“At most, it’s a misdemeanor. We wouldn’t get more than thirty days,” my son laughed, sucking down the remaining centimeter of his free iced mocha from a Popular Burger Establishment. “Besides, it would make a great post.”
We’d just calculated that it would take roughly four of the short, squat samples to equal a standard small. From there, it was a mental hop, skip, and a jump for my son to calculate that our pre-determined errand route would take us past an equal number of the same drink-distributing establishment. He shot me a look that basically confirmed my status as the coolest mom in the world if we could stop for a quick (free) sip at all four Establishments.
I wondered aloud if there were social or legal mores which would be violated by such a romp. My son gave the thirty days tops estimate, which we laughed off as improbable and commenced on some carefree summer hi-jinks.
“So, how do we get in on this Mocha Monday?” I found myself saying moments later, in the lobby of Similar Establishment #2.
“Iced or nonfat?” a jovial barista queried, already reaching for the sample sized cups.
We slurped our samples en route to the site of our java junket. The sugar rush kicked in before we hit our next site: what fun! This, my son assured me, is what summer’s all about.
Unfortunately, the good folks at site #3 had opted out of the free caffeine campaign, which we completely respect. We waved our thanks and headed back to our vehicle, where I documented my son’s gesture of mock disappointment.
That’s when Mocha Monday took on a dark, biting edge.
A rather burly and decidedly angry manager approached my vehicle. Wow, I thought, that was quick. Some sort of McLert must have been issued. Burry images must have been distributed of us wiping the foam from Mocha one off our mouths as we sauntered in for our second round; still frames, possibly sound bites of my clever little, “How do we get in on this Mocha Monday” line. How long, exactly, is thirty days anyway? Would my boy make it out of juvie hall in time to start school?
I was prepared for just about anything to come from the manager’s lips. Anything but the booming question that actually met my ears. “Are you taking pictures of the property? Because you can’t be taking pictures of the property.”
“Ummm…I’m taking pictures of my son,” I responded. “And I absolutely can take pictures here,” I surprised myself by adding.
“No you can’t,” he insisted.
“Actually, I’ve studied the law, and I really can.”
At this point, things threatened to dissolve into a schoolyard battle of no-you-can’ts, yes-I-can’s, and the images were, after all, safely on my compact flash card, on my person, in my getaway car, so I didn’t press the issue. But I’m glad that this time, I spoke up. Because I spent a lot of time last summer feeling like a criminal for walking around with a camera, and putting up with a lot of harassment and general ill will and poor treatment: I was bounced from shops on site, snarled at for having a camera on my person in commerce sectors of tourist towns, and subsequently opted not to support the local economy by purchasing anything from these watchdog vendors.
Readers, discrimination against the innocent, camera-toting public is now an epidemic, and, in light of the number of photography-enhanced blog posts I read every day documenting the normal comings and goings of average citizens, bloggers must be prepared to defend themselves against the hysteria associated with the common camera.
I have printed off copies of the flyer The Photographer’s Right, by attorney Bert P. Krages II outlining my rights as a photographer and American citizen. The flyer will now be a permanent part of my camera gear. I have also educated myself further on the issue through reading The Legal Rights of Photographers, a document by photographer, reporter, and concerned citizen Andrew Kantor. I don’t intend to use the information to create further dissension between the camera and anti-camera factions—we photographers apparently have enough venomous sentiment coming our way anyway—but I do want to be armed with the facts I need to exercise my rights as an artist and an American.
Here’s the contested image—I’m publishing it here, because I can. The law says it’s mine.
Mocha Monday back on track, my son and I headed to location four, where we were promptly served. Iced brew, for the record. Do we have photographic evidence? You bet. And you know why?
Because the restaurant was ironically outfitted with an in-store, pre-fabbed photo op. We narrowly missed having to wait in line for our chance to snap our commemorative shot.