Boycott Hyatt Hotels

An Ode to the Bellevue Hyatt and Their No Photography Policy

While attending the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit I’m staying at the Bellevue Hyatt. Last night my wife and I were taking a few photographs in the lobby when we were approached by hotel security who informed me that taking photographs in the hotel was not allowed.

I argued with him a bit and told him that I was only taking pictures of bamboo. He still pressed on with his no photography policy. I finally got him to relent that if my wife were in the photo that I could still take the photo. As soon as he went the other way I started taking pictures again. Illegal, renegade photography.

I think that it is absurd that any hotel would prohibit photography in their public lobby and will never stay at another Hyatt again unless they change their photography policy and apologize.

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  1. There’s a nother good reason to boycott the Hyatt in San Diego–owner Doug Manchester contributed $125,000 to the campaign fund for the amendment to the California Constitution forbidding gay marriage.

  2. Todd says:

    While I am not a photographer by trade or even hobby, I did grow up the son of a professional Photog. So I can understand your sentiment. However, the unfortunate fact is that any public area is subject to scrutiny these days due to terrorism concerns. Whether we think the threat is real or not, companies like the Hyatt have to be concerned with the security of their property and guests.

    As an occasional train fan photographer, I have been warned many times about taking pictures of trains and associated equipment. I don’t take it personally. It’s the times we in which we live.

  3. PXLated says:

    Nice shot in spite of the hassle.

  4. Rsplatpc says:

    harDCore punk rebellion never really goes away eh Thomas? :-p

  5. I don’t know what the problem is, I take pictures in hotels all the time all over the place and I have never had a problem. I can’t say I stay at the Hyatt often enough to know their policy or have been chastised.

    I have even streamed live and podcasted from hotel lobby’s.

    I can see there should be some level of privacy, but if you are just taking still photos, then I see no harm.

  6. I’m boycotting the Hyatt because they charge ridiculous rates for internet access. I’d rather stay in a dump with free wifi then have to overpay for an amenity that should be part of the price.

  7. Mercy says:

    What do they do when a wedding couple wants to take pictures of the hall or the area for their wedding? I would love to hear that explanation.

  8. Ya know, stuff like this is happening more and more these days….I wonder if they might be taking the “Vegas Casino” styled approach, where they think you could be a competitor spying. But as you stated, you put a person in the shot and whamo, all is fine. Honestly, I would contact Hyatt and see what they say. Who knows, may be you will get a few nights comped! But anyways, yes, this kinda crap is happening more and more…and for what?

  9. AndyW says:

    I just don’t get this… surely if it was a potential terrorist, they would be using camera phones or hidden cameras to scope out the building – not a big F*ck off SLR?

    Maybe they had someone famous staying in the hotel and they were concerned you were paparazzi or something daft like that?

    I stayed at a Hyatt a few months back and took lots of photos in and around the hotel – it’s obviously not a company wide policy, perhaps just the policy of a single jobsworth security guard – you should write to head office and get an official explanation on the matter.

  10. Virginia says:

    All that being said, your illegal bamboo photograph is great. Try pulling a tripod out and watch everybody get their panties in a wad!

  11. Tolamik says:

    The issue is selectively enforced rules. It’s clear that if Hyatt has a no photography rule, it’s not enforced evenly. They only enforce it for people with more obvious equipment, or who aren’t including people in the photo. The vast majority of people taking tourist photos are not hassled; it’s just the “undesirables”, the people who strike security as “suspicious” that get hassled. This situation means that anyone who is hassled is going to feel singled out, perhaps feeling offended that they were thought to be suspicious.

    I prefer the rule of law over rule of personalities in power.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I guess if you are a terrorist you’ll just have include your friends in the pictures of whatever?
    That’s intelligent.

    Want a picture of the celebrity? Have your wife stand in the general area and take a picture of the celeb instead.

    Want to cheese them off? If you are gay, get married and take your entourage slowly through the hotel raising a ruckus, but stay across the way at the Sheraton!

  13. TruePath says:

    Most things hotels do to make their guests feel comfortable are sorta arbitrary and random, like have their staff dress up in suits/uniforms instead of just wearing random street clothing or having dark oak paneling.

    Some people feel uncomfortable if they think they are being photographed. Particularly if it is professional photography and they are a (minor) celebrity or are having an affair. Probably irrationally most people don’t give touristy type point and shoot pictures of someone’s family a second thought so those don’t even register to make people uncomfortable. Given these preferences some hotels absolutely should limit photography for the comfort of their guests.

    In short in some fancy hotels yes, you are paying for a *feeling* of a degree of anonymity/privacy in common areas.

  14. Alex says:

    Granted it’s a stupid policy, but they do have a right to create whatever policies they want. It’s PRIVATE PROPERTY. If they want to forbid anyone bald from entering, they can. If they want to put a clause in their room rental contracts that singing in the shower is cause for a fine, they can. If they want to stop people from taking pictures in the lobby, they can.

    If you don’t like it, you have the right to take your business elsewhere.

    Great picture, though!

  15. Anonymous says:

    So Todd you are a complete idiot who buys into the “war on terror” huh?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just something to consider about taking photographs of trains/subway: while its prohibited in the NYC subway system (and iirc you can even be arrested if caught, you’ll definitely be detained, searched, questioned, and all your details will be placed into a NYC police database), it still happens. A train operator I know says he sees tourists taking photos of the trains and stations all the time. For him, that’s not the issue. The big issue is safety. Before a train enters an underground station it’s normally in a dark tunnel. While approaching the station the light from the station lights up the end of the tunnel and gives the operator a chance for his pupils to adjust to the brightness. But yahoos with their disposacams sometimes take pictures of the train entering the station. Those disposacams have flashes…and most cameras, even digital ones will usually need to use a flash in the poor light of some subway stations. The flash causes a very short but significant blindness until the operator’s pupils have a chance to adjust from the darkness to the flash to the light in the station. Even though the blindness may be momentary and partial or sometimes fully blinding, it happens at the crucial time when the operator is first seeing the station and judging when to let off on power and when and how hard to apply the brake so that the train fully enters the station and also doesn’t overshoot. If a train doesn’t fully enter a station or does overshoot, then a time consuming procedure of preventing the doors of the last car or two stuck in the tunnel at either end from opening, then the conductor or operator having to leave the booth and move the passengers from the overshot/undershot car to another car so they could disembark…

    An even more serious issue is if someone is on the tracks or someone falls onto the tracks when the train is entering the station and someone blinds the operator with a flash…that person doesn’t have a chance. The operator I know has had his share of individuals who’ve jumped from the platform onto the tracks to retrieve something they’ve dropped (a camera, for one, a watch, an earing, camera bags, computer bags, briefcases, a sandwich, yes a sandwich – still wrapped) and depending on where (beginning, middle, end) they’ve jumped, makes the difference on whether they get hit (die) or not. It’s a split second reaction of the operator seeing the person on the tracks immediately upon entering the station and putting the train into emergency stop to save that person’s life. In NYC subway system, there is on average at least one person killed EVERY DAY by being struck by a train while standing on the tracks due to retrieving something, falling, being pushed, or intentionally jumping (a lot of jumpers, especially around the holidays).

    And for those that are run over by a train…it’s not pretty. They don’t all die right away. Those that are run over by the wheels over the middle of their body, sometimes they are conscious and live long enough for their family members to be picked up at home and brought to the station by the police for them to say good bye to their relatives because as soon as the train is lifted off of them rolled off, they die. This includes the individuals whose lower bodies are sandwiched between the train car the the platform. Their lower body is reduced to a few inches deep, yet some still are conscious until the train is moved to release them and then they instantly die. The operator I know successfully reacted fast enough to save the lives of many jumpers and individuals on the tracks where they shouldn’t be. But he’s also had a jumper end up under his train and those are tougher to prevent because they jump suddenly without indicating, wait until the train is very close and position themselves closer to where the train is entering the station so the train is traveling faster. And he’s also had many tourists snap pictures of his train entering the stations, with their flashes firing, blinding him. As for other security concerns, he doesn’t care. The tourists and photographers can deal with NYC transit police.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So, what would happen if you replied “I’m not going to stop taking pictures, but feel free to call the police.” You are a paying patron of the hotel. I would think they would have to give your money back, and ask you to leave, before the police could really do anything.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I work as a manager for a Hyatt hotel. Please keep in mind that when the security guard said it was “hotel policy”, he is speaking of that particular hotel, as most Hyatts have different owners and therefore different policies. That said, the main concern for banning photography in the public areas of the hotel (other than the typical photo of friends) is to ensure privacy of the guests.

    There are other instances which may – at times – be of concern. We may have celebrities staying with us during which time we are particularly sensitive to photography. We also have prominent policians who stay with us, in which case government authorities have already inspected the property for security and then instruct us on further measures. And finally, sometimes it is simply a case of designers photographing our interior designs to copy – which is why photography is also prohibited in the decorated (furniture) sections of many department stores.

    I hope you will take it easy on us and perhaps understand where we’re coming from. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.

  19. Bill says:

    Like others have said, of course it’s their right to ban whatever they want. I don’t think it’s the same as wanting a vegan burger in McDonald’s like someone said though. It seems more like McDonald’s saying no one under 18 is allowed. Why? who goes to McDonald’s? A lot of young people. Who stays at hotels? Many people on vacation taking, you guessed it, photos. There are plenty of hotels around so I and the 5 people I just mentioned this to will probably steer clear of Hyatt just for being annoying.

  20. Regarding the comment about the temporary prohibition on photography in the NYC subway – that was abolished quite some time ago. The same goes for the strict permitting policies for photography in public places. That’s gone now too. It wasn’t really supportable in court, and it was extraordinarily unpopular with a large, vocal crowd of photographers and other residents.

    Of course, if you are creating concern or a distraction with your photography, you may be stopped and questioned, in which case if it’s someone official, you should definitely be chill.

    Just something to consider about taking photographs of trains/subway: while its prohibited in the NYC subway system (and iirc you can even be arrested if caught, you’ll definitely be detained, searched, questioned, and all your details will be placed into a NYC police database), it still happens.

  21. Anonymous says:

    @All, They are NOT able to ban photography ( but they can ask you to leave. The lobby of the hotel is a semi-public place on private property. Until they ask you to leave, you may remain. Once they ask you to leave, you can even take photos on your way out. Photography is NOT a crime!

    @Anonymous (with the wonderful stories of people dying on NYC subways) there is NOT a person dying every day on the NYC subways. These events do occur several times a year, but they hit the papers. If it were one death every day, I suspect your subway driving “friend” would have hit more than just one person in their career. Please do not make up facts just to support your argument. It makes me think your argument is entirely without merit. For actual death statistics, see e.g. which states there were only 23 deaths in 2006.

  22. crenelle says:

    If owners of property that is frequented by the public want a no photography policy, they should be required to post clearly visible signage that says so. In all commonly applicable languages. It should be a federal law, so that people know to look for the signs somewhere and know where they stand. This also lets concerned citizens rat out people using their cameras in the lobby. So when Fox News wants to tape an interview in the lobby, the public can put a quick end to that illegal activity. Eventually, I hope, that sign will be taken down, for obvious reasons.

  23. jim says:

    I was just a bit confused on what does Boycott Hyatt Hotels have that make it have an edge over the other hotels. Can you send me more information about this hotel at my email address? thanks!!!


    – – – – – – –
    Your life deserves a place like this.

  24. Another reason to boycott Hyatt — three of their Boston hotels just fired all of their long-time housekeepers. Managers had been lying to the housekeepers and telling the employees that they were training staff who would fill in on vacation. Once the replacements were trained, the longtime employees were fired without notice, and replaced by an outsourced group of minimum wage workers who receive no benefits. The original employees weren’t making all that much, weren’t union, but did receive benefits and many had worked there for years — some for over 20 years.

    Do you want to stay at a Hyatt if that’s the value they place on their room cleaning services? The bare minimum spent and not a cent more? Please take a second and got to and sign the petition to have these workers reinstated.

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