It appears as if Downtown Silver Spring has become one of the increasing number of places in America where photography is banned. According to this photographer, The Peterson Companies, developer and manager of DTSS, has decided that taking photographs is a no-no.
This past Tuesday, having the day off of work, I went to downtown Silver Spring, had lunch and then took out my camera and, standing on Ellsworth Avenue I began taking shots of the buildings with the blue sky and clouds as a back drop. I was immediately approached by a security guard who told me that there was no picture taking allowed in Downtown Silver Spring.” What do you mean?” I said, “I am on a city street, in a public place, taking pictures is right that I have protected by the first amendment.” “You will need to go to the management office,” the guard said.This is completely absurd. This is Silver Spring we're talking about, not Dick Cheney's hotel or anything. They promote all types of family events in DTSS, but I guess if you bring out your camera to take pictures of your kids, you risk getting hassled by The Man. I guess the New York Times violated the rules when they took a photo for their article about Silver Spring, but maybe it was overlooked because they didn't write "bad things" about it.
In the management office I met a woman who informed me that Downtown Silver Spring including Ellsworth Avenue is private property, not a public place, and subject to the rules of the Peterson Companies. They have a no photography policy to “Protect them from people who might want to use the photographs as part of a story in which they could write bad things about us.” And she told me that many of the chain stores in Downtown Silver Spring don’t what their “concepts” to be photographed for security reasons or that I could sell my photographs and that is not allowed. I told her that I was well aware of my rights to take pictures on public property, any pictures that I take I have a right to sell, and questioned how they could have a policy that limits our individual rights when Downtown Silver Spring was built with public money.
The photography ban only applies to mere mortals, as goddesses are permitted to snap away at will.
From the photographer's blog:
Today, we returned to downtown Silver Spring for lunch... She was also carrying around an enormous digital SLR camera, snapping pictures of her entourage when she wasn't posing for pictures with others.More photos can be found here.
Ellsworth Drive isn't the only place where you can't take photos in Silver Spring. Another photographer was accosted by security after taking this photo in Metro Plaza.
Fox 5 ran a story on this today on the 5 o'clock news. It can be viewed here. I'm mildly disappointed they didn't interview a representative from Peterson to at least get their side of the story.
FOURTH AND FINAL UPDATE:
The Post has now picked up the story. Also, here's some discussion of the story in Marc Fisher's chat. It's also now made it on Boing Boing.