Outlawing Photography

What is going on in the world today? In the last 2 months I have seen two bills proposed in two states that could seriously outlaw photography. This is ridiculous!

The first bill that I learned about is New Hampshire HB 619-FN that states, “This bill prohibits images of a person’s residence to be taken from the air by a satellite, drone, or any device not supported by the ground.” Here is the bill as introduced. I know a number of photographers that make their living in just this manner.

The bill in NH was just written in a very vague manner and the representative was very receptive to a colleague of mine that chatted with him via text. Jim Cavanaugh, a former national president of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) spoke to Representative Kurk the author of the bill saying this bill may “prevent many businesses from obtaining aerial photographs that they routinely use in their businesses. This may be construction documentation, road planning, news gathering, urban planning, images for companies’ marketing use, crowd estimation, environmental documentation, airport planning, wetland conservation, tourism and many others.” Representative Kurk said he would revise the language to resolve the issues Jim mentioned.

The problem is that it isn’t the only legislation being introduced.

FelonyPhotoYesterday I was reading my local news source and came across new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania that would make photographing a farm a felony offense. A felony!? Really? State House Representative Haluska (R-Cambria County) put forth a proposal that would make it a felony to take photos or record video or audio. I’m sorry but for me, this is just a bit of overkill and a true example of over legislation.

In New Hampshire the bill proposed had limited scope in that it would most likely only effect professionals. Rep. Haluska’s proposal would affect enthusiasts, real estate photographers, nature photographers, aerial photographers, and just about anyone that wanted to just capture an image of a beautiful landscape. The effect on tourism alone could be devastating!

Haluska stated that the idea for his proposal came from farmers in his district who are afraid of people trying to photograph or record farm operations and show them in a less than flattering way. He was quoted on NewsWorks.org (full article) as saying, “Sometimes you can take some things out of context, if you have a sick animal or something or if you have to (kill) an animal, which is just a normal part of doing business in the farming community, and sometimes it gets trumped up.”

Below is what I wrote to Rep. Haluska (and CC’d my local representative, Rosita C. Youngblood of Philadelphia. Neither has yet to reply.

Dear Representative Haluska,

Your proposed bill that would ban the photographing of farms is a dangerous bill. First of all how often does a tourist or day tripper actually take a Photo of farm where something that can be misconstrued actually happen? Yes farmers have to kill animals. Yes some things that happen on farms on a daily basis are unpleasant for people that don’t have a history of country living and understand the nature of how food gets to their grocery store. But is hiding that a good idea? I think not.

Don’t let my Philadelphia address fool you, I was born and raised in Delaware county when it was considered the boonies. My home town wasn’t on the map until the early 80s. But my knowledge of farming is not why I am writing.

I am now an architectural photographer and a good portion of my business is aerial photography of farms that are being considered for development as well as the completed projects.

The bill you have proposed will make it a felony for me to take those photos. That will stop me from renting planes, hiring pilots, and hinder the construction companies from developing the lands. This will then cut the potential for new jobs in the commonwealth and put us behind other states that don’t have such laws. The ripples of your proposal will go much farther than I believe you anticipate, and in my opinion, will do much more harm than any good, not to mention what it will do for my own income.

What you are proposing is to make a felony for someone’s curiosity, and subsequently their ignorance, about the “idealistic farm life” they believe our hard working farmers have. This law is trying to outlaw ignorance. If ignorance were a felony, most of Washington would be in jail.

Representative, please withdraw your proposal. Rethink your goals and why you proposed it in the first place and lets educate people about farm life, not outlaw the observation of the reality of it.


Michael Albany

To me making any type of photography a felony is well, a felony! Keep an eye open in your area and make sure that legislation against photography isn’t pending. If you hear of something, write your representatives and call everyone you know and have them write them too! If you don’t you may be hearing the click of hand cuffs right after the click of that shutter.


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Pop’s Legacy

Perhaps you have looked at the Estate Legacy portion of my site and wondered where I ever got the idea to try to preserve the memories of others through photography and the written word. To be able to capture the feelings of a home, the essence of what makes an estate a subject worthy of a book, you have to understand what a house, a home, can mean to someone. When it comes to the estate legacy products I do understand the value, the meaning and the memories of a family legacy. I understand because I know what it is like to no longer be able to hold the dream of passing or the receiving, of the torch to the next generation. For me it is personal.


The image below is a bad shot and I will never claim otherwise, but it is a snapshot of a memory I will carry with me forever. You see I took this snapshot a long, long time ago before I had good equipment or how to use it, before I knew the value of what an image can do. This shot was the beginning of my need to become a better photographer. This image is the one that got away; the one that made me realize that moments don’t repeat themselves and that the memories we carry can either fade in time, or become the only thing that we have left.


When I took the image I had woken up early one summer morning some 20 or 30 years ago and I saw the sun shining through the trees in a magical way. I ran and grabbed my camera, I don’t even remember which one it was, and I took at least two rolls of film trying to capture the feeling of the sun warming the country air the glow of the day beginning. This is the only one I still have from that morning. Not my best shot but one of my best memories because nothing mattered but the sense of warmth, safety and serenity I felt at that moment in time.


I have spent hundreds of days since then up at the crack of dawn waiting for the light, waiting for the sun to stream through the trees and those feelings to come back to me. All that waiting has been in vain. I have yet to see the sun through the trees like that again.


That image was taken from the back yard of my mother’s home, the home she inherited from her father. My grandfather built the house in 1939 and lived there until he suffered the stroke that would take him to the hospital for the last time. He didn’t return to the place he loved so. He did remain a part of the place however and as I write this, I can still feel his presence there. However it won’t be for much longer. You see the house is being sold and the buyer is intending to tear down the house my grandfather built 73 years ago. The land, the property, and the legacy is about to change forever.


All I have are the images I took through the years, the snapshots my family has accumulated and the stories we all remember. That and the memories of the sun shining through the trees, the misty mornings, and the feelings of serenity that place brought me.


I have less than 4 days to go and capture any other images I want. I have only a short time to find the sun calling to me through the trees again. I must put it in a book before it is gone forever.  I understand what it is like to have to say goodbye to a legacy that I just don’t want to let go of.

Stills As Video

Not much to say on this one, just something to show you. I made this for a client to give a virtual tour of his home. This is an extension of the Estate Legacy Products that I offer on www.estatelegacy.com and I can do this for you and your family too. I also offer leather bound, high end books with both photography and written word to tell the story of your house and home. Contact me and let’s capture the legacy that is yours.


Take a look…




They Can Take Your Investments, But Not Your Memories

I just got back from a road trip with a client where we had 3 shoots in 2 days in 3 cities.  Oh, and one flat tire. It was a great trip and a fantastic shoot!  During the trip we covered a lot of miles and a lot of roads – over 600 miles to be exact. On almost every road, around every turn, we saw signs of the times: real estate “For Sale” signs.


The neighborhoods changed every few miles; small homes, big homes, estates and even condos but the single thread going through it all was those signs. All I could think of was how hard it was when I sold my house just over a year ago. I had a very small place where I used the basement as my studio.  It had a small back yard but a nice deck I had put on, and with all the problems you have with a house the best part was that it was mine.



All those for sale signs reminded me of why I created the Estate Legacy Products that I offer.  More and more people are selling the homes that their children grew up in. The memories are still alive and well in these places: the idea of the children running around the yard, perhaps a brother tormenting a sister with a frog or some other reptile, then that same scared sister putting a bandage on the scraped knee after the brother slipped and fell all live large in the memories of our parents and ourselves. Where are those memories going to be when that home is gone?


Often our parents have resigned themselves to letting the house go. We hear them saying that “it’s too big. It was different when you all were kids.” Or they say something like “Your dad doesn’t feel like keeping up with the yard work anymore. He would rather go play golf/fish/read/etc.” In their mind that’s very true but at the same time it would be nice if they had a way to take those memories with them.


With the economy the way it is today who can blame them?  Their home is all they may have left at this point. The investment they made 30, 40 or 50 years ago is still worth a lot more than they paid for it. Their financial portfolio, that probably isn’t doing as well. However if they sell the property they may be able to weather this financial storm. But what about all those memories?  How do they save the investment they made in you, your childhood, the education and most of all their family?


That is why I came up with the Estate Legacy Products. This is my way to help people find a way to preserve those memories and to document what was. Through my photography and special way of capturing the feel of your home I, along with one of my writers, document not just the house but the home and its history, its legacy. I can incorporate family photos and old pictures of the house and property with the new images I create. The writer will sit with members of the family and write a brief history to go with all the imagery and I combine that into a personal book that becomes more than a keepsake; it becomes a living physical representation of all your memories.


Give me a call and ask me about how I can help you preserve your family memories for generations.

The Devil is In The Details


How many times have you heard that phrase before?  Usually it’s right after you forgot the smallest detail that turned out to be a major issue.  How do you catch everything and make sure that that little red, horned little guy stays home? The best start is to hire a professional.



When it comes to photography there are a lot of little things that can, and will, happen.  The best way to handle these issues is for you to have a professional there that knows how to deal with the problems and knows how to avoid as many of them as possible. Only experience is going to teach someone how to get through it all. Professionals come prepared.


Pro Photographers have more and better equipment. I know that I never go on a shoot without at least two cameras, multiple light sources, assorted light modifiers, stands and everything else I can think of. I know I need to be prepared. I can’t count on the sun to be where I want it when I want it. If fact, I can usually count on it not being where I want it! That means I have to be prepared to light my subject whether it is a portrait shoot or an architectural shoot. I need to have the right lights, the right modifiers and more importantly, the knowledge of how to use it all and still make it look natural yet dramatic.


As a professional photographer I have spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars learning how to deal with as many situations as I can. I have learned from other professionals and from experiences. I have taken the time to learn from each detail, each issue and every shoot. I talk to my colleagues and try to learn from their experiences too. My goal is to be able to be able to handle anything that comes down the pike. Still, I get caught off guard too from time to time. But there is a difference; I know how to improvise and how to still get great results out of almost any situation.


By using a professional like me you will guarantee a successful project. A professional is going to sit with you and discuss the details. The details where that little devil hides. The more light shed on those little things the harder it is for him to hide. Every once and a while I will get caught by the devil but because I have met him before I know the tools and more importantly the paths, around him.


A few years ago there was a frizzy haired painter that had a daytime TV show that taught painting. It was called “Painting with Bob Ross.” Every day he would create beautiful paintings in less than 30 minutes.  On almost every show he would inadvertently do something that was not as planned. He would then take those opportunities and turn them into “Happy Accidents” as he called them. He was using and showing his experience. He would sign off every show with the line,” Until next time, Happy Painting!”  Experience is something worth paying for. With experience the worst you can have is a happy accident.


Until next time, Happy Shooting!