Can a picture get you thrown in jail?

We have all heard the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this article the the meaning takes on a whole new meaning, like pleas bargain. As artists many of us take photos of items for reference pictures and often don’t think about how they may be affecting local laws or regulations. This came to mind after watching a television show not too long ago where a lady that was taking pictures of industrial oil tanks and was arrested and scrutinized by a company in the small town where she took the pictures. It turns out that she was trying to take reference photos of storage tanks used to store fuel to be used in a presentation on energy conservation in the world. How many of us have done that to get pictures for a painting or presentation ourselves? This is very common and if we are not careful can put us in bad positions with the law. Even though this lady wasn’t on the company property she was deemed suspicious for taking pictures through their fence line. building

Many places now don’t allow photography on their properties and taking photos can put you in a position where you might possibly be crossing terrorism laws. So what do you do if you need reference photos and the item is placed inside the fenced structure of a company’s location? Items like fuel tanks are now being protected due to factors that we didn’t have to worry about before 9-11, but now look at those events cause us to protect areas in a different way. If you need reference photos these days the internet is the first place most of us turn to. If that doesn’t work and you must take your own in a company’s location asking permission from the company may work, of course they may say no. If they say no, asking for pictures from the company may give you approved shots. You may have try and find another way of capturing the images if they won’t give you pictures. The important part is to remember you may feel that you are not doing anything wrong, but in the company’s eyes you are violating trespassing laws. Don’t get caught sitting on the fence and leaving yourself open to possible law suits.

About the Author
Bruce Outridge is an artist, author, and illustrator from Southern Ontario Canada and specializes in live caricature entertainment and studio work. For more information please visit his website at