Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Public Photos Not Allowed in Troy NY

I was surprised today when I read a topic in one of my favorite blogs which should have appeared in more than one of my local papers.   Across the country in San Francisco, Thomas Hawk  featured an important article published in the TroyRecord based in Troy NY about 20 miles from me.

The City of Troy, home of Uncle Sam,  has been threatening photographers at its public Knickerbacker skating rink. Signs recently posted say “Any type of camera usage is prohibited unless authorized by rink management. The city claims the new policy is designed to thwart pedophiles. A petty argument between parents is what apparently initiated the policy.  Families wanting to capture their kids on film aren’t happy and it’s not sitting well with the New York Civil Liberties Union who is threatening to sue the city 

Just recently I have been looking into laws governing taking photos in public.  The law and constitution is currently behind photographers. The magazine JPG recently did an entirely issue with 31 stories of harassment called “Photography is not a Crime”. 

I still am courteous, respectful and careful when snapping photos in public where kids are around.  I experienced one awkward situation when a women opened a conversation at local concert by threatening me with physical man-pain if I took a photo of her child. Luckily, I live in a small community where people know me and most parents ask me to include their kids in our community photos

Kids on Stage

In this case, while photographing this band, I avoided taking photos of these kids dancing and playing unless requested. When their parents allowed them on stage for the finale I judged it was appropriate and welcomed. Technically, I have the legal right to take as many photos as I want in a public place.

Update: I did see one reporter, Kumi Tucker at WNYT cover this story.  Click Here

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Blogger Erica said...

Wow, that is creepy.

I will say that whenever I'm at events where I want to take pictures of someone's children (like the photos I have up from the kids petting the Shilohs at the Pet Expo) I always ask both questions: 1) Do you mind if I take a picture with your child in it, and 2) Is it okay if this picture were to go online. So far no one has said no, but I figure it's common courtesy. I can't imagine a prohibition on taking pictures at all. Please continue to provide updates on this story.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently filed comlaints with the management at Knickerbacker Area and with the Troy Police Dept about the behavior of Jean Hetman at the rink. I know of others who have also complained.
The issue is not as simple as the "right to photograph in public places." I believe that most of us would agree if this were the only issue.
The issue for my family, and for others, is "at what point (if any) does a photographer cross the line and harass or annoy the subject?"
Jean Hetman has photographed the same few children on the ice, off the ice, in the lunchroom, in the bleachers, as they change shoes, walk outside, etc.
She trains her cameras (digital, video, and cell phone camera) at some children, coaches, parents, and staff from the moment they arrive at the rink until they leave.
She follows children to different parts of the building and out into the parking lot.
Although you may feel that this is a petty arguement between parents, some of us are concerned about this bizarre behavior and have asked for help from Troy officials.
I think that the rule that requires permission to take pictures is a well intentioned effort by the rink management
to limit Ms Hetman' abusive behavior. But the better response by the City of Troy should be to charge her with harassment, summons her into court and let an impartial judge decide if she is breaking the law or not.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for stopping by adding your first hand comments. The situation wasn't represented well by the press but it seemed obvious that someone person instigated this over reaction. I agree a single punishment using existing laws would have been more appropriate than punishing the public.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The City of Troy has its more than fair share of sex offenders residing there...

The City compiles a nice list on their website... take a look

7:33 PM  

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