Photography Not Allowed

by - 11/04/2013

Yesterday, I joined the ranks of all those people who've been harassed by paranoid store owners for taking innocent photographs.

There was an interesting (but by not means unique) piece of machinery spitting out tortillas in a store. I had bought tortillas there many times before and had casually mentioned it to some out of country family members who had never seen or heard of such a thing and were bewildered by my oral explanation. To help them understand, I took a couple of snaps from my smartphone. Only the machinery was in the photos, no people at all. The photos were for explanation purposes after which I intended to delete them. The images came out dark and somewhat blurry as they were in a dark part in the back of the store and I was taking the shots from a distance.

As I was reviewing these dismal shots, the two women working the counter instantly ganged up on me and rudely told me I couldn't take their photographs. My reasonable explanations about what was in the photos and what they were intended for, fell on deaf ears. As their rudeness factor increased, so did my temper at being accosted in such an unwarranted manner. But rather than get into a shouting match in front of my kids, I preferred to delete those photographs and walk away.

People, especially store owners, behaving in such a way to loyal customers in the light of reasonable explanation is absolutely absurd. If they didn't want photographs taken, a very visible sign should have been posted for all to see. After all, did I steal something? No. Was I going to use those images in a commercial manner? No. Did I damage their property? No. Did I explain it to them politely? Yes! All that harassment for nothing more than taking a photo. That's right, folks, just TAKING A PHOTO!

I searched the internet to see what were the laws about such situations. I came across this link, an attorney's website which has a downloadable pdf file explaining a photographer's rights, which I found really useful. I also came across various other posts like this article at CameraSim and another at Down the Road where people have described their own amazingly horrible experiences at being harassed by security guards, pedestrians and more, all for taking a photograph.

Have you had a similar experience? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
If you like this post, then please consider subscribing to my Full Feed RSS.
You can also Subscribe by Email and have new posts sent directly to your inbox.

You May Also Like


  1. My husband and I were harassed in a store one time, too. We were told the store displays were proprietary information. Um, anyone can walk in and LOOK at them!


Hi, Glad you stopped by!