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Don't Take a Picture on the Plane Until You Read This Story

Next time you’re tempted to take a snapshot of an interesting cloud formation or your seatmate sprawling into your personal space on a plane, remember Arash Shirazi and Steven Leslie. ( More...

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Sad, sad, sad. As a photographer of over thirty-five (35)years. never have I had ANY airline employee, TSA or Law Enforcement order me "Not to photograph or video". There are numerous airports around our country, which have PUBLIC AREAS, and within those areas do in fact include airport gate areas which permit .. photographs or video. If these carriers want to attempt to enforce, such a policy, they then should BE REQUIRED to make this information public as well. What will they tell authorized news media personnel ?
Jeff Lawson 3
TSA security check lines and also customs areas usually have signage that says no photography.
K H 1
Not true. Photography is explicitly permitted at TSa checkpoints. Customs is a different story but lately they don't seem to care.
Mark Lansdell 1
Customs, KBWI, 5-2015, Cell phones had to be OFF, and cameras stowed.
Taterhed 1
NOT explicitly permitted if it captures images of security procedures....
K H 2
preacher1 -9
You may have been a photographer for 35 years but only in the last 2-3 has it been possible to shoot a picture in ATL and have it in LAX before you can even walk to a plane. Could it be that your right to take a picture stops where the rights of someone not wishing to be photographed begins? A public area is one thing, but in a gate area, you are in the domain of the gate agent & crew.
jbqwik 6
James Bond used a pen camera; nobody knew. My point that methods and devices to take surreptitious photos have been available since WWII.
Could it be the real reason for such rules if because of potential liabilities when TSA enployees behave badly? Same reason police unions have resisted being filmed. OTOH, they these agencies film *you* with impunity. I'm not taking a stand either way, just pointing-out the obvious.
carlsonbe 4
I would just point out that while an airplane might be private property (of the airline) or it could be a public conveyance, the gate area surely is a public area accessible by the citizenry (public property). The ACLU says "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties." Sometimes law enforcement or others may try to limit your right to photograph, but the courts have always upheld it when tested.
Mark Lansdell 0
Somehow I just can't equate the ACLU with the Washington Supremes, A 98 pound fkight attendant wields the power of a marine gunny and in this case I'd rather deal with the gunny. You go ahead and push your rights to take a picture you can find in a magazine and I'll wave to you from the end of the runway.
s2v8377 8
This is a badly written article with a few extreme cases of employees making bad judgment calls.

I generally find AA employees to be some the nicest about pictures.

The golden rule is just don't take pictures or videos of the employees.
Nick Scafidi 3
I was on a recent USAIR flight and a flight attendant approached a passenger and confronted him about taking a picture of another flight attendant stating that passengers are not to take pictures of them. The passenger replied he took a picture because the FA looked like someone he knew. That was the first time I ever heard that you could not take pictures of this nature on the airplane. Perhaps if the passenger asked that would have made a difference.
chalet 5
Is this Gestapo,Stazi, KGB and assorted TSA and some airline lowly employees affected by paranoia playing FBI.
robert albee 2
Flying in Russia with a camera is quite challenging. "NO PHOTO" accompanied by an attempt to take your camera (sometimes by armed personnel) is quite normal. I was reprimanded for taking a picture out a commercial aircraft window during flight. A friend was escorted into security just for having a camera inside of an airport.
paul trubits 2
I guess it is ok to take pictures of fat naked guys running around the terminal.
sparkie624 2
What ever toots your whistle..... :)
David Searls 2
Every airline has its own rules regarding photography, and some are clearer than others. But they're all consistent about one thing: they don't want you shooting airline personnel and equipment. Shooting landscapes and clouds out the window is fine.

Through many decades of flying countless miles, I have never had a problem shooting landscapes, clouds and auroras out passenger windows. Here are some examples of my efforts, most of which all credit the airlines flown: . Hundreds of these have also found their way to Wikipedia. This one, for example , is in 9 different Wikipedia entries.

So aerial photography on commercial flights can be useful as well as fun. Just use good judgement, and stick to shooting the views the windows are there for.
Brian Johnson 2
It is legal to photograph/video the TSA.

"We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations. You can take pictures at our checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process or slowing things down. We also ask that you do not film or take pictures of our monitors."
Doug Zalud 2
Was on AA taxiing out of CDG in Paris on Sept. 10, 2013. We were passing the Concorde on display there, and I started shooting it as best as I could since we were speeding up. The flight attendant saw me and told me that I was not allowed to take any pictures.

I don't whether it was because of photo policies, electronics policies, or because of the date and the airline involved. And the fact that we were coming from RUH.

WhiteKnight77 1
I do not have any memory of being told that I could not take pictures whether it be on a concourse or on a plane over the last 8 years or so. I have taken pics inside of ATL as well as of aircraft at the gate and other public areas. I even got pics of John Travolta's 707 when it was at ATL several years ago as we were taking off.

That said, if AA does not want people photographing airplanes at the gate or other people in a public area at said gate(s) or in flight, they should make it public knowledge so people know beforehand to keep people from being upset about it. Though I think they keep it quiet so they can surprise people with such. Can you imagine the uproar if such a policy was made public?
JEFF: The signage in the the TSA areas is more often than not, SPECIFIC to them ONLY and the job they are expected to be doing. Most airports have a clause, of PUBLIC AREAS are free game, inside or out. I have shot pictures at numerous locations inside and outside the USA and not once, ever been questioned ..
K H 1
Actually you can take all the photos you want on a plane, unless you're brown :(
Preacher1 - I have shot photos in ATL last in 2006 and more before then as well .. Not sure what the 2-3 yrs is about .. was most recently ENCOURAGED to shoot pictures by gate agents in SEA, SAN and SJC
preacher1 1
Lot of difference in a PHOTOGRAPHER and one of these with a smartphone that shoots the whole world. Nothing better that I like myself is a good PHOTOGRAPH but I cannot put a lot of these mindless selfies these days in that category. I have tons of PHOTOGRAPHS myself of various things all over the world, but in a town of 45000 there is now only 2 places to get a roll of film developed and purchase new film.
Loral Thomas 1
"but in a town of 45000 there is now only 2 places to get a roll of film developed and purchase new film." I know your pain. By the way, I have a 35mm Minolta with three different lenses for sale - CHEAP. Interested? lol
preacher1 0
I'll keep my ears open but I think your probably hung with it. Mine is a Nikon with the same on lenses and a tripod. Talk about looks when you go to set it up. WalMart is one of the few places to get the film developed here and they were telling me last week that they may close that part before the year is out, just for lack of use.
Jim Quinn 2
Besides a commercial photo lab here in our town of 80,000, there are two places that I know of that still process film-CVS and Walgreens (I'm not sure if they have minilabs at multiple locations). The last few years before buying a good digital camera I had the negatives processed and then scanned them to disk. I have a couple of Minolta X700's with motor drives, program flashes, lenses, etc. and I (foolishly) believed at one time that digital photography just couldn't replace good film photographs. But....then it did! I, too, don't care for the selfie craziness, and especially don't like to watch phone videos on the news or those favorite video shows because the shaky, unstabilized video footage just drives me nuts. How the vast majority of those folks have stable surfaces nearby to brace their camera phones yet don't use them is beyond my comprehension. Rails, poles, walls, cars, countertopss, etc. are everywhere. And how these show producers use those horrible jerky videos I'll never know. But that's just my two cents' worth. Regarding secure areas around airports, etc. I simply avoid attracting attention if I simply must get a shot or two and nothing's been said to me so far but there are those paranoid people who may possibly make a fuss about it. I carry a legal briefing about photographer's rights and responsibilities and definitions of "public" and "private" just in case, though I hope I never have to pull it out of my wallet. It's just easier to keep my camera in the case around secure areas. One one trip to England I was on the street taking some photos of Victoria Station (using a tripod but not in the pedestrian traffic flow) when some arrogant fellow walked up to me, nose to nose, and asked just who I thought I was, taking photos of him without his permission, blah, blah. He was ticked. I politely but firmly informed him that he was in public and that I did not need his permission and suggested that, if indeed he wanted his privacy, he should either wear a bag over his head or stay at home. That, and a simple suggestion that he go and do something physically impossible, took care of the situation. But I was prepared to hit him with my tripod if necessary!
jbqwik 3
Film is far from dead. Unlike digital, film has an immediate, as-it-happened visual reality that can't be replicated, due to the involvement and the immersive process of film photography itself. Film photographers know what I mean.
There are numerous film labs. Specialty labs such as Indie Film Lab is but one.
Loral Thomas 1
The only "camera" shop, for real, closed down recently near me in Springfield, MO. Gonna miss them. They fixed my Minolta for free when the film advance lever locked up. WalMart is my only option now. But I do have a cheap digital so the Minolta is just taking up space in the closet.
preacher1 0
I know the feeling; There was only one true studio here in town and he was just that, more picture taking oriented than camera, but he retired and closed down last year, so like you, there are a couple of WalMarts down this way. 2 Wal-greens in town but no photo at all.
(v)e Same 1
Maybe I'm stating the obvious here, but yall do know that you can still use those lenses on a digital camera body, right? At the risk of being captain obvious; Just buy a camera body you like and buy an adapter ring to mount the old lenses to the new body. The rings run about 10 bucks on Ebay. You might not get the auto focus to work, but you can still manual focus a camera, right?

Oh and lemmie tell ya, I used to take pictures in ATL everytime I flew in back in 2003. I could have them posted to myspace (anyone remember this? haha) or some other social media site in no time. Never had anyone tell me not to take pics in any airport so far.
AWAAlum 1
I've been unable to get this article to open, so my opinion is based on supposition gleaned through reading member's comments. I'm guessing AA has ruled against taking photos of people at airports (possibly just employees) without permission. If that's so, then - huh. I don't get it. Our pictures are being taken hundreds of times every day and without our permission. Not only taken, but circulated. Sorry, I just don't get it. I understand an argument about privacy being invaded and all. But, at the risk of repeating myself, it happens all day, every day.
sparkie624 1
You just have to sign up for Linkedin.. It is free, no cost... Been a member for a long time and is a good service in my opinion.
AWAAlum 1
Thanks, Sparkie. It finally did open, and none of the content was a surprise thanks to everyone's comments. Personally, I think the entire incident is nonsense. (LOL-Linkedin is yet another way our picture and personal information is circulated to anyone, whether members and agreeing to policy, or not.)
In the last few years, I have traveled to Buenos Aires, Monte Video, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Istanbul, Odessa, Yalta, Kiev, Budapest, Vienna, Cologne, Amsterdam on various airlines and cruise lines by myself and a group of co-travelers. I cannot recall a single incident when anyone asked me/us to stop taking pictures. I usually ask permission before pointing the camera at an individual. I do know on re-entry at O'Hare, there are 'No Photography' signs in the Immigration and Customs area. However, I do remember being muscled back across a street inside the Kremlin by a gendarme, not for taking a photo but I had crossed the street used by Mr. Putin's car at high speed at any moment. Of course all museums enforced "No Photographs" all over Europe. Doug Salud, I have several photos of the Concorde at CDG! And Jim Quinn, I also had an incident inside the Hagia when the tour escort of another group was in my face about taking a picture of him. My tour escort told him in Turkish to go jump in the Bosphorus! After reading this blog, I probably be more aware of my surroundings in the future.
Ralph Torres 1
A few months ago, boarded an AA flight that had about 10 passengers total so everyone was put in first class. My colleague stood up to take a photo of all the empty seats in the coach section. One of the flight attendants said no photography was allowed for security reasons. After we landed I posted a policy question to AA's twitter account the response was that photos could be taken. The main point is that you can't change some people's minds or get them to change their decision once they say something. BTW, I've taken at least one photo on AA flights, and AA Twitter and AA Instagram have "liked" the pic.
iflyfsx 1
This is BS of a special magnitude. First of all, airline "rules" do not trump federal law. The First Amendment is not a privilege, OK?
preacher1 3
You are correct in that it doesn't trump the law but in reality, those rights or privileges may get trumped if you piss somebody off holding the upper hand in things. You may be in the right but you may not get on the flight. That's reality.
iflyfsx 3
I know. All they have to do is claim you are interfering with their job (which is illegal), and then you have to stay on the ground or defend yourself in court at your expense.

But I'm sick of wimps bending over every time some authority figure mentions some rule, specially when it goes directly against much more fundamental and actual laws.

When those jerks tell someone not to take pictures, EVERYONE should take their camera out and start taking pictures until the battery runs out. What are they going to do? Take everyone off the airplane? These are OUR rights, and this BS affects us all.
preacher1 2
Couldn't agree more but the reality is that real life and a power trip trumps rules, regulations and rights, whether we like it or not. If you are waiting to board a flight, put your camera up and be the good liitle boy, get the name, date and time and file complaint later. Better than getting delayed, especially if there is a client waiting on the other end.
iflyfsx 2
Which is why I'm saying we should all do something about it, when it happens. This doesn't affect only the individual trying to take a picture.
preacher1 0
No, but if it a company thing, and a company gate agent is on a power trip, and they are the only company representation there, you had just as well do as your told. Go ahead and make a scene and stand up for your rights if you have time. You'll probably wind up in the right, and on the next flight, cause chances are you won't make that one. As I said before, you have your rights, but when someone else is holding the cards and calling the shots, that is reality, whether we like it or not. Life is not always fair. Get used to it.
iflyfsx 3
Yes, if everyone gives up and resigned themselves to this, we all lose our rights.

Or, we can all do something about it, and we all get to fly *and* take pictures.

This is not about making life always fair. It's much simpler than that. But it does involve having balls and using them.
preacher1 1
Not traveling that much anymore, but whether it was photographs or something else, in most case I did not have the luxury of time to contest the issue. Didn't have one thing to do with giving up or not having balls. There are simply some things that are much more important in life than convincing somebody else you're right. You go right on ahead and do your thing and I will applaud you for it. Past that, have a ball, I am outa here on this.
Mark Lansdell 1
Hahahahah. You must be in your 20s or 30s. I've never been able to depend on other people to back me up when it wasn't planned and then only 20% when it was planned. The goal of my travel has always to get wher I'm going when I was supposed to get there, not to tilt at windmills in my mind or otherwise. The modern FA has the authority of a DI and can and will leave you on the ground if they choose. Sure, you can take them to court and you can fight for your rights that you may or may not be entitled to but you're not going to get where you want to go whaen you want to gety there. A man has to know his limitations and what is important at the moment. The long run has little to do with a meeting or a planned mauouver.
sparkie624 1
That is BS.. I have taken 100's of pictures and never had a problem.... There was more there than is in this article.
James Carlson 1
True, but the US constitution's first amendment intentionally limits the actions only of the government, not private citizens or corporations. I don't think you have first amendment recourse if an airline employee restricts your speech rights. (I'm not saying I necessarily agree with the situation; I'm just saying that the amendment doesn't protect as much as you might think.)
James Carlson 0
Dang. That was a reply to iflyfsx. But FA didn't thread it right. :-/


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