A visit from the friendly FBI

Posted on Facebook this morning:

Uh-oh. What happened, Michael?

“It’s actually not as dramatic as it seems,” Michael Barrientos tells Romenesko readers. “I was doing some non-profit photo work this weekend and was out photographing with a group helping homeless. Apparently someone spotted me (they had photos of me photographing) got license tag numbers and reported the suspicious activity to Homeland Security.”

And then…

This morning an agent came knocking on my door. He was actually incredibly nice and understanding. I actually did say “of course they reported me; there was a brown guy taking pictures,” but in a humorous way.

-- Photo by Michael Barrientos

— Photo by Michael Barrientos

He said he was following up and said they get a lot of similar reports only to find out the person taking photos is a professional. I went on to talk about how I much prefer this than my experiences overseas in Europe and Africa where authorities were not nearly as nice or understanding for photographing in sensitive areas.

The officer was very respectful and cool, and had a clear understanding that photographers, including the general public, have the right to take photographs in public places.

My wife works for the Dept. of State and we have a lot of friends who do similar types of govt. work, so this situation didn’t really phase me. And seriously after getting in so many more hairy situations overseas, I guess I’ve just gotten much thicker skin.

Here’s one of my pics from the said shoot.