Detained in DC

Library of CongressFrom May 10 to 14, I was in Washington, D.C. for the ISO meetings on image permanence. These meetings were held at the Library of Congress and cover issues related to the preservation of traditional and digital photos. The Library of Congress is in the center of Washington, across from the Capitol.

capitol_2_CIMG2892On Tuesday, I found myself with an hour or so between the end of the meeting and the time I was meeting one of the other participants for dinner. I decided to walk around and take a few touristy photos of the area. In spite of the fact that I visit Washington once or twice a year, I have very few photos of the area.

I wanted to document what Washington has become, so I took a picture of one of the many barricades located in front of the Library of Congress.

This photograph did not please the guard on duty, who was obviously frustrated at the lack of activity. She cornered me, demanded to know what I was doing, and why I had taken a picture. This guard  made me delete the photo of the barricade from my camera and wait inside her shack. She phoned her superior, ” I caught someone taking a photo. What should I do?” She gave them my driver’s license number and social security, eventually  concluding that I was not a risk.

D.C. Barricade


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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7 Responses to Detained in DC

  1. Mary says:

    What a bizarre excuse to detain you. Welcome to DC, btw. I live out by Dulles Airport. The ISO conference sounds very cool, and I’m serious about that. I can see how that could be taken as sarcasm, but now that I’m into photo preservation, I’m all about learning! I hope your visit to DC was otherwise a good venture!

  2. Mary says:

    Ooh, if you’re still here, check out the Newseum. Always a great stop.

  3. Neil Mizen says:


    Interesting reading. Who knows when this struff will stop.

  4. Great article and I love the photos taken from another angle as in focusing on the barricades and police and how different things are. Many of us don’t get to travel to DC or even large cities very often to see just how much the world has changed. And I bet you are right, your name is in some database somewhere – be careful when you leave the country next time! 😀

  5. Alan Hodgson says:

    And don’t just think it is confined to Washington. The police in London are getting equally twitchy. The Royal Photographic Society in the UK has ben active in getting clarification of the law on this. Some useful information can be found on including a link to a corresponding site clarifying US law.

  6. Mark Mizen says:

    Thanks for the information. Details on photographer’s rights in the U.S. are available at .

  7. Lisa Youngblood says:

    Very interesting reading. Our family went there for 9 days about 3 years ago. We were taking pictures all over the place. There were no barricades up at the time, but we did see the new style that can be raised and lowered easily.

    The Library of Congress was my favorite tour. It’s very fascinating to learn about its history. It’s so beautiful since the restoration.

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