You’ve Got to Fight, For Your Right… to Take Photos of Your Own Kid at a Public Ice Skating Rink?


Ice Skating at the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

The Record – NYCLU threatens to sue city over new photo policy The Troy Record is reporting this morning that a public ice skating rink in Troy, New York has banned photography at the rink. The NYCLU is threatening to sue the City over the policy which is apparently designed to prevent pedophiles from photographing kids.

Although photography is banned, apparently individuals can seek permission from the Recreation Director George Rogers.

“”As long as they are videotaping their kid I have absolutely no problem and I have given permission to parents and coaches,” he said. “We are not going to let them be photographed or videotaped by anyone who comes along and wants to take their picture.””

One parent, Jean Hetman, however is alleging that she is being discriminated against by being disallowed to photograph.

“Melanie Trimble, NYCLU executive director, said the rink is a public place and Hetman is within her rights to photograph children skating. Furthermore, she said the policy, although unnecessary and probably illegal, is not being applied fairly because Recreation Director George Rogers twice denied Hetman permission while granting other parents permission to do the same thing.
“His reasons for denial were neither based upon imminent danger, danger of pedophiles, unwillingness to present identification nor any other legitimate reason for denial,” she said. “His denials are both capricious and arbitrary.”

It would seem to me that this George Rogers character seems to have a bit of a Napoleon complex. Certainly as a parent I can understand not wanting to have photos of your child taken by pedophiles. But the alternative of trying to ban photography anywhere that kids are present is ludicrous.

Personally I shoot at ice skating rinks all the time. I’ve gotten some really great shots. Touching moments of parents and kids and just kids doing what they do best, reveling in the beauty of life in all that is innocent. It would be a shame for fear of pedophiles that public areas turn into hostile no photography zones.

Certainly as a photographer I am sensitive to the subject of shooting other’s children. I take far fewer shots of kids and many are with the child taking more of an unidentifiable and anonymous role in the photos. Still every so often you find a shot that speaks volumes about life and the role that children play in it. San Francisco magazine will be publishing one example of a shot like this of mine in the next issue of their magazine. It is a photograph of a little girl, sitting on her father’s shoulders during the immigrant march in San Francisco on May 1st. It would be a shame to lose the power of images like this.

It is wrong for a public recreation facility in Troy, New York to disallow photography. It is wrong for a power hungry Executive Director to arbitrarily choose who should be able to shoot and who should not. Restricting photography in public spaces is a bad precedent to set. I hope that this ban is challenged and this restriction is proven illegal.

If I lived in Troy, New York, you can bet you’d know where I’d be with my camera this weekend. If you are near Troy New York, perhaps it is time to challenge this capricious ban on photographers and assault on photographers rights. Since I’m not in Troy, New York though I’ll just put a link here for you of a collection of some of my shots from ice skating rinks. That handsome guy with the red gloves is my son Jackson.

There is an ongoing discussion regarding this story over at the Utata Group on Flickr. Thanks Carl Johnson for bringing this story to everyone’s attention.

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16 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it wouldnt be an issue if skating attire were more proper.

    I find it disgusting that children are supposed to wear such tight clothing, its just asking for trouble.

    Goes the same for swim wear.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree 100 per cent. Actually, I agree even more. Not only to children wear inappropriately disgusting clothing but women to do.

    Females in trousers, who ever heard of such a thing? I firmly believe that a woman should not have any exposed flesh save her face; to think elsewise is hedonistic.

    And bloakes walking ’round with earrings and tattoos. That might be ok for a sea dog, but not for proper gentlmen.

    So everyone, dig out the Encylopaedia Britannica, see how people dressed in England during Her Majesty Victoria’s reign, and take any and all actions to emulate the fashions.

    Cheerio.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You americans have a pathelogical overreaction syndrome.

    The solution to keeping kids safe from paedophiles is proper parental supervision, and preventative programmes for paedophiles so they dont become a physical threat.

    Not robbing _everyone_ of their civil liberties because of the 0.0001% chance that someone, OMG might be getting off on a PHOTO.

  4. Gavin says:

    Absolutely ridiculous. I’m a videographer with a growing interest in photography]. We forfeit our right to privacy in public places, which is the same reason you can have surveillance cameras everywhere. I agree, for the 0.0001% chance of pedophilia there should be a videocamera to record the perpetrator, leaving the other 99.9999% to have their right to photograph whatever they want to.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope you first two were joking.. they’re wearing tight clothing in those situations because they offer greater mobility and avoid chaffing etc. You honestly think it would be better to go figure skating in baggy clothes? Same thing with swim suits. Sure, you can paddle around in those baggy swim trunks, but if you want to really swim you need clothing that wont cause a buttload of drag. Whils two pieces etc are stupid for kids to wear, I do think that if you are going to perform a sport you’ll need the proper attire.

  6. thewebguy says:

    rofl do we have a right to privacy in the public now?

  7. John says:

    Given the stories one hears about pedophiles taking “snappies” of children in public places and using them for other nefarious purposes, one can’t really blame another for wanting to somehow govern it.

    However, in the act of banning photography, although it may *in theory* help limit the number of photos pedophiles may take, it also infringes upon the basic rights and freedom that other people… innocent people have a right to.

    We can all safely assume that banning photography will not stop pedophiles, just make them sneakier and more discrete. In the end, a measure designed to stop pedophiles, it only ends up serving to piss off people who AREN’T pedophiles.

  8. Kaur says:

    Given the stories one hears about pedophiles

    - and I think THIS is the real problem: too much HEARING about pedophiles. The panic-spreading media is creating paranoia about issues that are politically correct to be paranoid about, and then everyone feels the need to save his poor ass. I am not saying that such crime should not be published or discussed, but the focus should be on real problems, not the pseudo-problems that cause 0.0001% of cases but have high media sales potential.

    Who can link to some statistics for pedophile crime in US (or elsewhere)? And compare it to estimated figures of in-family harrassment, incest and child abuse? We hear about high-profile cases and then base our actions on those – instead of looking at where are the real risks, and things to be changed and done.

  9. Uncle Roger says:

    Assuming it is a public place, the policy is illegal, I’m pretty sure. IANAL, but this guy is and he’s written about this very subject. An important read for photographers.

  10. This topic barely made the local news and I was surprised I heard about it first here when I live 20 miles away from this rink.
    I wrote more about it today and included a link in my Blog to a local news story I TiVo’d.

    http://billpstudios.blogspot.com/2006/05/public-photos-not-allowed-in-troy-ny.html

  11. Anonymous says:

    I attend college in Troy, NY. I am not at all surprised that such a shithole of a town would maintain a policy like that – distributing photos of Troy would quickly drive away those foolhardy few who might consider visiting.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Little by little they take away our rights until we have none. It’s just like the frog in the tub of water. Slowly bring up the heat and it will be boiled alive.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sad how you assume Jean Hetman is correct. The truth is that Jean Hetman is a typical “little league” type of skating parent. Jealousy is a big issue with her and she is not innocently videotaping her daughter. She is harrassing the other skaters, coaches and parents in this rink by openly and conspicously taping them to make them feel uncomfortable. How do I know this? Because I know some of the people she is harrassing. She is harrassing children. And this isn’t the first rink she has done it in. She is also responsible for the Clifton Park Arena adapting the same policy. Please find out both sides of a story before forming an opinion. This woman portrays a very poor example for her daughter and the other children in the rink. I hope she gets banned so the rest of us can skate in peace without her camera staring us down constantly.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If this person is harassing others then there are already laws in place regarding harassment. No need to create more laws and regulations which abridge everyone’s freedoms.

    I for one also photograph in public and I have photographed children in public and I am a single male. OMG!

    Here is the problem, how do you know that the photographer from the local news photographing your little son or daughter isn’t a pedophile? We know that pedophiles come from all walks of life. They are found in all classes, all levels of income and education. And I bet this manager of the rink would never deny a “news” photographer from taking pics or video.

    It’s all about people imagining pedophiles as some greasy looking freak hiding behind the bushes, when often times they are trusted and respected family friends and relatives. So should we stop family and friends from taking photographs because they might be closet pedophiles? Give me a break! Doing everything because of pedophiles is just people allowing their own prejudices and fears to be unwittingly played upon.

    Not too many years ago in America, the land of the free, a black man taking an interest in a white woman was considered a threat to her purity. People don’t generally think that any more, but not long ago it went unquestioned as being fact. So much for “facts”.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t matter if it’s your kid our not if your out in public you can take pictures of anything or anyone and you have the right.I have read this as a law.

  16. Dan says:

    And along those lines, I prescribe decapitation to treat your next sinus infection. I beginning to think the Chinese have more freedom.