Security Guard at 555 California Street Threatens to Punch Photographer in the Face and Break His F****ing Camera

On digg here.

I was disappointed today to read a report by my friend Troy Holden, who works on the Caliber blog over a run in that he and another photographer had with a group of security guards at 555 California Street. I’ve known Troy for a while and we’ve been out shooting a lot together. According to Troy, security guards there objected to him and a friend photographing the building based on “safety” issues. When challenged on the photography ban, according to Troy, one of the security guards asked him if he’d like to be punched in the face and threatened to break his f***ing camera.

I’m very disappointed to read about this terrible reaction by these guards at 555 California Street. Photography is not a crime, nor should be taking exterior photographs of buildings and architecture. Furthermore the reaction by this guard was totally uncalled for and extremeley unprofessional. I hope that he is disciplined for his behavior in this case.

Personally I’ve never had a problem with 555 California Street. Here is a set of images, in fact, that I’ve personally made of the property. Perhaps this is something new there or perhaps Troy just stumbled on the unfortunate day when a security guard decided to go on a power trip.

Voronado Realty manages the building. You can find some of their representatives to contact here in order to express your disappointment in how their guards handled this incident.

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  1. Shit, if people cant shoot buildings or statues whatever are they to do with their camera?

  2. Gary Denness says:

    A few weeks ago you blogged about a bunch of skateboarders who gave a cop some grief, and got some back. I called it a ‘non event’. Right or wrong, it’s just life, and a pretty minor bit of life at that.

    These are the stories I like to see blogged. Where photographers are just going about their day, taking perfectly legal snaps, and getting threatened and hassled by a bunch of prats who’ve watched too much Miami Vice.

    This is where you really make a difference, with these sorts of incidents getting the sort of publicity companies don’t like. The sort of publicity that makes companies react, and makes photographers lives easier in the future.

  3. troy says:

    a staff member from the security department of this property mgmt firm emailed me and said he “was investigating” the issue. thomas, if/when i hear back i will update via a comment on your blog.

    thanks for picking this up, i hope that security guard considers another approach the next time someone points their camera in his direction.

  4. Jake says:

    The photographer is clearly on their private property. Look at the photo. You have to climb a ton of their stairs just to get up plaza area in which the photo is being shot.

    If the photographer was on the sidewalk, he would be photographing nothing but stairs.

  5. Mike Frisco says:

    “A lot” is two words.

  6. Thomas Hawk says:

    Jake, the property issue is not relevant.

    First, whether the photographer has the right to shoot there or not the behavior and threats by the guard are unprofessional and not how a building representative ought to treat *any* member of the public.

    Second, the plaza where the photography was taking place in was a *public* area on private property. These areas are treated differently than other private property. In order to prevent a public easement of the property and losing their private property distinction, property owners will install little plaques denoting the area as giving the public a right to pass under California Civil Code 1009 typically. While this notification preserves their ultimate property right, it also reduces the control that they have over that area.

    Specifically, the code states: “After taking any of the actions set forth in paragraph (1), (2), or (3), and during the time such action is effective, the owner shall not prevent any public use which is appropriate under the permission granted pursuant to such paragraphs by physical obstruction, notice, or otherwise.”

    Restricting photography there violates the public use clause in violation of California Civil Code 1009.

    If you are going to apply for protection from public easement, as a private property owner you lose some control over how that public area can be used.

  7. […] Security Guard at 555 California Street Threatens to Punch Photographer in the Face and Break His F*… I was disappointed today to read a report by my friend Troy Holden, who works on the Caliber blog […]

  8. Charles U. Farley says:

    Interestingly if you want to know more about the building such as how many elevators it has (38), the floor construction (Concrete slab), the load limit on the floors (80-100 lbs/square foot), entrances/exits, etc. just go here:

    The management company was nice enough to list them. Safety my foot…

  9. Hank says:

    This is another Shorenstein building. Surprise surprise.

  10. […] Security Guard at 555 California Street Threatens to Punch … […]

  11. […] 1 votes vote Security Guard at 555 California Street Threatens to Punch Photographer in the Face and Break His F*… On digg here. I was disappointed today to read a report by my friend Troy Holden, who works on […]

  12. Pictures have not been allowed at 555 Cal, and most high rise buildings since 9/11. Security guards are instructed to inform anyone taking pictures about the policy. The policy actually comes from building management who are concerned that the photos may be sold for monetary gain and Vornado won’t get their cut of the cash. Vornado may give you lip service about guards misbehaving or what not, but it’s their policy and the guards are simply the messengers. Also, these security guards are more like bellhops and customer service reps. So I find it hard to believe that there were any threats made (why you and now after eight years of this policy being in place)…

  13. Anonymous says:

    You people (Troy, Stuart and ???) are acting like children. If you don’t get your way…you go…crying.
    But, if you get your way…everything is okay.
    How do we know that you weren’t casing the building.

  14. basegrinder says:

    heres my solution.

    The dollar store. costco. big, cheap gallon bottles of syrup. poured all over their steps.

    on a cold day. eff these guys

  15. basegrinder says:

    I’d suggest complaining to the city if I thought

    1. they’d care
    2. they’d do anything even if they did

    good resource is that public spaces article in the chronicle from a few months back

  16. whakojacko says:

    When I was in Sf about 2 weeks ago, I got told I wasnt allowed to take pictures of 555 California. I proceeded to walk back to the sidewalk and take pictues and he didnt push it further

  17. soij says:

    I have to say…that is an excellent photo. Tie too short, pants too long, the two meek guys hanging back while the aggressive guy plays his role. All three with head-tilts and hands in pockets. It’s a good DVD cover for “Reservoir Puppies”

  18. Elsy Woelke says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.