Dear security guard,
I’m delighted that you have a good job, a nice uniform and a sense of authority. When exercising this newfound power, especially in the context of terrorism prevention, you may find the following hints and tips helpful.
- Almost everyone walking past your building is carrying a cellphone camera capable of taking pictures that can be blown up to 10″x8″ or larger. A very small number of these people (probably none at all) are terrorists.
- The likelihood of someone being a terrorist is not proportional to the size of their camera or the amount of equipment they are carrying.
- Anyone eyeing your building with bad intent is unlikely to do so by setting up a whole lot of gear and standing there very visibly for 10 or 15 minutes. Stealth is a far more likely strategy for someone who doesn’t want to be noticed.
- People in this USA are entitled to take photographs of pretty much anywhere that is visible from public property (with a few exceptions which don’t include your office building).
- You can’t profile based on race when you have suspicions regarding the behaviour of passers-by but many of you apparently believe you can profile based on camera equipment choice. Please ensure that you approach and interrogate all point-and-shoot totting grandmothers the same way you would a serious photo enthusiast.
- Telling someone they can’t use a tripod near your building “for copyright reasons” is a lame excuse that doesn’t mean anything. Please think of a better way to try to fob off people who are easily intimidated.
- Telling someone they can’t use a tripod “for insurance reasons” is also a cop-out. In case you find yourself talking to someone capable of thinking, please ensure that you can provide a more specific reason. Be prepared to explain why a tripod is an insurance risk. I can understand why, for example, swimming pools and trampolines could be a problem but I’ve never heard of a single tripod-related third-party injury that would cause insurance rates to change.
- When trying to defend your assertion that photographers pose a security risk, it is generally considered very offensive if you equate their risk to large truck bombs. I guess it is possible to pack C4 into a camera bag but a truck full of fertiliser or a car trunk containing a small thermonuclear device definitely pose a rather more significant risk. Do you approach all vehicle drivers to check whether they pose any risk to your building?
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime, here’s one of the threatening images I shot of your building yesterday (when no-one approached me to complain).
Dave Wilson (amateur photographer and tripod user)
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant as both humor and opinion, but does offer some practical advice on dealing with security guards and the “tripod police.”
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