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Oakland City Center

February 21, 2007

Of The Pig
Wednesday. I was having lunch sitting outside at the Oakland City Center yesterday, camera with me (as it usually is), when a group of young Asian men started assembling on the bandstand platform dressed in dragon costumes so I walked over and shot a couple of pictures, none of them, as I expected, paying me any attention. One of the Shorenstein security people walked over and said I wasn't allowed to shoot pictures in the City Center without permission from their security people. Another friend, who works at our company which is located in another Shorenstein building, also a photographer, had been approached a few weeks earlier in the same way by a Shorenstein security guard and told he wasn't allowed to shoot pictures of the exterior of our building from outside the front door. Shorenstein is one of the largest commercial real estate management companies in San Francisco and Oakland.

I told the security guard this was a public area and I was allowed to shoot pictures. The guard said no, that's not true, so I said OK then bust me. I said it nicely, but no matter how said, “bust me” is rude. The guard went over to a woman sitting at a temporary table, whom I assume was part of the dragon group employed by the City Center to perform, and she approached me and asked what publication I was working for. I wasn't working for a publication, I was shooting for myself I replied. Well, I wasn't allowed to shoot pictures without permission. I told her she was wrong. Yes, this is an open area on land owned by Shorenstein, but it's a public area and there's quite a bit of law on the subject, much of it developed as it happens around shopping centers, but it's very specific: you, as a citizen, are allowed to shoot pictures in an area like this just as you're allowed to shoot pictures on the sidewalk.

Why would they care one way or another about pictures? Why hassle their tenant's customers? Or was the security person really saying I couldn't shoot pictures of the dragon forming up rather than saying I couldn't shoot pictures in the City Center itself? Bands and other acts get antsy about photographers taking pictures of their acts, but a dragon group there to celebrate the Year of the Pig? Here in Oakland?

The photograph was taken at the Oakland City Center with a Nikon D2Xs mounted with a 105mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR lens at 1/320th second, f 2.8, ISO 100.