Last August, photographer Allen Henson took some photos of a model while visiting the building’s observation deck, something that he does often. Except this time, he wanted to try a “social experiment.” This experiment was to have his model pose topless and now he is looking at a 1 million dollar lawsuit by the Empire State Building.
While on the deck of one of New York’s most iconic buildings, the model, unnamed, climbed to an exposed area of the deck and took her shirt off while Henson captured images of it on his cell phone.
Henson is a professional photographer, and he contends that the photos were not part of a photo shoot. “I am a professional photographer, but that doesn’t mean that every time I touch a device with a camera on it I must be conducting a photo shoot,” he said.
The Empire State Building’s management disagrees and says that the images were produced “for his own commercial purpose” and damaged the ESB’s “reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction.”
It should be noted that in New York City it is perfectly legal for women to be topless in public. It should also be noted though that the Empire State Building is a private venue, and, therefore, is able to make its own rules regarding nudity on site. According to Henson, the ESB’s guard on duty did not try to stop or remove the two from the premises.
Henson added, while responding to the lawsuit, “On a side note, she had wonderful breasts.”
Regardless of your feelings on nudity in public, this should go as a lesson to anyone thinking about shooting nudes outside of the studio to be aware of your surroundings. In some states and cities, these two individuals could have been arrested and jailed for such an act. Know the laws regarding such things, it may save you some trouble with the law as well as your wallet.
Personally, I think it is interesting that the ESB’s guard did not intervene and that now – 5 months later – they decide to take action on the event. Could Henson have used better judgement with regards to children and spectators being around? sure! But, was the incident a commercial photo shoot? I am not so sure.
It was no doubt a photo shoot in my mind, he went to the location with a model and the intention to shoot a topless photo of her. The argument that it was a commercial shoot is a little more murky. To my knowledge he did not sell the images and he was not commissioned to produce them, so to me its probably a no. But, I can see the ESB’s argument as well. I am very curious to see how this plays out.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you side with Henson or the Empire State Building on this issue? Share your comments below!
[via MSN News]