Photographer Discrimination and Solutions for Getting Around "The Man"- I just had to post a nice message about how much I despise those who discriminate against photographers. Yesterday we were chased off the Golden Gate Bridge by the Bridge Patrol who yelled at us, "No Photo Shoots. You will be cited!" from their loudspeakers on their cars.

It is so utterly ridiculous to treat photographers differently than everyone else, because that's exactly what happens. It's happened to me all over the world, but what disturbs me the most is when it happens in the United States. Every other person with their cheap point and shoot can take as many pictures as they want, of whomever they want. But the minute you put a more expensive camera in your hands, it's ILLEGAL.

I would totally understand requiring a permit or banning a shoot if the photographer/production was holding up traffic, causing a public nuisance, or if it was resulting in the destruction of a habitat. But outside of those scenarios which are few and far in between, we shouldn't be treated differently than anyone else. As long as we are behaving as a non-professional does with a camera, why are we treated differently? How can you legitimately ban one group of people from taking pictures while allowing another group without limits? It's a very simple and direct double standard.

If I take a sunset shot and sell it, I pay taxes on my profits, isn't that enough? Paying for the right to shoot AND sell is double dipping. Of course governments all over the world have done that for centuries so I guess I'm just being naive.

Simply put it's just about a government who wants more money out of us photographers. I'm sure if I paid the right price I could shoot on the Golden Gate me. Outside of photography I love cops, but I've had so many run-ins with them as they chase me out of places that I am just sick and tired of it. If you're a police officer or are married to one, please don't take offense at this. I know you're just taking orders from those above you. Your job is vital to our safety and you are heroes. Just leave us lowly photographers alone.


1. Take a small amount of gear with you, that lessens your exposure. Tripods are a BIG give away that you're not an amateur. Leave bags in the car, only take your body and a flash.

2. No matter what you're doing on a shoot, you are doing it for "Non-commercial" purposes. I don't care if you've never met your clients before. When you're stopped you tell the cops you're life-long friends and that you're just doing them a favor. Tell this to your clients at the start of the shoot. "No money is being exchanged," is another one to tell them. If you throw in a few shoots "for free" into their photography package you can say this and will still be telling the truth.

3. Carry fake business cards- I have a pile of fake cards that show I work somewhere else, non photography related. I just tell the cops I'm a photography enthusiast with money to blow on expensive equipment. I pulled this one off in Hawaii after getting busted for committing the heinous crime of shooting a sunset on the beach with my tripod. He was in the middle of confiscating my gear when I ran to my car and gave him this fake card, then he "let" me keep my stuff. Seriously, all I was doing was shooting a sunset.....

4. Play Stupid- "I'm not from around here, I had no idea.." For me that's always true.

For the record, I'm non-confrontational with police officers because I believe it's the best way for me to hope I get to "keep" my gear when this happens.

Hope this helps! I get asked this question a lot and I'm personally okay with fighting against something that I think is wrong...and this is. Stop trying to milk us small business owners for all our money. Try controlling what you spend rather taking what we work so hard to earn.