I’m downtown DC this evening photographing some buildings as the sun sets. It’s a great night to shoot reflections on windows, something I enjoy in photographing buildings. And I’m making my way towards L’Enfant Plaza to begin heading home and there’s a perfect shot of the Dept. of Transportation building’s windows being intersected by its neighbor. A great mirroring image. So I stop, fiddle with my settings, set my stance, and begin photographing.
Well, it’s a long story but I’ll keep it short. Basically, one of the DoT security guys tells me in broken English that I cannot photograph the building unless I have a permit. I explain I’m on public property and can take pictures at will. I explained – repeatedly – that I’m an amateur photographer and take architectural photos. He says I can’t take the pictures. I ask to see where such a policy is written. He calls the supervisor.
Now, the supervisor was a nice guy. He seemed a bit confused as well, but I patiently explained that I didn’t need a permit to photograph. His counter? “Well, you know, terrorists walk around, taking pictures, plotting stuff. You could be one. So we can’t let you do that.”
Um, yeah, ok. Not. (I hardly look like a terrorist, people.) I explained the whole public property deal, told him I appreciated him doing his job – but that he was misinformed about photographing public buildings. There’s no permit required, nor do I need “permission.” Going inside? Different story. So we exchanged info – yeah, I cooperated because there’s no need to be a tool here – and then I went on my merry way after we shook hands. It certainly wasn’t a Union Station experience.
Unfortunately, the sun set and I lost the light. Oh well. At least someone got an education tonight.
Ain’t DC grand?