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UER Forum > Rookie Forum > Getting Permission to Visit a Location (Viewed 1832 times)
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
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Twitter: @laurshaye

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Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< on 8/9/2017 8:43 PM >
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Hello everyone,

I was just curious of who actually asks for permission to photograph/explore a location, and who just finds their way in without it?

If you ask permission, what tools do you use to find the owners of the property? How do you contact them and what do you usually say?

I found a property that I would love to explore (it's an abandoned church), and would love to take some photos. However, the location is on a busy highway, and I know I will get caught snooping. I'm not sure how to really go about asking permission. I did find the names and contact information of the church's owner, and thought it may be better to ask permission first, but on the other hand, the front door is wide open.


Thanks guys (and girls).




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
OnlyFootprints 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 1 on 8/9/2017 8:56 PM >
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Posted by laurel
Hello everyone,

I was just curious of who actually asks for permission to photograph/explore a location, and who just finds their way in without it?

If you ask permission, what tools do you use to find the owners of the property? How do you contact them and what do you usually say?

I found a property that I would love to explore (it's an abandoned church), and would love to take some photos. However, the location is on a busy highway, and I know I will get caught snooping. I'm not sure how to really go about asking permission. I did find the names and contact information of the church's owner, and thought it may be better to ask permission first, but on the other hand, the front door is wide open.


Thanks guys (and girls).


Here is my take on this, and please take into account I'm in Los Angeles where everybody wants money , insurance, for access to property. Or they want to sue the shit out of you when you get caught trespassing.

1- Asking permission: Depending on the location this usually ends with a fat "No". Especially with bigger locations like old hospitals, commercial buildings etc. The owners are crazy worried about liability and (out here) are looking to cash in on any Hollywood films or commercials.

The risk here is that once you ask and get denied , now you're on their radar should you try and enter the location without permission.

I have had 2 locations give me the OK to access, but now that social media has made everyone a photographer/explorer the rate at which these spots get blown out has created a real headache for property owners.

2- Finding the owners of a location- Google. It's pretty simple to track down a property owner if you know the address of where you want to explore. The only exception are the smaller towns and more rural areas that don't have as much of an internet presence.





Rinzler 


Location: New Jersey
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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 2 on 8/9/2017 10:08 PM >
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Ive been told yes more times than no. Having a state job or a job that is more respected, most of the times will get you a yes. Say you work for the state highway division, police officer,firefighter,etc as opposed to McDonalds or Walmart. Or even having shitty insurance will decide the factor since sometimes the owner will require you to buy insurance. I used to work for state corrections in Texas and I was able to get permission for 5 hospitals, various prisons, theaters, etc. I believe I was only told no once or twice? Now I'm back up in New Jersey and most of the time I can get a yes more times than no. But then there are some places where permission will never be granted, unless you know somebody who works there or for the company. Power plants, underground stuff, etc. I recently got told no for BCT but thats the type of place where you have to know somebody.

Like OnlyFootprints said, it also depends where you are located. Getting permission for stuff in LA will never work, unless you offer up thousands of dollars. Same with NYC, Boston, etc. Unless its a private owner who doesnt really care.

Sometimes finding who owns it is easy. Look for a sign outside the location, go online and check the address, or if its state owned, just look for the website and start annoyi...I mean emailing people to see who is the right person to talk to. Normally you can always find out who owns it with the help of the internet.

Once you ask for permission and get told no, if you do decide to go anyway, don't get caught. You can guarantee the owner will press charges if the police don't.



[last edit 8/9/2017 10:10 PM by Rinzler - edited 1 times]

KD20 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 3 on 8/10/2017 12:08 AM >
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A good tool for finding private owners is the county auditor's site. Usually, the location is searchable by owner name, address, or parcel number. The address of the owner is usually listed so, if nothing else, you could at least mail them something if you can't find something more convenient like an email address. I've typically had good luck with asking permission. How you present yourself goes a long way. As for what to say, I usually go with the photography or history angle, telling them I research similar buildings as a personal project.




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Steed 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 4 on 8/10/2017 2:50 AM >
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I have a lanyard with a security card showing my name, face, and the newspaper I work for. It's worked for getting me on a couple roofs when there were protests below.

The problem with asking permission is, once they say no, you pretty well can't go without risking really pissing them off if you're caught or detected.




Aran 


Location: Grand Junction, CO
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Huh. I guess covid made me a trendsetter.

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 5 on 8/10/2017 6:08 AM >
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I've asked permission before. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. Sometimes they say "yes, but stay out of [certain area]".

On one hand, you could get (mostly) unrestricted legal access to a site if they say yes. On the other hand, you lose the "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be here" defense if they say no. It's up to you which one is worth what risk.

In your particular situation, I think it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. Walk quickly and confidently, but approach from the back until you get close. Most people are apathetic about tresspassers who act like they belong. If all goes well, the owner never has to know.



[last edit 8/10/2017 6:13 AM by Aran - edited 1 times]

"Sorry, I didn't know I'm not supposed to be here," he said, knowing full well he wasn't supposed to be there.

DarkAngel 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 6 on 8/10/2017 6:22 AM >
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Posted by KD20
A good tool for finding private owners is the county auditor's site. Usually, the location is searchable by owner name, address, or parcel number. The address of the owner is usually listed so, if nothing else, you could at least mail them something if you can't find something more convenient like an email address. I've typically had good luck with asking permission. How you present yourself goes a long way. As for what to say, I usually go with the photography or history angle, telling them I research similar buildings as a personal project.



This. Find out the address and then look it up on your county assessment page. Should tell you who the owner is. Then you just have to find their contact info if possible.

Personally, unless I know it's 100% abandoned, I ask on anywhere I go. Not worth it, especially in places like Alaska, Texas, and several other states where you can get shot if the property owner is there and feels threatened.

Btw, if you do ask and get told no, there is zero way to get out of a trespassing charge.

So weigh your options.




Peptic Ulcer 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 7 on 8/10/2017 7:35 PM >
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This is something that I dont think can be taught but advice can certainly be given. Asking permission falls under the "social engineering" category of Urbex and as everyone has already mentioned usually ends in a "no" and thus a higher risk if you get caught.

With that being said, I have only asked permission when either 1. I know there is no way in that I wont either get caught or have to damage the building or 2. The opportunity presents itself whereby the owner is present.

Asking permission can lead to an explore that you would not otherwise be able to experience on your own. Having them come with you and explain the history gives you insight you will never learn from doing any amount of research.

The most successful approach I have found when asking permission is to tell the person you are writing a book about historical buildings. Again you will probably be told "no" more often than not but just telling them that you are an amateur photographer who wants to wander around their property and take pictures will never work. Have a good background story about other places you have visited and ask them if they would like to come with you. Again, the background and the stories are like nothing you will find in a book. I find this particularly easy with people who are fixing up a place.

Be respectful, dress appropriately for a discussion (remove the piercings and hide the tattoos...) and let them know you have been doing this for quite a while and have your own safety gear. If liability is a concern you can tell them that you understand the concern and have provided a waiver of liability to others in the past. This has worked twice with me but generally if they are at that point its all over but its worth a hail mary! You can find the form for free online.

Good luck!




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Astro 

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 8 on 8/10/2017 9:25 PM >
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There was only one location I ever had to ask permission for and I got it.


This location didn't have an access to it other than with a key, as it was an old abandoned theater that was owned by the city, attached to the city's municipal courthouse.


I initially called the police station and asked them if they knew who owned it. I was directed to the city officials and eventually got in touch with the Director of Economic Development for the city. He actually gave me permission not once but twice to go in, once with some news people and then once with him (because when I had gone the first time I had been forbidden to go upstairs and he wasn't satisfied with that).



There was just simple no accessing this location unless I had permission, so there was no harm in asking.

Here
is the album of the location if you're curious.

I do believe I was the last person to ever photograph the inside of this place, as it has since been completely gutted and doesn't even have the facade anymore.




[02:33:56] <Valkyre> Astro your whole life is ruled by the sentence ' life is better without clothes on'
[22:16:00] <DSomms> it was normal until astro got here
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laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 14 likes


Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 9 on 8/11/2017 4:15 PM >
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Posted by OnlyFootprints


2- Finding the owners of a location- Google. It's pretty simple to track down a property owner if you know the address of where you want to explore. The only exception are the smaller towns and more rural areas that don't have as much of an internet presence.




Yeah I've been having a hard time finding things on google for the locations I've been finding. I do live in rural Arkansas so that's probably why... I did find the address to the place I want to visit. I'll just keep trying to search on google. It'll probably take some deep searching since I'm not in the city necessarily.




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 14 likes


Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 10 on 8/11/2017 4:21 PM >
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Posted by Rinzler
Ive been told yes more times than no. Having a state job or a job that is more respected, most of the times will get you a yes. Say you work for the state highway division, police officer,firefighter,etc as opposed to McDonalds or Walmart. Or even having shitty insurance will decide the factor since sometimes the owner will require you to buy insurance. I used to work for state corrections in Texas and I was able to get permission for 5 hospitals, various prisons, theaters, etc. I believe I was only told no once or twice? Now I'm back up in New Jersey and most of the time I can get a yes more times than no. But then there are some places where permission will never be granted, unless you know somebody who works there or for the company. Power plants, underground stuff, etc. I recently got told no for BCT but thats the type of place where you have to know somebody.




Oh wow, good idea. And what kind of insurance can you get for exploring?




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 14 likes


Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 11 on 8/11/2017 4:26 PM >
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Posted by Steed
I have a lanyard with a security card showing my name, face, and the newspaper I work for. It's worked for getting me on a couple roofs when there were protests below.

The problem with asking permission is, once they say no, you pretty well can't go without risking really pissing them off if you're caught or detected.



Maybe I could try that. I'm sure I could pass for a journalist lol!




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
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Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 12 on 8/11/2017 4:32 PM >
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Posted by Aran

In your particular situation, I think it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. Walk quickly and confidently, but approach from the back until you get close. Most people are apathetic about tresspassers who act like they belong. If all goes well, the owner never has to know.


Good point... the door is wide open and isn't very large so I might as well.. it's an old church, and the congregation has built a new church so they may not care as much.




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 14 likes


Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 13 on 8/11/2017 4:33 PM >
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Posted by Peptic Ulcer

The most successful approach I have found when asking permission is to tell the person you are writing a book about historical buildings. Again you will probably be told "no" more often than not but just telling them that you are an amateur photographer who wants to wander around their property and take pictures will never work. Have a good background story about other places you have visited and ask them if they would like to come with you. Again, the background and the stories are like nothing you will find in a book. I find this particularly easy with people who are fixing up a place.


Good luck!


Thank you! I wasn't sure how to approach them about it. It is an old church, and the congregation has moved to another location. I just wasn't sure how to approach them about it. Or even what to say.




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
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Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 14 on 8/11/2017 4:35 PM >
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Posted by DarkAngel



Btw, if you do ask and get told no, there is zero way to get out of a trespassing charge.

So weigh your options.


Yeah, I'm not sure if I need a trespassing charge...




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
laurel 


Location: Arkansas
Gender: Female
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Twitter: @laurshaye

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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 15 on 8/11/2017 4:36 PM >
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Posted by Astro



There was just simple no accessing this location unless I had permission, so there was no harm in asking.

Here
is the album of the location if you're curious.

I do believe I was the last person to ever photograph the inside of this place, as it has since been completely gutted and doesn't even have the facade anymore.


Awesome photos, Astro! I'm still teaching myself to take good photos so it may be a while before I post photos on here..




- Laurel
Twitter: @laurelexplores
Astro 

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Location: The Delta Quadrant
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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 16 on 8/11/2017 4:46 PM >
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Posted by laurel


Awesome photos, Astro! I'm still teaching myself to take good photos so it may be a while before I post photos on here..


Thanks, those are quite old and I've improved a lot since even then. You will always have room for improvement, take your time with them but also make sure to post on your local boards regardless of photo quality! The photos in "photography" are supposed to be "good" and "quality" but if you post in your regional board no one cares about how good they are, because we like to see exploring photos no matter what!




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Explorer Zero 


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Re: Getting Permission to Visit a Location
< Reply # 17 on 8/11/2017 7:07 PM >
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Posted by laurel


Yeah I've been having a hard time finding things on google for the locations I've been finding. I do live in rural Arkansas so that's probably why... I did find the address to the place I want to visit. I'll just keep trying to search on google. It'll probably take some deep searching since I'm not in the city necessarily.


Don't forget Google Earth you can fly over just about anywhere, be mindful of the imagery dates. I'll respond to the other advice by saying:

Posted by DarkAngel

Personally, unless I know it's 100% abandoned, I ask on anywhere I go. Not worth it, especially in places like Alaska, Texas, and several other states where you can get shot if the property owner is there and feels threatened.



There is some degree of truth to this. Youre not likely to get capped by one of us Texas rednecks just for being on our land, in broad daylight. You may get stopped, held at gun point for the sheriff's deputy, but in most cases just yelled at and run off. If you really want avoid being shot on sight (on site) don't back a cattle trailer up to someone's loading pens or a tanker truck up to someone's oil tank battery. Or prowl around on active homestead type properties after dark. Theres an old sign that says: "anyone found here at night will be found here in the morning" it does indeed apply in some places.

Posted by Peptic Ulcer

The most successful approach I have found when asking permission is to tell the person you are writing a book about historical buildings.


Well thats just lying to people isn't it? I guess everyone has to decide the ethics of this for themselves, but its basically lying unless you really are writing a book. Not worth compromising my principals to get in for some pics that way.

Posted by Steed
I have a lanyard with a security card showing my name, face, and the newspaper I work for. It's worked for getting me on a couple roofs when there were protests below.


Now THIS ^ is social engineering folks, letting people such as passersby come to their own conclusions about who, what and why youre there. It is not the same as outright lying to people at least in my book.

When I photographed a building implosion near a DART rail station a few years ago we spotted some guy just strolling down the tracks with a camera and an orange transit authority vest from some other city. He didn't belong there and the DART transit cops challenged him but he flashed some ID and they looked at each other and let him go. I suspect it was a social engineering ruse that worked. Anyway he got better close up shots than I did








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