Social Media Backlash Sees Photography Ban at Million-Dollar Estate Overturned

Social Media Backlash Sees Photography Ban at Million-Dollar Estate Overturned

A wealthy neighborhood in Houston has tried and failed to ban photographers, after 40-50 photoshoots, often extravagant engagement or wedding shoots complete with props, were said to be taking place each weekend.  

The picturesque Broadacres neighborhood has become a hotspot for local photographers to take their clients, renown for its thick canopy of old live oak trees. A week or so ago, the Broadacres Homeowners Association (BHA) installed signs in an attempt to prohibit what they felt was “an abuse of the neighborhood.”

Shortly after the signs first appeared, locals took to Facebook and Twitter to criticize the BHA, with many saying they were reliant on the spot for client shoots.

Chron reports that since the outcry, the signs, reading “Welcome to Broadacres; No Photo Shoots” had disappeared. The city of Houston ruled that the popular spot lies in the public right-of-way. Photographers are apparently once again permitted to take photos featuring the million-dollar homes, complete with beautiful scenery, as long as they stay off the sidewalks.

A spokesperson for Houston’s Public Works Department did warn photographers, however: “It’s about having respect for each other and being good neighbors.”

Cece Fowler, president of BHA, added:

It's the photo shoots and all the photographic equipment that comes and blocks the sidewalk. City ordinance forbids blocking the sidewalks. It's the abusive commercial photographers that have ruined it for everyone. That's the bottom line.

Lead image credit: Expect Best web design via Pexels.

[via Chron]

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13 Comments

Then there is the first amendment... That said there is also Zoning ordinances which are also constitutional i.e. on par with the First Amendment and could require photographers to obtain use permits before shooting..... New York City requires permits to set up a tripod!

Robert Nurse's picture

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I don't think the FA applies here.

Dan Howell's picture

Time/Place/Manner restrictions have been used to limit the First Amendment for literally decades. Shouting 'Fire' in a crowded theater is a frequently sited example. this is a brief summary of it pertaining to art: http://ncac.org/resource/art-law-library-time-place-and-manner-restrictions

Lets not use NYC as an example of things that are constitutional. This is the same city that violates the 2nd Amendment every day and where it's police used to stop and frisk anyone they wanted.

david squire's picture

Yup, once the cat's out of the bag, a spot will eventually get overrun... I've used spots discovered by others and a couple of my "secret" favorite spots are now constantly busy- that's the way it goes... Los Angeles residents do the same thing, post signs, run folks off, etc. Stay safe and be good people/shooters out there ッ

Michael Holst's picture

I can see how photographers that feel like they need to bring a studio's amount of gear to a location shoot are making the residents mad. Maybe someone could make a devise that interrupts any wireless flash systems by creating extra signals. Post a few of those around the edge of your property and it will keep the photographers to natural light and less obstructive gear.

Joshua Kolsky's picture

A couple halloween strobe lights should do pretty well with that.

Eric Mazzone's picture

So long as the sidewalk is not fully restricted from people traveling through, they legally can't restrict public sidewalks.

Robert Nurse's picture

There is a very simple, albeit annoying solution to this: photo permits (UGH) along with reservations. Since this is a residential area, you, the photographer, should have to outline where, when and how long you'll be shooting with the HOA. If you break or damage it, you pay for it! A certain level of dacorum should be strictly adhered to at all times. Scantily clad to nude? NO! Loud music? NO! Trash: NO! Caravans of cars parked everywhere? NO! If shooting here is so important, following these rules should be easy.

Michael Holst's picture

most engagement shoots don't need much more than the couple and the photographer if they don't block the sidewalk and are reasonable, I don't see what they shouldn't be free to use the public space. I can get on board with needing a permit for a shoot that has more production to it with light stands, props, tripods, and other kit but for the most part the average photographer (at least in my area) will just have a couple cameras and maybe an assistant to hold a reflector.

Robert Nurse's picture

I hate the whole need for permits personally. When I go shooting, it's just me, the model and a light. No big productions, no noise. However, in this instance, this being a residential area, more care needs to be taken. Sometimes people just behave badly and make it difficult on those of us who just want to take pictures and will respect the location. Being a home owner myself, I sympathize with that community not wanting to deal with a bunch of strangers regularly. Being a photographer, I sympathize with the desire to shoot in awesome places. A healthy balance can be had here.

Elan Govan's picture

There is a massive ego at play here. I have seen photographs of newly married Asian couples flying all the way to Australia, Rome, London etc just to have a "stunning" backdrop to their wedding photographs, and they are happy to pay for that privilege.

I get something similar in my neighborhood but much worse for one day out of the year, Halloween. Our streets are packed with cars and families of people not from the area.