I read with dismay this morning about yet another incident of photographer harassment here in the United States. In this most recent case Andy Carvin was demonstrating a new Gigapan panorama camera in Washington DC’s historic Union Station.
Unfortunately for Andy, his crime of photography almost got him arrested.
“I managed to shut the camera, and started to disassemble the Gigapan from the tripod as a fourth security person arrived. He was dressed differently than the other three people, and had a former-marine-turned-middle-management air about him. I twittered as he spoke:
Official saying Union Station is a private space, no right to photograph without approval.
I asked for his business card and he handed it to me: Robert H. Mangiante, Assistant Director, IPC International Corporation. He then summed up the situation: pack up your gear and leave now, or we’ll arrest you. It’s our choice. Our gear was already packed up at this point, and Wright and his friend had an event at the National Press Club anyway, so that was that. The Gigapan went into my backpack, I folded the tripod and we went our separate ways.”
This is sad. Union Station is a beautiful and classic example of Beaux-Arts style architecture in the United States. It is over 100 years old and was built with $125 million of taxpayers money.
In 1981 Elizabeth Dole developed a plan to redevelop the station using a public/private partnership.
The station today boasts over 32 million visitors a year and claims to be the most visited destination in Washington DC. Yet, don’t plan on taking any photographs inside this historic building if you visit DC.
Photography should not be a crime. Photography in historic places like Union Station should not be illegal.
One thing that I know is that I won’t be spending any of my tourism dollars at Union Station in the future. If they want to hassle and harass photographers, the next time I’m in DC I just won’t visit them at all.