photography is not a crime

September 30, 2007


Friday was my beautiful, charming niece Chelsea’s 18th birthday, and a pretty good cross section of our extended family celebrated it Saturday night at a popular Los Angeles tourist attraction. Tom and I had a blast breaking bread, swilling down chianti and reconnecting with folks we hadn’t seen in a while.

When my family gets together, we resemble a small mob. We laugh loudly, talk a mile a minute, hug, dance around and bump into passersby, waving our hands wildly in an effort to accentuate our rampant story telling. It’s quite a scene, and I try never to miss any of these wonderful gatherings.

Tom, having a photojournalistic background is never without his trusty Canon 5D. A cool camera, very professional and impressive looking. (Takes good photos too.) Tom has been recording family events throughout the seven years we’ve been together. He does a top-notch job at capturing precious moments, humorous, poignant and everything in between. He’ll disappear from time to time, and when he does I know what he’s up to. He’s on photo safari. He’s wandering around, shooting colors, moods, taking advantage of interesting light. He’s shooting faces of folks walking around, known and unknown to us, and freezing moments for all eternity.

It was while he was doing this that some of us in the group noticed no less than 7 security guards approach the area we were inhabiting. What on earth could be going on requiring so much muscle? A robbery, a gang situation, Al Queda?

No. It was Tom. Tom taking photos.

According to the spokesman of this crack security team, someone had called in a complaint. About what, I wonder, criminal photography? Tom was asked to cease and desist with the photo taking. He was incredulous, as we all were. This is a tourist attraction, for cryin out loud! A place where photo taking is what you do! Canned photo ops everywhere, from headless statues of football players you can stick your head atop, to giant King Kong signs hanging in your face, begging for their close ups.

As the pseudo-cops asserted their authority, everyone in our group struggled to get their two cents in. We grilled them for answers, like, why does it take 7 security guards to stop a person from taking photos? The short, surly female security guard assured us they had no idea of the nature of the call. I think it was at this point that Chelsea yelled “Freedom of the press!”

While Tom continued to argue his point, some of us began to murmur and complain about our rights. “What’s happening to our civil liberties?” someone shouted out. My sister Joni mused about whether this would be an appropriate time to exercise some civil disobedience. Perhaps all of us could walk by the security guards, all 7 of them, and simultaneously take cell phone photos of them. Hmmm, maybe not. Outrage was definitely the mood of the moment.

I began to spout off about how I guessed as long as people continued to shuffle along, braying like sheep and grossly consuming everything in their path, they wouldn’t be hassled. Whatever you do, don’t stop consuming. Do not show emotion. They’ll find you!

Ironically a recording of the Beatles “Revolution” started blaring from a speaker above us. So in a last ditch effort to make a statement, my brother-in-law Cliff began shouting “You say you want a revolution? You say you want a revolution?”

About this time an armed deputy sheriff showed up, convened with the security guards briefly, then started eyeing us.

Our outrage dampened, we moved on.

It’s probably a good thing too. About 30 minutes later my sister Susan recounted a scene she had just witnessed. A good number of the same rent-a-cops that leaned on us earlier, had some poor slob down on the ground, handcuffed. He was yelling, “But what did I do, what did I do?”

Perhaps he had taken some photos?

And with that…we left.

2 Responses to “photography is not a crime”

  1. Joni Says:

    oh my good golly ineed, you said a mouthful there linda! not only did your drawing depict the situation as accurately as can be, but you also described in accurate detail what happened. how do i know? i was there. i chased some of those “rent a cops” upstairs while they were in hot pursuit of some other hardened criminal tourist, but i missed the actual arrest. I thot members of our group were getting into more trouble, so i went to their rescue instead. I can only hazard a guess that the man on the ground in spread eagle position in front of his entire family was possibly drinking out of the wrong water fountain……..!!!!!!!!!! but i digress………. I have only to venture a guess that it must have been a very very slow night for the barney fifes of the place!!!

  2. artseafartsea Says:


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