I have heard it before but never experienced it for myself – until now.

For my latest project I am taking pictures of buildings designed by the Regency architect, John Nash. I am taking some during the day and some in the evening. Those of Marble Arch, the Institute of Directors, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket and the Royal Pavillion in Brighton all went well and without incident. However, when I moved to the steps between the two sections of Carleton House Terrace, things changed.

It was 8.00pm in the evening and already dark and I was using a tripod, an 18 to 200mm zoom lens and mirror up with a remote shutter release, but the place was deserted and I wasn’t in anyone’s way.

The way I read it was that someone left an office in Carleton House and had a close look at me as they drove from the car park in front of the building and into the Mall. About one or two minutes later, a police car arrived, went past me, did a U-turn and parked about six feet away, to my left. You can see their arrival in the picture below.

Nothing else happened. They were out of the cameras’ line of site; they ignored me and I ignored them. When I had finished, I packed my gear and walked away. I looked into the car but they appeared engrossed in paperwork.

Perhaps the rally in nearby Trafalgar Square when photographers protested about police intimidation has had some effect but clearly there is still something about a serious photographer with a tripod that disturbs people. Unless they park there every evening, of course – but I don’t think so!

Evening all

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One Response to “Big brother and tripods”

  1. John-

    I have experienced the same- at Liverpool Street Station, when in a spare few minutes i wanted to shoot the roof in full benefit of the filtered sunshine in a way that i have only ever seen there… (with my camera, of course.)

    I was quickly approached by security, who said i couldn’t take pictures for security reasons, and he would have to stand over me while i deleted the ones i had taken, or take my camera and (he implied) destroy it.

    I remonstrated, logically and clearly, that he couldn’t stop me shooting sly ones from my camera phone, that were i a terrorist or out to demonstrate structural frailties to a terrorist organisation, i would probably be better off picking up a copy of any architecture book from the last 100 years that cared to cover the lovely roof and contained far more detailed plans than i could represent in a photo etc. etc. But i knew as i was venting my gentle fury that i was speaking to the wrong man.

    I was assured that if i wanted to take pictures i could, but only if i contacted the station master, and was duly vetted and cleared etc. etc.

    Perhaps proper hobbyist photographers should come together and inundate all of the stations and buildings of strategic importants with facile requests to shoot them- maybe it would force a policy change with bureaucracy. For now though, anyone with a tripod is a terrorist, and terrorists just use an i-phone. What’s fair or logical about that?

    Awesome photo, by the way.


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