November 17, 2010

photographing a model in Hoboken … is complicated

A few weeks ago in October, a friend and I arranged to photograph Kerri, the model shown here. My friend had just bought a Nikon D3s and some serious glass, so I thought that instead of me just telling her about the camera’s functions and settings, it would be more interesting to hire a model to photograph. Then we get to play with the new toys, and get some photos. More fun than just being lectured by me.

So the two of us picked Kerri up along the way to Hoboken, to shoot there. Why Hoboken? I struggle with this question every time that I hit the traffic going into the helix at the Lincoln Tunnel. I hate the traffic by now. And then the traffic in Hoboken is just as bad. But I like photographing in Hoboken. There is a lot of variety to work with. There is the Hoboken waterfront with New York as the backdrop. You have urban areas, but you can make it look park-like by turning your camera the other way. There is the train station nearby, and two blocks up there is a long stretched-out alleyway.  So I can’t think of any other place really in New Jersey that offers that diversity within a few blocks … and have parking garages available.

At some point we ended up in the (very well-known) alley in Hoboken, photographing Kerri. My usual off-camera lighting setup at the moment is the Lastolite Ezybox, held up by a monopod by an assistant, or in this case, my friend. It keeps everything mobile and fluid. In particular, another reason why I use the softbox on a monopod, is that I often shoot in Manhattan. The New York City Hall has clear instruction as to when you need a photography permit, and when you don’t. If you don’t use a tripod or light-stand while shooting in New York, you don’t need the photo permit. Great! But we’re in Hoboken in New Jersey.  And this is where it gets complicated …

The photo of Kerri you see at the top, is the last photo I took of her before a police officer stopped us. He asked me if I had a permit to photograph there. I replied that I wasn’t aware that we needed a permit. He then sternly informed me that in fact we do, and that we should get one from Hoboken City Hall. Then he added, “Not only don’t you have a permit; to add insult to injury, you are photographing behind the police station.”

Of course, I couldn’t resist asking him the obvious question – why would it be an insult to photograph a beautiful woman? Or an injury?

Anyway … we moved along, a block or so further up the alley, and continued.

Now, my feelings on this matter is that if we’re not supposed to photograph in the alley near the cop station – and it isn’t immediately obvious this is the back-end of a cop station – then there should be signs. Or if the model did somehow perturb the officers in the cop station, he should’ve asked us to move along. But to tell us to stop photographing and that we needed a permit?  Throwing dubious legalities at us … weeeell, I’m less than happy about that.

If any police officer can stop a photographer in Hoboken at any point and interrupt or halt a photo shoot, then it is a real problem for the photographer when he has paid money for the model, or is photographing paying clients there. It’s just not a tenable situation in front of clients, or while working. Or even just when having fun with a camera.

rules & regulations & photography permits in Hoboken, NJ

Afterwards, I did some searching on the internet to find out about any specific rules & regulations, and couldn’t find much. Certainly nothing as definitive as the instructions from the New York City Hall.

The Hoboken City Hall website looks sweet and friendly enough, and had this information on the topic of “filming permits”:  (I snipped two sentences for simplicity here.)

To obtain a film permit you must first contact the Hoboken Police Department. {snip}   The Police Department will explain city rules and the requirements for filming and location of vehicles, equipment, and traffic regulations. The completed application must be returned to the City Clerk at least 3 days (72 Hours) prior to the scheduled filming dates. {snip}  Upon issuance of the film permit by the Clerk’s office there will be a $700.00 fee (as of 4/12/10) due and payable to the City of Hoboken.

Great. It will take 3 days and $700 to get a permit.

But when is a permit necessary? The cops will tell you.

With a further search I did find a related article on a different website, which even has a download to what looks like an official document – Chapter 97. I’m not sure how up to date it is, but that document, Chapter 97, is precise about when you do need a permit .. but vague as to when you don’t need one.

It does mention that:
“Incidental use of a public street or sidewalk which is of minimal impact and does not result in a closing of same to public use shall not be considered filming on “public land.”

And I do believe that what we were doing was ‘incidental use’, and we certainly didn’t close the alley. We neatly stepped aside for the occasional vehicle that might come past. The alley is cobble-stone, so it isn’t as if any car can drive at speed down the alley. You’d kill your car’s suspension! So what we have are occasional slow-moving cars crawling through the alley. And as I mentioned, we had our cameras and a hand-held softbox, very aware that we need to keep things mobile. So with that, I think what we were doing “shall not be considered filming on public land.”

My online search also found this guy, who has a particularly strong opinion about a similar incident.

The adventure continues …

I did go to Hoboken City Hall the next week, and inquired about the stipulations about when photography permits are needed.

The clerk there immediately referred me to a contact person at the Hoboken police station who deals with this specifically. Off I went to the police station. Incidentally, this is the same police officer who stopped me from shooting originally. We recognized each other. Chatting to him about all this, he seemed a nice enough guy. He admitted the regulations were vague, even in attempting to explain them to me. He said he would find the proper municipal codes for me, and would call me back. And if I then need further clarity, he mentioned the possibility of me taking this to a council meeting at some point if there is no specific guideline or resolution. I never got a call back.

So where does this leave any photographer working and shooting in Hoboken?

I’m thinking specifically of portrait and wedding photographers here. At any time of day you’re quite likely to see a photographer shooting out on the streets in Hoboken. Lots of us. It’s an epidemic really.

Where does this leave us? I honestly don’t think that the regulations about “filming” apply to us as photographers with a camera or two slung around our shoulders. We’re not part of an entire film or TV crew which are set up for hours or days in a location. And that is why I don’t think I will hear back about the specific rules. I doubt the rules are specific enough in this regard to include us. There is of course the potential downside that any regulations that do exist, might be vague enough to be construed to actually include us. We don’t know … and this leaves us open to be stopped by police officers.  Unless of course any photographer is inclined to spend time chasing this through a city council meeting.

Anyway, I can’t think of any wedding photographer that could afford to pay a $700 permit out of a wedding package. It would be insane (yes, my specific word choice) to force every photographer with professional equipment, to pay the $700 fee for a permit every time they want to photograph a model or an engagement session or wedding party there.

Also, another way to look at it:  if the Hoboken City council could make $500 a pop off every photographer they accosted and fined, then they would. Easy money.  They could clear a few thousand dollars every day with this. That they don’t … is most likely because it isn’t illegal to photograph on the streets of Hoboken. Despite what any other cop might say on the street.

The thing is, if such laws do exist to restrict the average working photographer, then dozens of photographers will have to be stopped every day. Brides wouldn’t have their photographs taken at the waterfront in Hoboken without a permit. No portraits of couples without a permit. Anyone using A Big Camera would have to be checked. You can slice this down to absurd levels … at which point is someone with a camera not a professional photographer?

So finally, where does this leave me? Nowhere really. Just frustrated that at any time in the future I could have a cop in Hoboken stop a photo session. But I’ll just continue as I always have. The potential $500 fine is cheaper than the $700 permit, and probably faster to pay.

 

 

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{ 43 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Ron Lemish November 17, 2010 at 7:29 am

I really enjoyed your workshop I attended 2 years ago. I was held in Hoboken at a local museum and on the waterfront with as you mentioned Manhatten in the background. A wonderful setting in Frank Sinatra’s birthplace.
During the hours of the workshop I noticed a uniformed cop stationed for hours by a utility truck from a local telephone company. I approached him; he seemed to be friendly and asked him why he seemed to be on station. He replyed that he was off duty but was hired by the phone company (probably at a good hourly rate, I forget the amount)to see that the utility truck did not hinder the flow (there was none)
of traffic. His fellow union card holder officer made extra money that way. Perhaps it was cheaper for the telephone company to bribe.. errr I mean hire the constable than pay for a permit that might have been needed. It’s probabbly illegal to park your van within 500.35 yards of the museum.. on a Monday.. during a leap year..on a cloudy bright day..with storm clouds on the horizon. It’s true just look it up or attend a town meetng
The second portion of the workshop had us walk 5 minutes from the museum to the beautiful waterfront where we extended our monopods that supported the EZ BOXES.
Imagine how the dozen of us would have gone bizzerk(sp?)if we had been stopped by a constable on patrol ( cop ) from continuing the workshop with you.

PS. ever wonder why your phone or utility bills are so high ??…Ron Lemish Lph.

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2 Mark Zelinski November 17, 2010 at 8:37 am

Great info as always Neil.
Might I suggest that the real reason you like shooting in Hoboken is so you can write “Hoboken” over and over again in your tutorials? ;-)
Thanks again for your insights. New info for me regarding permits.
MAZ

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3 Neil vN November 17, 2010 at 8:40 am

Mark, if that was my true intent, then I would do all my photo shoots in Ho-Ho-Kus. ; )

New Jersey has some interesting city names, carried over from the Lenape tribes who were the original inhabitants of the region. So you have cities named Ho-Ho-Kus, Totowa, Weehawken, Pequannock, Hopatcong … alongside Clifton and Franklin Lakes.

Neil vN

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4 Leon November 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

What a fascinating and insightful read, Neal. I totally sympathise with your argument as we, here in the UK, are faced with similar ‘laws’ and ‘restrictions’, particularly in London where the threat of terrorism is a yard stick for any polcie officer who happens to be passing by to beat the unsuspecting photographer with! It’s absolutely riddiculous. And to echo your point (now that the subject has got me up on my soapbox)”at which point is someone with a camera not a professional photographer?” Now there’s a thought…

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5 G Peel November 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, these things do get ridiculous!

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6 Alberto November 17, 2010 at 10:26 am

Hey I work in Hoboken… one block away from the cobble-stone alley. I think what happened to you was:

That policeman was “assigned” that weird “photo permit” role. Since you were shooting right behind the station someone from the station told him that you were shooting right next to the station… so he looked kinda bad so he had to out and tell you to move on.

It sucks that laws are this murky, they were probably put in place for large shoots or video shoots not for three people in barely used alley.

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7 Forrest Tanaka November 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

I recently did a model shoot in a San Francisco park when a police officer stopped us after asking for a permit I didn’t have. He informed us that a permit from the Golden Gate Regional Park system was just a nominal fee. I was going to move us to a more isolated part of the park, but my model didn’t want to tempt fate and we said goodbye.

I checked the Internet and couldn’t find anything but a phone number and email. I sent an email and left a voice mail. I received no reply for a couple of days, so I called repeatedly until I got an answer. The guy told me the fee was $400. Apparently SF police officers make the big bucks if $400 is “nominal.” I did get a reply to my email with the same information more than a week later.

One argument the officer made at the time was that passersby would be disturbed by my light stands, and that’s why I needed a permit. I wasn’t in the mood to argue so I let that comment go, but it left me wondering how a permit in my pocket would make them feel less disturbed.

In the end, if I need to pay $400 to the city to keep the cops off my back, how does that not constitute a bribe?

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8 Jess November 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

In the link you provided to the disgruntled photographers experience shooting in Hoboken, he clearly states he works for a magazine. Anyone working in the print and/or film industry, are aware they, in most circumstances, will need a permit to shoot on location.

As for the photographer broadening their personal work, or for the wedding photographer capturing moments for clients who will keep them for mementos sake of remembering their union, KEEP shooting in Hoboken, (if that is your location of choice).

If one is approached by an officer instructing them to cease photographing due to lack of permit, kindly ask the officer to provide you with the exact regulation you are violating, and to show you when, where and why you need a permit to shoot in that area when you are:
1) not shooting or filming for commercial work
2) not holding up traffic in any way
3) not disrupting the normal flow of daily activity of said area.

(Some) Police officers tread a blurry line of being helpful public servants, and using their uniform, badge and position to cause fear in a citizen. If officer fails to provide you with the documentation stating how you are breaking a law and decides to fine you, contest it in court.

If there is no definitive information/regulation/municipal code readily accessible to a photographer causing absolutely no disruption to the flow of traffic, area businesses, residents or general passers-by – and the officer who stopped you is IN CHARGE of photography regulations, but blatantly verbalized they were vague when pressed later – they cannot find you in contempt of violating city ordinance, because this ordinance is not clearly stated, period.

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9 Arnold November 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

I agree with Jess “they cannot find you in contempt of violating city ordinance, because this ordinance is not clearly stated, period”. So keep shooting and enjoy.

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10 Jazz Guy November 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I took quite a number of photos when they were putting up the clock tower at the old train station. I called the public affairs office for the station and they said they would let the security guards know I was shooting that day and they wouldn’t give me any problems.

There was no charge to photograph at the train station and I had no problems with the transit police. When I first arrived, one of them came up to me and asked my name and checked it with an email he had from the Public Affairs guy. He told me to enjoy my day and left me to take pictures.

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11 Derrick November 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Jess and Arnold have a point. Where can you go to read the ordinances your self? I would think that would have to be publicly available even to enforce the “ignorance of the law is no excuse” provision. Certainly if the law cannot be accessed, and if the person “in-charge” of the law cannot readily provide that information, then it could be argued that you have even done due diligence to confirm the law and as such should not be able to be bothered by the police much less prosecuted. And, if a police officer, knowing the above – and they would have to since they are that “in-charge” police office – continues to bother you or attempt to hinder you in any other way, wouldn’t this be considered police harassment?

I work with and have several friends in the local police department (I play in the police pipe band) and know that complaints on them to their complaints department can be a big problem for the officer being complained about. If you are not getting what you need, I would have a conversation with them.

As a related note, certainly there is some local Hoboken photography club that would have run into this before and have resources that have dealt with it, or perhaps can?

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12 Stephen November 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm

1) I think the general populace considers photography “professional” if it is not a point-and-shoot camera, and is a DSLR with a large lens or flash. Random people have thought that I was a professional when I’m shooting with D700, Nikon 24-70mm lens, and a SB-900. The whole setup is “big” so people think “professional.” I have no idea where this notion originates. You can buy some really expensive golf clubs/sports gear, but people don’t immediately associate that with professional.

2) These regulations are often not written very well or are deliberately vague, so the authorities can trip you up and fine you. New York City regulations were also vague in the past, but they have been clarified and made more accessible.

3) You may know your rights as a photographer, but you also have to ask yourself if you have the time and money to challenge the matter in court. If you challenge the officer on the spot, you may get a ticket, which you have to appeal in court. The municipalities are not making it easy for enthusiasts/hobbyist photographers.

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13 Jamie Welsh November 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Nice shot Neil,
I love the position of the model (Kerri is beautiful)with the sun coming in over her shoulder and the highlighted hair, from the catchlight i would say you had the power on the flash pretty low do you always get this right first time or do you have to shoot and chimp a couple first?
Police can be nice or nasty pinch of salt is the remedy methinks just bad luck picking your spot we live and learn thanks for all your posts and tutorials once again

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14 Neil vN November 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Jamie .. this shot wasn’t the final shot as I would’ve liked it. We were still progressing towards a final few images. Normally I would get there within a few images, but this time my friend and I were playing with camera settings and camera controls. So we were taking our time. This image you see was after about two dozen test shots of various kind.

As a start here, I knew I would want her back to the sunlight, so that we don’t get uneven light on her face. It would also give a natural rim-lighting to her. And then, in using TTL flash off-camera, we’re near guaranteed of a simple portrait that would work.

Neil vN

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15 Michael Ty November 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Perhaps you can write a letter to the Mayor, explain how photographers bring visitors and publicity to the city, then discuss how the regulation threatens to stop photographers from coming to Hoboken. Meanwhile the regulation refers to “filming” which based on the amount of the fee appears to be intended for movie-making and not photography, and that interpreting it that way leads to absurd and impractical results. You can then end with a request to the Mayor and the city’s attorney (assuming they have one) to clarify that the reg doesn’t apply to photographers.

Good luck!

Best regards,
Michael

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16 Rich P November 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I would think that we have the right to ask the officer (with caution, I suppose) to show us the town ordinance/law/rule that he is enforcing. It has to be official to be legal. If we hear enough stories like this without proof of an official rule being on the books then we should all F’ Hoboken.

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17 Dan November 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

I agree with Stephen’s first point, everyone just assumes if you sink a little money into your equipment you must be pro. This was a good read, I like to be prepared for situations when out shooting and I think Jess nailed it on the head. Hoboken sounds like a dream of a place to shoot though, I may have to make a road trip sometime!

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18 Tony Solis November 17, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Since they can’t stop freedom of the press, all you have to say is that you are shooting an editorial spread for (insert local magazine or newspaper here). You may still get harassed, but the First Amendment is more clear than the Hoboken city bylaws.

I had the same situation happen here in California and saying that I’m shooting editorial (as opposed to commercial) usually gets me in the clear.

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19 JCLemon November 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm

This is a pretty long recount, so bear with me.

I had a similar frustrating situation with an engagement session at The Cloisters in Manhattan. After scouring their website and a few unanswered calls, I was unable to find their photography policy. I wasn’t planning on using any inside areas, only the outside areas (within the grounds), so I figured we had a high probability of being okay. I also knew (being a museum) that no flash photography would be allowed; no problem, I had a small reflector ready to go. My clients got engaged there, so it was their preferred location. I knew if anything happened, we could use the park right outside and still include the museum in the background.

Needless to say, the moment I walked in with my 24-70 on a battery-gripped body, a security guard approached me and asked what I was going to be photographing. I wasn’t with my clients at this point, so I just said I was snapping some photos. He then asked me if I was a professional or a student and before I could answer, he said professionals were strictly prohibited, but students were allowed. Leaving me no choice, I lied and said I was a student. I also informed him that I tried to look up the policy before coming and that I was unable to find anything. He dismissed this by stating he was head of security and that he wrote the website, where it is clearly posted. This is when I knew there was trouble in the air.

At this point he left and my clients arrived. I made it known that security was giving me some problems and we might get kicked out. My clients maintained a good attitude and we went off to get what we could while inside. No more than 5 shots in, the guy reappears and starts telling me that I’m not a student and this is clearly professional work. I didn’t want to argue in front of my clients, so I reiterated that the policy needs to be more clearly available and we left. We continued outside and were still able to get great shots featuring the Cloisters, so no loss.

The next week I was able to reach someone on the phone and they referred me to The Met’s communication office (The Cloisters is a branch of The Met). The gentleman I spoke with pointed me to the policy (he spent a solid 5 minutes looking for it himself). He agreed that it should be more clearly stated and easier for everyone to find so that there is no confusion for photographers or the staff (or clients for that matter).

He also stated that, while the policy prohibits commercial shooting, it is up to security’s discretion whether or not to enforce it. He also stated that while The Met and The Cloisters share the same policy, The Cloisters usually chooses to enforce it more strictly. UGH, can we get some consistency up in here?!

For those of you wondering, the policy is stated on this page:

Seems like it would be easy to find, no? If you browse the website though, this is buried 3 menus deep under some not-very-obvious menu headings.

I was extremely surprised to find that a great location such as The Met or The Cloisters does not have an easy-to-find, clearly stated, consistently-enforced policy regarding photography. He did mention that they were in the process of redesigning the website and would try to make it easier to find.

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20 JCLemon November 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm

My other comment was so long, I broke this out.

You can actually use a tripod in NYC, as policy clearly states “A permit is required for filming if equipment or vehicles, as defined in the rule, are used or if the person filming asserts exclusive use of City property. Equipment does not include hand-held devices (such as hand-held film, still, or television cameras or videocameras) or tripods used to support such cameras, but a permit would be required in certain situations when the person filming asserts exclusive use of City property while using a hand-held device.”

You have to be careful though, as simply setting up the tripod might, by footprint alone, be invasive enough that it “asserts exclusive use of City property” if the area you’re shooting in is tight.

The MTA has a separate policy that can be found here:

You also have to be careful when shooting in parks in particular. Some are privately owned, some are state parks, and some are run by Conservancy groups that might have different policies. For instance, the LIC Gantry Plaza State Park charges a hefty fee to shoot there: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/149/fees-rates.aspx. They even charge a fee to picnic there!

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21 Roel November 19, 2010 at 9:27 am

Neil,

The real Hoboken is actually in Belgium, near Antwerp… ;-)

It’s a pretty similar place: skimmy areas, cops might bother you, places you’ll never visit again in your life,… but: you can shoot for free! At least with a camera. ;)

Regs,

Roel

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22 Michael November 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

ok, I’ll bite. What kind of serious glass did she get with the D3s?

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23 Neil vN November 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Michael, the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR II lenses of course.

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24 DGV November 19, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Here is a PDF file that explains about ‘Photographer rights’

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

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25 Neil vN November 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

thank you! That’s a useful document to have available.

Neil vN

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26 Al Wright November 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Here’s how one photog beat the authorities in Alameda CA

I’ve been run off the old base many times in the past when I’m with clients, but I don’t think i’ll go so quietly next time.

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27 Neil vN November 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Similarly, this guy is my hero for taking this on and having the energy to push it through, and in the end winning.

Neil vN

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28 Dan November 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

I guess I got lucky. I was in the middle of times square last night with a tripod take some engagement shots for about 30-45 mins. Cops were all around me but no one stopped me.

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29 Derrick November 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Neil,

You mention the guy being your hero and I agree. That said, did you read the full text of the settlement? Apparently the govt still got to keep his memory card as potential evidence to do further criminal investigation for a period of time at which he was going to be allowed to go through proper channels to obtain it if he wishes. No provision for automatically returning it to him after the period ends and no provisions to compensate him for any damage to the card in the event that the damage it during their investigation.

One would think if the arrest was not legal and they agency is stating he there was no provision that prevents him from taking photographs or video that there would be no basis for keeping the card.

Amazing.

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30 Rob Lowry November 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm

In many places, photographing in public is pretty much a crap shoot.
In California the state requires you to get a permit to shoot in a park if any of the following apply.
a. you have a model for hire
b. have lighting equipment
c. use a tripod
d. have assistants

I’ve even heard a couple people tell me they got booted by park rangers when none of the above applied … they had a big ole SLR and a couple nice pieces of glass.

The permit is free … BUT, you are required to have proof of $1M usd liability insurance with the state of CA listed on the insurance policy.

Each City / County has its own ordinances that are somewhat similar … though not always free.

Now the precarious part seems to be in dealing with Security Guards or Law Enforcement Officers. There are numerous articles and stories on the web of photographers being threatened, having their equipment taken and in a few cases detained. Photography is not a Crime is a website where you can read some pretty interesting stories.

Basically … you’re left to your own charisma and the ‘mood’ of the badged individual who approaches you.

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31 Rob Lowry November 24, 2010 at 1:39 am

And this just in … photography in public with a DSLR is banned in Kuwait.
http://thenextweb.com/me/2010/11/23/kuwait-dslr-camera-ban-now-in-effect/

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32 Neil vN November 24, 2010 at 2:36 am

I just noticed that report as well. Way out there extreme. To think that photographers could be so dangerous that you have to ban DSLRs!

Neil vN

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33 birdy November 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

Obviously you are not a commercial/professional photographer or you’d have the $$ and common knowledge about
permits and shooting for TV/Film. Wedding photography is NOT classified as professional photography to the extent one needs
a permit; calling the Mayor’s office to officially notify them of the time/area of the shoot for the wedding suffices in
most/all cities. I can’t imagine, unless you were making a big deal, ala “Cmon baby look over here, that’s it baby, you got it…” trying to emulate maybe a cheesy 80’s fashion photographer, why they’d stop you? You must have been making yourself
very visible (ie back of police station in middle of alley? ever think that’s a bad place to shoot? they do have emergencies……) The police officers I asked stated “REAL photographers on REAL shoots are one thing, this deluge of amateurs shooting “models” “headshots” is just becoming a pain in the ass”. Ill go ahead and ask. . . . . . .she’s not really a model is she? She’s not with a real agency is she? Is she your sisters friend? Maybe the police are tired of guys like you making $375 off of moderately attractive retail girls who will never be models, much less sleep with you, as likely anticipated? Seriously dude, this shot could have been taken anywhere. Stop annoying the cops, let them do their job. If it was a real shoot, for real money, the permit cost wouldn’t be a big deal, you’d pass it onto your CLIENT. (who i guess is the model in your scenario)

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34 Neil vN November 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

Birdy / Jaye … your reply is easily one of the most offensive and reactionary comments or replies I have ever received.

I debated with myself for a minute or two whether to even allow your comment and give you the platform. But then, I am sure there are others who think like you do … so I might as well use this opportunity to address your comments. Point by point, logically and consistent with reality.

My first observation is that you clearly did not read what I wrote, but skimmed over it. Most of your comments are completely off the mark since, as topics, they are already mentioned in my original article. But I’ll bite …

1. “Obviously you are not a commercial/professional photographer ..”

Feel free to have a look at my portfolio and body of work. I am sure you were just trying to cast aspersions on my professionalism with that remark. It is obvious you’re just trying for reaction instead of adding anything to a discussion.

2. “or you’d have the $$ and common knowledge about permits and shooting for TV/Film.”

I have to wonder about the “common knowledge”. It really isn’t common knowledge if it is impossible to find real concrete advice or regulations about this. Even the officer in charge of this in Hoboken admitted the rules are unclear. Yet, *I* am expected to know this as “common knowledge”.

I am aware of the NYC regulations and requirements for photography since they make it clear. Not so with Hoboken, which is the entire point of this post.

3. “I can’t imagine, unless you were making a big deal, ala “Cmon baby look over here, that’s it baby, you got it…” trying to emulate maybe a cheesy 80?s fashion photographer, why they’d stop you? “

That certainly isn’t me. Once again you’re fabricating a scenario here to cast me in a poor light. Sorry, that isn’t going to work. Anyway, your description there couldn’t be more off the mark.

Why did they stop me? As I mentioned, for a made-up reason. A nonsense reason. A reason the officer couldn’t substantiate later on when I went to the City Hall and the police station.

4. “You must have been making yourself very visible (ie back of police station in middle of alley?”

Of course I am “very visible” with a model and a friend holding a softbox. But a circus it certainly was not. I have photographed there often, as have hundreds of other photographers. With an engagement session a few weeks earlier, a woman came walking past and made a friendly comment about how many photographers she sees there.

Also, as we left for the day and walked down the alley again to my van, there was another photographer with an assistant holding a reflector, shooting a model on the staircase of the building next to the cop station.

About it being a bad idea … again, numerous photographers shoot there, and will continue to do so. If the police have anything against this, then there should be signs. Simple really. These things should be obvious.

5. “ever think that’s a bad place to shoot? they do have emergencies……)”

As I mentioned in the post, but you obviously didn’t read … the alley is cobble-stone. You’re simply not going to charge down this road at any speed over 5 mph. The cop station has a main entrance on the other side of the parking lot which leads into the main road. That’s the one they use. So, again, we were not in any person’s way.

6. “The police officers I asked stated “REAL photographers on REAL shoots are one thing, this deluge of amateurs shooting “models” “headshots” is just becoming a pain in the ass.”

I don’t even know where to start on this wild statement of yours. The police are now policy makers as to what is a problem? Or deemed to be a problem? Why would anyone with a camera, whether professional or amateur, be an aggravation when they photograph someone, whether girlfriend, family or a model. I have to completely dismiss that part of your comment as a wild rant. There’s nothing real or sensible there.

7. “she’s not really a model is she? “

She is. Kerri works mainly as a fetish and fashion model and has an incredible portfolio. What I shot here is atypical of what is in her portfolio. But she is most definitely professional and a full-time model. Neither is she my sister’s friend. Nice try though with the derogatory comment.

8. “Maybe the police are tired of guys like you making $375 off of moderately attractive retail girls who will never be models, much less sleep with you, as likely anticipated?”

Keeping with the derogatory comments? Why would the fee for a shoot make any difference to a police officer’s credo to ‘protect and serve’? Would it be less onerous for them if the girl was more attractive or we charged more? In this case, *I* paid the model. Is that offensive too for any police? I have to wonder.

As to your last comment, you’re making wild assumptions and poor insinuations there. Way out of line, buddy. Way out of line.

9. “Seriously dude, this shot could have been taken anywhere.”

Oh definitely. I make no great claims for that photograph. I’m not entirely happy with the lighting or the pose. We were still working towards something. It just happens to the last shot before the police officer stopped us, and threw that infamous line that I am “adding insult to injury”.

10. “Stop annoying the cops, let them do their job.”

Again, I have to ask … how were we annoying the cops? By taking photographs of a beautiful model in an alley? We’ve come full circle now on this.

And I certainly am not stopping any police officer from doing his work.

11. “If it was a real shoot, for real money, the permit cost wouldn’t be a big deal, you’d pass it onto your CLIENT. (who i guess is the model in your scenario)”

Make the effort to read my post again. This final comment of yours is completely off the mark, just like everything else you wrote.

I have to wonder about your aggressive tone, and why it is that you find my questioning article offensive? Somehow that is an amusing thought – that merely working with a beautiful woman could make someone else so aggravated.

Neil vN

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35 bruce November 30, 2010 at 10:10 am

wait a minute. if it’s digital, is it “filming”?

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36 Neil vN November 30, 2010 at 10:18 am

archaic terminology for arcane laws ; )

Neil vN

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37 Joe November 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Neil,
You’re a nicer guy then me even acknowledging that comment. But your professionalism comes through. Obviously this post was by someone whos self esteem was hurt badly by a photographer somehow.

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38 Brad Trent November 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I wonder if Neil ever thought his little post about Hoboken would have grabbed this much attention! Hell…even my blog has been getting about 100 hits a day because of it!

Without commenting on the backbiting this thread has caused or picking each individual response apart one by one, let’s just say that a lot of the ‘theories’ getting tossed back and forth about who needs a permit or when permits are required are just plain wrong. I’ve done a lot of legwork for EP (Editorial Photographers) to fight NYC’s new $300 Permit Application Fee, so I have a fair amount of experience when it comes to the kinds of arguments municipalities use to enact these permit fees.

I’m well aware that some consider these fees are necessary, but the simple fact is that aside from requiring the photographer to issue a liability insurance rider to the town in question to limit the town’s liability exposure, the fees charged are generally thought of as profit centers for the governments that charge them.

And while I have paid still photography permit fees in New York, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and just about every one of the tiny counties that make up Great Los Angeles, I can state without pause that Hoboken’s permit policy is nothing short of legalized graft! I can shoot in Beverly Hills on one day’s notice for less money than what that square mile of potholes known as Hoboken, is demanding photographers pay!!! And despite what some of you might think, in most cities editorial photography is normally either exempt or charged a reduced rate than what is charged to an advertising production.

OK…I said I wouldn’t pick apart individual responses, but the claim that ‘birdy’ made about how “…Wedding photography is NOT classified as professional photography to the extent one needs a permit…” made me laugh so hard I pissed myself! A wedding guy can put up just as many lights and tripods I can…and given the number of people in a wedding party, actually cause a far larger disturbance to the general population than an editorial guy shooting a single person ever would…and I seriously doubt the Hoboken cops will turn a blind eye if they think their desk sergeant will kick their ass because they left a possible 700 bones on the table!

BT

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39 Pompo November 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm

is this with #3442 Filter – 1/2 Straw CTS ? love the shot and light on her!

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40 Pompo November 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Im guessing 70-200 2.8 at 200mm wide open with with #3442 Filter – 1/2 Straw CTS on softbox? :)

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41 Neil vN November 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Nope, the flash wasn’t gelled. There was a softbox and a 70-200mm f2.8 involved though.

Neil vN

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42 Pompo December 1, 2011 at 1:23 am

Thank you Neil, love it!

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43 Charles Mercer January 1, 2013 at 7:15 am

Whoops! I had better destroy all my Hoboken snaps which I took when last there. Big brother is watching me so bang go my shots of NY, a cruise ship exiting the river and my wife leaning on a railing over-looking NY City.

Same thing happened to me when I was filming in the City of London. I was working in Tower42 with the client (all agreed beforehand) but I knew the money shot would be of the building from a landmark out of the city in the sunset. So we set up on the terrace of a public building and immediately got a uniformed jobsworth telling us the view was copyright and anyway, you can’t use a tripod – yes the sunset view of London from this location is copyright. I was invited inside to discuss matters (but told my crew to keep filming) They used their initiative and moved stage right by three metres under a bush and off the terrace and we got the material we wanted. The fee for use of the terrace was £250 and would have wiped out the profit frorm the shoot.

We employ staff in a recession, we pay taxes, we work damned hard and long hours and then we get confronted with this stupidity. We are not terrorists and a little common sense would soon prove the point. Has the world gone crazy?

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