I saw something on the Washington Post's website today about this somewhat arcane law that can allow DC cops at their discretion to arrest and haul you down to the station for misdemeanor "offenses" that in the minds of most reasonable people would at best merit a citation (the case that brought this to light was a man who had expired license plates and was arrested for it. IIRC, he had out-of-state tags on his car because he was in the military and was only temporarily stationed here, and had just returned from an overseas deployment during which time the plates expired). While perusing the list of offenses which the police could arrest vice cite you, I came across an eyebrow-raiser: "Photographer - More than 5 minutes at location". Only five minutes???? I had to do some more digging to find out what that was all about. It turns out it specifically applies to licensed street photographers - the folks who set up those cheesy backdrops of spray-painted cars and palm trees and (at least used to) snap polaroids for $10. To be a licensed street photographer in Washington DC, it only costs you $25 (or $1... there's something I didn't quite understand in the reg about the licenses of Street Photography Business Licenses and Street Photography Individual Licenses). You must always display your badge and license while conducting business, and provide a card to the customer stating when their photograph will be delivered. The real kicker in the reg is this line though:
Section 523.2 - Each photograph shall be clear and sharp, and shall show no blur of focus or camera movement which affects the principal subject
So now the city knows better how to take a photograph than I do? (Not that I'm going to go around selling crappy photos, but I and my customer should be able to decide if they want an artsy/soft-focus/blurry/otherwise distorted image of themselves.
The complete reg can be found at: http://os.dc.gov/os/frames.asp?doc=/...4_chapter5.pdf sections 521-523.
Now that I know what the 5 minute rule is all about, it still boggles the mind to think you could somehow make money with setting up for no more than five minutes at a time. Heck, it takes more than 5 minutes just to set up the backdrop!