Taking pictures of trains. It is legal.

LA County Sheriff patchThere are a lot of photographers in Los Angeles. Many, it professionals are likely “focusing” on the celebrities in the city. Those are the photographers we usually hear about. But, in this case – and by case, I mean court case – it is about photographers who use their cameras for railfan-like pictures. Three men were “officially detained”, back-of-patrol-car kind of detained, for taking pictures in public places, including a Metro Train Station. This happened in 2001.

The ACLU eventually took up the case and just now – in 2015 – the LA Board of Supervisors agreed to a settlement with the photogs. The county will pay $50,000 – but most importantly for the rest of us, Los Angeles admits that taking pictures in public is legal and their officers will be so instructed and trained. Specifically, deputies are warned against “interfering, threatening, intimidating, blocking or otherwise discouraging” picture takers unless they are violating a law. In case you want to read the settlement it is HERE.

Railfans take pictures and have been hassled for it for years now. But, more and more law enforcement, courts and the railroads are beginning to understand that railfans are not terrorists and in fact their presence is both a watchdog and deterrent to bad behavior of all kinds. And, selfishly, the ruling also applies to moving pictures… so we can continue to enjoy our railfan DVDs! 🙂