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Old 7th November 2021, 05:13 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Southend on Sea, Essex, England UK
Posts: 3,157
Default Run in with a 'Security Guard' today...

Well, it was a sunny afternoon here in the UK, which is good to see in November. I had wanted to get to the seafront, which is just a mile or so from my house, for a number of weeks now, but the weather hadn't been so good. I wanted to specifically get to the 'Adventure Park' on the seafront, which is only open at weekends at the moment, to shoot some new pictures for this months Print Exchange. I had taken lots of pictures there before, but they had either been digital or on colour film. For this trip, I loaded up my Fuji GA645Zi with a roll of HP5+ and made sure the batteries were fully charged.

I parked up as close as I could in a 'Pay and Display' parking area and got my mobility buggy and walking sticks out of the car and set off to the park. I spent about the next half an hour taking some shots and taking in some fresh air. I was then approached by a burly Security Guard, dressed head to toe in black and wearing a stab vest.

No pleasantries or 'Hello, how you today?' came, but 'Can I ask what you are taking pictures of?'. 'Just bits and bobs', I replied. 'Can I see what you've taken then?' he asked. 'Not really', I replied, taking the camera out of my buggy's basket, to show him. 'I'm taking some pictures on a black and white film,' I said. 'Well you can't take any more pictures because you are using a 'professional' camera', he said. 'But loads of other people are taking pictures with big digital cameras and phones, all which take 'professional quality' pictures', I replied. 'Yes, but I'm telling you that you can't take any more.' 'But what are the parks rules about taking pictures?', I asked. 'It doesn't matter what they say, I'm telling you that you can't, okay?!' This changed the conversation totally and I was going to stand my ground, even though he now came across as quite intimidating and other people may have backed down at this point.

I looked at him straight in the face now and asked, 'What is the company's policy about photography in the park?' 'It's nothing to do with them, I'm telling you not to take any more photographs', he replied. 'Well I'll speak to a manager to find out then,' I said. 'There's no point in doing that, as they'll only tell you what I'm telling you right now!' he replied. 'Well, I'll speak to them anyway as I want to make a formal complaint', I told him. He then defensively asked if I knew where 'Customer Services' were, to which I told him that 'I would find them.' His final words were, 'Well, don't let me see you taking any more pictures today, otherwise I will have you ejected from the park and banned from entering in future!' I could have and wanted to say something unpleasant back but I stopped myself from doing so.

Eventually finding the correct window, I spoke to a young and polite young lady, who asked me what I was taking pictures of, to which I told her mostly the structures and buildings in the park. She explained that privacy rules work in the park, to which I again mentioned the numerous people who were also taking photographs in the park. 'But they are not using professional equipment', she replied, looking at my camera. By now I was getting the same spiel as before, but at least she and I were engaging in a polite conversation. I told her that I understood the rules (but still thinking how ridiculous they are) and finally pointed out the intimidating behaviour of one of the companies security guards, towards me. She apologised on his behalf and said that she would have a 'word with the team'.

I continued to go around the park, but with my camera now back in a bag. When I eventually left the park, the guard was just entering (presumably) a tea room, which was near the exit of the park. Seeing him out of the corner of my eyes, I turned my head and he gave me a rather sarcastic wave, whilst saying 'Bye, bye!'

Once out of the park, I went along the perimeter fence, on a public path. Through the fence one gets a view over the majority of the park and sticking my camera lens through the fence, I was able to take one last picture, which finished off my film. 'Up yours!', I mumbled, feeling that I had had the last word.

I'm feeling a bit better after writing this but I will be writing a complaining email to 'Customer Care', at the park.

I know not all security guards are like this, but I still find rules that were quoted to me today to be ridiculous, when, as stated, so many others are taking maybe hundreds of pictures, whilst I only took twelve.

Lets hope that there's at least one good one on the roll of film.
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Old 7th November 2021, 05:54 PM
MartyNL's Avatar
MartyNL MartyNL is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: based in The Netherlands
Posts: 3,024

Sorry to hear this Terry.

Luckily you didn't have a tripod otherwise he would have detained or arrested you for having an offensive weapon in your possession!

“Reaching a creative state of mind thru positive action
is considered preferable to waiting for inspiration.”
- Minor White, 1950
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Old 7th November 2021, 06:06 PM
BuzzNL BuzzNL is online now
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 129

That's too bad Terry.
I bet this conversation would have gone a different way if the guard had tried to have a normal conversation with you. Probably still without pictures, but also without the bad feeling you have now...

In Holland there are certain events (eg concerts or soccer matches) where they have a similar policy, stating that you can't enter with "professional gear". To me this "professional gear" thing makes no sense.
I've heard about a photographer getting refused when trying to enter with a Canon EOS camera with an EF 70-300mm, but when they'd bring the EF 70-300mm DO (which is only half the size), there would be no problem.
So it's all about size and appearance, apparently.
Furthermore, modern digital gear gets smaller and better, so where to draw that line?

I wonder what would have happened had you tried to set up a 4x5 or even 8x10 camera there...
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Old 7th November 2021, 07:34 PM
Chrisvclick Chrisvclick is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Wales Uk, Gods Garden
Posts: 88

At a concert a few years ago (private property) they had a no camera rule. Yet flashes were going off most of the time and plenty of cameras visible. So i asked how if there was a no camera rule. Answer i got was tripod or removable lens and they classed it as a proffesional camera and so not allowed..
Since then i have taken a tidy compact camera and not been stopped.... Got some good photo's too.....
Is there a level below "in the poop" ?
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Old 7th November 2021, 08:17 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Daventry, Northants
Posts: 8,408

Terry, my deepest sympathies. I'd be "up-tight" about this as well. This type of thing keeps occurring it would seem.

As I see it there can only be 2 reasons why so called non-professional cameras are OK

1. There are incapable of filming anything the park owners do not wish to be filmed such as kids. I-phones must somehow be able to preserve privacy so any invasion of privacy or other items detected by the i-phone as forbidden are prevented by said i-phone from instant transmission around the world and probably prevents the phone from working.

2. A much more likely reason is that there are just too many users of i-phones and compact cameras for the owners of the park and its security to have any chance of controlling them

So frankly in my opinion you are always dealing with "bone-heads/ jobsworths" at the basic level be they unpleasant guards or even more pleasant staff. Neither in terms of initiating sensible discussion or change are generally worth bothering with

I hope you get some movement from "customer care" but unless you have a way of escalating it to a much higher level I fear that customer care will consist of the same basic level of those people for whom repeating the same bone-headed policy will be their role

In all of these sorts of situations the key is to find the organ grinder and give that person reasons why you are not a person to be ignored and why it may pay him/her to give proper consideration to your argument

I have never had to engage in such a battle but if I had to and got no satisfaction from my letter of complaint I'd consider the likes of BBC Look East and or the local newspaper. Bad publicity especially that which casts the "top brass" in a bad light is anathema to them

On the other hand and as long as you have the satisfaction of having got it off your chest here, then it may sensible to decide to put it down to experience

Only you can judge what your best route is.

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Old 7th November 2021, 08:47 PM
Lostlabours Lostlabours is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: West Midlands/Aegean
Posts: 1,814

Originally Posted by Chrisvclick View Post
At a concert a few years ago (private property) they had a no camera rule. Yet flashes were going off most of the time and plenty of cameras visible. So i asked how if there was a no camera rule. Answer i got was tripod or removable lens and they classed it as a proffesional camera and so not allowed..
Since then i have taken a tidy compact camera and not been stopped.... Got some good photo's too.....
I've photographed a lot of concerts over the years at one time 2 or 3 nights a week and occasionally 2 different venues on the same night. Usually some video as well and the odd 3 camera video as well as stills but then I did have assisants and was there officially..

There would be a no pro or bulky cameras rule but the odd few would creep in. I had an advantage as I'd often work with the lighting technician on the desk to get the sort of lighting I neeeded for maybe the first 3 numbers. But if another photographer got in the way and didn't move when politely asked there would have been an issue, but once they realised I was working with and for the band there wasn't a problem.

On to Terry's issue the privacy part is only to protect children, there is a no tripod rule in many city parks. But security here seems heavy handed. I have similar issues working in Turkey and Greece in archaeological sites and as a largely LF 5x4 shooter had to learn to shoot hand held.I could get a permit but the time and cost just isn't worth it. I use a small back-pack, more a fashion item than a sports backpack, and can get my Super Graphic and three, lenses, my 6x17 camera and at a pish my Yashicamat 124 inside, and carry a DSLR. or better still carry the Speed Graphic and the DSLR is in the small pack.

On a trip to Olympia in Greece the tour guide on the coach said you can't take all those cameras in. No problem, larger packs had to be leftat the gates, I did that trip 7 times although only once with the 6x17 camera.

I guess in Turkey and Greece they see a hand held LF or MF camera and it's nothing. Pro's there all use DSLRs and switched very early but a budget conumer DSLR looks no different to a high end DSLR or a 20 year old DSLR or film SLR to the untrained eye

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Old 8th November 2021, 08:50 AM
John King John King is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: County Durham
Posts: 2,842
Default Bully boy (Emphasis on BULLY)

Most of this is down to lack of professionalism by the character you had the misfortune to bump into. There will be ‘rules’ about images being taken for professional, i.e. money making purposes and you met someone who was probably bored and had indigestion from a greasy large full English breakfast and his wife had given him ear ache before he left home.

It also shows how uneducated some people are about people’s situations. If you were on your mobility scooter that should have told him something was not as he first perceived it.

Looking from his side what he was dressed in has little bearing on the situation. That will be what he has to wear for his type of duty including the stab vest, a sad sign of the times but the owners/operators have a duty of care to their employees, as obnoxious as some can be. Make no mistake they do put their life at risk when dealing with some people.

I think few more questions in a respectful manner from him and an explanation why and where you could see the rules (possibly Bylaws which carry a lot of clout). If ir were a council run park they have to have these 'rules' and being able to see them would have stopped the situation from escalating and you feeling grievously insulted.

From what you said there was absolutely no reason for him to get all heavy handed. Did he ever at any stage ask if you were a professional photographer or did he just make an incorrect assumption? All too common!

Were these ’rules’ clearly displayed for the public to see and read? Like all places where there are restrictions on what you can and cannot do?

If I were in your situation I would almost certainly get in touch with the local newspaper, they always like a local interest story to highlight overbearing and officious ‘Wanna be a copper but didn’t have the intelligence’ sort of people. It would hit home more effectively if they knew you were on your mobility scooter. I am thinking of discrimination here.

I would also write and make a formal complaint about this person to who-ever employs him. I would also ask for a copy of the so-called rules. Also ask for a copy of their policy how they enforced them especially where people with obvious problems are concerned There is such a thing as discretion which is sadly lacking here.

If it is a council run park, go to the top, don’t deal with the minions, they don’t have the power to make decisions..

Good luck

Last edited by John King; 8th November 2021 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 9th November 2021, 12:01 PM
Nat Polton Nat Polton is offline
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 574

I have a copy of an excellent little book, giving general advice on the laws affecting photography.
It is on the bay secondhand for only about three UK pounds including postage.
Second edition, blue cover, and slightly more up to date, was printed in 1989.


I would have liked to scan the contents page, but as the first chapter covers copyright I thought better.

When printed twenty two years ago things were a bit different and most people were simply polite to each other without trying to force some whacky p.c. theme or bias onto you. So allowances must be made for the passage of time.

It is written in a clear, easy to understand way and meant for photographers, both amateur and professional.
If you are looking for the full legal text with all the if's and buts this is not for you. Try HMO Stationery Office for a bit of heavier reading.

I shall list a few of the chapter topics to give you a flavour of the book.


It informs about places you cannot take photos at without permission, such as court precincts, railway stations, docks etc.
A good buy for three pounds even if a little dated in parts.

It will all be over by Christmas.
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Old 9th November 2021, 12:39 PM
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skellum skellum is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Isle of Lewis
Posts: 1,324

This place, Terry??

No smoking, no Booze, no bikes, no mention of photography.
Prides itself on being 'accessible'. Complaints page here:

Frankly, the prospect of a national paper carrying the story "elderly amatuer photographer on mobility scooter threatened by ignorant rent-a-cop" should strike dread in their hearts.
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Old 9th November 2021, 12:55 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Daventry, Northants
Posts: 8,408

Well it's the friendliest park in Europe apparently. I wonder what the second friendliest one is like?

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