Houston Photobloggers’ Warren posted info on an experience he had recently while taking photos near the Port of Houston.
Well, after snapping a few of the water tower, a silver SUV pulled up wicked fast nose to nose with my brother’s truck. A fella got out of the SUV and proceeded to tell me what I was doing was illegal thanks to Homeland Security, and told me about a photographer who had taken pictures around the Port of Houston and the chemical plants and was now in jail (?). What I failed to realize as we were working our way through this area was the fact that we were 100 yards away from a Terminal of the Port of Houston (no, I didn’t know exactly what a ‘Terminal’ was until I asked). Terminal being any point where ships dock to transfer goods. Totally understandable I guess considering the world we live in.
I avoid confrontation, especially when I have my 5 year old son, and I don’t have all the facts. I was very accomodating, and to be honest, didn’t realize anything I was doing was illegal. I apologized and offered the film to him but he declined, taking my name and my brother’s license plate number instead. The whole experience was a tad nerve-racking and left a bitter taste in my mouth. I have a bad habit of getting lost in the moment, oblivious to everything around me. Lesson learned.
Laurie read my post and suggested I relate the story here, which I thought an excellent idea. This experience made me realize how little I know about the rights of photographers working in public (having worked in a commercial studio for almost 10 years). Laurie directed me to http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm for starters.
The thing that most people forget, if they don’t live near the chemical plants and the port, is that we’re in a high-security area. We’re in a high-risk area. When you hear about Houston being a prime target for terrorism, it isn’t Houston they’re talking about, it’s a few miles along 225 that meets a few miles along 610… and the innocent neighborhoods that happen to be in between.
Do you know what “shelter in place” means? Do you know to listen for the sound system, along Pasadena streets, annoucing an emergency (if needed)? Do you even know that the system is there?
I’m sorry this photographer had a bad experience. True, it could have been handled better. But I do understand why it happened.