Forums > General Industry > PhotogLaw 101 - Trespassing

Photographer

Faces2Die4 Photography

Posts: 426

Houston, Texas, US

Fourth in a series on laws affecting photographers and the models they work with. I'm an MM photographer and a licensed Texas attorney. For liability reasons I won't be giving any legal advice here - just some basic legal principles. Consult an attorney if you have any specific legal situations of your own. Remember that laws vary from state to state and country to country, and federal law may trump state/local laws.  

Warning - trespassing laws vary from state to state. What follows are general legal principles and, where indicated, the law in my home state of Texas.    

So you have seen this very cool, old, rusted tractor out in a field and you and your model want to jump the fence for a shoot. Good idea?

Trespassing can result in either a civil suit against you by the property owner,  criminal charges against you by the state, or both. And this does not even address being chased off the property by some guy with a shotgun.

In general, trespassing is entering onto property after having notice that entry is forbidden, or remaining on property after being told to leave.

Civil trespassing cases are rare - so I won't spend a lot of time on this area of law. The suit would be for damages, and it's hard to see how snapping a few photos would cause sufficient actual damages to make a civil suit cost-effective.

In most states criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor - punishable by up to one year in jail. In Texas, unless you have a criminal history, jail time is unlikely and you would probably be placed on some form of probation.

However, under certain circumstances, illegally entering a vehicle or a structure could be construed as Burglary - a far more serious felony offense.

So where does that leave our intrepid model and photographer who are looking at that rusty tractor on the other side of the fence?

The best course of action is to get consent from the owner, as this is a defense to trespassing in most if not all states. Try to get it in writing if possible, even if it's just one sentence scribbled on the back of an envelope.

If you can't get consent, the key is determining if you have been given notice that entry is not permitted (of course, if you are on property and are told to leave, do so immediately).

What constitutes adequate notice? This is where it gets tricky. This is also where the laws vary greatly from state to state. In addition, just reading the statute may not be enough - since the answer may be in your state's case law. Finally, you may have an airtight legal argument, but the police officer may say "that's for a judge/jury to decide" and arrest you nonetheless.

The following are some general concepts that will apply in most states:

Of course, the "No Trespassing" sign will almost certainly be  considered good notice. However some states have requirements about where the signs must be placed.

That fence is also considered adequate notice in a lot of states.

Some states have special rules for property where crops are growing.

Other state and federal laws may apply to airports, electrical plants, railroads, bridges,dams, and other sensitive premises. And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks.

Bottom line, be safe - get permission. And don't jump that fence!

Jan 06 13 09:19 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

Rays Fine Art

Posts: 6403

New York, New York, US

I very much appreciate this series and like posing brain-teaser responses for the members to chew on and think about.  I see the greatest benefit to the the series is to get people to thinking about how the law works rather than whether or not it should apply to them.  Let's try this one on for size, keeping in mind that the land in question is not in Texas but in New York.

I own a few acres in what was to have been a private community but the developer went bankrupt years ago.  As a result, there is no managing authority beyond a road maintenance association, self-appointed, that performs what maintenance is necessary for us to be able to reach our individual plots.  Individual holdings may range from 2 to 30 acres.  There are about 75 individual parcels, some owners own more than one contiguous parcel.  About half have some form of permanent or semi-permanent housing.
   By common consent, most of the owners who actively use the land treat the area immediately around our own building lots as sacrosanct, but treat the larger wooded areas almost as common areas.  The area occupies the top third of a mountain ridge and there are spectacular views from many sites and it's not unusual for an owner to visit another (absent) owner's site, both to enjoy the view and to make sure that everything is in good shape.  Most of us post our land individually although there are a number of parcels that remain unposted.  The road association has posted no trespassing signs at the entry roads.  Probably half to three-quarters of the owners simply pay their taxes and never visit the land at all except to hunt. 
   Before the redevelopment attempt thirty-five years ago, the entire tract was the private hunting preserve of a gun club.  Locals have hunted there since then without any problems.  Generally we consider them almost as unpaid caretakers in our absence. The local constable drives through from time to time but there have been very few break-ins although cabins and trailers are often unoccupied for months, even years at a time. 

All in all, it's an almost fairy-tale example of local and downstate cooperation but you just know that there are laws that, while intended to protect one or another of us, are likely to trip us up.  So what are some of the special dangers for both the owners and the casual visitors in this sort of situation?  Comment?  Discuss?

Jan 06 13 10:07 am Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22738

Salem, Oregon, US

it seems like railroads are really cracking down right now on photographers. not just being on the tracks but even being on their right of way.

and there was a thread a while back from a model who now has a record because of trespassing on private property for a shoot.

seems like you take your chances. but sometimes the really good locations are questionable. if you want the shot you take the risk (or try to seek permission and maybe pay something as well). we did a senior shoot a while back at an abandoned store (we didn't enter the store, which was locked, but just shot around it).

i know of senior portrait photographers who pay an annual fee for legal access to certain desirable locations.

Jan 06 13 12:21 pm Link

Photographer

Tampa Glamour

Posts: 22

Tampa, Florida, US

twoharts wrote:
it seems like railroads are really cracking down right now on photographers. not just being on the tracks but even being on their right of way.

500 people a year are killed by trains when trespassing on railroad tracks. Railroad police will prosecute anyone who is caught on their right of way. In my 35 year railroad career as an engineer I had two suicides and another victim who was unsuccessful in her attempt. You can imagine why I dislike photos of models on railroad tracks.

Jan 06 13 12:43 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22738

Salem, Oregon, US

yeah, i can imagine that's horrible being an engineer and not being able to stop in time to avoid someone, even if they want to be hit.

Tampa Glamour wrote:
500 people a year are killed by trains when trespassing on railroad tracks. Railroad police will prosecute anyone who is caught on their right of way. In my 35 year railroad career as an engineer I had two suicides and another victim who was unsuccessful in her attempt. You can imagine why I dislike photos of models on railroad tracks.

Jan 06 13 12:48 pm Link

Photographer

Farenell Photography

Posts: 18178

Albany, New York, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
The following are some general concepts that will apply in most states:

Of course, the "No Trespassing" sign will almost certainly be  considered good notice. However some states have requirements about where the signs must be placed.

This is the only part I'll address.

In NYS, even if a "no trespassing" sign was ripped down (say like by the local kids)...if its been filed w/ the county clerk's office, the "no trespassing" is still valid for up to 12 months.

(I found that out the hard way)

Jan 06 13 01:08 pm Link

Photographer

Cherrystone

Posts: 36866

Columbus, Ohio, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Other state and federal laws may apply to airports, electrical plants, railroads, bridges,dams, and other sensitive premises. And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks.

All good except this. Very very few places are illegal to photograph, contrary to public & security dicks opinions. smile

Name me one instance where terrorists were photographing a target for their attacks.

Besides, hell....Google & satellites has already taken care of that for them wink

Jan 06 13 01:18 pm Link

Photographer

Cherrystone

Posts: 36866

Columbus, Ohio, US

Farenell Photography wrote:

This is the only part I'll address.

In NYS, even if a "no trespassing" sign was ripped down (say like by the local kids)...if its been filed w/ the county clerk's office, the "no trespassing" is still valid for up to 12 months.

(I found that out the hard way)

You can file placement of no trespassing signs with the county, and people actually do that?

I was hoping to be up around the Finger Lakes this year....if so, I gotta remember that.

Jan 06 13 01:19 pm Link

Photographer

Light and Lens Studio

Posts: 1527

Sisters, Oregon, US

Great idea for this series.  There are way too many comments by totally uninformed/ignorant people (one of the most dangerous critters in the world = an uninformed individual with strong opinions that he or she is compelled to broadcast as 'truth'). 

Thanks for taking the time to post these.

Jan 06 13 01:30 pm Link

Photographer

Light and Lens Studio

Posts: 1527

Sisters, Oregon, US

Small Fruit Pits wrote:
All good except this. Very very few places are illegal to photograph, contrary to public & security dicks opinions. smile

Name me one instance where terrorists were photographing a target for their attacks.

Besides, hell....Google & satellites has already taken care of that for them wink

Geez, are you a master of misinformation!!

There are loads of accounts of suspected terrorists, some of whom have been apprehended and prosecuted, who were observed photographing potential targets.  One was on the Washington State Ferries within the past two years -they escaped before they could be apprehended.

And if you think "Very very few places are illegal to photograph", you should let us all know what your favorite flavor of cake is so we can make you an nice one with a file inside to help you break out of jail. smile

Jan 06 13 01:37 pm Link

Photographer

Faces2Die4 Photography

Posts: 426

Houston, Texas, US

Small Fruit Pits wrote:

All good except this. Very very few places are illegal to photograph, contrary to public & security dicks opinions. smile

Name me one instance where terrorists were photographing a target for their attacks.

Besides, hell....Google & satellites has already taken care of that for them wink

My post only deals with whether you can go on the property itself. Whether you can take a photo is another issue.

Jan 06 13 02:14 pm Link

Photographer

My name is Frank

Posts: 554

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

"... And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks."

I may sound a little ignorant on this, but I have yet to hear of an instance when a photographer has been directly connected with a terrorist plot.

Where did this idea come from that would-be terrorists are running around photographing all kinds of things?

"There are loads of accounts of suspected terrorists, some of whom have been apprehended and prosecuted, who were observed photographing potential targets.  One was on the Washington State Ferries within the past two years -they escaped before they could be apprehended."

I have yet to hear or read of anything like this in the news, and if they get away, how do we know they are a terrorist?

Jan 06 13 02:37 pm Link

Photographer

Darren Brade

Posts: 2849

London, England, United Kingdom

Interesting price. Thanks for sharing.

Jan 06 13 02:48 pm Link

Photographer

Farenell Photography

Posts: 18178

Albany, New York, US

Small Fruit Pits wrote:
You can file placement of no trespassing signs with the county, and people actually do that?

I was hoping to be up around the Finger Lakes this year....if so, I gotta remember that.

Most of the area is so rural, people/locals don't care so long as you respect where you're at & not fuck shit up while you're there. Nor does it hurt in keeping a low profile when you're actually there.

But keep in mind that's only MY personal experience. wink

Jan 06 13 03:38 pm Link

Photographer

Faces2Die4 Photography

Posts: 426

Houston, Texas, US

Understandably most terrorists will use their cell phones to analyze their targets, rather than an expensive DSLR.

http://news.chennaionline.com/chennai/2 … 26ec80.col

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8414254.stm

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/r … e-1.404681

Jan 06 13 03:48 pm Link

Photographer

PDF IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHY

Posts: 4603

Jacksonville, Florida, US

valuable asset in this OP post thank you.

Jan 06 13 03:52 pm Link

Photographer

My name is Frank

Posts: 554

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Understandably most terrorists will use their cell phones to analyze their targets, rather than an expensive DSLR.

http://news.chennaionline.com/chennai/2 … 26ec80.col

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8414254.stm

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/r … e-1.404681

This I am much more inclined to go along with. It's way more descreet, and you can share the info instantly.

Jan 06 13 06:19 pm Link

Photographer

Art of the nude

Posts: 11892

Olivet, Michigan, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Other state and federal laws may apply to airports, electrical plants, railroads, bridges,dams, and other sensitive premises. And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks.

Small Fruit Pits wrote:
All good except this. Very very few places are illegal to photograph, contrary to public & security dicks opinions. smile

Name me one instance where terrorists were photographing a target for their attacks.

Besides, hell....Google & satellites has already taken care of that for them wink

If terrorists DID photograph their targets, I really doubt they'd do it with SLRs, models, and sometimes reflectors and the like.

Jan 06 13 08:28 pm Link

Photographer

Art of the nude

Posts: 11892

Olivet, Michigan, US

Light and Lens Studio wrote:
Geez, are you a master of misinformation!!
[b]
There are loads of accounts of suspected terrorists, some of whom have been apprehended and prosecuted, who were observed photographing potential targets.  One was on the Washington State Ferries within the past two years -they escaped before they could be apprehended.
]/b]
And if you think "Very very few places are illegal to photograph", you should let us all know what your favorite flavor of cake is so we can make you an nice one with a file inside to help you break out of jail. smile

Wait.  He says that a lot of people are suspected of being terrorists because they take pictures, and your counter argument is that someone was suspected of being a terrorist because they took pictures, but no one knows whether they were terrorists.  Except, did anyone actually blow up the Washington State Ferries in the past two years?

Jan 06 13 09:04 pm Link

Photographer

Images by MR

Posts: 7826

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

nm

Jan 06 13 09:13 pm Link

Jan 07 13 02:01 am Link

Photographer

Harold Rose

Posts: 2925

Calhoun, Georgia, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Fourth in a series on laws affecting photographers and the models they work with. I'm an MM photographer and a licensed Texas attorney. For liability reasons I won't be giving any legal advice here - just some basic legal principles. Consult an attorney if you have any specific legal situations of your own. Remember that laws vary from state to state and country to country, and federal law may trump state/local laws.  

Warning - trespassing laws vary from state to state. What follows are general legal principles and, where indicated, the law in my home state of Texas.    

So you have seen this very cool, old, rusted tractor out in a field and you and your model want to jump the fence for a shoot. Good idea?

Trespassing can result in either a civil suit against you by the property owner,  criminal charges against you by the state, or both.

In general, trespassing is entering onto property after having notice that entry is forbidden, or remaining on property after being told to leave.

Civil trespassing cases are rare - so I won't spend a lot of time on this area of law. The suit would be for damages, and it's hard to see how snapping a few photos would cause sufficient actual damages to make a civil suit cost-effective.

In most states criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor - punishable by up to one year in jail. In Texas, unless you have a criminal history, jail time is unlikely and you would probably be placed on some form of probation.

However, under certain circumstances, illegally entering a vehicle or a structure could be construed as Burglary - a far more serious felony offense.

So where does that leave our intrepid model and photographer who are looking at that rusty tractor on the other side of the fence?

The best course of action is to get consent from the owner, as this is a defense to trespassing in most if not all states. Try to get it in writing if possible, even if it's just one sentence scribbled on the back of an envelope.

If you can't get consent, the key is determining if you have been given notice that entry is not permitted (of course, if you are on property and are told to leave, do so immediately).

What constitutes adequate notice? This is where it gets tricky. This is also where the laws vary greatly from state to state. In addition, just reading the statute may not be enough - since the answer may be in your state's case law. Finally, you may have an airtight legal argument, but the police officer may say "that's for a judge/jury to decide" and arrest you nonetheless.

The following are some general concepts that will apply in most states:

Of course, the "No Trespassing" sign will almost certainly be  considered good notice. However some states have requirements about where the signs must be placed.

That fence is also considered adequate notice in a lot of states.

Some states have special rules for property where crops are growing.

Other state and federal laws may apply to airports, electrical plants, railroads, bridges,dams, and other sensitive premises. And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks.

Bottom line, be safe - get permission. And don't jump that fence!

Be alerted for a big push by the Railroads,  It is trespassing to shoot photos on RailRoad property.    As I do work for railroads,  I attend many meetings,  and this will be a surge to enforce...    Several deaths on RR tracks in North Georgia is the  reason for the fresh attention...

Jan 07 13 02:12 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

studio36uk

Posts: 21977

Tavai, Sigave, Wallis and Futuna

Harold Rose wrote:
Be alerted for a big push by the Railroads,  It is trespassing to shoot photos on RailRoad property.    As I do work for railroads,  I attend many meetings,  and this will be a surge to enforce...    Several deaths on RR tracks in North Georgia is the  reason for the fresh attention...

And it wouldn't be completely incorrect to point out that the RR rights-of-way [railroad "property"], in the US, can extend hundreds of feet either side of the tracks. So even if one stays well clear of the actual tracks they could still be on "railroad property"

Studio36

Jan 07 13 07:14 am Link

Photographer

Michael McGowan

Posts: 3661

Tucson, Arizona, US

Seriously, there are lots of places where you shouldn't be shooting because of trespassing laws. I've been lucky to find lots of places where the owner gave me permission over the years. These days, I'm looking for more of the same in a new state (mentally, geographically and professionally).

Jan 07 13 07:26 am Link

Photographer

ArtisticPhotography

Posts: 7699

Buffalo, New York, US

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Fourth in a series on laws affecting photographers and the models they work with. I'm an MM photographer and a licensed Texas attorney. For liability reasons I won't be giving any legal advice here - just some basic legal principles. Consult an attorney if you have any specific legal situations of your own. Remember that laws vary from state to state and country to country, and federal law may trump state/local laws.  

....

Bottom line, be safe - get permission. And don't jump that fence!

Anyone can write an "article" on trespassing and say, "don't do it". Remember, you target audience is, in general, people who would like to trespass. So as a benefit to the community, how about an article about the loopholes and how to legally go and take pictures somewhere? That would be much more interesting.

For example, you can't stand on the edge of an expressway and take pictures as the cars wiz by. But if you have a flat tire, you can stop and change a tire legally. So, if you have a flat tire, can you take a break from the laborious task of changing a tire and snap a few pictures?

Jan 07 13 07:26 am Link

Photographer

Faces2Die4 Photography

Posts: 426

Houston, Texas, US

ArtisticPhotography wrote:

Anyone can write an "article" on trespassing and say, "don't do it". Remember, you target audience is, in general, people who would like to trespass. So as a benefit to the community, how about an article about the loopholes and how to legally go and take pictures somewhere? That would be much more interesting.

For example, you can't stand on the edge of an expressway and take pictures as the cars wiz by. But if you have a flat tire, you can stop and change a tire legally. So, if you have a flat tire, can you take a break from the laborious task of changing a tire and snap a few pictures?

Sorry, but if the layperson gives bad advice nothing happens. I have a license and can get sued, reprimanded, suspended or disbarred for bad advice. That's why lawyers typically charge for the kind of advice you want. I'm also not familiar with New York laws nor am I licensed there.

Jan 07 13 07:52 am Link

Photographer

291

Posts: 11911

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California, US

overall, as with the other articles in this series, a pretty good mile-high view toward caution in this biz.  for this article it is a good reminder to respect the property of others just as one would expect the same for themselves from others.

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
However, under certain circumstances, illegally entering a vehicle or a structure could be construed as Burglary - a far more serious felony offense.

those certain circumstances would fall under the intent to commit a further crime.  simply entering without the intent to burgle or do harm or damage would likely not fall under the offense of burglary, rather, just the charge of trespassing or entering without permission.

Jan 07 13 08:15 am Link

Photographer

Black Dog Studios RI

Posts: 279

Providence, Rhode Island, US

Tampa Glamour wrote:
500 people a year are killed by trains when trespassing on railroad tracks.

It's not really "500 people a year are killed by trains while trespassing on railroad tracks."

It's more like "495 people a year are trespassing on railroad tracks while committing suicide by stepping in front of a train."

Jan 07 13 08:33 am Link

Photographer

Faces2Die4 Photography

Posts: 426

Houston, Texas, US

291 wrote:
overall, as with the other articles in this series, a pretty good mile-high view toward caution in this biz.  for this article it is a good reminder to respect the property of others just as one would expect the same for themselves from others.


those certain circumstances would fall under the intent to commit a further crime.  simply entering without the intent to burgle or do harm or damage would likely not fall under the offense of burglary, rather, just the charge of trespassing or entering without permission.

Agree. Burglary is usually defined as entering with intent to commit a felony or theft.

Jan 07 13 08:56 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36666

San Francisco, California, US

ArtisticPhotography wrote:
Anyone can write an "article" on trespassing and say, "don't do it". Remember, you target audience is, in general, people who would like to trespass. So as a benefit to the community, how about an article about the loopholes and how to legally go and take pictures somewhere? That would be much more interesting.

For example, you can't stand on the edge of an expressway and take pictures as the cars wiz by. But if you have a flat tire, you can stop and change a tire legally. So, if you have a flat tire, can you take a break from the laborious task of changing a tire and snap a few pictures?

Faces2Die4 Photography wrote:
Sorry, but if the layperson gives bad advice nothing happens. I have a license and can get sued, reprimanded, suspended or disbarred for bad advice. That's why lawyers typically charge for the kind of advice you want. I'm also not familiar with New York laws nor am I licensed there.

I don't understand what you would expect him to say.  What I have learned from this series is that it is not as much about the law as it is about safe practices.  People forget that the primary purpose of an attorney is to keep you out of trouble, not to get you out of trouble.  I have had some minor disagreements with the OP in some of his articles, but I would have to rate the series as excellent when you put it in context.  If you follow his advice, you will be less likely to have a problem.

More importantly though, if you follow his advice, you will never be forced to sort out the nuances which make the law what it is.  In my view it is a cloudy palette of things which are often subject to interpretation and rarely something that is black and white.

Jan 07 13 09:33 am Link

Photographer

ArtisticPhotography

Posts: 7699

Buffalo, New York, US

Black Dog Studios RI wrote:

It's not really "500 people a year are killed by trains while trespassing on railroad tracks."

It's more like "495 people a year are trespassing on railroad tracks while committing suicide by stepping in front of a train."

Actually, trains are surprising quiet from the front, coming straight at you. From the side they are noise as all heck, but if you were concentrating on something I see how you could miss one coming at you.

Jan 07 13 11:35 am Link

Photographer

MCPHOTO

Posts: 736

Duvall, Washington, US

I think it's simple not your property stay off or ask permission.

Jan 07 13 11:46 am Link

Photographer

ArtisticPhotography

Posts: 7699

Buffalo, New York, US

GPS Studio Services wrote:
I don't understand what you would expect him to say.  What I have learned from this series is that it is not as much about the law as it is about safe practices.  People forget that the primary purpose of an attorney is to keep you out of trouble, not to get you out of trouble.

I've always found there are two kinds of attorneys. There are those who tell you what you can't do and those that tell you what you can do. Once in a while, you'll even find one who will tell you how to do what you're not supposed to do: These are the ones worth knowing.

Having an attorney that tells you that trespassing is illegal and therefore you shouldn't do it is pretty lame. You knew it was illegal and you shouldn't do it. While the attorney would technically be correct in answering you, the real problem is that the attorney didn't answer your real question: How do I do it anyway.

In reality, an attorney saying that you shouldn't do it is like a woman's gynecologist saying "well, if you don't want baby's don't have sex". Technically it's correct, but it's not answering the real question.

Look at the example of railroad tracks and let's not argue the merits of having then in a picture, because there are few. The question really isn't how do I take pictures on railroad tracks after the rail road said "no", the question is, "how or where do I take the picture anyway, with safe and legal being benefits here."

There are ways to take the pictures, without trespassing. Most of the ways would give the appearance of trespassing but would be legal. So, what are the ways. That's the question people would like answered. The nuances of what is truly trespassing and what isn't is the meat and potatos. The gray areas are the fun areas. The areas that look illegal and aren't are even better. The question isn't how to break the rules, it how to make the rules no apply. In my business, that's probably about 10% of what I do.

We know the rules.
You don't trespass.
You don't have sex.
You don't tug of Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.

But getting around the rules is where the fun is.

You don't pull the cape off the ole Lon

Jan 07 13 02:52 pm Link

Photographer

ArtisticPhotography

Posts: 7699

Buffalo, New York, US

MCPHOTO wrote:
I think it's simple not your property stay off or ask permission.

Yes, it's that simple. Take the same picture as everyone else and you'll have a great portfolio of pictures that are just like everyone else.

http://rm.awarenessnetworks.com/6431588834812862203.jpg

Jan 07 13 02:55 pm Link

guide forum

Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36666

San Francisco, California, US

GPS Studio Services wrote:
I don't understand what you would expect him to say.  What I have learned from this series is that it is not as much about the law as it is about safe practices.  People forget that the primary purpose of an attorney is to keep you out of trouble, not to get you out of trouble.

ArtisticPhotography wrote:
I've always found there are two kinds of attorneys. There are those who tell you what you can't do and those that tell you what you can do. Once in a while, you'll even find one who will tell you how to do what you're not supposed to do: These are the ones worth knowing.

Having an attorney that tells you that trespassing is illegal and therefore you shouldn't do it is pretty lame. You knew it was illegal and you shouldn't do it. While the attorney would technically be correct in answering you, the real problem is that the attorney didn't answer your real question: How do I do it anyway.

In reality, an attorney saying that you shouldn't do it is like a woman's gynecologist saying "well, if you don't want baby's don't have sex". Technically it's correct, but it's not answering the real question.

Look at the example of railroad tracks and let's not argue the merits of having then in a picture, because there are few. The question really isn't how do I take pictures on railroad tracks after the rail road said "no", the question is, "how or where do I take the picture anyway, with safe and legal being benefits here."

There are ways to take the pictures, without trespassing. Most of the ways would give the appearance of trespassing but would be legal. So, what are the ways. That's the question people would like answered. The nuances of what is truly trespassing and what isn't is the meat and potatos. The gray areas are the fun areas. The areas that look illegal and aren't are even better. The question isn't how to break the rules, it how to make the rules no apply. In my business, that's probably about 10% of what I do.

We know the rules.
You don't trespass.
You don't have sex.
You don't tug of Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.

But getting around the rules is where the fun is.

You don't pull the cape off the ole Lon

I understand you point, but I don't know how he could tell you what you can do.  There are too many variations in too many places.  As an example, in Texas, if property is posted as "No Trespassing," then mere entry would be illegal.  In California, the entry isn't illegal, it is why you enter.  Our courts have found short term, transient use, to generally be OK, unless specifically prohibited by notice. So, for example, if you saw a tree and you entered the property briefly to photograph the tree, that is probably not criminal trespass, so long as you left promptly.  If it wasn't posted, even if fenced, you wouldn't have to leave until asked.  In either case, if asked you would have to leave.

On the other hand, if the sign said no trespassing and no picnicking, you would be trespassing if you ate a sandwich but not if you walked into check out the ducks (assuming that you left within a reasonable period of time).

The rules in California are not the same as NY or OK or Texas.  I think his point is that we don't all know what trespassing is.  Many of us merely think we know what trespassing is. 

I shoot on private property all the time, particularly out in the country.  I am respectful and avoid confrontation.  I try to ask when I can, and have never been denied permission.  On more than one occasion I have offered a farmer money to shoot on his property.  I was always given permission and they always refused payment.

It is difficult for an attorney to tell you what you can do.  Just because he thinks you can, a police officer may not.  The problem with the law is there is that which is clearly legal.  That which is clearly illegal and that which is in the grey area.  I suspect you would want to know about the grey areas, and that is where the answers are unclear.

Jan 07 13 03:20 pm Link

Photographer

EdwardKristopher

Posts: 3377

Tempe, Arizona, US

My name is Frank wrote:
"... And remember that the authorities are extra vigilant for terrorists, who sometimes photograph their targets in planning their attacks."

I may sound a little ignorant on this, but I have yet to hear of an instance when a photographer has been directly connected with a terrorist plot.

Where did this idea come from that would-be terrorists are running around photographing all kinds of things?

"There are loads of accounts of suspected terrorists, some of whom have been apprehended and prosecuted, who were observed photographing potential targets.  One was on the Washington State Ferries within the past two years -they escaped before they could be apprehended."

I have yet to hear or read of anything like this in the news, and if they get away, how do we know they are a terrorist?

:-)

Jan 08 13 10:23 pm Link

Jan 09 13 02:25 am Link

Photographer

291

Posts: 11911

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California, US

ArtisticPhotography wrote:
Having an attorney that tells you that trespassing is illegal and therefore you shouldn't do it is pretty lame. You knew it was illegal and you shouldn't do it. While the attorney would technically be correct in answering you, the real problem is that the attorney didn't answer your real question: How do I do it anyway.

no, it isn't lame at all.  as an officer of the court the responsibility of the attorney is to provide counsel to abide by the law and to advise against breaking the law is their fiduciary duty to the client.

Jan 09 13 07:38 am Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4142

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

twoharts wrote:
...

and there was a thread a while back from a model who now has a record because of trespassing on private property for a shoot.

.......

That was me. The link to the thread I started to attempt to inform the MM community is here, though in typical MM fashion, it went off topic quickly.

Jan 09 13 07:45 am Link

Photographer

FiveOne November

Posts: 172

Rochester, New York, US

Small Fruit Pits wrote:
You can file placement of no trespassing signs with the county, and people actually do that?

I was hoping to be up around the Finger Lakes this year....if so, I gotta remember that.

There is a lot of land around the Finger Lakes that is public property - parks, boating access, marinas and municipal areas. There's a wealth of places you can legally access the waterfronts without worrying about trespassing.  There are also rental cottages surrounding most of them.

Now - if you want unspoiled terrain, Hemlock Lake was restored to natural shores and there are only hiking trails around it.  It's beautiful, quiet and public.

Jan 09 13 07:58 am Link