Blog Photography in Public and Getting Harassed by Security

by Kelly on June 18, 2012

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Up until recently, I took photos for my blog on my own private property or inside my home. Aside from a few nosey neighbors who peeked at me from windows or while walking their dogs, I never had to deal with any of the setbacks of doing photography or videography in public.

Which is why I was shocked by a conversation I had with a blogger friend of mine, who’s blog is known for spectacular photography and creative video. After chatting with her about how she overcomes the embarrassment of taking photos in public places, she mentioned how the worst is when she and her photographer get asked to leave the property by security.

Hold on…you get chased out by security?

Turns out, a few other bloggers I’ve met (all who have amazing photography on their blogs btw) have dealt with being harassed, scolded, and asked to leave property by security guards. It’s a part of taking photos or video in public that I’ve never heard mentioned before, but makes complete sense.

Bloggers who have some of the best and most interesting photos on their blogs, actively search out locations that are designed or landscaped in ways that photograph well. Often, great photography venues are private property, such as outdoor malls, retail centers, or corporate office parks. Most private property owners don’t allow photography on their premises for a number of reasons, but most notably:

  • Owners of any kind of public entity or brand like to control how their brand is seen and/or represented to the public. A photographer could circulate unflattering photos, or represent the property/brand in a less than company approved way.
  • Property owners don’t want anyone to profit off their brand or space. It can be easily assumed that a professional looking photoshoot (with a photographer, using a professional looking camera, taking photos of a well styled subject) are for profit. Most people will agree they would not be happy with someone trying to make a profit by using your property or brand for free.

In an effort to improve the photography on my own blog, I’ve slowly moved away from my tripod self-taken photos in my backyard, to location scouting with the newly anointed boyfriend/photographer. The result has been much better photography, and the results and response on my blog have been so positive, that I’m happy to keep going in this new direction.

But, wouldn’t ya know it, we got harassed by our first security guard yesterday.

Be warned new bloggers…if you want to take those beautiful photo shoots in interesting locations, dealing with unhappy security guards may be one of the major drawbacks.

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  • Cee

    Ack! Do share more about your first security guard harassment experience, Kelly. Did they ask kindly? Or were they rude? How did you and Mr. AN respond?

    A few months ago, while I was in the process of setting up my tripod for photo taking, a random guy came over to tell me that photos weren’t allowed in the area we’re in. It honestly had never crossed my mind that what seemed to be an open, public space would have such a policy. I apologized and started putting my equipment away. He asked to see my ID and I thought that was that. Until a few days later, I found out he reported me so I was called in by security. They read me their rules and gave me a warning. Whew! Thank goodness that was all it was. Most recently, I saw new signs posted with no photography allowed symbols. Hmm… I wonder if that was because of me, lol.

    I think every fashion/style blogger needs to go through this public-photo-taking-harassment as an initiation of sorts? ;)

    • OMG! I would have been so freaked out, I probably wouldn’t take photos for a month! I’m shocked they went to such measures with you, taking down your ID info and then calling you in to scold you! Come on…they’re security…not police officers! Bah!

      Security is so weird…when one approached us, he was very gruff and stern, as I think most of these guys suspect we’re up to no good, and treat us as such. He basically told us photography was not allowed and then started asking if we worked there (we were in an office park). Mr. AN does work there, and when he told him so, security got a bit agressive with asking exactly where. That was as far as it went though. I smiled nicely and apologized and just tried to appease him so he’d leave.

      I’ve been with another blogger on a few of her photoshoots and one security guard asked them to just not get any signs of any stores in the shot, while at another location, security walked right past them and didn’t even give them a second thought.  But I do know they’ve been shooed away by quite a few security guards in their blogging career…lol.

      I wonder if there is some magic line we can say that would make it ok…

  • I guess it’s good to know that I’m not the only one that has that problem!  I actually got scolded by a sales lady, but she wasn’t mean about it or anything, so I guess, my first experience wasn’t that bad.  I’ll just take it as a sign of initiation.

  • Hi Kelly! I’ve been following your wonderful AN blog for nine months now and just found this blog after starting my own a few weeks ago. Coming from LA, I guess I’m not as surprised to hear about security guards and rules while taking photos in public. I tend to assume that most locations here require a permit for video and photography, since it’s such a big business here. More “public” places like Disney Concert Hall or the urban lights display at the LA County Museum of Art are trickier since they encourage tourist snapshots, but are not consistent about cracking down on more professional setups. Even the management of the downtown loft complex I live in will sometimes chase people off the property for not having the proper photo permits!

  • Elle


    Thanks for the great insight on blogging. You have been
    an inspiration and a great help to mine. I really liked this article it really helped with a blog question that I had. Thanks again.

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