For the second time in three days, I was harassed while taking photos in a public place yesterday. This is getting to be quite old, honestly. And more than a little ridiculous.
I was taking a few photos of this sign at the Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust in Del Ray, VA when what I can only assume to be a bank employee (he didn’t identify himself, wasn’t wearing a nametag) exited the building and asked me where I was from. I told him I was from the area. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was admiring the sign and taking photos of it. He informed me I was not allowed to take photos of his “financial institution.” I informed him that I was – I was in a public space (on the sidewalk) and thus I could take photos of anything I could see from that space. He told me I was wrong. He said if I wanted to take photos of the building/sign/etc. that I had to ask permission. I told him, again, that he was mistaken. Anything in the public eye – bridges, signs, buildings, people – can be photographed from a public space. He again told me I was incorrect and that I must ask permission. I was getting nowhere with this guy, obviously. I told him that I would leave, but that I would share this experience with a network of other photographers in the DC area. It was really frustrating.
I’m in the process of composing a letter to send to the bank outlining my experience there. I’m also going to include a copy of The Photographer’s Right with applicable sections highlighted. It won’t change my experience there, but maybe it will educate them so the next photographer who tries to take photos there won’t receive the same treatment.
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