View Full Version : Photographer's Rights

03-24-2008, 08:59 PM
OK so last night I am leaving my Building (I work for a utility company in Boston)

I take a few photos of the building I work in, and this guy in a black suit (My Building's security guy) I recognized his face, taps me on the shoulder and says "no Photos"

So I say um. Ok no problem and he walks left and I walk left.

So the more I think of it ... its like Hey Wait a minute. I work for this company how can he tell me not to take photos of my own building ?
So I catch up to him show him my work ID and ask him.

"Hey How come no photos" He said "Its the company policy no photos of the building"

So I said "so a photographer has no rights anymore ?" and he said I Don't know buddy just check with the Building Manager tomorrow"

Well Anyhow....

Here is the photo.


Link to FLICKR


Any idea what I should do ?

Should I bother talking to the Building manager or just never photograph my building again ?

Need a little advice.

Greg in Boston.

03-24-2008, 09:18 PM
Check this out here:


I've also been told a couple times that I was not allowed to take photos ... Once was in University Park in Cambridge when that new high-rise was going up, and the other was in the Seaport area when construction was starting on the Manulife building.

Ron Newman
03-24-2008, 09:19 PM
Neither. Ignore the security guy entirely and take more photos. You are outside, not inside, right?

03-24-2008, 09:37 PM
This is happening more and more often. Just remember? if it's a public space (including malls), you can photograph anything you like.

03-24-2008, 09:56 PM
Unterbau draws the correct conclusion. Your rights depend upon the spot from which you take the photograph, not its subject matter. If you were taking the photo on company property, it has the right to control the use of that property, including foolishly preventing your excellent work. Alot of what we consider to be public sidewalk is actually private property. If you look carefully, occasionally you will see little brass markers set into a sidewalk that mark the boundaries of the abutting building owner.

On the other hand, if you chose to walk across the street from, say, a hypothetical art deco building owned by a hypothetical communications company, and then squeezed off a few shots from the hypothetical park, you could tell the black suited sphincter to piss off. Hypothetically, of course.

Toby, Esq.

03-24-2008, 10:52 PM
When faced with similar situations as described above think "reasonable expectation of privacy." As taken from the sidewalk obviously no reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Even within the lobby.

03-25-2008, 05:56 AM
That is all well and fine but don't get fired over a stupid picture.

03-25-2008, 07:47 AM
That is all well and fine but don't get fired over a stupid picture.

I thought about it all night.
Sorta didn't sleep well.

Gave it some thought and what I will just do in the future is just photograph the subject from across the street as others have mentioned.

As you have stated Scott ur right I really don't want to stir up the bees nest with a wiffle ball bat : )

Thanks to all who replied.


03-25-2008, 07:48 AM
For what's it's worth, that is an awesome picture.

Not worth get getting fired over, but awesome nonetheless.

03-25-2008, 09:29 AM
If you actually do get fired for what you were describing you have the potential for a very real wrongful termination suit against your employer. Feel free to contact myself or Tobyjug in the event the aforementioned occurs and, most importantly, feel free to take pictures.

03-25-2008, 10:19 AM
Yeah, while it's not worth getting "fired" over, you won't be fired. You'll have a nice little wrongful termination "bonus" coming your way if you do get fired, because you've done NOTHING wrong. It is the SECURITY that needs to learn the laws of photography -- not us, because all of the times I have ever been encountered by a security guard, I had done nothing wrong.

On the Christian Science Center (where I take a majority of my photos), I am encountered 100% of the time. but they're just wondering if I'm taking it for personal or business use. Plus, they DO have the right to not allow me to do so, because it's private property. But I just tell them that it's private use only (the truth), and they let me go on.

03-25-2008, 01:23 PM

03-25-2008, 02:42 PM
LOL ! ! !

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NEW INFORMATION - updated 3/25/08 3:38 PM
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Well I just spoke to the "building Manager" he was very cool very laid back.
Just said it is company policy no photos of the exterior or interior of the buildings.
He said Especially the mural as it is worth. Well I won't say what he told me what it is worth.
But long story short. He said the sidewalk is company property as well so my best bet is to just cross the street and I should be all set.

Funny thing Is the guy who busted me was right there and didn't say a word : )

So I do have my rights - I just need to be a couple feet away. and it's all good.

but I will never be able to get this shot across the street. Glad I got it when I did : )

Thanks again for all the comments / support / advice.
~ Greg

Ron Newman
03-25-2008, 02:45 PM
The sidewalk cannot be company property. He is wrong.

03-25-2008, 02:50 PM
The sidewalk cannot be company property. He is wrong.

It is.
I just walked around and there is a line about a third the way around that marks the property.

The very very very edge is public property

so about a third of the sidewalk is theirs.

Thats why the city pushes these businesses to clean up their sidewalks during snowstorms because it is not "City" property . . .

03-25-2008, 02:50 PM
Most of that sidewalk is indeed company property. You can see metal markers at every corner noting the demarcation point. They are required to post notices every few years to this effect. (I remember seeing this a while ago).
There is lots of legal caselaw on just this subject.

Ron Newman
03-25-2008, 03:11 PM
OK, but in that case, you can certainly stand on the city's part of the sidewalk and take as many photos as you like. Provided you aren't blocking the sidewalk with a tripod, of course.

03-25-2008, 05:49 PM
I wonder about that. The town of Billerica has a six foot easement on the front of my property for a sidewalk which I am required to maintain in the winter. Do I have to right to tell people they cannot use it? What kind of uses would be allowed? Can a person stand on that sidewalk and take pictures of my house without my consent?

btw-The sidewalk is also in bad repair and I considered repaving it but my neighbor warned me that I would then be liable if someone hurt themselves on it. I wonder if that is true?