What should I absolutely not do when visiting the USA?

As written by

2003, a hot summer day. Los Angeles, CA.

I was stopped by two police officers walking the streets in L. A. Downtown with my camera in my hand.

I just finished a fun few hours shooting photos of interesting objects in the city that included people, flowers and skyrise buildings.

I clearly remember how excited I was finally holding the newly purchased Nikon SLR camera and just shooting away. The sound of the shutter, the zoom, the weight of the camera… it was just an amazing experience every time I took a picture.

I remember how I enjoyed looking in the viewfinder and seeing the object in the frame and just clicking away to capture the moment.

image source

After I saved enough money and bought this “toy” I took every opportunity to take photographs; but this was the first time I tried city photography, before I tried nature photography only.

When I was done for the day, a police car slowed down next to me and asked for my ID. I didn’t have it with me as I left it in my car that parked a few blocks away.

They asked me to go with them to my car to which I obliged. As I was sitting on the backseat, on that hard plastic seat, they explained me that they got reports about a person who took pictures of highrise buildings.

Most likely this person they talked about was me.

I told them I loved photography and I shot some pictures still exploring my new found hobby. They were very polite and after they took all my data I was good to go.

Not thinking too much about the situation, a week later I received a phone call from the Los Angeles Police Depapartment. A detective wanted to come and see me and see where I lived.

We agreed on a time and two detectives showed up a couple of days later. They asked me some questions in a friendly manner and asked for permission to look through the apartment I lived in.

Even though they did not have a search warrant, as I had nothing to hide, I let them see my few belongings that I had. I remember they specifically asked for the pictures I took and before they left they explained me that after 9/11 any suspicious activity regarding highrise buildings need to be investigated.

Before they went their way they told me to be careful to photograph certain buildings such as power plants, or military bases because I might get into legal trouble.