On Friday morning I was walking with Frank Zafiro, a Spokane author, about the locations that inspired moments in his books. We arrived at the Post Street Bridge to talk about its use in Beneath a Weeping Sky. I looked over the edge, down toward the Spokane river and that’s when I saw a bike sticking out of the water.
My inner photographer screamed out to take a photo, so I did. I brought it back to the station where I wrote a light-hearted “moment” about how, why and when it got there. I even contemplated its future. At the end of the 5 p.m. newscast, to keep the conversation going, I posted it on Facebook.
And oh, the conversation continue.
Apparently, there are some people in this world that do not enjoy a casual moment on Facebook. There were some who appreciated the humor and savored the story for what it was, just a light-hearted piece. Others thought it was not newsworthy. They’re right. It was not. Does that mean we can’t post locally relevant photo driven stories? What about all those sunsets and sunrises that viewers and readers go nuts over? I’d think those go in the same category.
One person hated it so much they recommended we make up the news because the “meth heads won’t know the difference”.
Other readers were quick to present the opposite opinion. One reader said it reminded her of home in Amsterdam, the bike-in-the-canal capital of the world.
Some wondered if it was their own bike. Some said that an effort should be made to rescue it. Some said it was better than hearing about war and death.
This begs the question, what do viewers and readers really want to hear? They’re quick to offer comment about a story they don’t like, but when there is real good happening they ignore it. They’d rather be aghast then proud.
It’s the nature of the beast.
A lot of people ask me how I gain access to unusual places for photography. Whether it’s hospital helicopter pads or missile silos, there’s a common theme behind each location – I ask.
Asking permission sounds scary at first. What if they say no? Is it a stupid request? The individual you’re asking might act a little off at first, but only because this is a rare question sent in their direction. In my experience, they’ve always said yes.
There are conditions. In some situations, you may need to be escorted around. When this happens, I keep my stay short and sweet. I know exactly what I’m doing when I go in. I don’t want to waste any one’s precious time. I’m courteous to those who are willing to show me around because I’m on their turf.
This was the situation for visiting the Bank of America Financial Center Wednesday morning. With permission from the property owners of the building, a security guard escorted me to the rooftop where I proceeded to take some shots of the surrounding downtown area. It took fifteen minutes max.
Read More: Photo Gallery: Great Views of Spokane
There was paper work involved. With locations like this, sometimes they may supply you with a liability waiver. This is for worst case scenarios. A lot of things could go wrong twenty floors high. They have a yellow line marking the boundary from the rooftop ledge for a reason.
Share: I’m interested to know your experience for photography on private property. How did you gain access or were you rejected?
While I’ve never experienced anti-photography motivated interaction in Spokane, I recall the moment I stepped off a train in Washington D.C. in 2009.
I was on my way to my over-night stay with Twitter friends. I was about to enter a cross walk when across the street I spotted three men folding a flag from the flagpole outside the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives. Abbreviated as ATF, originally they didn’t handle explosives until after 9/11. I thought men folding a flag would make for a great photo. I whipped out my camera, aimed… and next thing I know those men are running at me and I’m just a 22-year-old squeaking in shock.
Apparently, I can’t take a picture of men folding a flag directly in front of the ATF building. Oh, wait. Actually I can. (Well, now I can.) Public place? Fair game. Why? If I couldn’t, it wouldn’t be constitutional.
In 2010, the United States District Court, Southern District of New York supported photographer and journalist, Antonio Musumeci in his action to photograph a federal building from a public place.
Under the settlement, announced Monday by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Federal Protective Service said that it would inform its officers and employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces” and remind them that “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography by individuals from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local rule, regulation or order.” – (Read more at The New York Times)
My situation happened in 2009, but if it had happened after this court case, those three men folding a flag outside the ATF building would have had to sit tight and let me do that photography thing I do.
In London, a group called “I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist” are battling counter-terrorism measures that would allow senior police officers to authorize a time and geographically limited power for officers to stop and search individuals without suspicious that an act of terrorism will take place. A launch party for this organization resulted in this pamphlet [.PDF] that describes the history of photography rights violations and what they’re doing in future to project rights.
ACLU has provided an updated list of photographer rights that includes the 2010 change of including federal buildings.
When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society. - (Read more at the ACLU)
As for that picture I took outside the ATF building, for the life of me I have no idea where it went. [Insert government conspiracy here]
The Liberty Belle B-17 Bomber, that I had spent years photographing each time it came into Spokane, crash landed near Chicago this morning. It burned in a field four miles southeast of Aurora Municipal Airport. The pilot had reported an engine fire so he brought it down in a cornfield near Highway 71 and Minkler Road. All seven people on board made it off the plane.
The Liberty Belle was built in 1944 and restored in 1992 for the Liberty Foundation [website is down as of 9:45 a.m.]. It toured the United States annually and once a year would land at Felts Field for a weekend of tour and flights. You would have seen it flying low, with gusto in 2010 and 2009. UPDATE: It was not the same one here during the first weekend of June. I can only describe the take-off of the plane as a roar and then you’re lifted into the sky.
From the look of the photo above, I can only assume the plane is a total loss. Hanging above my desk is one of the photos I took of the plane in 2009. Now when I look up, I’ll remember that it no longer exists. Below are photos I’ve taken of the plane over the past few years.
Portrait sessions might be my favorite thing in the world. Especially when they’re with two friends that make me laugh and are not afraid to open up to me. Fear is the biggest hindrance to portrait photography. Fear is what produces your run of the mill senior portrait with the toothy smile resting on the fist. I entered the home of my latest subjects and that environment brought the best out for everyone to see.
Not gonna lie though, they’re a little strange. The first thing they did was a position called, the Furry Tractor. I would say that was the moment where everything became weird… in a good way. We got to the bottom of who this couple was, what made them tick and why they obviously adore each other. This was a dream portrait session that laid everything on the table.
You can tell by the environment that this couple lives for the unusual. Every wall has unpredictable art including artless frames. Every piece of furniture probably sat in five previous owner’s residence. The boyfriend is okay with wearing pajamas tops with their girlfriend’s red scarf, while the lady is very okay with letting him mount her… for a piggy back ride. I hope for more portrait sessions like this.
If you know of two individuals who are crazy for each other and the lime light, let me know. I want to take their picture.