Well, by now you all know that the government shutdown has broken history, as the longest shutdown in U.S. history. And no matter what side of the argument you’re on, I think we can all agree that the shutdown ultimately impacts us as a country.
As photographers, it impacts us in multiple ways. From national parks and museums being closed, to long security lines at airports, it’s important to be prepared for your next photography journey. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
If you’re in a large metro area, be prepared for longer security lines. Take Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP), a Delta hub. According to the StarTribune, average wait times last Saturday — which is considered a nonpeak day — were 41 minutes. Compared to a typical wait before the shutdown? 10 minutes.
On Sunday, wait times averaged 35 minutes — second only to New Orleans, which hosted an NFL championship game. The airport is now recommending travelers arrive to the airport two hours in advance for domestic flights, and 2-1/2 hours for international flights.
The worst airport wait time belongs to Atlanta, with an average wait time of 41 minutes. Newark comes in third with 26.7 minutes, followed by Seattle-Tacoma (23.6 minutes) and Miami (23.4 minutes).
Why the long wait? Nationwide unscheduled absences of TSA security screeners at MSP are up to 10 percent, compared to 3.1 percent a year ago.
To really get through security quickly, TSA Precheck is your best bet. And if you can’t get that quickly enough, look at smaller airports. For me, my local Grand Rapids airport has announced they have not been impacted at all by the shutdown. Oftentimes at these airports, the regular security line is quicker than the Precheck line!
Parks and museums
Several national parks and museums are also now closed to the public. Some, however, remain partially open to the public. Despite being partially open, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same experience. Staffing is a concern, causing everything from maintenance issues to damage to the parks. Simple tasks like emptying out the trash might not even happen, due to lack of staff to take care of it. Needless to say, those breathtaking views might be a lot tougher to capture.
In addition to this, public safety is also an issue due to lack of staffing. In the first 16 days of the shutdown, at least seven deaths were reported in national parks. Due to park rangers no longer being on-duty, the ability to get help in case of an emergency is much more difficult.
Unlike past shutdowns, the U.S. Copyright Office is open and working. This means you can register your photos for copyright and they’ll be processed just like they always were, without delay.
Just like the Copyright Office, the U.S. Department of State is continuing to accept passport applications and renewals. The processing times remain the same, too — 4-6 weeks for regular service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.