As I’m photographing the sunset outside of the Griffith Observatory, this guy comes up to tell me that photography is allowed but I cannot use my tripod to take pictures because I needed a permit to use it and that the park ranger will give me a ticket if he sees me. I responded with, “Are you serious?!?”. Not so much a question on my part, but more like disbelief that this guy would have the nerve to tell me what I can and can’t do in a publicly-owned park that is paid for with my taxpayer money. I can understand this policy applying to inside of the observatory due to safety reasons but I was outdoors in a corner by myself minding my own business. The guy proceeded to point out another photographer that was told to put it away as well.
Now this is not the first time I’ve had someone try to tell me what to do in a public place so I wasn’t buying it. Was the park ranger going to ticket me for exercising my 1st amendment rights? Give me a break; this is the United States of America, not North Korea. After responding with silence, he left and I continued going about my business. About twenty minutes later he comes back yelling at me, “Sir. You can’t use your tripod! I’m not going to tell you again!” Before I could turn around and offer a response, he had already walked off.
Though he had no right to force me to do something against my will, I ended up going to the other side of the complex because I was in no mood for bullshit and just wanted to pursue my photography in peace. I doubt I will be going back there for photography because it’s just not worth the headache, not even counting the 30 minute hike up the road that I had to do in order to get there. People should really mind their own business and focus on more important things than harassing others. The problem is that people assume that because you have a tripod that it means commercial photography (which does require a permit). No. Tripods are necessary to take good pictures when it’s dark outside!
Since we’re on the topic of photographer’s rights, here is a cool video that the ACLU recently produced on the topic.