Ask Permission First, 2 pics

New Year’s Eve day I returned to the abandoned Bethel Milling Co. to photograph the antique Fairbanks-Morse platform scale which had caught my eye during my previous visit.  While photographing I was approached by Mr. Eaves, who turned out to be the owner.  It also turned out Bethel Milling Co. was not quite abandoned.

Antique Bench Vice Vignette
Antique Bench Vice Vignette

Assuming I was up to no good, Mr. Eaves’s was at first a little miffed.  Seeing my tripod and camera, and sharing some shots from my first visit, he quickly understood I meant no harm.  “It’s not a problem, I just wished you had asked first” he politely mentioned.  I agreed and apologized, mentioning I had assumed the facility was abandoned.  “Nope,” he said, “I produce feed almost every day.”  He went on to share his father had took ownership of the mill in the early 50’s.  I also got a tour of the facility and was invited to come back. I plan to shoot some interiors later this spring, and will call first.

Antique Platform Scale Composition
Antique Platform Scale Composition

I did feel bad for not asking.  While researching the building after my first shoot, I did find a number, but neglected to call before my second visit.  There are inherent risks in urbex photography.  Other than personal injury from environmental hazards, the consequences of potential trespassing are also a concern.  I do believe it’s best to first make an effort to ask permission, and if you can’t find someone to ask, then proceed carefully.   Going in after you’ve been given an explicit no is not work the risk.

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8 thoughts on “Ask Permission First, 2 pics

  1. Good read. Yep, there have been a couple of times where I had been “caught” in the act of shooting after proceeding carefully. But always good advice to seek out permission if possible. That’s a great scale for even more future shots!

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  2. Good advice…I definitely try to get permission ahead of time. I have even left handwritten notes in mailboxes asking them to call me. 😆 Of course there was this one time that I had stopped by and asked the gentlemen mowing the lawn if it would be okay, I had made the assumption he’s approval would be enough. Turns out he wasn’t the actual owner and the owner threatened to call the cops on me!! Crazy when all I was doing was taking pictures in a field right next to the road. In general, I find most people are accommodating and understanding.

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    1. At least you made an effort and could tell the owner you thought you had asked permission. Yep, my experience has been the same – most folks are accommodating, a few are just having a bad day, a few are just rude.

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