View Full Version : Protest the proposed MTA photo ban--Dec. 18, 2004

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Les McLean
12-22-2004, 01:50 PM
Excellent pictures David, thanks for keeping us informed. I'll be in New York next May so at least I come prepared to meet with some agro.

We in the UK are beginning to have similar problems in making photographs in public transport areas. I did my usual street photography workshop in Brighton in August and was stopped photographing in Brighton Railway station by the British Transport Police on the grounds that the group I was leading could have been photographing the station for terrorist purposes. There were 17 of us carrying about 60,000 worth of Nikon and Canon equipment and when I suggested to the police seargent that had I been a terrorist I would not have come mob handed but would probably have used my mobile phone camera to get the info she just about went balistic with me.

David A. Goldfarb
12-22-2004, 01:53 PM
Did you use the 4x5 Graphic?

Thanks, Alex. I used a Bronica S2A, Nikkor 50mm/3.5 wide open at 1/15-1/30 sec., Tri-X (TX) 120 at 800 in Acufine, and three backs for quick film changes so I could reload during the lulls. I'd have picked up some 220 since Bronica backs are switchable, but I seem to have a lot of 120 in the freezer. I shot around 50 frames.

The waist-level finder was great for over-the-head shots in the train.

David A. Goldfarb
12-22-2004, 01:55 PM
Thanks, Les. Be sure to let me know when you're in town. Maybe we can organize an APUG gathering.

12-24-2004, 03:28 PM
Sorry I missed this event. When I moved to the area, I didn't even know that photography is forbidden in the MTA. I found out when I pulled my Nikon F4e out and wanted to shoot some SCALA in the subway. After one of my first meetings at my company's NYC HQ, a bunch of us went out afterwards to do some sightseeing - around mid afternoon. Two NYC cops pulled me aside and wanted to know who I was, why I was taking pictures, etc... They let me go after about 15 minutes of questioning and some protestations from the group I was in. I often wonder what the outcome would have been if I were alone and certainly not part of a group working for a very large well known multi-national company happened to be HQed in NYC.

The several other times I was treated this way, were in so-called banana countries where freedoms are considerably curtailed. Interesting, eh?

Regards, Art.

12-25-2004, 10:23 AM
I was in NYC in April, first time since 1973. City really has changed for the better, but I was really pissed when I walked past some federal bldg and I had a camera around my neck. A guard started screaming at me "No pictures!" (As if I wanted to photograph it -- it was so ugly) I really felt like telling him...who paid for this building? My ****ing tax dollars. It also recalled scenes I had read about from people that visited the USSR and other eastern-bloc countries before the downfall of the commie system. A government that treats its citizens like terrorists, becomes the terror. Until we stop giving up our civil liberties we are in for more of the same. Maybe eventually common sense will prevail.

12-25-2004, 11:04 AM
It also recalled scenes I had read about from people that visited the USSR and other eastern-bloc countries before the downfall of the commie system.

This has occurred to me also. Years ago, I would hear the stories of people who traveled to the Soviet Union, who had taken a seemingly innocuous picture out the window of a train only to be set upon by the secret police, subjected to questioning and have their film confiscated. Back then it seemed so foreign and oppressive.

David A. Goldfarb
12-25-2004, 11:28 AM
Generally, in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, it was illegal to photograph in a train or train station, a police station or military installation.

12-25-2004, 11:42 AM
I was in northern China a few years ago, along the Amur River where it forms the border with Russia. I had a camera, another fellow a camcorder. It was a beautiful place and I took a lot of pictures. The fellow with the camcorder had some of the scenes on his tape erased by the police, later in the day after we had returned to the hotel. Pictures of a small unmanned sentry post (wooden, about 3 m high) left over from the days of tension between Russia and China. The police were very polite and apologetic and only erased the tape where the sentry post showed up. I had pictures of the same thing, but they never bothered me. The confusing part was the sentry post had no military value, at least that we could see. Other stuff, like old gun emplacements, they didn't care about, neither a nearby dam that one would think would be of some strategic importance.
I suspect they knew what they were doing was of no value, but if asked by a superior they could say they did something.

Dave Wooten
12-25-2004, 12:08 PM
I wonder if there is going to be a permit process i.e. like there is in some of the parks now if you set of large format equipment? 40" of bellows could house a grenade launcher I guess, or you could just carry it in your golf bag.

I know military can enact photo restrictions on bridges and certain structures etc. This has not been done, even here in Vegas with several military jet crashes this year and most recent last weeks Raptor crash--

I feel the protest was and is in order, I feel the prohibition of photography in any public place is a basic rights infringement.

I agree with David-the info is available in shops and even online and in news photo files....what is next, search and seizure of books and literature portraying the "forbidden"

01-11-2005, 01:38 PM
So where's this issue now that the MTA is putting the restrictions in force? I've photographed in Moscow extensively in the last year without a problem though the "organs" operate again there. But in NYC we're adopting the worst paranoia of the Soivet period...
Saw a protest against the police state on Union Square yesterday but what's up with the subway issue....?


01-11-2005, 02:28 PM
Photographers are not the enemy.

David A. Goldfarb
01-12-2005, 07:22 AM
Hard to say what next. _New York_ magazine is running a piece on it in the not too distant future. Cops we met in the subway during the protest didn't seem too enthusiastic about enforcing the rule.

Helen B
01-26-2005, 11:36 AM
I wonder if the MTA are considering a bonfire (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/24/nyregion/24cnd-subw.html?ex=1264309200&en=c77461e2450b9c59&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt) ban?

Or maybe the guy had a bonfire permit. Anyway, it's reassuring to know that security is tight and that the MTA are on the ball.


David A. Goldfarb
01-26-2005, 11:41 AM
No doubt he was using flash powder.

David A. Goldfarb
05-22-2005, 05:46 PM
Looks like the MTA has come to its senses--

May 22, 2005
NYC Abandons Plan to Ban Subway Photography

Filed at 6:09 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A proposal to ban cameras in subways to prevent terrorism has been dropped by police and transit officials. The move comes a year after city transit officials came up with the idea to forbid photography, videotaping and filming in subway stations.

The New York Daily News reported in Sunday's editions that police and transit officials said a ban is not needed to secure the nation's largest mass transit system.

''Our officers will continue to investigate and intercede if necessary, if the activity -- photo-related or not -- is suspicious,'' police spokesman Paul Browne told the paper.

The proposal by NYC Transit, a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had been criticized as too far-reaching by civil libertarians, photographers and some city officials.

Score one for our side.


05-22-2005, 07:03 PM
This is good news.

Our borders leak like screendoors on a submarine, we have god knows how many thousand miles of unpatrolled coastline, and the brains at Homeland Security think picture-snapping in public places will bring down the republic. It's all such a big farce. Gotta look at it as entertainment, or you'll go nuts.

jd callow
05-22-2005, 07:09 PM
I think we should credit David and give him a heart felt pat on the back for a job well done.

Alex Hawley
05-22-2005, 08:01 PM
Democracy at work - I love it.

05-22-2005, 10:38 PM
What's the world coming to when common sense prevails in politics?