Sceurity Guards!

Sat Nov 04, 2000 7:29 am


Do you have any experience that the security guard at the airport try to make you leave while you are spotting, how would you deal with them? I would like to hear!

Thanks for all replies!
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sat Nov 04, 2000 7:46 am


I have experienced this a few times at Aberdeen, especially when the Royal Flight is due to arr/dep.

If asked to move on, do what they say.

Do not cause a fuss as it will only make matters worse.

Gary Watt
Aberdeen, Scotland

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sat Nov 04, 2000 9:49 am

Here in the states, money works well....very well...don't rely on that however, sometimes it wont work. Basically, just ask him, or ask to talk to his sup...

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 05, 2000 2:20 am

Recently i was in ORD and was approached by a security guy. (it was chilly and i had my sweater hood up, prolly made me look a bit shady) He said he had a report of someone "on the grounds" and asked what i was doing. I just told him simply i was taking pictures and if what i was doing was illegal then i would certainly leave. He was like "well, umm, i suppose your not really "on the grounds" and theres not law against taking pictures...etc.." So he bid me farewell and that was that.

Oh yeah, and when he showed up, i took my hood off   that was probably a good idea

Just be nice and act normal and i think you should have no problem.

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 05, 2000 7:27 am

Well most of my aviation photography activities are at Salzburg - Airport W.A.Mozart (SZG / LOWS).

Till now no security guards bother spotters as long as you keep of prohibited area.

If someday a security guard would be sceptical about what i am doing i would try to explain my photography ambition and i would ask him if he would like me to show him my ID-card and last i would ask him if he has access to the internet. If he does i would invite him to visit That should be convincing enough. Don´t you think so?


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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sat Nov 18, 2000 12:21 pm

I've been approached by the airport police outside in the parking lot at DCA. You need a pass ID to enter the gate to the lot but you could take pictures. I guess the cop saw me on a latter near the fence with my camrea, hehe...I just got down. No, I wasn't going to hop over the fence which it had some sharp barbed wires on it.
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 19, 2000 6:19 am

I don't have problems usually,
most security guys in ZAG are friendly,
once I was asked for ID - and after that guy parked his car about 100m away from me
and once I had to move - I tried to explain that I'm not trying to shoot down any acft but just take pics
and he wouldn;t let so I just went a little further and used
nearby corn field as a cover to not be seen by security guys,
and I wasn't very far away
(that time it might be because the chief of parliament was returning from visit)
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward...
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 19, 2000 1:39 pm

while taking pictures at JFK on the parking garage across from T1/2 i was run off by a security guard who said that even looking through binoculars heightened the risk of my father and i drove to the port authority buildling on field and we were granted permission to take pictures..but because we had to go get permission i missed the BA concorde taking off...but luckily i was within probably 500-700ft. of it while at the police building...but my dad and i still have a joke about how we should make a fake SAM (surface-to-air missile) and somehow rig it to the top of our car and drive through JFK then park on top of the parking garage...i wonder how long we would last...  hehe

"my soul is in the sky" - shakespeare
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 19, 2000 4:35 pm

NYC airports in general are very unfriendly... EWR isn't too bad, but I have had problems there as well.

I used to give airport police all kinds of grief if they tried to make me move. I just do what they say now, it isn't worth my time arguing with them. All it takes is one disgruntled, corrupt, cop to make your life a living hell.  

Here are my top 5 favorite and least favorite airports to photograph/spot:





Just my two cents.  

Aric Thalman
Omaha, NE
To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home

RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sun Nov 26, 2000 10:48 pm

I do spotting at BHX here in the UK, and one day in the pouring rain I took my step ladders, a camera, my air band radio and a massive umberella up with me!

I was approached by a guard (who had been on the television a couple of days before!) and he was interested to see what I was doing. He said that as long as I don't make any attempt to jump over or throw something at the aircraft or obstruct the runway I should be OK!

I was along in field slap bang next to the runway, with a camera, in the rain with my other equipment with bright clothes on a a coulourful brolly - what the passengers on the plane must think of me I don't know!!! Seeing a dead young person doing that they must of thaught I was mad - but I love it!!

I even got a wierd wave from about 30 pilots!
I'm gonna do it again very soon!

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Nov 28, 2000 8:54 am

I live in Australia and shoot at MEL mainly. I have had no problems with guards whatsoever. Probably because the only really good points at MEL (common ones anyway) are open to anyone who wants to go there.

Just my two bits worth.

I think most of the Aussie airports are good. Dont tend to get hassled too much at all


MEL, Australia
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Nov 28, 2000 12:58 pm

I always stick a camera and lens in plane view. If it's not too cold/hot I stand outside my car with my gear. A little head nod as they pass by helps too. Of course sitting there in a minivan with two car seats probably doesn’t trigger too many alarms in their minds  

On Thanksgiving Day a parking lot attendant told me that taking pictures was not allowed at EWR! I politely told him that last time I checked this was a free country and as far as I knew I was on public land. He went back and forth with me but finally called ops and was promptly told that it was ok.

I guess I attract a lot of attention when I’m standing on top of my van hooting and hollering because something like the Peter Max Continental 777 just took off in front of me with full morning sunlight!!!!

Regarding DCA: Depends who is on duty at DCA. I call ops a few minutes before I get there and tell them what I'm up to. That way if the airport police stop I just say I called ops and they leave me alone.

PS. Cops tend to get pissed if you call them security guards. I don't know about other airports but in the Metro-DC area (BWI, IAD and DCA) all security folks are real police.

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Nov 28, 2000 2:11 pm

Hootin and hollering! hehehe! I know what you mean. I was just at LAX taking some photos, and the security guard at the long term parking lot on the other side of the barbed wire fence where I was at decided to show up. He didn't say a word, just kinda leaned against a car, about twenty feet away, and just stood there, for about half an hour. Occasionally his buddy came along and chatted with him. Guess he thought I was a suspicious character.

Anyways, this big Polar Air Cargo jumbo jet comes roaring overhead. There's great lighting, I have perfect position. I took three shots, each about a half second apart, each with the aircraft in different spots. A second afterwards, I find out I still had the lens cover on!

That brought some hootin and hollerin on my part, and I forgot the two security guys where there! I accidently let slip a bad word or two...and the guy asks me what the problem is. I was a bit taken back, just made a fool of myself. I just explained as best as I could, but man did I miss a good shot! Just a little story. hehehe

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Nov 28, 2000 3:21 pm

You use a rangefinder?

RE: Sceurity Guards!

Fri Dec 01, 2000 3:06 am

How do you actually sort a problem like this out when they come over to you? I am new to aviation photography and I turn into a quiverin gwreck when anyone talks to me that I haven't met before!!

I used to qiver when talking to my mom so god help me with a guard at the airports!!

Please give me tips people!!
Matt D
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 6:00 am

RE: Sceurity Guards!

Fri Dec 01, 2000 12:13 pm

Some tips I've used successfully over the years the few times I've been approached.

1. Don't look or act scared or nervous. To a cop, that is an instant tip off that you may be doing something illegal, you have a warrant, or you are in possession of narcotics. First and foremost, you need to at least appear to have some self confidence. That shows 1) that you have nothing to hide and 2) the cops might be in for a challenge if they decide to mess with you. If they think that you know that it is ok for you to be there, most cops and guards will leave you alone. It's not woth the hassle for them. If you look helpless, that makes you an easy target to the cops that usually have nothing better to do while patrolling the airport.

2. Try and look presentable. Don't look like a bum. I'm not saying you have to wear a suit. But at the same time, don't wear cutoff shorts, or a soiled tank top that looks like it hasn't been washed since 1987. Comfortable jeans (or nice shorts-depending on the weather), and a nice shirt and a well groomed appearance will be all you need. Remember, perception is reality to most folks, and cops are no exception. If you look disheveled, and like a bum, you will be treated accordingly-which usually involves chasing you off the property.

3. If the cops do approach you, don't try and scuffle you camera away. Short of pulling a gun or rocket launcher out, there is no worse action that you can do. You will look like you are trying to hide something. This is what people in possesion of narcotics usualy do. They think that by hurrying up and shoving it under the seat that the cop is not going to notice. Anytime a cop sees someone trying to stuff something out of sight in a hurried manner, you might as well just put a neon sign with a huge flashing arrow above you that asks the cops to come over and check you out. Even if you aren't hiding anything (which I assume you aren't), why attract uninvited attention?

4. Try and avoid hanging out on or near the fences as much as you can. If the location will simply not permit you to shoot without looking through or climbing over the fence, then do it, but be discreet, walk away and go back to your car, and try to act like it's no big deal. Be as casual and nonchalant as you can.

5. If you are approached, don't get belligerent. Just be calm, rational, and try and negotiate. People that argue with cops always lose by being ticketed, arrested, escorted off the property, or just getting harassed. If the cop is being a jerk, then just leave, try to make a couple of phone calls, and get names and permission that it is ok for you to be there. The airport ops manager is usually your best bet. If the cops come back, just say you spoke with so and so, and he said it was ok for me to be here. usually he;ll then leave you alone. If he persists, well he was going to bug you anyway. At that point it's just better to give up and move to another spot and try again some other time.

6. Last, but not least. Don't try and take pictures at places you know you have no business being. A little common sense, some patience, some courage, a good attitude, and a nice appearance will be all you need.
Good luck.
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sat Dec 02, 2000 2:40 pm

The best way to ward-off airport police is to wave at them, and acknowledge their presence (if they are on the 'other side of the fence'). If they cruise behind you, go ahead and look at them (again respecting their presence) and return to shooting (keeping the camera at your face).

In the US you aren't breaking any laws unless you are parked/standing in a private/restricted area. The cops are always curious, and they have a job to do. Most seasoned airport cops are used to photogs, and rarely blink. It's the new hires with a chip on their shoulder that cause the most problems. If they hassle you, ask to talk to their supervisor.

As far as the previously mentioned "dress code" goes, that's a bit extreme...
Matt D
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Mon Dec 04, 2000 11:50 am

You stated: "As far as the previously mentioned "dress code" goes, that's a bit extreme".
You're telling me that my suggestion to look presentable and not like a bum is unreasonable and overbearing???????

You are joking, right?
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RE: FastGlass

Mon Dec 04, 2000 12:58 pm

I actually like looking like a bum when I go to shoot...I have -never- been bothered by cops...

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RE: FastGlass

Mon Dec 04, 2000 4:39 pm

Chris has a good point. Lurking around perimeter fences while wearing neatly pressed Dockers and Izod shirts certainly attracts more attention than jeans and a tee-shirt. Dressing like a preppy isn't neccessary.
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Dec 05, 2000 12:44 am

I was at AUS a few months ago when airport police came over to investigate what a friend and me were up to. I was kind of scary at first but after we explained what we doing he started asking us questions about spotting. This next part is funny and kinda had to believe; on his lunch break, he came back and joined us! That was kinda cool!  
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Dec 05, 2000 9:14 am

Hello guys,

I was at Changi Airport's.... the fencing area... to look at planes but however my friend was taking pics. Well, a patrol car came over and asked us what we were doing... well, my friend ignored him and tried to get him out of sight... as the Lufthansa B747-400 "Hannova" is approaching. Well, I handeled him by telling... we are just taking photos... you won't be arresting us right??? Well, he said... if it is true, of course not! I will be watching you... well, I was suprised he sid he will be watching me... and I said, if I did something wrong... I will be happy to follow you back... and he just drove off.

Boeing747 万岁!
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Tue Dec 05, 2000 11:40 am

Where were you sptting in AUS. Most of the air traffic cops are pretty cool round AUS i reckon. Well....i have found them to be anyway.

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RE: Classic707

Tue Dec 05, 2000 1:44 pm

I was at the viewing area inside the golf course.
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RE: Classic707

Tue Dec 05, 2000 1:57 pm


RE: Sceurity Guards!

Sat Dec 09, 2000 9:00 am


You guys are really PROFESSIONAL! 

Thanks for all tips!
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Sun Dec 10, 2000 1:07 am

Actualy AUS
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RE: Security Guards!

Sun Dec 10, 2000 2:55 am

That's better!! See, I can SEPLELL  

RE: Sceurity Guards!

Mon Dec 11, 2000 8:38 am

Jderden777, How do you get the pass, does that cost you some money?


RE: Sceurity Guards!

Mon Dec 11, 2000 11:33 am

Since 1995, I've had no problems at Charleston (CHS)
until this past June. I took out my 300mm zoom and aimed it at a US Airways Express D328. Well, One of the
Cops came over and inquired what I was doing. I showed him my Air Force ID Card and stated I've been
taking pictures at CHS for five years and no one ever
said anything. He told me that the local Air Force Office
of Special Investigations alerted the Airport police of
people coming over to the terminal to shoot pictures of
our C-17's based at Charleston AFB. I did not know that
the US Airways Dornier 328 was a top secret airplane so
not to make matters worse, I put camera away. He walked away but kept coming back to me and just observing what I was doing. ( A slow day at CHS for the Cops!) It's intresting that we send C-17's all over the world to airshows to showcase the aircraft and you can see many of the pictures of these planes at these airshows here on this website, but I as a member of the USAF can't even take pictures of a aircraft that belongs to my Base. Photography is no longer allowed at
the area in front of RWY 21, No Parking signs have been
posted every 10 feet! The only pictures I take now at Charleston are Digital since the camera is small and doesn't stand out that much! I envy the photographers at Frankfurt and Zurich!
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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Mon Dec 11, 2000 3:43 pm

If you feel like a walk, then park where it's legal, and walk out. Ask the next cop that gets upset if he'd like coffee and doughnuts...

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RE: Sceurity Guards!

Tue Dec 12, 2000 11:04 am

Cool it, Be calm., Avoid stuttering and just be yourself..
What I do is to bring some of my airline pictures to prove what I am doing..WIth the negative too!!
So If I do get into trouble for no reason, I show the guards my pictures and mostly all the time it works..Instead of booting me, they get impressed with your work and go oo's and ahh's as you show your work..
They get a taste of the beauty of airliners.. It worked for me and Im sure it will work for you!! Maybe rarely they'll go negative on you..After you show them your pictures, they'll change their minds and keep you at the spot or will maybe give you a caution.. Or they may even hang around with you for a little while..Happened to me!!!!!!!! But do one thing..Dont Litter or Vandalise and after you finished using something like a bench or a garbage can..Put it back to its proper place...

Bo Kim --(-<==   :P   :-o
Follow @kimbo_snaps on Instagram or bokimon- on Flickr to see more pics of me and my travels.

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