As part of yesterday's journey to the Air and Space Museum I took the Metro which is Washington's underground. It looks quite new and I quite like the appearance of the stations. I really wanted to get a picture but I wasn't sure if that was a wise thing to do or not. Being infrastructure, I kept my eyes open for any signage that might indicate a ban on photography. There was none that I could see. So when I got off at the end of my journey I paused to briefly take a couple of pictures.
A man walking past almost immediately cautioned me against taking pictures, saying something like "you'll get yourself arrested if you do that". I immediately put my camera away. The man was polite and he was only trying to be helpful. We spoke a bit and he recommended I should limit my photography to things that were of an obvious tourist nature. At the time I wasn't sure if his advice was general opinion, urban myth or based on official guidelines. But it was enough to shake me up a bit so I just kept my head down and got out of the station as quickly as I could.
That night I did some research. If the internet is to be believed, it would seem that there is no law against photographing any public space, including trains and stations. However, the underlying message was, if you take photos of certain places be prepared to explain yourself. The thought of being interrogated by security is rather uncomfortable, so I will definitely choose my subjects very carefully.
It was worthwhile research to also find out if there were any differences in law here around photographing people in public. It seems that it's the same as in Australia. That eased my mind. I'll still be very careful about people walking into my shots but at least I know that legally, I have every right to take the picture if people are in a public place.
The conversation at the station, followed by news of the terrible events in Ottawa have given me a case of the jitters. On edge a little bit and watching my step very carefully.