I received the following email from a Photography is Not a Crime reader asking for advice on how to handle invasive security guards at an Orlando theme park who have harassed him in the past for taking photos.
Rather than advise him to send the security guards to hell, I figured the best thing to do is allow other readers to respond to his question.
He is a family man, after all.
Last summer, I and my family visited Aquatica in Orlando. While my kids went on rides, I wandered around taking pictures. Pretty soon I was surrounded by security guards. They wanted to know my name and what I was up to. They said I was taking pictures of people without their permission. Someone had complained. I told them you couldn’t shoot in any direction in that park without strangers–a lot of them–being in the frame. I did not raise the lack of a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a water park: I wanted to avoid trouble. Then they asked to see the pictures in my camera. I was shooting film, so that point was moot; but if I had been shooting digital, I don’t know what I could have done at that point. More on that shortly. The officers were very courteous, I must say, and we parted on a friendly note. They said, “Please just be careful to not disturb people.”
I thought the incident was over, but in a few minutes they came after me again. They wanted to know my address and home telephone number. I suppose they had spoken to a superior officer and got an order to re-interrogate. Rather than escalate the confrontation, I gave them what they wanted. They did not ask for ID to prove the name and address, nor did I offer any. They left me alone after that. Presumably, they verified my name and address and checked to see if I have a criminal record. I don’t.
I dislike, however, that they have my name and address on a list somewhere. How should I have handled this differently? I didn’t want them to claim “probable cause” and seize my film. Why? Because prosecutors could have enlarged unimportant parts of carefully chosen frames to paint me as a pedophile/voyeur. (That would be quite easy when children are bound to be in many shots.) Also, I didn’t want my kids’ vacation spoiled by Daddy’s trip to jail, even if I was exonerated.
I’m going back to Orlando in about ten days, to Disney World. I’m a little scared of Florida now. How should I prepare? What do I need to know, just in case?..