Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Government Morons

August 2012:

Houston Texas…….

One of the common reasons given for being wary of photographers is that terrorists commonly use cameras as part of their information gathering tactics prior to devastating attacks.

The disconcerting video link below is a terrorist prevention video that was funded by the Department of Homeland security and uploaded to Houston’s city website back in January 2011. Starting at 1:42, it attempts to convince people that photographers may be potential terrorists, and that the police should be called if one appears to “hang around for no apparent reason.”


September 2010:

Once again the TSA tops the list of stupid government agencies pissing away millions of your tax dollars with no accountability.

Hey all you dumb asses out there. Photography is not a crime.  If it’s legal to be someplace it’s legal to take photos, period. (At least in the US, Britan and Germany) Other places you find out quickly that you don’t have real freedoms like the USA amendments.

TSA just Copied from Joe McCarty:

September 2010:

Amtrak comes in a close second to the stupidest organization possible.

At the same time AMTRAK is running a “picture our trains” photo contest for the company calendar their goon squad keystone cops are arresting people all over the country for taking pictures of trains.

One afternoon, Duane P. Kerzic was arrested by the Amtrak police while taking pictures of a train pulling into Pennsylvania Station. At first, the police asked him to delete the images from his camera, but he refused. He ended up handcuffed to the wall of a holding cell while an officer wrote a ticket for trespassing.

Mr. Kerzic, a semiprofessional photographer, proceeded to describe his detention on his Web site and included images of the summons. He also hired a lawyer to sue.

In due course, Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” arrived to sound the gong. He turned the Kerzic story into a segment called “Nailed ’Em.” It mocked Amtrak without mercy.

“Finally,” Mr. Colbert reported, “Kerzic cracked and revealed the reason he was taking his terrifying photos.”

Mr. Kerzic appeared on the screen.

“The reason I was taking photos of trains is that every year Amtrak has a contest; it’s called ‘Picture Our Train,’ ” he explained.

Soon after the show was broadcast, a strange thing happened. The section of Mr. Kerzic’s Web site that dealt with Amtrak all but vanished. His lawsuit was settled, and as a condition of the deal, he had to remove his writings about the episode. Now his page on Amtrak — at — contains two words: “No Comment!”

Mr. Kerzic and his lawyer, Gerald Cohen, both said they couldn’t talk about what had become of the Web pages describing the arrest and his commentary about it. Carlos Miller, a photographer and blogger who followed the case, reported that Mr. Kerzic received a “five-figure” settlement.

The contest for 2010 was canceled.

Amtrak has issued conflicting policies:

Photography ok in general publicly accessible areas and on trains by passengers. Then they go on to say that a train station rail right of way and any place they decide at any time to be restricted is not ok to make photos. Then they take another step and say that the train station platform where you board the train is not public unless you have a ticket.

Small mined stupid rules based on paranoia of  government morons.

Homeland Security pays photographer and returns equipment:

October 2010

The Federal Protective Service has agreed under a legal settlement with photographer Antonio Musumeci to send written instructions to all its officers and employees stating that individuals have a “general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces.”

Musumeci won a lawsuit against FPS, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, after his arrest last November for taking photos in front of a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.

The settlement agreement also extends to photography outside other federal buildings, stating “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local regulation, rule or order.”  The agreement was negotiated with the New York Civil Liberties Union and certified in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. It could clarify security rules that photographers have long complained are unevenly and arbitrarily enforced.

Musumeci, who works with the radio show Free Talk Live, was videotaping a demonstration on the sidewalk in front of the Daniel Moynihan US Courthouse in New York City on November 9 when he claims an officer from the FPStook his camera and issued him a ticket. He continued recording the encounter with another camera but, according to the lawsuit he filed against the Department of Homeland Security in April, the officer retained his memory card.

Homeland Security has agreed to pay Musumeci $3350, including court costs and attorney’s fees. The agency will also return his memory card.

Michael Keegan, chief of public and legislative affairs for  the Federal Protective Service,, said in a statement that the settlement “clarifies that protecting public safety is fully compatible with the need to grant public access to federal facilities, including photography of the exterior of federal buildings.”

While the case clarifies the limits of federal statute, photographers who want to take photos of federal buildings may still find themselves treated like a terrorist.  Local and municipal laws regarding photography in public places still apply. Also, the settlement states that law enforcement officers are not prohibited from questioning photographers to find out “the purpose of taking the photographs or the identity of the individual,” or from “taking lawful steps to ascertain whether unlawful activity or reconnaissance for the purpose of a terrorist or unlawful act is being undertaken.
A copy of the settlement can be found here.

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