So I’ve been hassled and harassed many time in the past for shooting photographs in privately owned public spaces (Starbucks, PF Chaings, Toys ‘R Us, the new burger spot on Sacramento St. at Drumm, Tosca, Grand Central Terminal in New York, etc.) but yesterday was the first time I’ve actually been harassed on a public street over photography.
Yesterday I was shooting some photos of One Bush St. (the building where Bush and Market Streets intersect) when their security guard came out of his little glass jewelbox lobby hut to ask me to stop taking photos of the building. He said it was illegal. I moved to the sidewalk and continued taking photos and he again asked me to stop. When I told him I was on a public street sidewalk he said that actually they owned the sidewalk and that I was going to have to stop taking photographs.
At this point I told the little guy to call the police and have me arrested which he said he did. He then proceeded to follow me around the building, from Bush St. to Battery St. to Market St. to Sansome St. and try to physically put his hand in front of the lens of my camera as I shot the building. Fortunately I was taller than he was so I was able to hold the camera out of his range. It was kind of comedic actually.
Although I’ve been harassed many, many times for taking photos (the camera goes with me virtually everywhere) this was the first time I was accosted by a security guard on a public sidewalk.
I was looking forward to the interchange between myself the security guard and a cop (who I doubt he could really get to show up even though he kept insisting they were coming to arrest me) but I had to get going and was done shooting the building. So after about 10 minutes I was on my way.
I’d encourage anyone with a camera to stop by One Bush if you’re in the neighborhood and fire off a few more shots to annoy this guy.
I know I’ll be back.
Update: Boing Boing picked up this story and of course from there the traffic goes nuts. There is now a photo contest to shoot photos of the building and a meet up planned on Saturday at noon to shoot the building. Also if you think it’s stupid that a building’s owners would try to prohibit you from taking photos of it from a public street feel free to drop them a line. I got a couple of bounce backs (apparently Jerry Speyer and Peter Berg are on vacation, go figure) but here’s some contact info:
Alfred Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Berg, Managing Director, email@example.com
Jerry Speyer, President and CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Tishman, Chairman, email@example.com
John Miller, Regional Director – West Coast, firstname.lastname@example.org
Theodore Schweitzer, Chief of Staff, Assistant to the President, email@example.com
Carl Shannon, Regional Director for Silicon Valley and San Francisco, firstname.lastname@example.org