Federal land tri-pod permits
I had the unfortunate opportunity in the late 70's concerning permitting on federal property. I was in Washington, DC to photograph the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Set up my 4x5 view camera, with a tri-pod, to capture a good photo. After I came out from black focusing cloth, I noticed about 4 pair of black shoes first, and then saw the federal park police, with hands on their guns. They started questioning me about what I was doing. Photographing this particular cherry blossom with Lincoln Memorial across the pond.
Did I have a "tri-pod" permit? What is that. After the long conversation with the 4 of them, I was able to find out that to put a tri-pod on federal property I needed a permit. WTF! (wrist to forehead). It literaly took me 24 hours getting tri-pod permits for all of DC. Even had to meet with the chief of police at the Capitol building, in the basement, to discuss what I was doing and was going to do with the recorded images. At the time I was employed by a stock photo agency and they were going to be used commercially.
You would have thought I was a terrorist. Seems like they never saw a viewcamera.
Things did finally work out getting permits, and while I was at it, I also called the White House and was able to get inside to photograph certain areas. What a hassel it all was. They would not let drive onto the White House grounds with my equipment.
Found a parking lot nearby and had to carry only a couple of lenses and film holders.
The search of my equipment was incredible. The security police were going to open my film holders. I told them if they pull out a slide I would leave as the film would be exposed and unable to use. Thankfully they did not pull out the film holder slides.
A few years later. on my own time, I was photographing Independence Hall, Phila., Pa, at night and experienced the same thing. Was just amazed that you needed a a permit at the birth of Liberty. This park ranger also had her gun out, when I emerged from under my focusing cloth. So much for freedom in this country. The permit was free, but a large form and discussion on the end result use of the photographs.
Did go back the next night and the same park ranger was there and I showed her my permit and she left me alone.
So this permitting issue has been going on for a long time. Seems like the US government "employees" do not want to you make money with your photography without them knowing what the use is for. Remember this was 1979. I cannot image how bad things are now.
Guess the moral of this is, do not use a viewcamera unless you are willing to spend the time aggrevation to get permitted and grilled about the final image intentions.
Just last week I was at a MARTA station in Atlanta. I had a tripod in my hand and a DSLR camera, but was not photographing anything. Within a few minutes, staff notified me that photos were not allowed without a permit. Apparently the permit is freely given, but there is an obvious "hassle factor". This has apparently been the practice since 9/11.
I think this may be the case in only some areas including cities and transportation hubs, not that I agree with it. Just a couple of weeks ago I was in the Shenandoah National Park taking pictures on a tripod and a Ranger came by. We had a long pleasant conversation with no mention made of what I was doing.
Here are the latest guidelines for New York City. They started out a bit over zealous after 9/11, but things appear to have calmed down nicely. This is a good common sense set of guidelines for other areas.
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