The Tripod Police Strike Again!

Professional photographers are increasingly being harassed for, you guessed it – taking pictures. It amazes me that in most of these situations, if you pulled out a point and shoot camera or a cellphone camera and took a picture, no one would give you a second look. However, pull out a DSLR or gasp, a tripod and you will be tackled in a matter of minutes. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally get that there are certain locations that are off limits for photography such as government installations, etc. I also get that tripods do pose a safety (tripping) hazard. However, there seems to be an increase in the amount of harassment that goes on especially if you appear to have professional gear.


Here’s a humorous look at the situation where an Amtrak photographer gets NAILED!

  • LOL! The funny thing is that he was arrested for taking pics for an Amtrak official photo contest. So sad that photographers are being outed by the “authorities”. We give people too much power for going through a few weeks of “Academy” training.

    Thanks for sharing the video.

  • Leo

    Every time I see something like this I shake my head with disgust. It’s as if it was read from a fairy tale book. But sure enough it happens. It so reminds me of the posts on tripod terror that Scott Kelby had on his blog last year. I thought one comment was especially insightful so I went in searching for it and here it is:

    “Does anybody really think that the “no tripod” and “no camera” approach actually does anything for security? Look on Google Earth (aerials and street-view) and Microsoft Live Local! With those resources available world-wide, are terrorists really going to lug around tripods and expensive cameras? Or, are the terrorists going to have p/s cameras and blend in with the tourists?

    The next terrorist will likely be wearing a Disney or I Love NY shirt, have a mid-level p/s camera, and each ingredient for a bomb in their pockets.

    No, I am not a terrorist.


    I hope this is something temporary and will change for the future. The security people will have a tougher time as time goes by since more and more consumers are buying DSLRs these days. They need to change their attitudes. It will be interesting to see where we are on this issue in five years time.

  • Mag

    The video is hilarious!

  • RM Brown

    Thanks for starting my day with a good chuckle. Wish it was all comedy, but in reality its a little disturbing because variations on this theme are occurring too frequently now days and it probably doesn’t seem so funny to the people it happens to. What happened to “common sense”?

  • Price Taylor

    Just try taking a DSLR into a college or professional sports event, you can get your equipment confiscated. Last September, my 10 y/o son won “famous kid of the week” and got to pick up the tee at a U. of Washington football game. I bought my Nikon D40 with the 18-200mm lens. I was asked if it was a professional camera with a detachable lens and calmly said no, this is not a professional camera.

    Which is not a lie.

    I got great pictures of my son…

  • Judith Lindley

    Hi Terry,

    My husband and I have retired for the near term in the UK. Yesterday a law went into effect here making it an offense to photograph a police officer. The morning’s BBC Midlands tv news had footage of police chopping down the front door in a 5 am raid on the apartment of an innocent person. They were looking for the previous occupant, who was wanted on a burglary warrant. On discovering their mistake, they were not apologetic, according to the lady whose door they broke down. But the break-in was video’d by an upstairs neighbour. It’s good that he got his film in a day under the wire.
    The police have since apologised.

    IT WAS heartening to hear another item, reporting that 150 protesters turned up outside Scotland Yard and snapped pictures to celebrate the first day of the new law. No arrests thus far.

    In view of the fact that the police always exonerate themselves whenever there’s a mistake or miscarriage of justice, I think we need to keep on taking pictures.


  • The funniest thing in all of this is that I have ridden Amtrak for two trips to Washington DC. Neither time was there any security check before getting on the train. I was floored.

  • Photographers should know, especially in NYC, that there are groups who help out when the photography Nazis mess with photogs. One is the NYC ACLU, which has gotten numerous victims financial settlements, some in the five figure range.

    The city police brass know this, yet refuse to train their officers regarding photographers’ rights. Or perhaps they encourage them to hassle folks with a camera. What’s a $35,000 settlement in a city’s massive budget anyway?

    But there’s an upside to all this. A young, struggling photog in NYC could actually make a living by getting harassed by police, then suing the city. One lawsuit a month would put their income in the six figure range. And the violations are so obviously illegal that the cops always lose in court.

  • Dennis Dwyer

    What a hoot. Perhaps we should blame it all on the antics of the paparazzi.

  • Manzari

    Did the WTC get attacked by people with cameras? From the constant harrasment of photographers you would think so.

  • R Collins

    I have two small points.

    First, has any one considered how much these ” PRO Cameras” cost. It could be jealousy.

    Secondly, All those folks that were fired from airport security -when the new TSA regs required them to be able to read- needed a job. Have some compassion.

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  • I remember that when I travelled in Singapore, it was impossible for me to shoot subway or even the harbor…
    There was always a security guy to stop me.
    In Singapore, they are really affraid by terrorist attacks… Just check out, the video they broadcast in the subway…