The Photo Police Are On The Job


After my sunset shoot of the Burj Al Arab hotel using the wrong lens (posted earlier this week), I was determined to go back and shoot it the following night using the right lens–my brand new 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (The lens was a gift from my book publisher, Peachpit Press, who presented it to me, on stage, at the end of my “7-point system” class at Photoshop World as they announced that for the 4th straight year I was the world’s #1 bestselling computer/technology book author).

Since Jeff Revell and my brother Jeff had been stopped by the hotel’s security during the previous evening’s shoot, “The Jeffs” went to the hotel’s head of security to ask for their permission for us to shoot the hotel at dusk using a tripod. The security chief was very cordial, but asked to see Jeff’s camera, and once he did, he explained that they are very concerned about professional cameras and tripods, because they are trying to protect the image of the hotel and how their image is used or sold.

He went on to say that point-and-shoot cameras were not a problem, but as soon as DSLRs and tripods appear, it becomes a problem, but he was gracious enough to allow us set up and take “five or six photos,” and he gave us his business card, and told us to contact him so we he could give his security staff a heads-up that we would be out there shooting on tripods.

I planned my day around getting back for this “reshoot with the right lens,” but Jeff recommended that I set-up a little short of where they set-up the night before, because that would put a large white tent between me and where the security guards were the night before, so maybe I wouldn’t have to pull out that card after all. As it turned out, I was able to shoot without any intervention from hotel security (at least at this point), so I was able to get the shot I was hoping for (seen above–click for a larger version).

After I packed up my gear, I headed back for the hotel, and while walking over the bridge toward the hotel, I had a perfect straight-on view I hadn’t seen before, so I quickly set-up my tripod, and as soon as I pressed the shutter button once, a security cart appeared, and a security guard, in white Arab robe and head dress appeared (I knew why he was there).

I have to say, he was incredibly friendly and polite. He came right over with a warm friendly smile; and shook my hand as he introduced himself (He treated me more like he was welcoming me to the hotel, rather than telling me I couldn’t shoot it). He calmly and eloquently explained why they couldn’t allow the use of professional cameras and tripods, and he was so friendly and warm, that I didn’t even pull out the “head of security’s” card. I told him I understood, that it was no problem, and I packed up my gear while we were chatting. He thanked me profusely, wished me a nice evening; he got back in his cart, and was gone as quickly as he had appeared.

I wasn’t the least bit upset. In fact, I thought to myself; if all security guards handled these situations in the manner this guard had, you wouldn’t be reading all those stories about photographers getting hassled and abused by overzealous security. I think as photographers most of us understand and respect situations like this, and a little politeness, and professional courtesy, on both sides goes a long way.

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