Getting hassled by the Man


img_07981Took a trip to D.U.M.BO. Brooklyn with a friend the other day. For those of you scratching your heads D.U.M.B.O. Stands for down under the Manhattan bridge overpass. It was a really nice day and i didn’t feel like being cooped up in the studio. My friend being somewhat new to New York had never been there and it’s always fun checking out new things. D.U.M.B.O. is a great little area with cobblestone streets, old factory buildings and lofts. It’s also shadowed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges which creates a nice man made shade which is great for taking pictures. We walked around snapping away while making our way towards the water. At one point while taking some pictures we were approached by a Parks Department Employee. He approached me rather aggressively and asked “What are you doing?” Feeling a bit ambushed I replied “What do you mean? What am I doing?” He said “What are you taking pictures for?” I kept playing dumb “what do you mean?” It started to get fun by this time. He starts “It looks like your taking head shots” “What are you shooting for?” I tilted my head and look confused “what’s a head shot?”. I told him it was a beautiful day and I was just taking pictures of my girlfriend. He then went on to inform me that if I was taking pictures for anything I needed a permit. We moved along and found a more private spot away from the eyes of “the man” and finished shooting what we needed. As we walked off we laughed. She took my arm and jokingly  said “wow, I didn’t know I was your girlfriend.” It’s getting crazy how often this kind of thing happens. When have our basic rights to enjoy ourselves become so compromised?

Photographers Rights

Terror AlertLast week while taking pictures in Hoboken (my town) I was swiftly pulled over by three Police cars. They came up on me quickly and boxed me into a corner.
An officer came up to me and very politely asked me what I was doing. They had received calls about a “suspicious looking photographer taking pictures near the trains and overpass.” The officer was cool. he just asked me what I was taking the pictures for and if i was working on any project, which I was. I told him I was a photographer and gave him a card which displayed an image like the kind I was shooting. He complimented my work and asked “Don’t you listen to the news? There’s a heightened terror alert today.” I laughed and told him I try to stay away from the news since it all seems bad. He radioed back “It’s just a photographer who’s working on a project. He’s legit.” Within a few seconds they raced off and I continued on my merry way.
I wouldn’t consider this a bad experience but it just goes to remind me how often this happens. I’ve been confronted by Police, Security Guards and just random people about where I can and can not take pictures. All the while our every move is being watched, filmed and documented. All so we can be protected from “ourselves”. I understand the fear that 9/11 created. I lost friends and family as did so many people. Yes, I understand the fear and the need to protect people but I don’t want to live in fear and be kept from doing the things I love because of it.