Nearly Getting Arrested in Downtown Atlanta

Here is an HDR photo of downtown Atlanta from Olympic Park. This is not the shot I wanted, although I am still happy with it.

I had a run-in with the law this evening while I was with my friends Scott Kublin and Rick Shearer. Just next door to the Olympic Park is the aquarium and the Coke Museum with a big field in between. There were about a fifty people or so there at the park. I set up my tripod to take a photo of downtown and the Coke Museum was in the middle of the shot. A female cop of came over and told me I had to take down the tripod because I looked like a professional. Coke does not allow that, so she said. I said I’m a blogger with expensive toys and hardly a threat. Then she got quite huffy and agitated before telling me if I did not take down the tripod that I would be arrested.

This policy is absurd. She claimed that Coke is worried about their brand and image so professionals need special permission. So, it’s okay for amateurs with crappy camera-phones to take photos and upload to Facebook and Flickr? But not me, someone that can make their building look amazing? And they don’t want their pretty museum to be on a popular travel blog that gets over a quarter million visits a month and millions a year? Or even, who cares if I was not that popular and only 10 people saw it?

In fact, in the world of social media, Coke (and every other company with old-rules made by out-of-touch people) should welcome people like me that are making their brand even more popular.

And to think, I had just had a Coke.

Additional Note: There’s also quite a discussion happening over on the Facebook Thread and the Flickr Thread if you want to read even more about it! Thanks again for the interesting discussion and your insightful stories!

Nearly Getting Arrested in Downtown Atlanta (by Stuck in Customs)

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  • http://www.seimstudios.com Gavin Seim

    Very futuristic looking. I like it.

    As for the police officer, that’s just nuts. I’m sure you know your rights too, but the way I understand it from legal people is that if you were in a public place, anything that was visible from there is fair game legally and they had no right to harass you, pro or not.

    If Coke wants to hide their building from cameras then they have to keep it from public view.

    Gav

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Mulvin/667797993 Eric Mulvin

    And to think you made their city look so sparkly in that shot! I run into the same thing too as I’m sure many people here have. When I become rich and famous and own a big corporation or fancy buildings I will be sure to not make the same mistakes businesses today are making. Thanks as always for the amazing pics Trey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bret-Linford/688282523 Bret Linford

    Boy, when you bring out that tripod, you’re asking for trouble! Here’s a Scott Kelby anecdote: http://bit.ly/2lKera

  • http://mrtopp.com/ Steve

    The cop bit is confusing.

    First, is it illegal to take photos in a public place in Atlanta? My impression is that the answer to that question is “no”, though I will admit that I am not familiar with US/Georgia/Atlanta law.

    Was it a real police officer? If yes, then why was she enforcing Coke’s photography policy instead of preventing (or solving) actual crime elsewhere? Why is “Coke doesn’t like that” a reason for arrest?

  • http://www.31360.fr Fred Aubailly

    We really live in a funky world…
    I often witness the same situation. For example, a few weeks ago, I went to the museum of modern art of Toulouse, France. I asked if photos was tolarated inside. (I wasn’t sure as it’s filled with original piece of art). The told me it was ok as long as I don’t use any speedlight to not disturb people. Cool !
    As soon as I put the tripod on the ground, some guard jumped on me to tell me tripod are for professionals and are not allowed without permission. I tried to manage the situation but I failed…
    So in their point of view, it’s ok for people to take blurry/grainy photos that will end on facebook but it’s not ok to take sharp pictures… But which one will do justice to the subject ? The blurry or the good one ?
    :(

    Anyway, good shot as usual. Thanx.
    Fred :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martin-Mullins/1287080257 Martin Mullins

    Cool photo.
    I’ll make you a deal. You come to South Bend and shoot the Golden Dome of Notre Dame and I’ll personally escort you around….and drive my cop car!

  • http://www,flickr.com/nipunclicks Nipun

    Trey,

    Have read a lot about these issues recently – security guards, security personnel and cops… Per my understanding… anything in public view was legal. But don’t know state laws of GA.

    I have started carrying a legal information about photographer’s rights by Attorney Bert Krages. It can be found at the following link.. http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf and suggest everybody do the same..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Philip-Johnson/763124815 Philip Johnson

    what is a cop doing policing a private brand?
    to voice scott bourne what we need is a worldwide photographers day of protest for photographers rights

  • http://www.nuwomb.com Scott Webb

    I plan to print photographer rights. I have multiple links saved to pdf files and I’m going to be carrying it around. I bet if coke saw this, they would try and find out who this person was and kick them aside.

    brand police ONO!!!!!!

  • Luis Martich

    How about a PhotoWalk to the Coke Museum ? Imagine few hundreds of photographers placing their tripods at the same time and READY to shoot. :) Maybe the police calls for the “Special Squadrons Anti-Tripods Division” …. BTW, the photographers could have Pepsi drinks by their side… Cheers !!!

    PS – Given the choice, I always select Pepsi over Coke.

  • http://lightningpaul.shutterchance.com LightningPaul

    Great image! The flaring adds something extraordinary.

    In here in Europe they also don’t like tripods (or at least mine). Perhaps we should move to another planet.

    Or some time in the future we’ll have superb VR technology so we can hand hold our camera for a few seconds, then we won’t be needing our tripod so much anymore :-)

  • Jeremy

    Hi Trey.

    Sorry to hear about your run-in with the law. Have a look at this website for more information about photographers’ legal rights: http://www.photoattorney.com/

  • http://www.runningwithbulls.com/blog bernard

    Three things:

    1. I understood the law in America was that you can be in a public place taking a picture of a public place. Granted, Coke’s Mueseum to their illegal liquid (it used to have cocaine right!?) is not a public place, but you weren’t making a photo of it.

    2. I’d have stayed there, asking her to cite the law underwhich it was illegal to make that photo. If she did not, take her badge, and report her. These people need to be corrected, or fired.

    3. This is your perfect reason to stop drinking Coke. Drink Jolt instead :)

    Sorry to hear about your trouble. Thankfully Ireland isn’t that bad, yet.

    Bernard

  • http://www.dolbyarun.com/blog dolby

    If those street lights have been out of focus the picture would be more stunning. Anyway, still the picture have come out fantastic.

    As for as the cops story, ahem, in India when i was trying such a shot by night (late night) the police on patrol caught be and started enquiring as if i am a terrorist. I was forced to pay 500INR as bribe to save my a**. Not sure how really good is “human rights” in US of A

  • http://www.flickr.com/scottcoulter Scott Coulter

    The City of Atlanta code only states that you need a permit for a photo shoot involving blocking of traffic, bringing in power generators, or a crew of more than 10 people. Nothing in there about tripods, of course.
    We have a plague around here of off-duty cops in uniform, providing security, traffic control, etc., for private businesses. Is that done in other cities as well, or is it just Atlanta? Seems like a bad idea to me.

  • http://www.flickr.com/scottcoulter Scott Coulter

    Found a better link:
    http://www.atlantaga.gov/mayor/off_specevents_photovideo_120606.aspx

    This one specifically says that one camera tripod is OK. If you wanted to set up light stands, then you need a permit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Moshier/513775196 Gail Moshier

    First, your photo is very stunning, even with the lights getting blurry, that’s the nature of lighting. WTG, I love this photo!!! As for that police woman, I hope someone in her department is a fan of your website and sees this!!! I can’t imagine Coke not wanting their museum plastered all over everyone’s blog, as you said free advertising. I am a diet coke person, myself. Maybe their can has contact info on it. I do not like pepsi, lol. Anyway, too bad you encountered such a negative person. http://www.dietcoke.com, going there and protest ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Moshier/513775196 Gail Moshier

    ok everyone, send in your protest to the above website via the contact us at the bottom of the homepage. I just did!!

  • ballet-lover

    Tripods generate tripods….
    The use of a tripod is severely limited in Paris it seems, in most buildings, and even on the grounds of certain places, like the Invalides, where among others Napoleon’s tomb is located. I was stopped there twice, once inside the church, then when I was shooting the church outside. I asked the gendarme why? Answer: “Because if we allow tripods, the next day there will be 25.000 tripods all over the place.” I retorted: “But only a few people have a tripod, no?” – “Oh yes, he said, only a few photographers use them, like you, the pros – and you have a beautiful camera, congratulations!” At that moment he must have realised I tricked him into talking complete nonsense and added quickly: “But the rules apply to everyone!” End of conversation with la Gendarmerie Française and the only thing I could think was that poor Napoleon must have been turning into his grave, once again.

    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.khowaga.us/blog/ Chris

    Ugh – I had a similar experience in Istanbul with a monopod! I was in the old Roman cistern, which is really dark, and the moment I started using the monopod I was rushed by a bunch of guards accusing me of being a professional photographer. Even the tour guide raised an eyebrow at that one.

    My Turkish isn’t good enough to try to explain the difference between a monopod and a tripod, so I just let it go, but … yeesh!

  • http://www.scottygraham.blogspot.com Scotty Graham

    Trey…can certainly understand your frustration…I just don’t get the tripod scare, and have fallen victim to the “Tripod” rule all over the world…what are they afraid of, really? We might get a good shot?? While in Turkey over the summer, I was told at many places I could not enter with my tripod, and when I asked why, they just gave me a blank stare and repeated the order…they had no idea why.

  • Phil

    There’s a blog called Photography is Not a Crime at http://carlosmiller.com/ talking about police abuses of photographers. If you can, try to use your somewhat high popularity to change policies around photography in public. The reaction and current climate in the US is insane.

  • http://www.runningwithbulls.com/blog bernard

    @Gail Moshier: good idea. I sent in my complaint to them, linking to the story here.

    I hope Trey gets an answer…Coke is, definately not, it.

  • Dwivian

    The thing you and others may not know — that field between the museum and the World of Coke is owned by Coke. It’s not a public place, though the public is allowed to be there. You were on private property, and thus they had rules they could enforce. Had you been in Centennial Olympic Park across the street you’d have been subject only to Atlanta law, which says you’re fine unless you have 10+ people or a generator!

  • andie

    You were on public property? any building is fair game. i always have this in my camera bag :http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf
    nothing scarier than a trip…well maybe a long white lens…
    I’m glad you didn’t get arrested…bc it would have been a pain to change everything from “stuck in customs” to “stuck in jail”

  • casusan

    Beautiful night shot of Atlanta – glad you didn’t get arrested!

  • SteveG

    And an incredible moonrise later that evening…

    Sometimes, rarely, Atlanta is a good place to be

  • http://helsinkippusa.wordpress.com/ PPusa

    I was just going to buy some Coke but after reading this I guess it will be Pepsi instead.

  • Anne

    Still a pretty awesome photo. Almost makes me want to go there, emphasis on the “almost.”

  • http://www.americain100days.com Tom Stanley

    Funny – I was inside the Coke business complex for the 4th of July and took tripod photos of that exact building – from on top of one of their own garages. Maybe you were there on the wrong holiday.

  • Julian DiDonato

    Well despite your run-in’s your picture came out great! I’ve been to the Coke Museum and have taken photos but I was going to the Aquarium and didn’t bring my tripod.
    Even in my law classes, we learned that anything that you can see with the eye from standing on public property has no expectation of privacy, and photography is allowed.
    Oh well screw them. Keep up the great work and keep being a huge inspiration! (i.e. to me! Who’s getting ready to purchase a Nikon D5000)

  • patlanta

    Looked out for you yesterday around Atlanta. There were clouds like you wanted during the day but so much haze that I wondered how your pictures were going to turn out. Your night shot is great, as usual. Looking forward to seeing more of your pictures of Atlanta.

    Hope you got some pictures inside the aquarium (absolutely amazing how many people use their phones to take a gazillion pictures). We were there a week ago and, in fact, my grandchildren were throwing a football around on the very field you mentioned–I used by P&S.

  • http://amandakern.wordpress.com Amanda Kern

    someone needs to send this to coke! I agree it’s a shame…your photography is amazing!!!

  • Facebook User

    you can do HDR hand held…haha!! btw…Diet coke is the BEST!! ;-)

  • http://photogumbostudio.blogspot.com/ Kim Dever Thibodeaux

    Wow! Got my first DSLR in December and bought my first tripod in February. Didn’t realize that qualifies me as a “professional”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Lyon/57803683 John Lyon

    There may come a time when photography equipment is good enough to get extremely high quality shots hand held.

    What then? Will cameras be banned?

    What if the electronics can fit in a cell phone?

    Will cell phones be banned?

    With apologies to Niemöller:

    They banned first the professional photographers,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a pro.
    Then they banned tripods,
    and I didn’t speak up because I don’t use a tripod.
    Then they banned monopods,
    and I didn’t speak up because I don’t even know what a monopod is.
    Then they banned the dSLRs,
    and I didn’t speak up because I use a P&S.
    Then they banned point and shoots,
    and by that time everyone had cameras in their cell phones and pens and eye glasses and hats and even woven into the fabric of their iCoats and iShorts, so all this “banning” stuff seemed pretty stupid and counterproductive.

  • Kathleen

    Trey, I have had alot of people in our photo club have similar issues and in the case of coke could it be they feel that taking a picture of the building is copyright infringement?

  • sarpent

    The unfortunate truth is that if you are brash enough to whip out your Photographer’s Rights pdf, the risk is very real that you will go from a private citizen who knows for certain that they have a right to photograph, to a criminal slapped with the very fluidly-defined Disorderly Conduct charge (aka Contempt of Cop) — and that charge will stick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Wilson/730559509 Dave Wilson

    I had a similar problem this summer in Glasgow though, in that case, I was inside a museum and told that I was free to shoot as many pictures as I wanted, of whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t set up a tripod. Thankfully, this was after I had shot the main tripod shots I wanted :-) In this case, the three security guards insisted the prohibition was “for copyright reasons” which makes absolutely no sense at all.

    While it doesn’t explain your current situation (where, as far as my understanding of US law goes, you should have been perfectly at liberty to shoot a photo containing the publicly visible Coke building from a publicly accessible park), I strongly suspect most of these tripod prohibitions are commercially based – the institutions want to make sure they have control over all photographs that are potentially sellable. By ensuring that you cannot adequately stabilise the camera, the thinking goes, the chances of getting a licenseable image are significantly reduced. In my case, I slapped on some faster glass and bumped the ISO up a couple of stops and got the rest of the images I was looking for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neil-Howard/1533150634 Neil Howard

    Nice image regardless of the painful situation Trey.
    I was taking hand held shots (which is my norm)in Israel(Tel Aviv) and a security guard (soldier?) yelled to me in Hebrew from a distance ( I was near the entrance to a carpark. Not understanding Hebrew, I just looked at him, and sort of gesticulated, “what?”. Bad reaction! He aimed his gun at my head a started to come towards me, talking in Hebrew. I just called “English, English!”. Then he said in English, “don’t you understand Hebrew?” , I said no! He asked me where I as from and I said Australia. He relaxed & put the gun down after a minute or two, much to my relief! After checking my passport he told me not to take photographs where I was, “for my own safety”. Needless to say, my apetite for taking photos was gone for the rest of the day!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Wonderful comments everyone – both entertaining and insightful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Layne-Packer/695459662 Layne Packer

    I guess it is OK to take a crappy picture (like this one http://tinyurl.com/lz8uzu) and post it on the internet.

    Keep the pictures coming. I love your work.

  • ballet-lover

    Browsing through these comments, we learn the following bizarre reasoning from those who stop us from shooting:

    1) One becomes a professional as soon as one carries a tripod.

    2) Only when using a tripod can one make sellable pictures. (cf the Glasgow experience.) That was also what they told me in Paris: all sorts of photography inside the building is allowed, including flash photography (and there were dozens of tourists flashing away), as long as you don’t use a tripod, because then it becomes per definition “commercial”.

    Well, we have a lot to learn…

  • Tim Lovelady

    In england, coke is something you put up your nose. Coca-Cola is something you buy from Tesco to mix with vodka.

  • Manfred Herz

    Wonderful picture.
    I’ll drink Pepsi in the future.

  • http://www.jaygoodrich.com/ Jay Goodrich

    You should have use your D700 or even a D300, and a wobbly aluminum tripod. Then no one would have noticed. I always use a 5D and a small zoom when I want to be discrete and look “innocent”. Pepsi is still not as good!

    Jay

  • http://planetdusty.com Dusty

    As I see from the comments, getting marked as a a criminal / terrorist is all too common once you bring the SLR rig out.
    My last run-in with the (Toronto) police had my friend and I handcuffed & illegally searched, and we were still nice enough to explain how to review photos on our cameras as we stood there in the rain getting our gear soaked…
    Because everyone knows that criminals casing parked cars and terrorists documenting their future bomb locations walk around in the middle of the day with very ostentatious $2000 cameras around their necks.

    I reviewed the official Toronto Police arrest procedures and studied up on my rights the next day… I don’t know if being more informed and assertive will work in my favour next time, but I’ll give it a shot.

    I really should have asked the cop to take our picture while we were handcuffed ha ha ;)

  • Ash

    That settles it. I am going down there this weekend to take a picture of the new World of Coke with a tripod. If I get any flak for looking professional, I’ll switch out my A700 for a P&S.

    I have heard all sorts of stories about the pull Coke has in this town, but nothing like that.

  • Roto13

    If you can see something from a public place, you can take a picture of it from that public place. That’s the way it goes.

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  • bitguide

    just bought a new tripod. but now not buying coke products.
    maybe with the money i save, i can buy a second one.

  • http://www.nycphotorights.com NYCPhotorights

    The Atlanta Police / Coca Cola policy is in violation of Federal Law which permits pictures of any architecture that can be seen from public property:

    17 USC 120(a):
    §120. Scope of exclusive rights in architectural works
    Pictorial representations permitted. The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

  • http://www.naptownargus.com Steph Mineart

    Even if Coke owns the park he was standing in, they’d have a hard time justifying denying his photo in a court – see that federal law that NYCPhotorights posted above.

  • James H

    Tweeted this and cited @CocaCola. Let’s see if the company responds.

  • http://www.worldofcoca-cola.com Jacquie

    Hi Trey,

    On behalf of the World of Coca-Cola, I’d like to apologize for any confusion that may have arisen last Saturday evening around our photography policy. We do indeed welcome visitors and photographers to take photos for personal use as stated on our web site (www.worldofcoca-cola.com/html/visitor-info/faq.html).

    It was not our intention to impede your creativity. Pemberton Place is privately-owned and our Security Officer and the Atlanta Police Dept. officer were closing this section of the park for the evening.

    I would like to personally invite you back to our attraction for a Coke on us and to allow you the opportunity to take the shots you wanted from both inside and outside the attraction.

    Kind regards,
    Jacquie

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Jacquie,

    Thank you very much for the nice memo. I appreciate the time you took to craft it. I’ll let you know next time I come to Atlanta and we’ll set something up.

    Okay everyone can go back to drinking Cokes again!

    Best,
    Trey

  • http://www.nuwomb.com scott webb

    That is great of coke. and now you can get inside! woot!

  • http://www.barbhogan.typepad.com Barb

    Hooray for Jacquie from Coke! Stunning photo regardless, Trey.

  • http://elbelbelb2000.blogtog.com Eugene

    Very cool resolution! Coca-Cola responds in a positive and understanding manner :).

    @Jacquie: Is there a way to extend this awesome invitation for the readers of Stuck in Customs? ;)

  • http://photogumbostudio.blogspot.com/ Kim Dever Thibodeaux

    I love happy endings! [typed while sipping a cold can of Coke]

  • Lainer

    That cop was an idiot. It was a public place and you could have taken her to court. As for Coke and their idiotic policy, well another reason not to drink their garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yolotl-Ochoa/1360386841 Yolotl Ochoa

    Oh great news! Way to go Coca-cola, now I don’t feel so guilty about drinking 1/3 of a coke today, just wish I would’ve known about this before wasting the other 2/3s, lol! Good information about the copyrights of buildings, etc. Great work Trey!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Yes a good resolution…

    Eugene, maybe I should organize an Atlanta PhotoWalk there? Hehe… they may not want that many people there. The one we had a few days ago here in Austin had between 170 and 200 people show up, according the marketing manager of the Driskill Hotel… who was probably questioning his generosity in light of all the tripods banging into everything! :)

  • Kathleen

    Trey we have numerous photoclubs in the Atlanta and metro area that would do the walk

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brooke-Barber/636465356 Brooke Barber

    yup- the walk here in Austin was great. God help ya Trey if you do have one in the fall when the weather is cooler – you will probably have almost 400. *grin* They might just have to shut down Congress Ave all together.

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  • http://www.discarted.com discarted

    Coke’s response is mediocre at best (seems like they’re just trying to save themselves from any more public ridicule) and Pemberton Space may be private property, however, the property can be photographed freely from a public sidewalk – including for commercial purposes under federal law.

    17 USC 120(a):
    §120. Scope of exclusive rights in architectural works
    Pictorial representations permitted. The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

    I’m officially through buying or consuming Coca Cola products solely because of this incident.

  • http://futhertofly.imagekind.com Tom Horton

    Are you sure this apology came from Coca-Cola? I would presume a real apology would include a last name, a job title with the word “attorney” in it somewhere, business address, phone number, email address and all the usual appurtenances of the corporate bureaucracy that created this silly policy in the first place.

  • http://www.nycphotorights.com NYCPhotorights

    Coca Cola’s claim that Pemberton Place is private property may not be accurate either. According to both Wikipedia AND the Coca Cola Museum’s own website the land was donated to the City of Atlanta. Here is the way it is explained in the “About” page of the World of Coca Cola site:


    Pemberton Place was named for John S. Pemberton, the pharmacist who created Coca­Cola® in 1886. This 20-acre site is home to the World of Coca­Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. At a later date, these two attractions may be joined by The Center for Civil and Human Rights. The land for the Georgia Aquarium and The Center was donated by The Coca­Cola Company as part of its long commitment to downtown Atlanta. Built into Pemberton Place are five acres of beautiful public access green space for everyone to enjoy.

    If you donate something that means it isn’t yours any more… Or am I missing something?

  • http://www.places2explore.wordpress.com Talke Photography

    Its all good…have a Coke and a smile!!! =))

  • http://www.polarbarephotography.com Brad Moore

    Just wanted to add that although the comment from Coke was nice and polite, it didn’t say anything about how they intend to address this with their security staff to prevent future situations.

  • david

    wasn’t there a lawsuit 5 or 6 years ago on this very subject regarding the Music Hall of Fame Building or something like it in Cleveland, Ohio? a professional photographer took the photo for commercial use, i believe, and was sued. he was defended by a national professional photographer’s organization and won the case. sorry i can’t remember the details.

  • http://www.josephhoetzl.com Joseph Hoetzl

    Wow, just one more example of the Orwellian society. If you are ever in the Bethlehem, PA area, and want to try your luck at the “Rich with history” and “The legendary Bethlehem Steel Corporation” site, which is now in the hands of the Sands casino, be warned. My dad was asked not to photograph there. He obliged with the security guard’s request, but sent them a letter “asking them to explain their photography policy since the steel mill buildings are noteworthy and why they discriminate against cameras since anyone with a cell phone can accomplish the same task.”

    Oh well, nice shot anyway!

  • http://rvewong.wordpress.com/ bob wong

    Good shot and it’s about time we all got stirred up with the people harassing others rights.

    Maybe it’s good I prefer Pepsi. Although I haven’t seen the flip side of the coin yet. Go get a shot of Pepsi.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Uchytil/501351240 Richard Uchytil

    AWESOME photo!! I really love the colors and the look! Definitely gonna be a desktop background for awhile!

  • http://www.runningwithbulls.com/blog bernard

    While it was nice of someone from Coca-Cola to respond and apologise, that still is not the point: this should *never* have happened. If the guy (Trey) was doing something illegal, then he should have been told stop.

    This kind of thing happens, because the “security guards” want to be jerks, and scare people.

    Instead of inviting Trey back, they should have an “information training session” for their security people to educate them as to what they can and cannot stop.

    Good on Coca-Cola for apologising, but it should never have happened in the first place.

  • http://elbelbelb2000.blogtog.com Eugene

    Trey,

    The Photo Walk idea in Atlanta sounds great! You may want to create a cap on how many people can attend (perhaps 25 to 50). You can create a sign-up process of some kind, such as through some kind of entry form.
    You could even use your newsletter to announce this event, if you wish.

  • http://www.photo-chimp.com Eric W

    I’m with discarted on this: that was a pretty business-safe “apology”. Sanitized was the word that came to mind, like it came from a committee.

    I personally wouldn’t boycott Coke over this (shoot, I barely drink any soda at all – I’d forget about the boycott in the months between drinks), but I sure as hell wouldn’t give them any better publicity by doing Trey’s quality of shots (stop laughing, it could happen!).

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  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Interesting feedback everyone. Good and thoughtful.

    I agree that no real change has come about for future photographers in places where mobile phone photos are perfectly allowed.. The comment above this one (#80) is a link to a good article from a smart ex-policeman who has a good analysis of the situation.

  • http://joesavlan.wordpress.com/ Joe Savlan

    Thank you so much Trey, Im printing out your calling me ‘smart ex-policeman’ and showing it to my ex wife! :-)

    Thanks for the link and retweet.

    Joe

  • julie

    The common theme I find here that most angers me is that everywhere that someone reported being stopped, it is with some random cop or cop-wannabe spouting off about “a tripod is for professionals”… yeah, but what about all the rest of the intelligent people out there who choose to use a tripod for photo quality? I’ve used a tripod an infinite number of times, and yet I’m about as far from a PROFESSIONAL as can be.
    Sounds completely assenine that these blasted “law enforcement” personnel and wannabe’s get to decide who in the world is professional. I think I might be forced to question whether or not these jerks are professionals themselves.

  • http://www.instinctphoto.com Bob Sislow

    Sounds like typical big business at work. Who knows, maybe Coca-Cola is paying the police force under the table. Good work Trey!

  • http://realitytourist.wordpress.com Mike K

    The issue isn’t really whether you are a professional or not. It is always:
    1. Whether you are on public or private property
    2. What you eventually do with the photo.

    Coca Cola has the right to control the commercial use of an image of its property, logo, etc. So if you can see it from public property, you can shoot it, but you may not be able to use the image commercially without permission.

    Some cities have set up regulations regarding equipment used for a shoot, such as tripods and light stands. Part of this is the hazard, and part of it is the revenue enhancement to the city of requiring permits (money) to allow commercial shoots. One tripod rarely equates a commercial shoot, but if you set up a tripod on a sidewalk in downtown Manhattan, there would be a problem.

    As usual, you have police who recite the law as they think they know it, without really having a clue what they’re talking about.

  • http://www.computer-rescue.net Alan Scher

    Since when do the police enforce private companies’ policies?

  • http://tranquilpictures.com/photography Chandler Blue

    Such a great shot.. I want more! I gotta shoot Atlanta! Keep it up!

  • http://www.roguepen.com PL Kojak

    Love the photo.

    I live in Georgia and have never had issues with taking pictures with or without a tripod. If you are on public property, there’s not really a damned thing they can do about you taking the photos. You might issues trying to sell the photos later, though. (Trademark, brand name, yadda, yadda, yadda…)

    Come on down to Macon, Georgia. We’ll let you take all the photos you want.

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  • D. Alan

    I loved Coke but then I changed to Pepsi. Why? If you guys have ever been to PepsiCo in Purchase, NY, you sure will switch to Pepsi. Inside this headquarters, there is the famous sculpture garden. And the best part is, yes you’re right, you can take pictures with almost anything. I once used my old 4×5 over there. The security guards there even talked to me with “You got a good shot? Oh, that’s a good angle/location, etc.”

  • DXM

    the flares in these pictures is rather annoying. :)

  • http://artmeripol.com Art Meripol

    And this ‘officer’ works for COKE?
    Really, the more money a law enforcement officer is paid, the less they feel the need to exercise authority. It’s the one’s that’ll work for minimum wage in order to carry a gun you really have to watch out for.
    But when you’re the one i the situation, you can only comply. It’s really hard to trip a shutter with your hands cuffed behind your back. Sadly, it comes down to that. Been there done that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Erat/673069264 Steven Erat

    Although I’ve read Bert Krages Photographer’s Rights handbook several years ago and frequently see forum posts suggesting to carry it in your camera bag, I would think that waving it in front of a police officer anywhere would only escalate the situation. Sure, you might get them to agree that you are technically in the right to photograph property from public locations, but then end up with a disorderly conduct or resisting arrest charge pinned to you.

  • L

    I decided after reading most of the comments about your Coke Cola run in to go directly to the problem. I wrote an email & asked them if that was their policy, why and just to let them know that I would not be visiting if it was true. Here is their answer to my email…
    Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

    You may be referring to the confusion that took place at the World of Coca-Cola over our photography policy. We are reaching out through the photographer’s blog to apologize and let him know that we do indeed welcome visitors and photographers to take photos for personal use at the World of Coca-Cola, as stated on our web site
    (www.worldofcoca-cola.com/html/visitor-info/faq.html).

    Our Security Officer and the Atlanta Police Department officer were securing a section of the privately owned Pemberton Park for the evening when the issue arose. We are inviting the photographer to return for another photo shoot if he so chooses.

    Please feel free to contact us again should you have additional comments or questions.

    Tom Barber
    Industry and Consumer Affairs
    The Coca-Cola Company

    Hopefully, they will be true to their word. Keep us posted if they do or don’t contact you to correct what happened to you!!!
    L

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Thanks yes – the PR posted above… I have seen their response — I won’t break it apart piece by piece publicly, though.

  • http://dysfunctional83.smugmug.com/ Neil

    This isn’t just something encountered in the states……

    I live in England and recently was in a small town called Morcambe, they have a theatre there called The Winter Gardens, an old (built in 1897) theatre on the sea front. The theatre is lovely, great atmosphere, great details, shadows in the right places etc…. and is currently under rennovation. I was shooting away quite happily getting some shots i was happy with and was asked to stop as it was against the Trust’s (the organisation responsible for fund raising the renovations) policies. I obviously respected their views and put the camera away but did a little more digging to find out why.

    a year earlier a photographer had taken a photo of another Trust site and entered a competition winning a considerable sum of money, but with no mention of the Trust or the important work they were doing and as such they banned photography.

    How do you counteract this sort of negative press towards photographers? Anyone? please?

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