I’m thrilled to get another cover of West Jet’s in flight Up magazine!
Last September I was lucky enough to be in one of my favourite places on the planet… New York City! I was there for some meetings and to shoot this great story for up! magazine about Jane Jacobs’ heroic struggle to preserve Washington Square Park and the architectural charm of SoHo, Greenwich Village, and the Lower East Side. I hope that you’ll visit the West Jet blog where you will find the story written by Eric Rumble:
Jane Jacobs’ Manhattan
Eric does a masterful job of exploring the history and social implications of the park, and some of the coolest districts in New York City.
To see a full edition of the magazine online, please visit:
up! magazine – May 2011
The story and photographs appear on pages 46-55
Oh no… Not another security guard story, and why I’ll never eat at Cafe de la Esquina
Yes folks, I’m afraid so. It seems like everywhere I go, there is another security guard that thinks he is saving the world from terrorists, by preventing me from taking photos. It’s very frustrating since I have every right under the law to do my job and take these photos. In some cases I have to respect the wishes of security, such as when I am on private property. That’s a given. I would not want someone to take photos of my home or in my home without permission, so I always follow the rules when it comes to private property. However in this case I was trying to get a shot of Cafe de la Esquina seen in the two photos here, when I was approached by a rather large gentleman in a suit, who appeared to be cracking his knuckles as he traversed the street to come and have a little chat with me.
To put things into perspective, I was tired, it had been raining for 3 days since I arrived in New York City, and I finally had a nice clear day to get my photos done for this cool story for up! I had been up since sunrise, walking from Greenwich Village, to SoHo, and on to the Lower East Side. In fact, I was asked to get some interior shots of the restaurant and had been there earlier in the day to talk to the manager. She seemed unusually suspicious of someone who was trying to get her restaurant some free publicity, and I was quite puzzled by her attitude. I waited for a while inside the restaurant to while she went to talk to either the owner or her superior to see if it would be cool for me to get some photos. Unfortunately for me, and even more so for them if you ask me, she came back with a negative reply to my request. As I said earlier, I’m cool with respecting the wishes of property owners, but this time I was kind of stunned when they declined the request, since the photos were to be presented in a good way to so many people in such a classy magazine. So, I talked to my art director who put together the shoot plan, and she said that it was okay, but please go back at night for an exterior shot. Cool! I love night photography, as so many of you who read my blog on a regular basis know. Besides, Cafe de la Esquina does have a very photogenic facade, and with all the sweet neon lights it was bound to come out looking sharp.
As I returned that evening, I was eager to finish the work day with a fun series of photographs of the illuminated restaurant. When I arrived, I was planning on having dinner there after I had finished with my photos. I love Mexican food and I was really hungry. So I set up my tripod and was beginning to adjust the settings of my camera and look through the lens, when I saw the above mentioned gentleman, who looked like a cross between Mr. Clean in a nice suit and a great white shark. At first I just thought that he was just crossing the street and would walk right by me. Nope… No such luck!
As he positioned himself next to me, or should I say as he stood right in front of me preventing me from taking a photo of the restaurant on public property, I got annoyed and asked him if he could please move. This is when he began to question me about what I was doing, without ever telling me who he was, or why he was asking me these questions. Since I have nothing to hide, and my goals were to do my job in an efficient manner for the magazine, I decided to ask him why he was questioning me instead of suggesting to him that he should remove his giant bald Mr. Clean head from his… Oh you get the picture, I was polite. Polite but annoyed. That, and as I am self employed, I really don’t have a dental plan that covers punches to the face. In this case, as in so many other cases, discretion was the better part of valour.
He then began to tell me that the owners would like to talk to me to find out why I’m taking photos. Fair enough, so I told him that they could come and discuss the matter with me out here. He didn’t like that option, and I wasn’t going to set foot on their property while there was the potential for any form of conflict. He then went on to tell me that they didn’t want me taking photos of the establishment without their permission. So I informed him that I didn’t wish to see war, famine, or disease in the world, but neither of us were likely to get our wishes any time soon. After all, I didn’t appreciate the intimidation, and I did explain exactly why I was taking the photos and for whom, and why this would be a good thing for the restaurant as it is a great way to get free publicity in a well respected magazine, but that wasn’t enough for him. He then threatened to call the police! So I did what any polite Canadian would do in this situation, I offered to let him use my phone and dial 911 for him, just in case he had forgotten the number ;) I know my legal rights and he did too, he was just hoping that I would be scared off by the threat of the police. Ironically, the beautiful police station is just a block away and I had been there earlier in the day to photograph the building for the story. You can see it in the second West Jet blog post with my photos:
Manhattan’s Historic Buildings
I always take into consideration the fact that while I’m on a shoot, I am representing my client as well as myself. It would be rather foolish of me to do or say anything that could tarnish my reputation, or that of the magazine. Frustrating circumstances arise from time to time, and I try my best to deal with them in a polite fashion, and I think I did my best with this security guard. Was I sarcastic? Sure. Rude? I don’t think so. I love my job and want to keep taking photos of beautiful places and nice people for as long as I can. This is my work, what I get paid to do and I’d appreciate it if security people would just understand, that other photographers and I are just trying to take the best photos we can, for good reasons. I got my shots, so I’m happy, but all you security people out there with a chip on your shoulders, please treat us with dignity and courtesy and we will do the same. Understand that we have rights, and please do not try to use threats or force without just cause. You are bound by the same laws that we are supposed to follow, so do your job to the best of your ability, and remember that respect commands respect. Thank you.
I have nothing bad to say about the restaurant or the food. My issue here was with the security guard who was acting on behalf of the restaurant. Needless to say, I did not end up eating there, so I can’t comment on the food or service. The place is very popular, so I’m assuming that the food is quite tasty. I just have no intention of going back there, but that’s just me.
On parting note, I have a question :)
I debated which image I liked best of the restaurant, the one with the yellow cab, or the clean version that showcases the restaurant’s facade with no distraction. Which one do you prefer?
Enjoy more travel photos and stories:
I like the shot with a cab! Kudos on standing your ground :)
I lean a bit toward the one with the dented cab … bit more NYC …
But I really like both of them. I feel the place a little bit more with the cab!
Congrats on COVER … Great work …
Anne McKinnell says
Thank you Ken for a great post. There is good advice in here on how to deal with such situations for those of us that have less experience dealing with these kinds of things.
As for the shots, both are great of course, but if the main subject is the restaurant then I prefer the one without the cab. But if the focus is New York, then I prefer the one with the cab.
Anne McKinnell says
Oh, and congratulations on the outstanding cover shot! That is a wonderful image.
Michael Russell says
I agree with Anne and for the same reasons concerning the restaurant photo. I haven’t been harassed by private security but I have had people send the police my way while shooting in downtown Vancouver. In both cases this was just a quick conversation as to my being there and they were on their way.
Great shot on the cover too btw!
Pete | Hecktic Travels says
Crazy that they were so uppity about you being there… Great job and congrats on the cover. In regards to which photo I prefer, my choice is the one with the cab. As Richard says above, it’s more NYC.
Camels & Chocolate says
CONGRATULATIONS. It’s beautiful, as always, and I so love the signature Ken Kaminesky style.
Camels & Chocolate says
And I like the cab shot! And also how you handled yourself when confronted with a douche =)
Dave Wilson says
Ah – the perennial problem of the tripod-totting photographer. In my experience, New York is the world’s least photographer-friendly city. Maybe it’s a north-east thing, though, since I’ve had problems in Boston too.
If you want a security-hassle-free experience, come and shoot in Austin. I’ve been here 17 years and despite a lot of downtown shooting, have never been approached by a security guard. Heck, the State Troopers in the Capitol typically end up discussing photography and are completely unfazed when I show up with tripod and a backpack stuffed with gear.
I’m not sure that this laid-back attitude applies to the whole of Texas, mind you. I spent an hour shooting around the wonderful Chevron building in Houston last night and was shadowed (but not approached) by a walkie-talkie using security guard. No confrontation but I was very much aware that I was under close observation.
You’re such a rock star!! That’s so great. And I can’t pick a favorite — they’re too different. Wild that one car can make such a difference… You’re so talented.
Geri Grad`` says
I like the shot of the yellow cab in front of the restaurant
Boo Hoo for the restaurant, missed out on your great photo layout for the magazine !!
Rui Pajares says
Beatifull picture from my dream’s place. This is sugar for my eyes ;) This is ART!
The one with the cab in front of the restaurant… because f*ck’em I say! But to be honest the one with the cab says New York more then without it. It gives the full picture I think and you instantly know what your seeing when you see that cab.
I had the same issue a few nights ago shooting a night shot of a fort in Jaipur, India. Think the cop was just trying to get a bribe but non-the-less I put my tripod away and took one last shot without it (resting it on a rock) and funny thing was… it came out as the best shot! lol
I’ll be heading to NYC and was wondering about my legal rights shooting photographs there. I know if you use a video camera and put it on a tripod then you have to register with the city first for permission but what about just photographs and a tripod? Is there a website that details it out, that one could print the official law on it for NYC and carry copies of it with you while out shooting? I’ll be there the end of July and just wondering as I was just thinking about this issue a few days ago. I’m American but still don’t want to get hassled and all when there but I know how I am and would end up getting into a fight about it if I knew I was in the right. I totally agree with private property but after that what are the rules on street photography?
Cindy Eve says
hiya Ken, great story. on our trip to NYC in 2003 we found the NYC police quite intimidating, but on the whole pleasant and thankfully they didnt give us any grief about the photos we were taking….probably coz I had a pathetic little digital :)
I love the photo with the cab….places it firmly in NYC. shame you didnt get to eat at the restaurant. I had a similar situation at a chocolate shop…..not even free publicity on my blog would change their minds. ah well
thanks for the great stories
Roy | cruisesurfingz says
Gorgeous. Well done!
Mark E Tisdale says
Great shots despite the hassle! I will never understand the paranoia about cameras. Last year I was approached by someone who had seen me take a photo of their house weeks before. She said the threat of terrorism scared her… uhm… yeh, the terrorists are out to blow up your 100 year old victorian in a town of 4,000, major target…
WOW ! Terrific !
Merci Ken, ça fait des années que je rêve de visiter NYC, grâce à tes magnifiques photos c’est en partie fait ! Quand je serai installée au Québec, j’irai à New-York.
Thank you Ken, it has been years since I dream to visit NYC, thanks to your magnificent photos it is partially made! When I be settled in Quebec, I shall go to New York.
Adriana Perez Vieira says
Thanks for the story
John Maidment says
I prefer the photo with the cab as it really identifies the setting as New York. Despite the fact that there are “Yellow” Cabs everywhere, they are most associated with NYC.
You mentioned that you had been asked to shoot inside the restaurant, which by the way, I read as “The Corner Deli” in the photo and not as Cafe de la Esquina as mentioned in your blog, and yet the owner / managers were not aware that you would be shooting there. If you had been asked by them beforehand you must have been confused about their refusal as well as annoyed. However, everyone is entitled to change their mind about having their business photographed especially if there was no contract. If it was your publication that had asked you, then they are at fault for not getting approval in advance from the owner. It’s not like they are the National Enquirer. While legally you were within your rights to shoot photos of their business from a public street the police sometimes will take exception if you are using a tripod, and who knows if they had arrived whether or not they would prefer to support their local restaurant or a photographer they don’t really know. Considering the “look” of the so called “security guard” you described, it is possible that the restaurant may have connections to people you really don’t want to ever meet !!!
Love the cover shot. It is spectacular.
Erin in Costa Rica says
Personally, I like the photo with the cab more. :)
Erin in Costa Rica says
Personally, I like the photo with the cab more :)
jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World says
Sucks about the hassle. Does that happen a lot in your profession? Great shots though.
Oh no, not again!! You should come to Vancouver BC for your next project. We have beautiful landscape, beautiful people and wonderful security guards who promise not to hassle you when you drop in. Beautiful magazine cover though, another excellent job.
ps. I like the one without the cab, too distracting.
Angeline M says
The photo with the cab, definitely; brings more life to the photo. I think you should mail said establishment a copy of up! with a print out of your blog post tucked in to mark the right page.
Angeline M says
The photo with the cab, definitely; brings more life to the photo. I also think you should mail said establishment a copy of up! with a print of this blog post tucked in to mark the page of the story.
Dan Martin says
Great story. I it is difficult to say which one. Initially I thought the clean one without the cab, however after looking at them both some more I think the yellow from the cab makes the restaurant more vivid. Maybe it is the contrasting colors, so I vote for the pic with the cab.
Dan Martin says
I think the yellow from the cab makes the restaurant ‘pop’, I vote for the pic with the cab.
Ken Kaminesky says
Dave, I remember your brilliant post about the security guards! Thanks for reminding me, we should get a few photographers together to write a open letter to the security guards of the world, and try to get i published by the New York Times… Let’s talk :)
Abby, rock star huh? But I know nothing about geology! ;)
T-Roy, sent you a few good documents as per your request. If anyone else would like to get some good info about shooting in NYC, or how to deal with security, police and city officials, please drop me a line.
Mark, I tire of the terrorist thing, it is beyond insane and paranoid. As Ben Franklin said: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
Sandy, vous êtes très bienvenu. NYC est vraiment une des merveilles du monde, et peut être ma ville préféré. C’est juste 6 heures de route de Montreal a NYC! :)
John, I agree there was confusion with the restaurant about the interior shots. I did go in to talk with them and they refused. While I was confused, I completely respect their right to say no. I think I was very clear about that in my post. The police can take exception all they want, but I am within my legal rights and I had the law in my backpack. I also carry a document from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, which stipulates my right to use a tripod without a permit. Plus I have a copy of a NYPD operations order directing the police officers how to deal with photographers. The police have to follow the law just as much as they have to enforce it. :)
Thanks everyone for the great comments!! I really loved working on this shoot for up! NYC in September is one of the best things in the world. I’d like to be clear about the fact that I have no issue with the NYPD at all. I have never been faced with a NYPD officer who treated me with anything but total respect. I shoot right in front of them all the time in the city and not once have I ever been stopped or confronted. I can’t say that about a LOT of other cities, so I tip my hat to the men and women of the NYPD for being such cool cops :)
Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says
Congrats! Great photos too! Scott and I went to Horton Plaza in Downtown San Diego yesterday and took a few photos of the architecture inside and we were approached by a security guard that said we are not allowed to take photos for safety reasons. Well, then he said it was mostly about intellectual property. Blah blah blah.
I think I actually like the shot without the cab better.
Firt time I’ve seen your blog, really great! I like both images, but prefer the one without the taxi. It’s a little too prominent and I think detracts from the charm of the restaurant.
CAz Makepeace says
I actually like the one with the cab in front more. It adds more texture and colour to the photograph, but both are amazing.
You are so talented Ken. Congratulations on the magazine feature, totally deserved.
I think there is something dodgy going on in that restaurant!
Jeremy B says
Your photos are awesome that story is interesting. I have no idea why they wouldn’t want the pub or why they would send a security guard to threaten you.
As for the photo, I think both are great. Your photos are beautiful. While I think the cab is an awesome photo, it detracts from the restaurant a bit while the first photo would be better at focusing on the restaurant alone. Give your situation, I would go for the one with the cab! :)
I liked the first one without the cab, I can’t quite put my finger one why though. They are both fantastic!
Awesome pics dude! You’ve got skills my man!
Awesome! and congrats!
amazing photos!! :)
Joanna Kapica says
It’s a wonderful shot!
Well done :)
Seattle Dredge says
Wow, you are talented! :D
NY Security Guard, security guards says
i liked the pictures…………..
James Howe says
Sorry to hear about the issue with the security guard, but at least you managed to get a couple of wonderful images. Of the two, I prefer the one with the cab. I like the addition of the yellow element and it also makes it quite obvious that this was taken in New York.
security guard says
Thanks for sharing it’s really helpful for me.
Haha! Great stories about the security guards. Thanks for finding time and writing about this subject!