Photography is not a crime

malls Dec 3, 2010

Tis the season for group holiday luncheons. Coworkers everywhere the holidays are observed gather at restaurants and homes to celebrate another year of working together and getting the job done. Such is the case at my day job. On Friday, December 3, 2010, we did just that. After a couple of weeks of planning and voting on a place to eat, we selected an Argentinian steakhouse at a local shopping mall.

Being the photographer in our group, I brought my gear along to take our annual group photo. Coincidentally, another group from our office was there celebrating as well. So when it came time to take a group shot, we had quite a few more people than originally planned. We gathered outside the restaurant (which was located on the outer edge of the mall) and began to organize ourselves for the shot.

That’s when the Mall Cops showed up. Apparently, it is illegal to take a photograph of a group of happy, well-dressed, well-fed people in front of a white wall. I explained to them that this group of coworkers just finished their Christmas luncheon in the restaurant and, as we have done for the last 16 years, were planning to take a photo to commemorate the event. He explained that photography of the mall structures was banned because terrorists might use it to figure out where to plant bombs.

I calmly explained to him that terrorists wouldn’t be using $6000 worth of camera gear and a troupe for 30+ semi-besotted white collar workers to discretely photograph key structural details of the entire mall and perhaps they should concentrate on guys furtively snapping shots with their camera phones instead. They too have no sense of humor.

A supervisor arrived and I repeated my explanation, adding that this group had just dropped about $800 to the restaurant. He reiterated the party line about photographer-terrorists, but since I managed to keep a level head and explained to him that the only recipients of the photos would be the people I was photographing, he grudgingly let me go ahead and take the photos.

I suppose it was a good thing that I didn’t point out that the mall administration was delusional to think that they have the power to repeal the First Amendment.

I’m done now.