What’s wrong with this picture?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It was the sweetest of summertime rituals — a mother taking photos of her 1-year-old daughter splashing in a park sprinkler.

But Margo Gibson squeezed off just three frames on her camera before a Park worker rushed over and ordered her to stop — and Gibson is miffed.

“I never heard of being ordered to stop taking pictures of your kid,” Gibson said. “She was being cute, so I wanted to take some pictures.”

There were only three or four kids besides her daughter, Severine McQueeney, in Clinton Hill’s Underwood Park when the man in the green uniform asked her to holster that camera.

Gibson said the worker explained that the photo prohibition as “a safety precaution,” enforced by the Parks Department to ensure that other kids would not inadvertently end up in the photos.

That, however, turned out to be untrue.

When contacted by The Brooklyn Paper, a Parks Department spokesperson said that adults are allowed to take photographs of children in playgrounds — if they’re taking shots of their own kids, that is.

As a result, the Parks worker’s intimidation “was probably a misunderstanding between him and the parent,” said the agency’s spokesman, Joe Eastman.

Indeed, just a week earlier, Gibson had been able to take pictures of Severine in the same park.

The inconsistent administration of enforcement power is what bothers Gibson and her husband the most.

“Park workers look the other way at folks breaking all the posted rules,” said Severine’s father, John McQueeney.

“But [with the photo ban], they are trying to enforce an unconstitutional secret rule.”

That enforcement left the Gibson-McQueeney clan with precious few shots of little Severine splashing about on a hot day.

“I only got three pictures and a one-minute movie,” said Gibson.

Updated 5:07 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Robert Marvin from Lefferts Manor says:
Absolutely ridiculous. While I can understand concerns about taking pictures of other people's children, anyone can take photographs of anyone or anything in a public place.

This is a good summary of photographers'rights:
July 3, 2008, 5:50 pm
Dan from Gerritsen says:
The parks spokesperson statement is incorrect. You are allowed to take pictures of children in a public park.

They might be able to summons you for being in a toddler park without a child.

Unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, you can take pictures of anyone including children in a public place.
July 3, 2008, 11:50 pm
Isaiah from Brooklyn says:
Quite true. If you don't want people to take pictures of your kids, don't bring them to public places. Good luck with that, by the way.

What's the matter with people? When did the simple act of taking a photo become either terrorism or pedophilia?
July 4, 2008, 12:47 am
R. Picaro from Bushwick says:
I agree that people should have the liberty of taking pictures of their own children. Yet, this woman was not seriously intruded upon in being asked why she was taking them. I grant that she was taking pictures of her own children.

While memories are important--this story is certainly not a mother's only chance to take photos of her child: You have time to write an article, you have time to take more photos. Lighten up and don't be so cynical; it's more important to be critical. While you shouldn't feel harassed for simply watching your own children, you can at least be assured that someone is protecting the rest of them (who may not have the time themselves or money for nannies).

I'm certain your child was far less perturbed by this event than you were. Suck it up, grow up!

R. Picaro
July 4, 2008, 3:07 am
R. Nelson from Bay Ridge/Ft. Hamilton says:
I was on the Shore Promenade with a camera taking photos of the Narrows Bridge when I was approached by the local NYPD & was asked what I was doing taking pictures of children & if the kids in the photo were mine. The children were Hispanic accompanied by their parents. I am not Hispanic. I explained that I was photographing the walk with the bridge in the background & the family walked into the frame. They were about forty feet from where I was and walking toward the bridge. I was asked for ID and again asked why I was on the promenade by myself. I was made to feel like I had done something wrong. I've lived in the neighborhood all my life(63 years)and now that I'm retired it seems I can't even enjoy the parks or my hobby which is photography.I was told to be careful & to have a good day. Well, it wasn't a good day and what should I be careful of??? This is going to extremes. R. Nelson
July 5, 2008, 1:09 pm
A. Palmer from Brooklyn says:
R. Picaro - Are you KIDDING?! Are you in favor of people having something called civil liberties? Since when is it considered suspect when a mother wishes to take pictures of her own child at a public park?! What kind of precedent is being set here?! Who are the children being "protected" by - Big Brother?! This is completely and utterly ridiculous and you (R. Picaro) are in need of a lobotomy!
July 8, 2008, 11:35 pm
Concerned Parent from Crown Heights-PWM says:
This is absolutely ridiculous. With todays society they really should be worried about the violence that happens in the parks during the summer and not about parents taking pictures of their children. Schools are out of session this is the time of year where they should be looking out for the older adolescents and immature adults that smoke and drink and act uncivil around smaller children in the parks those are the threats. But the biggest question here is does he not get paid to work what was he doing during the time that he was harrassing Mrs. McQueeney apparently not doing his real job!!!!!!
July 9, 2008, 5:44 pm

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