Monday, November 16, 2009

“You Can’t Photograph My Building!”

I’ve had it with Plattsburgh’s troglodyte mentality. It’s time for this community to leave behind cavemen thinking and join the modern age. Until then I’m not backing down when it comes to my right to take photographs.

Call him Mr. Brink – for reasons besides the fact the latest confrontation occurred outside the On The Brink restaurant on Brinkerhoff Street.

At the time of the incident, the restaurant was closed, no one inside. I had photographed the restaurant’s façade on other occasions with different lighting and views. Sometimes a photographer has to take a number of shots to nail the right image.

Today I was outside On The Brink taking some shots, standing on a public sidewalk. The restaurant’s façade was in plain view.

As you face the restaurant there is a doorway to the left, an entrance to stairs leading to apartments over the eatery. Mr. Brink came out and as soon as he saw me he acted confrontational, using that typical territorial tone.

He challenged me: “Why are you photographing my building?”

I explained I was a photographer. I was photographing it for a number of reasons: the lighting, the architecture, the colors, whatever.

Mr. Brink stated: “I’ve seen you photographing my building many times. You’re acting suspicious. You can’t photograph my building.”

I explained to him I could photograph his building as many times as I wanted, a hundred times if I felt like it. I was going to use the term “civil rights” but I didn’t want to induce a brain aneurysm, considering his emotional state and limited cognitive facilities.

Mr. Brink stated that he wasn’t going to allow me to take any more photos.

I gave him my standard reply: “If you don’t like it, call the cops.” I told him I was going to take another shot.

In the past I’ve sent a letter to the police chief, the city attorney and the mayor’s office about my right to take photographs. I know my rights.

Mr. Brink stormed inside the restaurant, passing by the postman making his deliveries. The postman must have wondered what was going on.

I walked away, having enough of the nonsense. I don’t continue conversations with hotheads who immediately launch a verbal attack.

If Mr. Brink is so concerned about his building, maybe he should mark it outside like a dog protecting its territory. Of course, such markings wouldn’t be legally permitted – unlike yours truly taking photographs. And note: there is no law against allegedly “acting suspicious.” “Acting suspicious” is a subjective value.

I don’t know what Mr. Brink’s connection is to the restaurant. If he’s the owner or head cook, I would recommend boycotting his business. After all, if he can go hothead so quickly with me taking a few shots, imagine what would happen if you politely told him there was a fly in your soup.

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