This Photo is Illegal

This photo is illegal.

This photo of rush hour at the Botafogo stop of Rio’s metro system is also illegal:


This one too. In fact, this entire photo series was taken illegally:


After I took this picture, the gentleman in the neon vest warned me, “Taking photos in the metro is not permitted.”

“What do you mean? The metro is a public space.”

Gentleman (not particularly friendly or particularly rude): “No photos without authorization.”

“How do I get authorization?”


“OK, I would like authorization. Where do I go?”

“You have to speak with this guy.”

(He points to the Ops Supervisor of Customer Service on the other side of the platform – not upstairs, mind you – and walkie-talkies him to come over.)

Repeat conversation with Ops Supervisor Marcio.

“I am told it’s not permitted to take photos of the metro system without authorization. Isn’t this a public space?”

Marcio: “No photos without authorization.”

“Ok, I would like authorization. How do I get it?”

Marcio takes me upstairs.

If you were expecting an authorization booth, so was I. Instead, Marcio handed me a Metro map:


And told me to call the 800 number, or go to 2000 Avenida Presidente Vargas downtown and speak with the Sector for Public Relations.

In other words, taking photos of the metro station is not permitted.

This one is of the Copacabana station a few stops away, where the Ops Supervisors did not mind me taking photos:


Not to be confused wit the Spaceship Earth ride in the Epcot Ball at Disney World.


Three pathways up.


Surveillance camera: not illegal.


If you’ve ever read The Castle by Franz Kafka, you have a sense of what bureaucracy is like in Brazil. Major themes: abuse of power, bureaucracy.

A guy shows up at a town to report for land surveyor work at the castle at the top of the town. He sees the castle, but he just can’t get there. Two-hundred-something pages later he is still trying to find his way to the castle entrance. Then Kafka dies and the book ends mid-sentence.

Exit through the hypercolor tunnel.


Original photography by @jruv.