The No Photo Policy of Pittsburgh’s PPG

Photo by JP.Harron

PPG Place in Pittsburgh is a dazzling skyscraper and plaza complex that houses shops, restaurants, a glass-enclosed event space and ice rink. It also has a stringent no photography policy. After hearing numerous complaints over the years, a couple of writers from The Globe, the paper of Point Park University, decided to challenge that and brought their cameras to the plaza.

They were indeed approached by security and asked to leave. Puzzlingly, they were even told they could only take photos at eye level, not looking up. When they asked why, another guard gave the usual: ““Since 9/11, they don’t want people taking pictures here. You know what 9/11 is, right?” Right.

The thing is, even though the complex is privately owned, it’s an odd policy to enforce given its many public uses — and the fact that one could legally take photos of anything visible from a public sidewalk. The policy seems not only counter-intuitive but futile. Said photojournalism professor Chris Rolinson:

It’s a public space. They treat it as such,” Rolinson said. “The Constitution says there is no expectation of privacy in public because it is a public place, and people should be allowed to take pictures there.

And then the real head-scratcher was the statement from PPG’s owner, Grubb & Ellis, which said in part:

We will not prohibit that Kodak moment; we have never prohibited that at PPG. … We have eased up on photography, but not to the point where we would allow it.

Come again?

Article from The Globe

8 Responses to “The No Photo Policy of Pittsburgh’s PPG”

  1. 1 j lawrence June 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Memorial Day I was walking down Liberty Avenue shooting pictures. Because of the impending storms, there were some really cool reflections of Midtown Towers and EQT on the surface of Two PNC.

    I’m on the sidewalk, and this security guard comes running out of Two PNC. “You’re not allowed to take pictures of the building.” “I’m not?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because of 9/11.” “This is still America.” “Just leave. And no more pictures of the building.” So she goes back into the building. I lift my camera and take a pic of her.

    The old woman’s eyes flare. She comes running back towards me, screaming behind her “Call 9-1-1!” I stand there. “I told you not to take any pictures. Now I’m calling the police.” “Fine.” She whips out her cell phone and points the lens at my face. I smile. She takes two pictures. “What’s your name?” I defiantly tell her. “Your address.” Gave my address. Because that’s how I get when I’m angry. “You wait here for the police.”

    I sat, and waited. Some kid came out in a security guard uniform (I’m becoming an ornery old man at 42). “You’re not allowed to take pictures of financial institutions. You have to get permission first.” “I’m on the public right-of-way.” He had NO clue what I was talking about. Idiot. “You’re not allowed to take pictures of financial institutions.” I explain that I am. It’s like talking to a very disinterested wall. “Don’t take any more pictures.” “Pray tell, who do I need permission from?” “The PR Department.”

    That about says it all. If I didn’t have an appointment I was late for in Highland Park, I might have just been a little more defiant and kept on snapping. Unfortunately my picture of the old witch didn’t come out. Now I need to find out what security firm they work for so I can inform them that they need to provide their workers with some training.

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