NYC Photo Law Fiasco: Empire-Fulton State Park

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Steve Wormuth, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. Hello All,

    I just wanted some feedback about laws in NYC and photography due to
    my recent experience.

    I went to NYC on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 with an intent on shooting
    some pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and the NYC skyline. I drove two
    hours, parked, got subway passes, etc... After waiting until the sun
    was about right, I walked across the bridge to visit the Empire-Fulton
    State Park. From there, I could get shots of the bridge with lower
    Manhattan rising in the distance just underneath it, with the sun
    hidden behind the bridge.

    When I arrived at the park gate, Canon Elan 7e hanging from my neck, I
    was approached by an officer (not sure if he was DEC or Park Police,
    etc...) who asked me if I "had a press pass". I was dumbfounded? I
    explained that I was just going to shoot a picture of the bridge, and
    was not a member of the press. He responded by telling me that I
    could not photograph the bridge unless I got a "press pass".

    Now, I'm relatively new to photography, but this seemed rediculous to
    me. I assured him my pictures were strictly for my own personal use,
    but he refused to let me enter the park with my camera. At this
    point, I was told I couldn't even enter the park with my camera,
    regardless of whether I was taking pictures or not.

    Interestingly enough, I had a friend with me who had an old Canon SLR
    which it would be OK to bring in. I explained that his camera could
    take the exact same picture, but this meant nothing to the officer,
    who said that he had already explained "my options". He said that my
    camera "was not like his", and that mine was "clearly a professional

    Now, I realize that this man may have been "uninformed", but although
    every fiber of my disgusted body wanted to laugh and walk right past
    him into the park, I was extremely polite through this whole thing.
    But in the end, I spent about $100.00 and an entire day, and never got
    my photo.

    I'm asking for advice about this because I do intend to go back and
    get my shot. It may not be pretty if he refuses me again. The NYS
    Parks Department website ( has
    information about this park which states that "The park is a popular
    site for photography with its spectacular view of the bridges and
    lower Manhattan" so I don't intend to leave without my pictures again.

    Is this common, and how do you all deal with it when it comes up?
    I've lost money here as well, and don't have any recourse...? Any
    advice would be appreciated...

    Steve Wormuth, Aug 1, 2003
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  2. Steve Wormuth

    John O. Guest

    I don't know if he is right or not. However, I wouldn't provoke him. Go
    over his head. Go to his boss. But don't screw with a cop on his beat.
    John O., Aug 1, 2003
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  3. Steve Wormuth

    Carole Guest

    I just moved from NYC, but there is a new law that makes it illegal to
    take pictures of the bridges. This is since 9/11. I don't know for sure,
    but I also understand they have one in California and you can no longer
    take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. I do know that on the bridges
    themselves in NYC, there are signs that say no photographs. Since your
    camera was "professional", the police officer may have assumed that you
    were taking telephoto shots for other purposes. You might want to call
    or stop in at the local precinct and ask . . .
    Carole, Aug 1, 2003
  4. Steve Wormuth

    solo Guest

    What is funny is that at least six months after 9/11 I walked the
    Brooklyn Bridge 2x in one day, shot rolls of film, talked to cops near
    and on the bridge, and never heard anything about not taking pictures
    until about 6 months ago during one of the "code orange/yellow" fiascos.
    I never hid my camera, and there were plenty of other visitors snapping
    photos and such the whole way over the bridge.

    I mean...there are enough published photos and books on these bridges as
    it is. Is a tourist with a camera really going to aid terrorism? You
    can go to any library or bookstore and find a book on bridges, that
    probably has the history and even blueprints on them...but your
    snapshots of it are not allowed...go figure.

    Now..taking photos near an airport is a different story ;)
    solo, Aug 1, 2003
  5. Steve Wormuth

    rufref Guest

    This is another one of the dumb things we have done in the name of
    "security." There are signs posted on all NY Bridges....freedoms are slowly
    slipping away.
    rufref, Aug 1, 2003
  6. Steve Wormuth

    Carole Guest

    One of the reasons I moved....
    Carole, Aug 1, 2003
  7. Steve Wormuth

    Üter Guest

    When I arrived at the park gate, Canon Elan 7e hanging from my neck, I
    Most cities require movie companies to carry a permit to film or take
    stills within city limits, but I've never heard of this happening to a
    private still photographer in a public place. However, the NHL limits
    the type of camera allowed into a game. I can take my Sony DSC-F717 but
    not my Canon Rebel 2000. Never mind that the 717 costs 3 times as much
    and 1/2 again the features of the Rebel. The rule is no detachable
    lenses. Go figure. Sounds like you were a victim of the same type of
    Üter, Aug 1, 2003
  8. Steve Wormuth

    Üter Guest

    This is another one of the dumb things we have done in the name of
    Not "slowly". Quickly.
    Üter, Aug 1, 2003
  9. Steve Wormuth

    J C Guest

    NOW... that story does make one wonder. What I would have done is

    Focus the lens so that it is set "hyperfocal"

    Hang in by myside.

    Burn a whole roll on the bridge without putting the camera to my eye.

    By the way, if you drove across the bridge, got off and then drove to
    the road closest to the river and went north of the bridge, there are
    a lot of vacant that you can stand on and snap some pretty good shots.
    I have one of the bridge and the trade towers taken from one of those
    lots near a bunch of pilings (circa somewhere between 1982 and 1984).

    -- JC
    J C, Aug 2, 2003
  10. Steve Wormuth

    a Guest

    Yesterday I had about the same problem at the Galleria in Houston

    Posting at front door says rule 10

    "No unauthorized use of photographic equipment that might disturb
    other patrons or visitors, such as tripods, projectors and lighting

    How my shot of the new section with my handheld SLR fits this I don't
    know but the (female) rent-a-cop was extremely rude.

    Also I had to go out of my way to get there - I did NOT make the
    purchases I had intended

    a, Aug 2, 2003
  11. You got that right... They are clueless.

    I can walk over the bridge, take pictures of the rivets... Take the Circle
    Line directly underneath it and get close-ups of the entire support
    structure, but I can't go to a state park and take a photo from 1/4 mile
    away. I think I'm going back for my picture... Maybe if he stops me again,
    I'll have some fun by shooting some pictures of him. See how he likes
    that... :)

    See, I don't have a problem with security, but I took my camera to the White
    House 1 year after 9/11, and the secret service had no problem checking it
    out and letting me by... This was just lunacy, and unless people get
    furious and walk past a few of these morons, it will continue. After all,
    if I walk past him when he says stop, what are his options? He can arrest
    me, which will require some force on his part. I'm willing to bet he wasn't
    too confident he'd be right in doing that.


    Steve Wormuth, Aug 3, 2003
  12. Steve Wormuth

    Britt Park Guest

    Right on Steve! I'm too scared of police to do the same thing but I'm
    willing to give three cheers and more importantly contribute to your legal
    defense fund should you ever need one. I think you are right that the
    officer will look on the prospect of arrest as more of a hassle than it's

    Britt Park, Aug 3, 2003
  13. Steve Wormuth

    RSD99 Guest

    Re: "...
    I think you are right that the
    officer will look on the prospect of arrest as more of a hassle than it's

    WRONG! That's what he/she gets paid to do ... and he/she actually gets "brownie points"
    for it.

    Re: "...
    He can arrest me, which will require some force on his part.

    Make sure that your medical insurance is fully paid ... because that's probably what will
    happen ... and *you* will not win.
    RSD99, Aug 3, 2003
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