Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tripod Regulations

This past week it was brought to my attention that there are regulations set up to control the use of tripods in major cities such as New York City. I did a little bit of research on this subject to clarify any misconceptions. What I found was a PDF link from the Mayors Office that talks about the regulations that pertain to shooting in the city. Here is the link that provides the rules and regulations. There are also references to obtaining permits in-order to shoot.

I spoke with a photographer that I know makes regular visits to the city. I asked him if he has/had heard of such a law or regulation that was put into affect. He said that he does not know the details but such a regulation makes sense as mainly would pertain to professionals that would be doing commercial shoots or fashion type shoots, or anything related to portrait shoots that you would commonly use equipment like strobes, umbrellas, tripods, and reflectors. The main focus of the city putting regulations into affect like this, would of course be to make money off of the professionals by charging for a permit.

What I came across was a lot of jargon on forums discussing peoples opinions and what they found to be here-say. I tend not to believe what is being said in forums unless there are hard facts to back up the opinions discussed. What I did find interesting though, are the creative ideas people are using to avoid using tripods. People have been mounting tripod heads to baby strollers and placing weights or bags of sand in the stroller to weigh down the stroller in order to accommodate the weight of the camera. This seems like a creative way to avoid using an actual tripod. It is not something I would be found doing. I have also heard of people using a wheel chair and along the same principals as the baby stroller to avoid using a tripod.

I have never been stopped for using a tripod in public. I have had people stop and ask me what I was up to while I was shooting and using a tripod, but that was out of curiosity on their end. People are always curious when they see toys like tripods and mono-pods. The only negative issue I have received was when I was shooting at night a few weeks back. A pedestrian walking by me and a colleague who were shooting at night started saying that tripods are for people who cant hold a camera still. I do not know to many people who can make a 4 second exposure while maintaining the ability to hold a camera still. We laughed it off as the guy kept walking and yelling idiotic comments to us.

If you are traveling, I recommend researching the laws pertaining to photography. Each country has their own guidelines in which you must follow, or else you could end up in a situation that would be less than desirable. I shoot by a motto, "unless I am shooting in an area I am not allowed, no one will ever keep me from making a photograph, but myself". Don't let this article deter you from shooting with your tripod. I know come December when I make my way to New York City I will have my tripod hanging from my shoulder as I make my way around the city.

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