“I’ll get a hold of Madison PD, they’ll come talk to you.”
That’s a threat that I received from a security guard at the Robert W. Kastenmeier United States Courthouse in Madison, Wisconsin.Â Here’s the story.
I rented a Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 APO G SSM lens to shoot a wedding on October 3rd.Â This is the second time I rented this lens and I’ve taken thousandsÂ of pictures with it but they’ve all been wedding pictures.Â I wanted to try some other things with it and since I wasn’t able to find any models available I decided to go to downtown Madison.
Afterwards I walked the two blocks north to the Wisconsin Capitol.Â About the only attention I got was from this guy.
I entered the Capitol building through one of the public entrances. Â There are at least 4, one on each end of the 4 wings, none of which are guarded or secured in anyway. Â I say at least 4 because I think there are upper and lower entrances on the stairs between each of the four wings. Â The first “official” person that I saw that day was one of the guides at the information desk in the Rotunda. Â I was able to walk freely and photograph throughout almost all of the Capitol.
I didn’t go into any of the private offices but I was able to enter a small conference room.
And the North Hearing Room with it’s wonderful murals by Charles Yardley Turner.
After leaving the Capitol I walked down State Street. Â Not seeing anything that interesting I turned towards the Robert W. Kastenmeier United States Courthouse.
As you can see the Robert W. Kastenmeier United States Courthouse is a very visually interesting building. Â First off, it’s blue. Â I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blue building. Â Designed by architect Kenton Peters of Madison, it’s covered in blue metal, with red accents, some of which are neon.
So I started to photograph the building. Â Some wider shots, some close ups, from all different sides. Â On the west side of the building there’s a small alley between it and the City of Madison Overture center parking ramp. Â (In the picture at that link, the blue line just above the head of the two gentleman is the back of the courthouse).
There are no fences, no signs, nothing limiting access to this area as being off limits. Â I walked straight ahead in this picture and come out on the other side where I took this picture.
I turned a little to my right and snapped this picture
when I heard someone calling “Hey, Hey, Hey”. Â A security guard was approaching me. Â At this point I turned on the voice recorder in my iPhone. Â Here’s a transcript of our conversation.
Guard: Â Hey Hey
Guard: Â Hi how you doing?
Me: Â Pretty good
Guard: Â What you shooting pictures of?
Me: Â Whatever I want
Guard: Â Well yeah I understand that. Â For what?
Me: Â Just ’cause I was out today
Guard: Â Ok. What’s your name?
Me: Â Why do you need to know?
Guard: Â This is the federal courthouse, we like to know why you’re shooting pictures around it.
Me: Â There’s…
Guard, interuppting me: Â Relax man, no one, no ones in trouble. Â We just, we like to know.
Me: Â There’s no law that says I can’t take pictures.
Guard: No there’s not.
Me: Â So, what’s your deal?
Guard: Â I want to know why you were taking pictures and what you were taking pictures of is all. Â That’s it.
Me: Â Well. Â (I shrug, looking at him)
G: Â Okay, have a nice day.
Guard walks away, I shoot this picture.
He turns around.
Guard: Â But you won’t take one of the building.
Me: Â What was that?
Guard: Â Don’t take one of the building.
Me: Â Why not?
Guard: Â Because…..security procedures.
Me: Â What security procedures? Â There’s no law that says I can’t take pictures.
Guard: Â I’ll get ahold of Madison PD they’ll come and talk to you.
The Guard then walks back towards the building. Â At this point I’m not sure if I’m standing on Federal or City propery so I walk to the sidewalk but continue to take picture.
I stick around shooting pictures of the building for another ten mintues, no police ever show up. Â On the way back to my vehicle I spot this outside the Central Library.
Lets just hope that someday the federal government will learn to trust it’s citizens.