View Full Version : NYC + LF camera

08-05-2008, 11:44 PM
I live in Long Island and I am in the process of buying a LF camera.
My question is regarding the need for a permit to shoot with a tripod in the city. With LF I will be shooting only with a tripod. Does this mean I will need a permit everytime I go in the city to take a couple of shots?
Anyone has experience about this?


08-05-2008, 11:53 PM
Thats ridiculous. Dont let some idiotic, unenforceable law to stop you from taking photographs. I've lived and photographed in the city my whole life and have never had a problem. Its also illegal to lean against the subway doors, but have you ridden the subway lately?

david b
08-06-2008, 12:28 AM
You will not need the permit.

You will need a permit, I believe, if you are using models and other equipment.

David A. Goldfarb
08-06-2008, 04:28 AM
The regulations have been modified a couple of times in the past few years. Generally, individual photographers working with a tripod don't need a permit in the city now, as long as they don't have a crew of 5 people, and aren't using equipment like lighting that involves stretching cables on the sidewalk.

There are places where other regulations apply, like Grand Central Terminal (ask the Station Master for a tripod permit to shoot at times other than rush hour), or Battery Park and other nearby parks (permit required for commercial photography), or outside the New York Stock Exchange building (lots of security there), and you should avoid blocking busy sidewalks or creating a hazard, but otherwise it's not a problem. If you're not shooting in a busy pedestrian area, you're very unlikely to have any problems.

Don Wallace
08-06-2008, 09:15 AM
I was also worried about this before going to NYC in March of this year so I called the city to check it out. The woman on the phone asked how many people I would have in my crew. I replied "just the wife." This was followed by a short pause after which I was told I did not need a permit for a tripod. You only need a permit to shoot with a crew (other than "the wife") and other equipment.

I was advised to use common sense and not get in the way. Good advice because New Yorkers, while mostly very polite and helpful to tourists, are people who are generally on the go and they WILL trample you (mostly verbally) if you impede the flow, so to speak.

There is SO much to photograph in NYC. I had plans for some very specific photographs but wound up getting sidetracked continually and sometimes got no further than a few blocks in half a day. Some urban sociologists use the term "inexhaustible city" to describe places like Manhattan. No matter how much you see, there is always more.

08-06-2008, 09:33 AM
or outside the New York Stock Exchange building (lots of security there)

While there is a lot of security and police presence, and barricades running down the middle of the street, I've never been hassled while photographing there.


Bruce Osgood
08-06-2008, 10:19 AM
I was shooting the Brooklyn Bridge from the middle of the street in a triangle marked by zebra stripes, 4X5 on tripod. Two police cars passed steering around me and continued. They did not stop. No one interrupted me. I got my picture.

Have a good time.

08-06-2008, 11:09 PM
Generally you don't need a permit, but I get one anyway, especially if I'm shooting with a tripod. It's free and it takes less than a day, via fax. Here's the link: http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/permits/still_prcedure.shtml

Remember just becuse people get away with jay walking, doesn't mean it's legal. So you can go ahead and jay walk, just don't cite guidance from APUG as a defense.

Regards, Art.

08-06-2008, 11:17 PM
Thank you Art for the link. I bookmarked it for the future. I downloaded the form and I noticed that at the very top it asks the name of the Company applying for the permit. Should I fill it also if I am not a pro but just an amateur? How detailed are you in the descriptions? Have you ever had the permit not approved by them and, if so, for what reasons?
Thanks again!

09-09-2008, 03:26 PM
Hi Francesco, I used to live in the city and got the permits as Art directed all the time. It's easy and pretty fast. Only got asked by police once in two years that I was in the City. You can give a range of streets that you are going to shoot to give yourself some mobility. In the Company field of the form, I typically put "Individual Photographer." If you put the location is in a city or state park, it gets complicated as it may be another department. If you put your shooting object is a bridge or train station, you will get calls from the office as those are typically not allowed. Now that I am in Tokyo and can't wait to return next May. Happy shooting.

09-09-2008, 04:02 PM
Hopefully, you won't run into overzealous rent-a-cops who think they are interrupting a terror cell's plot by hassling a photographer. All this BS about terror plots being preceded by photographic reconnaissance is what people see in action thrillers based on fictitious incidents.

11-10-2008, 09:12 AM
Hopefully, you won't run into overzealous rent-a-cops who think they are interrupting a terror cell's plot by hassling a photographer. All this BS about terror plots being preceded by photographic reconnaissance is what people see in action thrillers based on fictitious incidents.

...and that's the worst you're likely to run into - an overzealous rent-a-cop.

08-13-2009, 09:20 AM
I have had a few times where I didn't have a permit and "the man" has made me leave, its a bummer. It just really depends on where you are and if your obstructing the sidewalk/street. It also totally depends on the cop.

Don Wallace
08-13-2009, 10:19 AM
I have to tell you my story. I was worried about this a couple of years ago before a trip to NYC so I called the city (office of the mayor, I think). I got transferred a few times and finally got a nice young lady on the phone who was trying to be very helpful. I asked if I needed a permit for a tripod. The conversation went something like this (somewhat streamlined):

NYL = Nice young lady
ICT = Idiot Canadian tourist

NYL: How big is your crew?
ICT: (after thinking for a few seconds) Well... there is the wife, but that's about it.
NYL: (after a long pause and, I think, a bit of a sigh) You do not need a permit.
ICT: Gee, thanks
NYL; You are welcome. Try not to block the sidewalk and enjoy your stay.

08-13-2009, 11:56 AM
They stay out of NYC :rolleyes:

08-13-2009, 04:24 PM
Some places in the city forbid tripods.
The Metropolitan is one. Most cops
will shoo you off if you try to set one
up on a subway platform.

08-13-2009, 08:50 PM
Anyone interested in a large format wander around on Governors Island this weekend?


PS Apologies for attempted hijacking of this thread

Don Wallace
08-18-2009, 09:32 AM
Does that apply to everyone or just Idiot Canadian tourists? Where do Intelligent Canadian tourists fall?

Interested Readers Want To Know!


I am tempted to say that Intelligent Canadian Tourists go to California, but that would just be to stir up another pot.