New York/Photo Permits

The city of New York has proposed requiring permits for photography and film making in the street.

The Mayor’s Office of Theater, Film, and Broadcasting, which coordinates film and television production and issues permits around the five boroughs, is considering rules that could potentially severely restrict the ability of even amateur photographers and filmmakers to operate in New York City. The NY Times reports that the city’s tentative rules include requiring any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour (including setup and breakdown time) to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The regulation would also apply to any group of five or more people who would be using a tripod for more than ten minutes, including setup and breakdown time.

-(Excerpted from the Gothamist)

Film by Jem Cohen

Jem Cohen, an independent filmmaker, whom I’ve met, writes the following:

Unfortunately, we believe we must see the proposed regulations not only as a blow against New York as a city that welcomes and inspires art-making (and historical documentation), but as part of a continuum of broader attacks against civil liberties and free expression.

I couldn’t agree more. An organization called Picture New York – without pictures of New York is leading the opposition against the city’s proposal. If you want to know more, or would like to help, please sign the petition on the site.

As a photographer who has, to a great extent, built a career on photographing the streets and parks of New York, I feel it is my responsibility to speak out on this issue. Those of us who express ourselves using a camera are the eyes of the city. Whether we operate as commercial artists, fine artists, documentarists, bloggers, or journalists, we present the image of the city to the world. Our efforts should be encouraged, not suppressed.

Father Duffy Square (Times Square), Lee Friedlander

Imagine New York without Walker Evans, Berenice Abbot, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Ezra Stoller, Diane Arbus, Joel Meyerowitz, Cindy Sherman, Len Jenshel, Jan Staller, Joel Sternfeld, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, and on and on. These are artists who have freely wielded their still cameras in this city. A similar list of filmmakers could as easily be compiled.

Ground Zero – 2007

Photography = free speech.