Roof top shooting in the city.

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ed_prest, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. I saw an exhibition of images taken from roof tops of sky scrapers
    and the like at night. Its motivating for sure. All 4x5 and 8x10
    covering walls.

    The problem is I'm having a real hard time getting permission. The
    building managers (half of them seem to be lawyers) think risky stuff
    or its some big hollywood production. It looks like bribing the
    maintenance people is the only way to do this and I would do this only

    Suggestions are welcome.
  2. Get some business cards printed and request permission on letterhead with promise of some framed pictures for their efforts in helping you.
  3. Actually, it's the minimum waged paid security guard you want to bribe. They often have keys to roof access because it's a patrol area for them. Expalin what you want if they say no, politely thank them and walk away. Younger guys more open than older guys. Swing or graveyard shift best. Forget the day shift as blding management is often co-policing bldging then.
  4. Ed,
    Try contacting a neon sign company. You might be able to barter a few shots of thier rooftop work for an opportunity to do your own thing.
  5. Try shooting from the windows of the uppermost floors. 10 or 20 feet isn't going to make that much difference from a skyscraper.
  6. I suggest also going to the top floor of the building. I was doing a series on city lights at night with my 8x10 camera, and going downtown I would go into all the hotels where I could go up to the top floor and open a window, or find someone nice enought to let me go into there hotel room on there patio to take a photography. Of course I gave them my car and offered them a print of the image if they like. Althought I gave away a few prints for free, it was like getting my photography OUT more and trying to get my name more known by people as a photographer.

    Ryan McIntosh
  7. Ed, ...

    It is a little known fact that most large buildings built in recent years (I live in Seattle, WA, so expect similar results in other metropolitan US cities) are required to have a public accessible area. It is similar to a developer who builds a subdivision on 25 acres of land, a certain amount has to be set aside for "native growth, open space" etc...You might have to go to your municipalities web site or call them to find out where these public areas are, because as I said, they don't give this info out freely.

    The trick is most buildings don't openly post where the public area is, even though required to by law. This open area may be at ground level, or it may be on a higher floor. You have to ask, usually.

    After I found where the public areas are, then I would try asking the tenant, it's usually a better deal than the property management people. You can find the list of who is where in most lobbies, and then go to their web site or call them to ask. TFP is an idea. The easiest way is if you personally know someone who works on that floor. It would also probably help if you carried the smallest tripod feasible with your LF, and keep the LF camera in the bag, perhaps a little 35mm or digital around your neck so they know you aren't "serious."

    check this link out, lots of info on building owners, etc
  8. A building manager has a legitimate concern about letting people up on the roof of their building, especially if they plan to go up there at night and stand at the edge of the roof making photographs. Building managers think it's risky stuff because it is. They don't need a law degree to figure out that there's no reward at all for them if they let you up there and the risk of major problems is huge.
  9. cxc


    Here in San Francisco I've got some nice shots from the top level (usually on the roof) of parking structures, and been left alone doing it. Not 50 floors up, more like 5, but still a significant advantage. Also, you have your car right there (always empty slots on the top floor) to work out of, so take the ULF!
  10. What a bunch of good ideas, thanks.

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