Nathan Alston had a few minutes to kill as he sat in a parked car on a side of a street waiting for his wife in downtown Amherst, NY. So he pulled out his Nikon D300 and started taking photos of some buildings in front of him.

It didn’t take long before three FBI Agents harassed him, according to his story, which he posted on DP Review.

One of them introduced himself, as he stuck his ID through the passenger window, and asked what my business was. He explained that I had been captured, on camera, taking pictures of their buildings. I explained that I wasn’t aware of that, and told them that I was just a serious amateur photographer who was only trying to get a better handle on exposures.

They pointed out that one of the buildings I was shooting in the direction of, was their main building. It was only after he mentioned this that I was able to see – on better inspection – their FBI logo on said building. Now, this building was better than a half-block away, and their logo was almost totally obstructed by some trees.

Alston said the Feds were worried because he had such a “professional grade camera” – as if perhaps it doubled as a rocker launcher or something.

I haven’t read through the six pages of comments on the DP Review thread but from a few comments, it appears that some people are taking the whole “Thank God they’re protecting us from the terrorists” approach.

Alston, who was misinformed before the incident, is even more misinformed now.

I live in Amherst, NY, and I do believe that I had previously heard something about how photographing such buildings were not permitted. That is why I parked a distance away from the IRS building (which is where my wife was visiting), and shot in the opposite direction. The thing with me is that I didn’t KNOW I was shooting federal installations.

So obviously Alston now believes that photography is a crime.

Via Thomas Hawk.


I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.