Santa Monica Pacific Park’s Weird and Confusing Photography Policy

Anthony Citrano decided to do some high ISO night shooting Friday Night on the Santa Monica Pier but quickly found himself in a confrontation with your friendly neighborhood photo police. According to Anthony, a confusing interchange took place between him and the photocops between what he could and couldn’t shoot on the Pier even though he was clearly shooting for personal non-commercial use.

From Anthony:

“He then led me a short distance to a second security guy who explained that it’s OK to take pictures of “people, etc.” but I could not take pictures of park “things.” He described it as “private property” and “you see, everything you photograph in this park, it’s copyrighted.” I replied, “yes, copyrighted by the photographer.”

He seemed confused by that. So I asked, “is it a question of the subject matter of the photograph? that’s the basis of the policy?” Yes, he said, that’s the policy. “Otherwise, you need to sign a waiver and show ID.”

I asked how they determine what I’m photographing. Do you review the photos? “For instance, your colleague said it was `family’; how do you know who my family is?”

He did not have an answer for that, so decided instead to move on to a new line of reasoning. He said that “if it’s for commercial use” I would need to sign. Then – acting quite relieved – I said, “oh cool, then, because this isn’t for commercial use. So, can I go take some shots?” But still he said no, that I would need to sign the waiver if I wanted to take pictures of “park property.” I was confused, and told him so: You just said that the waiver was required if the images were for “commercial use”. They are most definitely not for commercial use. So why do I need to show ID and sign a document?”

You can read more about Anthony’s run in here.

Remember kids, stay in school, do what adults tell you. Cameras don’t kill people, people kill people.

Photography is not a crime.

Pacific Park photo by Anthony Citrano.

Update: The L.A. Weekly has picked up on this story and is running a post on it as well right now.

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5 Comments

  1. keith says:

    Guess they’re worried you’ll go home and make your own ferris wheel & open an amusement park.

  2. Karoli says:

    This scenario comes to mind: A family visits from Japan, decides to visit the pier because it’s described in every frickin’ travel book from here to nowhere, is one of the top spots on internet recommendations, etc. etc.

    They line up the kids in front of the carousel, wait for it to stop, and frame the pic.

    Cop steps in front of the lens, says “Now hold it right there, folks. This here carousel is copyrighted…”

    Baloney. Utter nonsense.

  3. Noel says:

    I shoot at the Santa Monica Pier all the time, and have been asked to sign a waiver while shooting on the pier. Not a big deal to me at all. What I find ironic is that I can shoot the Santa Monica Pier in its entirety from the sand and they I do not have to sign a waiver. The pier from the sand is truly a spectacle. Certainly you will find some great shots on the pier, but truly the beauty of the pier is viewed from the sand, and I have never been asked to sign a waiver shooting the pier from the water or the sand.

  4. kwwphoto says:

    A very similar thing happened to me the other day in Santa Monica too! It was definitely surprising, especially since the LAPD told me I “did nothing wrong” yet still reported me anyways.

    Read my story:
    http://www.blog.kwwphoto.com/2009/01/16/why-lapd-stopped-me-from-taking-public-photos/

  5. […] Santa Monica Pacific Park’s Weird and Confusing Photography Policy (Thomas Hawk Digital Connection, 1/18/09) […]