"Hawk (his photo-blogging pseudonym) wanders into the grimy Transbay bus terminal and begins shooting its interior artwork and graffiti. Within 90 seconds, a security guard approaches.Thomas Hawk's photos about Transbay.
“Can I see a permit, please?” he says.
“I don’t have a permit,” Hawk replies amiably, eye pressed to the viewfinder. “I’m just taking a few pictures. I’ll move along in a minute.”
“You need a permit here, sir.”
“No, I don’t need a permit,” Hawk says, composing a shot.
“Sir, do you understand what I’m telling you?”
“I do. Just taking a few pictures.”
“I’m going to have to call the highway patrol,” the guard huffs and walks off.
Hawk wraps up his photos and wanders out a few minutes later. “Most of the time, that’s what you get,” he says. “Guy comes up, says you can’t take pictures. You have a little back-and-forth and then they go away.” Shooting in public places, as he says he’s forced to point out frequently, is perfectly legal – neither private security guards nor police can prevent anyone from taking photos unless a specific local ordinance prohibits it. (And, legally, no one can seize your memory card without a court order.)"
Photographing Architecture is Not a Crime, Thomas Hawk vs. Building Security Episode 118.