Posts Tagged 'Downtown LA'

Gas Tower Video Has New Home

The Biltmore Hotel, as reflected in The Gas Company Tower. Photo by teamperks

Enjoy the video here.

YouTube – More Like Censor You Tube


Today YouTube caved to a “privacy violation” complaint and took down the video of our conversation with a The Gas Company Tower security manager. What’s most puzzling is the video doesn’t fall into any of the categories in their Community Guidelines. Not even from the Privacy section:

If a video you’ve recorded features people who are readily identifiable and who haven’t consented to being filmed, there’s a chance they’ll file a privacy complaint seeking its removal.

The great majority of the video is of the guy’s torso. But forget that for a minute: We were on a public sidewalk where there is no expectation of privacy.

What’s more, we regarded the encounter as informative and instructive, especially for the guard. Perhaps he’d go back to his supervisors and they’d brush up on the law so building security and photographers can finally all just get along. From our perspective, it was cordial and no one in their right mind (other than paranoid YouTube execs) would agree this discussion on photographers’ rights was a violation of someone’s privacy.  But it seems someone felt the need to file a bogus complaint.

This is setting a scary precedent. So from now on, anyone can complain to YouTube about a video they don’t like of themselves – like all those cops who beat protestors or smash into bicyclists? They’ll just sign up for an account, file a complaint, and – bam – no more public record?

Oh well, it’s not as if that will really make the video go away or anything. We’ll post a new link soon.

Photographers Effect Change at US Bank Tower

NPRO Creates Change at US Bank Tower

In January a small group of photographers went to shoot photos in downtown Los Angeles and at the US Bank Tower, a building notorious for its aggressive, overzealous security staff. At the time, we were threatened and bullied by six security personnel – and told by Patrick Silver, the supervisor on duty, that we were on a private sidewalk (we weren’t) and he was going to call the police (he was bluffing). It was an unpleasant encounter, not to mention a certain violation of our rights. (See the video here.)

This time though, someone higher up in the food chain had clearly reviewed their policy. During the NPRO Photographers’ Rights Rally today, we stopped at the Bank Tower, and after about 10 minutes of freely shooting, a friendly guard came out to tell us we were allowed to continue but he had to give us the above notecard. 

So, it seems, the questions, posts, calls and letters may have indeed been effective in changing the way UPS patrols its buildings. Interesting how that works.

Stay tuned for more videos and updates throughout the week of this year’s NPRO weekend  rally.

Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images

Despite several embarrassing incidents for Amtrak in the news recently (in NY and DC), Amtrak employees are still woefully uninformed when it comes to photographers’ rights. 

A local LA photographer, who goes by ShutterBuda, was taking photos at Union Station downtown yesterday morning for about an hour when he snapped an Amtrak employee who told him to not take photos. ShutterBuda continued shooting, when another Amtrak employee told him that he didn’t have permission to take photos. At this point, a commuter chimed in that he also objected to his picture being taken.

This guy, who claimed to be an ex-Guardian Angel, quickly became belligerent and escalated the situation into an ugly scene, yelling that ShutterBuda didn’t have permission to take his photo and threatening to “take him down” and “smash his camera.”  All three were now demanding that he delete his photos. In quick succession, the Amtrak employees called a manager over and the manager called a security guard.

amtrak-2 Photo by ShutterBuda

Not knowing how the law applied inside Union Station, ShutterBuda complied with the demands to delete the images. “Out on the street I never would have deleted those photos – I would have said no,” he says, “but I was kind of in a grey area there.” Plus, he says, they were being abusive and he didn’t want to deal with the scene.

Soon enough three LA County Sheriffs were on the scene.

If you can imagine it: Four Amtrak employees and three sheriffs for a man taking photos of commuters inside a public building.

The sheriffs backed up the Amtrak employees, with one claiming, ShutterBuda says, “that I needed permission from whoever owns Union Station and that I should comply with [the Amtrak staff] because they’re ambassadors for the law in some sense.” One sheriff asked to see the camera to check that the images were deleted – all of which ShutterBuda was able to get back later using recovery software.

amtrak-1 Photo by ShutterBuda

The issue, it seems, was not ShutterBuda being there (i.e., trespassing or security risks) but that he didn’t have permission to be there. Which is a blatant fabrication. You do not need permission to shoot handheld in a public place. And you certainly do not subject yourself to the seizure of your images if you do so. That is downright illegal and possibly a Fourth Amendment issue. A court order is required for anyone to view your photos.

There’s also the issue of whether Amtrak and the sheriffs violated copyright and intellectual property laws by deleting these images, which of course is well beyond their pay grade. They are just blindly following some order they think they have the right to enforce.

Continue reading ‘Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images’

Photographers to Meet, Shoot

Downtown’s Million Dollar Theater, by jericl cat

The second-annual ShootDowntown Meetup is happening this Saturday, October 4 in downtown LA. The idea is for photographers to gather, shoot and talk shop while exploring downtown architecture and street life. The last event in December attracted 16 photographers so we wondered how well that went seeing as downtown is notoriously camera unfriendly.

Eric Richardson, of Blogdowntown and organizer of the meetup, reports there were no such problems, mainly because they stuck to older buildings and the Historic Core and not the newer skyscrapers that are seemingly managed by people who believe cameras equal terrorists. (My words not his.)

Last month, Blogdowntown ran this article about photographers rights in which Dave Bullock writes, “If you are stopped and hassled, keep in mind that you are likely in the right and your accuser is likely in the wrong.” Commenters posted that in particular the Heron Building, Wells Fargo and the U.S. Bank Tower are all high-harassment spots. If you wish to test those statements, let us know how it turns out.

We Live In Confusing Times

Of the things we learned on our cross-country road trip, and there were many, one was that one can freely and openly photograph the White House — arguably one of the most at-risk targets in the world — but the same can’t be said of office buildings in downtown Los Angeles.

Sikhs with a Camera at the White House. They Must be terrorists

To see more of discarted’s photos from this day, go here.

Downtown LA: Not Camera-Friendly

Photo by Bryan Villarin

Downtown LA continues to be a difficult place to take photos. We postedon Travis Puderbaugh’s experience at Grand and 3rd a few months back, and now comes this from photographer Bryan Villarin.

Last Thursday Bryan was taking photos of the TCW Tower on 8th and Figueroa when he was stopped by security. Security radioed in for bigger security, and the head guy came out to say Bryan had to stop because the building was “proprietary and is prohibited from being photographed.” I’m still puzzling over that usage of proprietary and I don’t think it really applies to buildings, but anyway, Bryan writes this on his blog:

I mentioned Google Maps and he said that it wasn’t as detailed because it’s a bird’s eye view. (Apparently, he hasn’t heard of Street View. I could see it from the street perfectly — without even being there!)

Bryan left willingly without further incident, but it does make one wonder what’s the big deal.

And, according to, the TCW Tower won the Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Award for  Outstanding Design in 1990. Isn’t it a shame that an award-winning piece of architecture isn’t allowed to be photographed?

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