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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Beware of Police Officers When doing Time-Lapse Photograpy
Jon Currier, Photographer, Assistant
Portland/Vancouver | OR/WA | US | Posted: 7:35 PM on 02.28.12
->> Thanks for making photographers look bad!

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jason Macchioni was recently shooting a time-lapse project from an overpass at night when he was approached by police officers who demanded his ID and threatened to arrest him for wiretapping.

LINK:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nG6bSCcg_cw
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Jeff Barrie, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 8:29 PM on 02.28.12
->> You can't video our voice? Is it me or does that not even make sense?
I think this dude is out looking for a lawsuit to file.
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Kent Nishimura, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 8:44 PM on 02.28.12
->> I love it when cops think they are constitutional experts.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 02.28.12
->> "I love it when cops think they are constitutional experts."

Well ... very few photographers hold a degree in Constitutional Law as well ... though many tend to profess expertise on the subject ...

In a timely fashion, David Hobby addressed this issue yesterday:

http://tinyurl.com/8468g6z

While I have the utmost respect for the law and consider myself well informed as to my Constitutional Rights (I did wear a uniform and lost a few minor body parts along the way in defending same) ... Police officers are human beings too.

To consider all law enforcement officers as jack-booted thugs who are ignorant of citizens' rights ... is just as bigoted as any other prejudice or stereotype. The same owning and carrying a camera does not include a halo ... not all photographers are pure of heart and mind.

While I commend any citizen or bona fide journalist in voicing their displeasure if mistreated by law enforcement, I also believe a little mutual courtesy can help keep a situation from escalating to a level where everyone suffers needlessly.

In the video linked by Jon, I really don't see where the photographer in question helped himself by refusing to show his ID ... Yes, I KNOW ... by the letter of the law he may not have been required to do so ... but ... is the dark of night on a lonely overpass the best place to argue the fine points of Constitutional Law? No matter what document the ACLU has available on their website that you can access with your smartphone ... there is a time and place for everything ...

My fist managing editor always told me if I was encountered by the police in the course of my duties, to be polite, courteous with a smile. If they caused me a problem, we would take care of it directly in front of a judge with the company attorney present after the fact ... He made it quite clear there was never anything gained by escalating the situation at the scene, nor could I do my job from behind bars ... I never had a situation reach that level ... because I showed those folks wearing a badge that we both had a job to do and reached a consensus with them before there was ever a serious misunderstanding. That's very difficult to do if you are barking out your defense on first response.

Chances are it was a fellow citizen alerted the police to the "suspicious activity" ... You'd be surprised how often John Q. Public is unaware of what you can and can't photograph ... I mean, we live in a day and age where there are a lot of creepy people doing many dastardly deeds ... There is nothing wrong with the police making an inquiry to such a matter ... even if it was perfectly legal ... I'd be upset if they didn't stop by and inquire what was going on ...

While the officers in question did not quite have a grasp on the details of what the photographer was trying to accomplish ... nor were they quite up to speed on what constitutes "wiretapping" in PA ... the whole situation could have been handled in a much smoother fashion had the photographer not began in such a combative manner ...

A calm pleasant discussion explaining who he was and what he was trying to do ... and those fellows would have likely moved on to more important matters ... after all ... aren't most of the folks they encounter in an average night also "experts" on Civil Rights? Even when they they are caught red-handed?

I know I have ruffled some feathers with my views on the subject ... so let it fly, I can take it ... but ask yourself this ... If you were not a photographer and well-versed on your "rights" ... and as you were driving home from the movie theater with your kids in the back seat at midnight and saw somebody with a tripod on the overpass of a busy highway ... you wouldn't call the police? ... and ... if you did, you wouldn't expect them to check it out?

If the photographer in question really wanted to avoid the encounter ... he could have called the station earlier in the day and let them know if they got a call it was just him working on a project ... but then there would be a sensational YouTube video to view ...
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 1:12 AM on 02.29.12
->> Bruce, you are a voice of reason.

And I say this from 25 years of dealing with police as a photojournalist in a few different markets.

Are our rights being infringed upon? Definitely. Is the place to fight it at the first point of contact? No.

Antagonizing and YouTube might feel good and fuel online indignation, and in cases show the true colors of some people, but it is not the right way to effect change.
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 1:40 AM on 02.29.12
->> Butch,

It totally agree with you and Sam in that the photographer could have handled it a lot better. On the other hand, I would like to know why a police officer is questioning someone for doing something that is perfectly legal? Also the photographer shouldn't have to explain the law to the police. They should already know. It's their job to know. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the officers did know better and had just hoped that the photographer would fall for the wiretapping threat. I've had that sort of thing happen to me. It's pretty upsetting the have your project halted and maybe miss a once in a lifetime moment because of the ignorance of or intimidation from a police officer.
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Angus Mordant, Student/Intern
Sydney | NSW Australia | Australia | Posted: 2:17 AM on 02.29.12
->> Police don't have to explain camera settings to photographers so why should we have to explain the law to the police.

That was the basis of two complaints I made about law enforcement in New York recently. I am all for being polite to police and have no issue in being stopped off the back of a complaint from a member of the public, but the job of law enforcement is to know the laws they enforce, if that was actually the case there would be no need to escalate the issue on the scene or through official channels later.
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James Brosher, Photographer
South Bend | IN | United States | Posted: 2:43 AM on 02.29.12
->> I've never had any terrible encounters with police (knock on wood), but the thing that really gets under my skin here is the whole idea from these officers that photography is suspicious. It's a slippery slope friends.

Both parties could have handled that situation better, but it seems clear the officers didn't have anything better to do that particular evening.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:15 AM on 02.29.12
->> I totally agree with Butch. You'll lose if you get into a confrontation.

I've often felt that if you take their point of view "What is the person doing?" and explaining it you'll take away the issue that I suspect is in the back of their head: "What if we ignore this and he/she ends up doing something bad we could have prevented?".

Most of the police know me where I live, but even then there have been times they didn't know me. Being friendly and open works wonders.

It took a couple of hard lessons in my life to learn the lesson that being right isn't enough sometimes. If it comes down complying with an officer's direction to leave, I'd get the information on the officer and then file a complaint. Reality is you won't win the argument if it comes down to it out in the field.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:21 AM on 02.29.12
->> The thing that always gets me about most of these videos is the prolonged, and utterly useless, back-and-forth discussion between the officer and the photographer.

Why?

In these types of encounters, you'll generally know within the first 30 seconds if the officer is the type of person who is receptive to listening to reason and logic, or if they already made up their mind to hassle you before they even got out of the car.

If after 30 seconds of being polite, compliant and offering reasonable explanation, I feel that this is going to be a chest-thumping match then I simply demand that a supervisor respond to the scene and I go back to doing my job... if they feel they need to arrest me then, well, so be it.

By the same token however, if after 30 seconds, I can tell that the officer is simply curious about what I'm doing or is legitimately, but innocently, misinformed as to the law then I'm happy to chat with them as long as they'd like, provided it doesn't keep me from doing my job.

Keep in mind though that that 30 seconds goes both ways. An officer generally decides if you're just simply looking for a fight in the first 30 seconds too, so if both parties can be cool for 30 seconds then most of these things can simply be resolved with a head nod and a "have a nice day." But then, as Butch pointed out, neither side would have a cool YouTube video to brag about.
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James Durbin, Photographer, Student/Intern
Kirkwood | MO | USA | Posted: 11:38 AM on 02.29.12
->> Unless he was courteous and nice before he started filming all I see is ignorance on both sides.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 1:04 PM on 02.29.12
->> "I would like to know why a police officer is questioning someone for doing something that is perfectly legal?"

Mark, I totally agree with you on several of your points ... however ... the keywords to this specific encounter are: Midnight. Overpass. Combative.

Do you think this same encounter would have occurred at noon? Or if in a more visible location where the photographer's activity would have been more evident? Unknown activity in the dark of night where such activity is very uncommon will draw attention. Whether that activity be perfectly legal or not.

I have a feeling that this particular photographer was expecting, if not actually desiring, at least some form of confrontation. Especially when he commented, "I get a lot of Cops come in," ... then he turned around and tried the name drop bomb ... "I know your Chief," ... but failed to recall the chief's name for the officer ... if you want to name drop ... at least remember the person's name.

I'm not saying all confrontations with law enforcement can be congenial ... there are bullies found everywhere ... but ... if I am going to be on an overpass, at midnight, and I am going to be approached by law enforcement on a regular basis ... I might consider having a friendly discussion with that chief I knew and have him explain to his staff about my late night activities. That effort will go quite a long way in diffusing any tension or misconceptions the approaching officer may be concerned with.
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Mark Sobhani, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 1:10 PM on 02.29.12
->> The photographer should have had the same diligence learning his traffic code. From PennDOT Traffic Code, Subchapter E., Section 3351:

§ 3351. Stopping, standing and parking outside business and
residence districts.
(a) General rule.--Outside a business or residence district,
no person shall stop, park or stand any vehicle, whether
attended or unattended, upon the roadway when it is practicable to stop, park or stand the vehicle off the roadway. In the event it is necessary to stop, park or stand the vehicle on the roadway or any part of the roadway, an unobstructed width of the highway opposite the vehicle shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles and the vehicle shall be visible from a
distance of 500 feet in each direction upon the highway.

•••
I bet on the police officer message board, the title of the thread is "Illegally parked photographer harassing police."
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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 2:35 PM on 02.29.12
->> There is an old saying, "You can beat the rap but you can't beat the ride."

A wise person picks their battles carefully.

Long before 9/11 and the DHS I was out in the night photographing Christmas lights in a quiet neighborhood for my first newspaper. A police officer rolled by and stopped to ask what I was doing. I told him who I was and what I was doing and he nicely responded that I needed to ask permission of the home owners before continuing. I was not opposed to the courtesy but it was pretty late and I felt knocking on doors was not in my best interest.

Of course I didn't need their permission because I was on a public street photographing something put out for all the world to see. However, I did not know if a neighbor had called the police to report a stranger lurking around outside. We chatted for a minute and I decided it was not worth the aggravation to get in a discussion about my Constitutional rights on a dark lonely street. This wasn't an Occupy protest so I went somewhere else.

The next day I did send a note to the Chief of Police outlining the encounter. I did not get a direct reply but never found myself in a similar situation.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 3:24 PM on 02.29.12
->> @Butch...thank you. As a photojournalist, but also a cop, I was having the same thoughts.

Midnight. Combative. Overpass.

PLUS

Maybe a sidewalk, maybe just breakdown area.
Maybe there is something posted about not walking on the bridge, maybe not.
Maybe the police received a call for service and were responding.

Tons of variables why the police had, at the very least, reasonable suspicion to inquire who the guy was.

The whole bit about not being able to videotape cops is nonsense though. Just about every court that has reviewed it says police have no reasonable expectation of privacy while in the public executing their duties. None. So that is just babble the cop is passing along from someone else who said it, who also is uninformed.

Either way, the photog was hunting for a confrontation, in my opinion. If he wasn't hunting for an argument, at the very least he maybe needs to go to the library and borrow a few books...

1. Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People
2. Some book that will help him be more articulate, he sounds like a moron on the video
3. Another book to help him know exactly what the hell he is doing. He doesn't exactly sound like the time-lapse guru.

Just my thoughts...this should almost be offsetting penalties for stupidity.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 3:57 PM on 02.29.12
->> "There is nothing wrong with the police making an inquiry to such a matter ... even if it was perfectly legal ... I'd be upset if they didn't stop by and inquire what was going on ..."

In general, agree with this. I concede that some legal activity, even photography, might seem suspicious to some and therefore be called in to police, who therefore have an obligation to investigate. I really don't have a problem with that.

It's when the photographer explains what he's doing, which is perfectly legal, and the cop still asks for ID, that I have a problem with. The shooter in this case is correct in saying he doesn't have to provide ID to the cops, especially when doing something completely legal (in fact, there's no legal requirement to even HAVE an ID).

It pisses me off, on a fundamental level, when law enforcement doesn't know the law. The cop asking for ID and the one saying it was illegal to film or record sound in public in PA clearly don't know the law. If they simply knew the law, a lot of these situations could be avoided.

On the flip side, it's clearly on the onus of the photographer to decide how to deal with the situation. In this case, the photographer decided to stand up for his right not to show ID. That's his choice and I actually respect it. Some people think it's worth going to jail in the name of their civil liberties, and I'm glad there are people who are willing to take it that far in order to make a statement.

That said, if I were in this guys shoes in this specific situation, I probably would've shown my ID but then followed up with his supervisor or chief. I also would've stopped recording, but not before I made sure to record myself saying, "I'm turning this off voluntarily, and not because you're telling me to or because I'm legally obligated to," and then added this to my report to the officers' supervisors.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 4:05 PM on 02.29.12
->> Another take with some slight variations.
http://tinyurl.com/7pz3pwk
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Greg Bartram, Photographer
Dublin | OH | | Posted: 10:15 PM on 02.29.12
->> Several years ago, I was walking up Constitution Avenue at 1:00 AM, walking out in the street every few blocks to shoot images of the US Capitol building. At one point, a car pulled up next to me, and 4 gentlemen, VERY serious in demeanor, asked what I was doing. I told them, and then they asked why I'd been taking pictures of their building. What building, I asked? FBI Headquarters.

I rapidly explained that I had NOT taken any photos of their building, scrolled through what I had on the card so they could see, showed them ID when asked.

They relaxed immediately, talked with me for a few more minutes (general questions...expensive gear, so was I a professional? Was I on assignment?), and not only wished me a good night, but put out a call to the DC police exlaining where I was, what I was doing, and that they'd already checked me out.

I tell that story here because of the obvious differences in the outcome. I was in DC, post 9/11, near pretty obviuusly sensitive potential targets. I was completely forthcoming, and I had no problem.

Whether he was legally required to or not, by refusing to show his ID, he made himself appear suspicious.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 10:25 PM on 02.29.12
->> Shooting near stuff

I shoot a lot at night. The best thing you can do to cut down on the "concerned passerby" calls is to invest in a Class II safety vest. If you're working media, it's been a requirement since 2008 to wear one if you're working near the highway.

But even if you're not working media, wearing a safety vest makes 99% of the general public think you are supposed to be wherever you are. If they see you walking around with a tripod, they'll think you are a surveyor.

If a police officer pulls up and sees that you're wearing a safety vest, it diffuses a whole lot because 1) It's pretty obvious that you're not trying to hide from anyone or anybody and, 2) You're at least somewhat conscientious of the fact that you might be a traffic hazard and are trying to avoid causing an issue.

If you still have an officer ask you questions, whatever you do just be honest about what you're doing. I personally don't have a problem giving the officer my ID when he asks, so usually a cordial conversation is all that it takes to diffuse the situation. Sometimes I'll let him chimp the camera and talk enthusiastically about what I'm doing so he can see I'm just trying to do cool stuff and not "get away" with anything.

The vast majority of times this works. For the remaining, I don't argue, but I will say, "I'm leaving - but I need to get this shot and plan on coming back again tomorrow night. Who do I need to call so you guys know it's okay for me to be here?" Sometimes this works and gets me something like "...go ahead and finish what you're doing...just be quick...", other times it gets me a supervisor's phone number. Keep in mind the officer is going to call the supervisor way before you get a chance to call, so if you've been cordial this will work in your favor. A lot of times you call the supervisor, tell him/her that an officer moved you along (and offer that it was probably due to a neighbor or something), and that you understand he was just doing his job yada yada but you need to get the photo and want to know how to do it without causing concern. Again most of the time this works, and you probably won't get hassled again.

You are absolutely within your rights to stand your ground, refuse to answer questions, refuse to provide ID, and then deal with what happens after...and there are probably times when you should do just that. But keep in mind that most of the time the cop is just responding to a complaint or a valid concern. If the cop ignores you and you turn out to be a nutjob who heaves a bowling ball into oncoming traffic from the overpass, who do you think will get the blame? The story will be the cops just ignored this "obvious threat", "didn't respond to several complaints", video of the cop just driving by, etc. They can't win. So why not try to meet them halfway if you can?
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Michael Prengler, Photographer
Fairview | TX | USA | Posted: 10:46 PM on 02.29.12
->> Reminds me of a saying about hmmmm what was that? Oh yea, the one about Bees and Honey.
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Mike Anzaldi, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 1:34 AM on 03.01.12
->> sounds like the general advice here can be summed up to: just be nice.

good advice, for sure. except, some dudes just aren't that nice. there are social misfits, idiots, stoners, miserable bastards and generally under-privileged people attracted to photography. street photography to be specific! it's fair to say that face-offs between photographers and cops are only going to go well some of the time. since it's not really criminal to be a socially-inept douchebag, it's up to cops to evaluate the threat of the picture-taking, and respond accordingly. hopefully, this means rolling your eyes at the time-lapse traffic guy. unfortunately here, it meant a threat to arrest.

i've said it before, and again here: all we need beat cops to do is the minimum amount of communicating with the general public. ask a few basic questions to establish if there is a threat to public safety. if not, piss off. no need for ID cards and ordinance lectures. if there is a threat, contain the situation and call a supervisor. that's what you need the typical beat cop to do. no more, no less. the constitution should protect the moron who either can't or won't bow at the presence of a law officer in the same way that it protects the socially-savy sweet-talkers that are referenced here :)

next thing people will be saying is that if the time-lapse guy was only pretty with a million-dollar smile and a deep- but not too deep and sexy voice, there would be no problem!

doesn't much matter what the photog said. he was still harassed and threatened with arrest by guys with guns. that's not ok.
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Timothy Andrews, Photographer
Hanahan | SC | USA | Posted: 7:16 AM on 03.01.12
->> He could make a complaint: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8v7lF5ttlQ

I agree though, he was harassed but ultimately could've diffused the situation simply by being cordial and cooperative. I really don't believe that most cops wake up thinking about how they can screw with some photog. They just want to do their job like everyone else.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 8:32 AM on 03.01.12
->> Greg B. said:

"Whether he was legally required to or not, by refusing to show his ID, he made himself appear suspicious."

What??? Not showing ID to a cop when you're doing something completely legal makes you appear suspicious?

Again, while certain acts may appear suspicious to some, once a cop makes contact and realizes the act is perfectly legal (considering the cop actually knows the act in legal), the cop should turn around and go on his merry way. There should be NO NEED for the cop to ask the person to produce ID.

This is what should've happened in this situation:

Cop: "Good evening. What are you doing out here tonight?"

Photog: "Taking photos"

Cop: "Of what?"

Photog: "The traffic. I'm doing a time lapse."

Cop: "What's that"

Photog explains time lapse photography

Cop: "Cool. OK, well, just be careful out here. Good night."
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 10:13 AM on 03.01.12
->> "What??? Not showing ID to a cop when you're doing something completely legal makes you appear suspicious?"

@Bradly - the problem is, "suspicious" is a very subjective thing. You could have this same situation play out with different people playing the role of "photographer" and "cop" and the "cop" may have completely different reactions regarding whether or not he/she deems activity suspicious.

Let me throw out the following to illustrate why your assessment is not so black-and-white. It's July and 90 degrees outside. A car is parked next to a bank and the men in the car are wearing ski masks. Is that perfectly legal? Sure. If a cop sees it, might he be suspicious? To us, much about photography is completely normal and should never be suspicious. But, that doesn't mean another person might not interpret things differently. My only point here is that I disagree with your notion that a person cannot be perceived as suspicious when they are doing something that is legal.

I do agree that it would be great if the situation played out as you indicated. But as others have mentioned, the photographer and how he looks and how he behaves will influence hot the cop behaves.
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Mike Anzaldi, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 10:50 AM on 03.01.12
->> "It's July and 90 degrees outside. A car is parked next to a bank and the men in the car are wearing ski masks."

this presents reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to be committed. a tripod and a nikon does no such thing.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 11:48 AM on 03.01.12
->> @John. Please go back and read both of my posts. In both, I clearly state that yes, there are several circumstances, including photography, that might seem suspicious to some, and even be called into law enforcement. And it is law enforcement's obligation to investigate those calls.

My point is that when an officer makes contact and it is clear that the act is perfectly legal and, as Mike A. pointed out, there's no reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to be committed, THERE SHOULD BE NO REASON FOR THE COP TO ASK FOR IDENTIFICATION. In my opinion, it was the cop who initially escalated this situation, because he had ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to ask for this photographer's ID once it was apparent the photographer wasn't breaking any laws or about to commit a crime.

What if the photographer wasn't carrying ID? He isn't required to do so by law, so what then? We could hash out one hypothetical situation after another, but if you ask me this particular case is indeed black and white. The cop was doing his due diligence in investigating suspicious activity that may or may not have been called in to the police, and the photographer gave a perfectly reasonable answer. So the cop had absolutely no reason to ask for the guy's ID. Period.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 1:05 PM on 03.01.12
->> Street photography freedoms have been curtailed exponentially over the last forty years. Think about the shift in NYC law and order from the Koch (read street adjudication) through Giuliani (read ComStat) administrations
While I am not enthused about overly (and often wrong headed) vigilant constabulary my middle of the road solution works well. I wear a four letter organization photo ID around my neck when I am photographing. It is listed as a verified media ID in the local PD's patrol guide. Often I wear my school photo ID as well. Besides cops, this display also serves to defuse the aggressively curious John Q. Public types questioning my right to photograph. It also minimizes the amount of verbal explanation needed.
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Greg Bartram, Photographer
Dublin | OH | | Posted: 1:30 PM on 03.01.12
->> Bradly, I don't think that, when ID was first asked for, the photographer was acting suspiciously.

What's not in evidence here is what led the officer to stop in the first place. Was it his driving by and wondering what was going on, or was it a phone call from either a nearby homeowner or a passing motorist expressing concern?

If there was a call from either of these two examples, then the suspicion exists before the arrival of the officer, as he is, at that time, investigating the call. In such a situation, the photographer exacerbates the situation by refusing to show ID.
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Andrew Richardson, Student/Intern, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 1:54 PM on 03.01.12
->> As I posted on Fstoppers, the guy should have showed him his ID. If he had continued to be harassed after that then fin, he has an actual case. I really don't think there's anything wrong with a cop checking out a random dude parked on a bridge with something pointing down at traffic in the middle of the night. This guy was just looking for a fight for no reason.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 2:03 PM on 03.01.12
->> While he "explained time lapse", can we all agree, he didn't really. I mean, to some people who don't know photography, you say "Time Lapse" and they might get visions of a Delorean or Ahhhnold making a leap in time. I mean, he did, but to me, he was just trying to be a jerk (the photog).

>>>Again - doesn't excuse not knowing the law. With all the cases that have been in the media, a smart cop would go out and inquire to see what the law is.

But, that being said, the photog didn't do much to help his cause. This wasn't street photography in NYC, it was a guy on a bridge that doesn't look like it even has a sidewalk. It is hard to tell.

As a cop, when the guy starts off with attitude and being evasive, I might not even hear photography. I might start wondering, "Why is this guy here, is he trying to video himself doing some Jackass-like jump off the bridge? Is he depressed, is he going to jump, is he recording himself throwing stuff at passing cars? Why is he here?"

Being cordial and articulate would make all that go away. I think, based on location, terrorism actually wasn't on the cops mind. All the other things were. Just my thought process...and it could have been avoided.

>>> See above for the thoughts about videotaping cops.

AGAIN - Offsetting penalties for stupidity.
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Mark Sobhani, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 3:24 PM on 03.01.12
->> Let's say hypothetically the cop was satisfied with the photographer's answer and was going to leave when he noticed the camera on the tripod was sticking out over the railing, with nothing between it and the traffic below. A snap of the tripod mounting screw and the camera would fall fifty feet, potentially into the windshield of a motorist passing at highway speeds, in the dark. Would the cop be in the right to ask him to move to a safer place? Can he force the photographer to tether the camera? Pull it back on this side of the railing? After all, the photographer is not doing anything illegal, right?

Let's change gears, because I think we're focusing too much on the fact he was a photographer. What if the guy was sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the bridge, knitting? Flying a kite? Practicing riding his unicycle? All are legal, right? If you were the cop (or a passer-by) would you be suspicious?
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Andrew Richardson, Student/Intern, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 5:31 PM on 03.01.12
->> Mark,
The act of recording is what separates him from your examples. Whether right or wrong its different
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 7:09 PM on 03.01.12
->> @Greg: You are correct that we do not know what caused the cop to stop in the first place. The cop might very well have had a good reason to approach the photographer. But like I said (at least three times now), when it became evident that the person approached by the cop was engaged in a perfectly legal act, the cop should've left him alone. At that point there was absolutely no reason for the cop to ask for identification.

Mark S. said:

"Let's say hypothetically..."

No, let's not. Again, we could go round and round dreaming up hypothetical situations, when ultimately what's relevant to this discussion is only what we see in this video.
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John Tucker, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cordova | TN | USA | Posted: 8:05 PM on 03.01.12
->> Just wondering, what does a time lapse guru sound like?
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Angel Valentin, Photographer
Miami/San Juan | PR | | Posted: 7:01 AM on 03.02.12
->> In 20+ years I've NEVER won an argument against a cop and I'm sure I've been on the right more than 90% of the time. What has also NEVER happened is a cop telling me "oh my bad, you're right, I'm wrong, I have no idea what I am talking about, I apologize"...
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 10:24 AM on 03.02.12
->> "While he 'explained time lapse', can we all agree, he didn't really. I mean, to some people who don't know photography, you say "Time Lapse" and they might get visions of a Delorean or Ahhhnold making a leap in time. I mean, he did, but to me, he was just trying to be a jerk (the photog)."

On top of that, the dude sounds only slightly more articulate than Jeff Spicoli. If I had been the cop, I'm not sure I'd have bought the story either.

His failed attempt at name dropping was pretty funny too.


"AGAIN - Offsetting penalties for stupidity."

Coincidental minors, for sure!

I don't blame the officer for stopping to check things out, cell phone call from a passerby or not. Lesse.. A guy in the dark standing on an overpass over traffic on a busy highway with no visible ID with something mounted on a tripod and pointing it at the cars and trucks. Nope, nope, nothing suspicious at all going on here!

The photographer then makes it quite clear from the opening bell that he wants to get into a "whizzing match" with the officer... and they're off!
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Thread Title: Beware of Police Officers When doing Time-Lapse Photograpy
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