They can photograph you, but you can’t photograph them


The buildings are ugly and not very picturesque. And you can probably grab screenshots of the buildings from your computer no matter where you live.

But if you live in the United States, you probably pay taxes, which not only helps maintain these buildings, but also help fund the employees that work in these buildings.

However, these employees are on some type of power trip where they believe they can order you not to take photos of the buildings, even though we have every right to photograph them from the outside, even if we are standing on federal property at the time as a settlement with Homeland Security Confirmed in 2010.

Nevertheless, BuzzFeed today posted an article headlined, “Why You Should Not Take Photos of the 7 Ugliest Buildings in D.C,” with the subhead, “Unless you like getting your camera taken from you.”

The writer, Benny Johnson, explains that he visited the following seven buildings on July 16 and 17 and was confronted by cops or security guards in all but one of the buildings.

Before his venture, he contacted the department flacks to ask if he would be allowed to take photos and all said yes, except the two that did not return his calls. The FBI even told him “tourists do it all the time.”

But here is what happened:

1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation: Was told only photos from the front of the building are allowed and was continually watched by a cop on a bicycle the entire time.

2. The U.S. Post Office Building: Was ordered to leave after he photographed a Sponge Bob mailbox because it was considered “suspicious.” That photo is posted below.

3. The Department of Health and Human Services: Security guard told him he was not allowed to take photos and ordered him to leave.

4. The Department of Labor: Security guard ordered him to leave because he was making people “nervous.” Eventually had to show credentials to a supervisor and explain his motive, but was still ordered to take photos from the sidewalk.

5. Housing and Urban Development: Three armed guards approached him. One ordered him to delete the photo, which he apparently did not. But he also did not take facial photos of the guard either.

6. The Department of Energy: Was ordered to hand over his camera, which he did, because he was considered “suspicious” in a “post-9/11 world.”

7. The Department of Education: He had no problems here, but perhaps they were too underfunded to hire guards to harass him.

Johnson is apparently an amateur at this because he did not capture any video of his encounters. He also did not capture the faces of the security guards or cops giving him unlawful orders. And he complied when one guard ordered him to hand over his camera.

So it’s not surprising he would advise readers not to photograph these buildings. And that will probably sit well with readers of BuzzFeed who are only interested in click bait to help get them through their boring day anyway.

But for those of us who follow this site and understand the importance of standing up for our rights, we should make it a point to photograph these buildings next time we are in Washington D.C. And don’t even bother contacting the flacks beforehand because we already know the law.