New York City permit?

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Dave Wooten, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Is a permit needed in NYC to set up a tripod? I know we have discussed the metro etc may be soon off limits to photos....I would like to plan a session or two down town with the big boys....maybe the professor has an update on this, I know he often shoots 4 x 5.

    Thanks
    Dave in Vegas
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, it is required, but I haven't ever requested one, because I tend not to shoot in very busy public spots where I'm likely to be hassled. At one time they required proof of liability insurance, if I remember correctly, but it looks like they've simplified it, so now you just need to sign a waiver of liability.

    I believe the city has recently changed the law in general so that building owners are now responsible for the sidewalks in front of their buildings, and the change in the permit may be related to this general change in liability in the city. It used to be that the city was liable if someone injured themselves on a crack in the pavement that had been reported to the city, and as a friendly service, liability firms paid people minimum wage to compile a thick book annually, detailing every pavement fault in the city. Of course the city could never fix everything at once, so they could always claim that the fault was reported and the city did nothing about it.

    Now that they've simplified the procedure, I'll probably be more likely to request a permit. Here's a link to the page with instructions--

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/permits/still_prcedure.shtml

    "The Professor"
     
  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I hadn't realised this. I am on my way to NYC tomorrow and was going to bring a tripod. Will I get hassled if I use one without a permit? Thanks for your advice.
     
  4. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Kevin, in my experience, as long as you aren't causing problems you should be fine. If approached, play dumb and ask how to get one.

    Through work. we actually did quite a bit of filming in NYC last year and didn't have one permit. This was in and aroun Central Park, and Times Square. The only one who gave us any trouble was a grounds keeper in Central park.

    Brian
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Depends. If you try to shoot in midtown or the financial district in the middle of the day, or in the parks along the water from about the South Street Seaport down to Battery Park and up the West Side of Manhattan to about Chelsea or maybe midtown, you are likely to be confronted by the tripod police. If you try to set up a tripod on a busy sidewalk, you'll probably be asked to close it an move along--though you may be able to get that shot if you do it early in the morning, when the light is probably better anyway (depending on which way you need to be facing). If you're in one of the parks along the river, usually they will ask you if you are photographing for any commercial purpose, and as long as you're not, they'll usually leave you alone.

    If you're in Central Park or the outer boroughs or upper Manhattan or less public spots, the police usually have other things to worry about.
     
  6. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Thanks for your advice, Brian and David.
     
  7. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Hmmmmm....this seems to be more directed to commercial usage especially related to motion picture work, although from what I've seen of large scale fashion shoots, it would probably be required there too as van parking and sidewalk blocking equipment would certainly require making prior, and official arrangements. My sense is that this is similar to what the national parks require as well....their concern is with commercial photography. Nothing I read on the link mentioned tripods at all and, if taken too literally, would proscribe even handheld photography by tourists which is as common in NYC as gum on the sidewalk.

    That said, all of Prof. Goldfarb's suggestions are spot on. Stay out of the way and you'll probably have no problem at all.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I was last in NYC (this past fall), I was stopped by no less than 3 patrol cars on suspicion of photographing a bridge and or a subway station. They were probably holding the permit back incase there wasn't a bridge or subway station within camera shot.

    Meanwhile, I have been told by people in Swansea Wales, Detroit MI, Toronto Canada, Portland Or and a few other locations that slip my mind that I need a permit to shoot here, people or whatever my camera is pointed at. I generally ignored, ducked, or in what ever manner possible, avoided these individuals thinking they were nuts and that you don't need a permit.

    After telling this tale to The Professor he recommended I print myself up an international photo permit.
     
  9. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    It would take some major cajones to do, but printing up an official looking document signed by G-D and telling whomever, with calm assurance and authority, that you belong there would probably get you past everyone except the lunatic fringe element in homeland security. I, for one, have cajones of very modest size and will NEVER test this theory ;-)
     
  10. roteague

    roteague Member

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    What a sad, paranoid society we are living in :sad:
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's pretty common to see people photographing with tripods in Central Park--large format, 35mm, big glass for bird photography. You even see pros and students doing model shoots, and during certain seasons, Chinese wedding photographers and videographers are ubiquitous. You're not too likely to get stopped in Central Park if you're not using lights.

    If you're photographing a bridge in a very visible spot where there's a lot of traffic, then you're more likely to get stopped. I'm photographing the Riverside Drive viaduct all the time, and I've only been asked questions by passersby interested in the big camera. In certain places, like the West Village, you'll see painters with easels set up in the street.

    In general you don't want to be set up with a tripod and an LF camera in many of the places you'll be asked to pack up anyway, just because there are too many people around, and it's easy for things to get jostled, and you have to watch everything more carefully.

    In some places it's a commercial issue. Some places it's more a safety issue, and in some places it's a "Homeland Security" issue.
     
  12. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

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    When I was in the city last June I decided to take some shots of CBGBs (where the Ramones got their start). It is a pretty busy area around there (Bowery & Bleeker, basically 2nd street - which is now Joey Ramone Place). Anyways, I set up my tripod next to some parked cars and after I finished getting my shot a cop came by and said "You should have been here about a couple of months ago when they were celebrating the opening of Joey Ramone Place- you would have got some great shots then." I thought that I was about to get hassled, and the cop was just being friendly- that's the only time I've ever had someone approach me while I was shooting in the city (although I usually don't shoot with a tripod in busy areas).
    -Grant
     
  13. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I agree.
     
  14. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My encounter was in the strategic hot bed of Queens.
     
  15. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Thanks Dave for the permit info.....I will be in town Feb 7, 8, 9 for a quick visit....for this one I just might Wee Gee it with the graflex, hand held street scenes, and the trusty Nikon, I am planning a longer visit in the spring and would like to bring one of the big boys, so will follow up on the permit info.

    thanks again
    Dave in Vegas
     
  16. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    The only time I was ever asked for a permit in Toronto was the time I was shooting flower macros in a greenhouse. I played dumb and said I thought you only needed a permit for wedding photography. (they have signs stating this at all entrances like most greenhouses) The keepers reply was "Oh, Okay." and said I should come back in a couple of weeks as the cactus will be starting to bloom.
    Generally like most people here have said, I try not to set up in the middle of a busy traffic area. Off to one side, between parked cars, just off the boardwalk at the beach. Have been given a few looks, but very few complaints, and no tripod police yet.
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There it might have been cops with nothing better to do. Were you photographing the Triborough from the Queens side?

    In the East Village around CBGB's, even though there are a lot of people walking around, it's in general an area with a fair amount of artistic activity, and I wouldn't expect to have too much trouble there. Areas like, Rockefeller Center and Times Square or near City Hall, though, can get really packed in mid-day, and there are a lot of cops around who need to feel like they have something to do.
     
  18. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    BTW, the "no photo" signs on the NY bridges have, as far as anyone can tell, NO LEGAL FORCE. If you are hassled, ask what regulation the hassler is citing. And their badge #