Asking for Forgiveness or Permission?

On some occasion, taking the desired picture means heading on private lands or in location that are secured in some way.  You end up having to choose:  Do you beg for forgiveness or permission.  Heading for forgiveness might represent is certainly riskier.  Here are two stories where I asked for permission and forgiveness.

About asking for Forgiveness

While in Vacation in Costa-Rica I found “Cataraca Llanos de Cortes” on the national highway near Bagaces.  At the entrance of the little park, a security officer greeted us and asked for 1$ to access the site.  This is a very nice waterfall and at noon on that day the harsh light did not allow me to take a picture that was true to the beauty of the place.

I came back early the next morning to find the place empty.  Empty?  Well the fence was close, the security officer nowhere to be seen.  While I was able to get through the fence with my Camera Bag, I was concerned of doing so.  I left the car near the fence and put a few one dollars bills on the seat of the Security Officer under a small stone and headed to the waterfall.

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For two hours the Cataraca Llanos de Cortes took the pose for me alone.  When I came back to my car, the Security Officer was on duty and put up a big smile for me raising his thumb in the air.

Although I took a risk doing so and did not went through any problems, I would encourage you to follow the rules.  More so in other country when don’t know the local language.

About asking Permission?

A few years ago, I was working in a tall building located on a small island near the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, QC. As fall was progressing, I knew that the sun progression at this latitude would bring the sun in the vicinity of the bridge.  This could make a cool picture should I be able to stand on the top of the building at sunrise.

Asking for forgiveness was not a possibility in this case. The access was secured and the only option was asking for permission.

How to ask for permission:

I knew they would be concerned about security, they always are.  A few days before my attempt, I manage to talk to a security guard about how cool this could be to take such a picture and he also believed that this could be nice.

When I asked to the building administrator and they did raise concerns about security, I talked about my friend Paul, the security guard that would probably agree to keep an eye on me while I was taking the picture.  I also offered to sign a release. The phone got going to try to make this happens and here I am, the following morning at 06:30 on top of the building.

All in all I was there for 45 minutes.  Paul was very patient.  I left him a small gift to show my appreciation.

Champlain BridgeBack at my desk, I immediately chose a picture amongst the nicer one and sent it to Paul, his boss and the building administrator assistant.  Doing so might help me go back up in the future.

As you can see, there is a crane in the picture.  This was not expected.  However, I like it there.  It helps frame the subject which is the bridge in the sunrise.  I also kept in the frame the top of the trees.  The square formed by the crane, the trees and the bridge is creating a frame within the frame.

Should you need to get a legit Shooting Permit for your next project, take the time to read You’d Better Have Permission To Shoot and find out how to do it.

So tell me, do you ask for forgiveness or permission?