their refinery was probably the largest United States flag I’ve ever shot. Let’s hear it for Patriotism.
The hassle from BP’s agents though didn’t really bother me all that much. We were insistent on our rights to shoot the facility and they seemed to understand that in the end there was nothing that they could do about it. Their security guard snapped photos of both of us with his camera phone (and I returned the favor of course) and then they followed us when we left in my car in order to get my license plate, but they seemed to pretty clearly understand that while they were free to ask us not to shoot the plant, it was clearly within our rights to do so.
The more disturbing incident came later when we were atop a bridge, again on a public sidewalk, shooting another plant and long exposure bridge shots. Here we were stopped by real cops this time, rather than security guards. The cops in question were from the Long Beach Harbor Patrol. Their officer explained to us that it was his job to monitor the side of the bridge that we were on while L.A.P.D. had jurisdiction over the other side of the bridge.
Basically the conversation went something like this.
Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: "I’m going to have to ask you guys to leave."
Us: "But, why, were simply taking art photographs."
Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: "You’re not allowed to photograph these plants."
Us: "But we’re on a public sidewalk. What law doesn’t allow us to photograph here?"
Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer: "You’ll need to come back tomorrow and get a permit if you want to shoot in the Harbor."
Me: "I’m only down in Long Beach for tonight and won’t be able to do that."
2nd Long Beach Harbor Patrol Officer (shrugging her shoulders): Oh, well, you’re just going to have to leave. Photography is not allowed here without a permit."
During this altercation both David and I were asked to present identification to the police. They used our IDs to run background checks on both of us.
Now personally I have no problem with the cops stopping to talk to us and check out what we were doing. I also had no problem with Securitas photographing me earlier or following me to get my license plate number. But I think that it went too far when the Long Beach Harbor Patrol ran background checks on us and I think it also went too far when they required us to leave our shoot location. As far as I’m aware there is no law which requires permits in order to shoot the Long Beach Harbor from a public sidewalk. And to kick us off of the bridge that we were legally on was not justified and violated our constitutional rights.
We repeatedly tried to argue for our right to shoot at this location for about a half an hour. The entire time the cops were insistent that we were not allowed to shoot there without a permit. David showed the cops in question photos of his on his iPhone in order to share the type of photography that we were after, but none of this seemed to matter. We were on their turf and they weren’t going to stand for that. He just kept repeatedly bringing up 911 over and over telling us that we were going to need to leave.
What bothers me even more is that this is not the first time that David (who shoots in Long Beach Harbor more regularly than I do) has been harassed by the cops there. David has had lots of previous run ins there. David told me that he’s been stopped about 10 times in the last six months while shooting in Long Beach Harbor. About half of those stops involved actual police in addition to security guards. On one occasion the cops actually handcuffed him and in another incident 4 police cars and a black SUV converged on him. He’s also had FBI agents call on him over his photography. Personally I think it’s wrong to handcuff peaceful photographers for the "crime" of photography while questioning and detaining.
I’ve contacted the media relations department at Long Beach Harbor regarding this incident but have yet to hear back from them. I’ll post more from them once/if I do hear back.
What I am tired of though is the harassment that photographers face on a regular basis while out documenting our world. Photography is not a crime. 911 didn’t suddenly magically turn photographers into criminals. And as long as photography is not a crime, I think that cops, security guards and other authority figures should be required to live within the legal system as it now stands. Maybe some day they will pass a law that shooting Long Beach Harbor is in fact a crime. Or maybe they’ll actually pass a law that permits *are* actually required to shoot there. But until that day happens (and I’d be one vocally opposing any such rule like that) this sort of harassment ought not take place. And it’s unfortunate when it does.
Update: Art Wong from the Port of Long Beach’s Media Relations Department has contacted me and told me that he’s asking their officers for information on this incident. I will post any update from the Port of Long Beach as it becomes available.
Update 2: On Digg here: http://digg.com/travel_places/Thomas_Hawk_s_Digital_Connection_Long_Beach_Harbor_Patrol_S
Update 3: The Port of Long Beach’s Assistant Director of Communications Art Wong, responds to this incident here.
Av Thomas Hawk
Simon Blint, Director of Visitor Relations at the SF MOMA, Yeah You Jerk, Photography is Not a Crime
Comments off · Posted by admin in Rese-bilder
If you think that photographers should not be subject to this kind of harassment digg this here.
Simon Blint, Director of Visitor Relations at the SF MOMA is a first rate jerk.
Recently I blogged about my excitement regarding the San Francisco MOMA’s decision to begin allowing photography in their permanent collection after years of maintaining a closed no photography policy. Directly because of this change in policy, I decided to purchase a family membership in order to support the museum, both with my artistic energy and financially. I was excited to begin spending regular time exploring and documenting the museum.
Unfortunately, I should have known better than to really believe that the San Francisco MOMA was serious about opening up the art and architecture entrusted to them to the general public.
After purchasing my family membership and visiting the museum today I was forcibly thrown out of the museum by two museum security guards at the direction of the Director of Visitor Relations Simon Blint.
My crime? Taking a photograph from the second floor stairs in the SFMOMA’s atrium (an area where the SF MOMA’s own website explicitly says photography is allowed).
You can see the photograph that I took when I was thrown out at the top of this post.
During the course of my interaction with Blint I told him that:
1. I was a new member of the museum and that I’d been in contact with Thea Stein in the Marketing and Communications Department of the museum who had confirmed the recent change in museum policy with me personally regarding photography in the museum.
2. That the SF MOMA’s own website explicitly allows photography in the atrium.
3. That I would be blogging my forcible eviction from the MOMA.
Blint told me that "he did not care" and that he needed to "protect" his employees — employees that might appear in my photographs. I was not shooting with a tripod. I was not shooting with a flash. I was being quiet and respectful of the area and the other patrons.
Blint on the other hand was hostile, accusatory and refused to even examine my photographs or allow me to share with him what I was doing with my art. He accused me of using a "telephoto" lens to spy on his staff from the public staircase on the second floor. Blint obviously knows nothing of photography because the 14mm ultra wide angle lens on my camera body was about the furthest thing possible from a telephoto lens. He refused to discuss this, refused to examine my photographs, refused to consider it at all and simply had me ejected with two security guards.
Ironically Blint also tried to eject my friend torbakhopper who was hanging out with me at the museum today and he wasn’t even taking photographs. He finally relented on his case and told him that he could stay if he wanted but that I was going to be forcibly ejected.
Blint refused to escalate the situation to a superior even though I told him I’d been in contact with museum personnel. He was on his own personal power trip and misused and abused the authority entrusted to him for the public benefit to harass, humiliate and embarrass a paying member of the museum. Photography is not a crime
I believe that I was very much targeted in this case because I was using a digital SLR. There were plenty of people taking photographs of the atrium using point and shoots that Simon did not target, but I think that it was the fact that I was using a larger DSLR that made me a target. Rather than try to understand what I and my art were about Simon felt the smarter way to deal with the situation was simply to kick me out of his museum.
While I might be able to understand if my ejection from the museum had been at the hand of an overzealous security guard who was simply uninformed about the SF MOMA’s change in policy regarding photography in their museum, when this ejection came directly from the Director of Visitor Relations I find this to be unacceptable.
If the museum has a photography allowed policy in their atrium as explicitly expressed on their website and someone identifies themselves as a photographer, artist and paying and supporting member of museum I would expect less hostility, aggression and harassment. Photography is an art and those of us who choose to practice the great art of street photography ought not be targeted by bullies like Blint. Many of the great artists, artists being shown in the SF MOMA itself were practitioners of street photography. It is ironic that the great Cartier-Bresson, who took thousands of photographs of unsuspecting people in his work, hangs in the museum while a photographer practicing the same type of work gets ejected by a power-trippy asshole. It’s hypocritical and disappointing.
It is unfortunate that one of my first experiences as a paying member of the SF MOMA had to be full of hatred, bitterness and harassment.
Av Thomas Hawk