So. I've often rolled my eyes at the fact that, legally, you're not allowed to use a tripod for photography on the streets of NYC. At least, not without a permit.
But I now have a project I'm working on that motivated me to get one of those permits!
Here is my experience so far.
First, you have to go to the website for the City of New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting.
There you can find forms for various permits. The one I filled out was the Still Photography Permit.
You should know that there is a separate form if you want to shoot in parks as opposed to on the streets. For that, fill out the form for the Parks Still Photography Permit.
It's not that bad of a process!
And it's FREE. I had it in my head it was $100 because of some sort of wedding photographer story. But it's free for the type of thing I'm doing.
Make sure you TYPE the form. I tried to get away with writing it by hand and ended up having to re-do it.
Most permits can be granted within a day. But you have to plan ahead with some locations, such as Times Square - they require seven business days notice for that. It seems silly at first maybe, but they explained that there could be big films shooting there and that sort of thing, so it makes sense that it all has to stay organized.
You must fax the form. I asked if I could email it the second time, but rules are rules, so I marched back to the copy shop to fax it in again.
Both times I sent it in, I received a phone call within 15 minutes.
The first was to tell me exactly what was wrong with my application and ask that I re-send it.
The second was to tell me it would take a couple days before approval because one of my requested locations is Times Square. Luckily, I gave enough notice!
I'm sure that many people get away with shooting with a tripod and not having a permit. But these were the pictures I had in my head:
a) I don't get a permit. A police officer comes up to me and asks to see my permit. I smile innocently and try to talk my way into permission, but I'm shut down. I am annoyed.
b) I get a permit. A police officer comes up to me and asks to see my permit. I hand it over proudly and am told to go about my business. I am happy.
So. It's not that big of a deal. It's almost kinda fun.
I'll follow up with when I receive my permit and if I have any trouble when shooting.
Meanwhile, if you have questions, you can look at information on the website or call 212-489-6710 and ask for the Permits Department.