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24 Jan ’14

UPDATE (NSFW) Fashion Photographer Allen Henson is Sued for $1 Million by The Empire State Building for Topless Photos

UPDATE 2 – Allen Henson and transgendered model Serina Thai at the Flatirons building and Grand Central. Stopped by cops, but no one was arrested. There you go, ESB.

Allen Henson in Grand Central with Serina Thai

Allen Henson and Serina Thai talking to officers at Grand Central

Allen Henson at Flatirons with topless Serina Thai

UPDATE – Photographer Allen Henson doesn’t seem to be phased so much by the mass attention of the Empire State Building lawsuit last week. We got BTS from a shoot early this week, that auspiciously seems to include the Zana Bayne + PENDU collaboration we covered SS14 New York Fashion Week last year at Open Ceremony.

Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS
Photographer Allen Henson BTS

NEW YORK, NEW YORKBlack & Grey magazine featured photographer and friend Allen Henson on Monday was sued for 1 million dollars by the management of the Empire State Building for shooting a series of smart phone photos of a topless model.

August 2013, Henson and a model friend went to the 86th floor observation deck and took her top off for a series of smart phone photos. The photos were a reaction to the May 3013 New York City law that made it illegal for the police to approach a topless woman and tell her to put her shirt on. “We were doing a social experiment,” said Henson, adding he has also shot photos of topless women in Central Park and in Manhattan’s Peninsula Hotel.

“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. BTW, it is totally legal as this video where Henson did an early exploration at a NYC hot spot points out. The cops did absolutely nothing.

Management of the Empire State Building charged in the suit the pictures were produced “for his own commercial purpose” and damaged the landmark’s “reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction.” Shouldn’t they be asking what they are forgetting, like a woman topless is legal in New York?

An earlier photo where Allen Henson and topless model friend were approached by police and left alone.
An earlier photo where Allen Henson and topless model friend were approached by police and left alone.

Of course the management of the Empire State Building are forgetting that they are suing Henson on something that is completely legal, that was not a commercial shoot, was not presented as such, and shot on a cell phone with 100 other people on the observation deck.

Yes, Allen Henson is a professional photographer. A job that some people think does not exist. Can we question that too?

Additionally, another pro photographer Drew Pluta made the comment, “The thing that has stuck in my head since this story broke is. If being topless is legal then you remove the “topless” aspect from the litigation. If they’re claiming that taking a picture from a phone is actionable then they have a whole different legal battle.”

A few questions come up for us: So what is a professional photo shoot, by definition? What can you do if your beliefs are effectively disparaging the law? Can real estate mogulEmpire State Trust’s Peter L. Malkin answer those questions? Henson asks, “That’s the story right there. Modern day Lords and serfs? Were we hunting the kings deer in the royal forest? Off with his head!”

With NYC’s notorious housing issues and rental property that bans any normal human from having a space to work, much less live in the Big Apple, we tend to agree.

Seems like these are questions this lawsuit might answer. Either way, Black & Grey magazine supports Allen Henson for doing what he does. Visit his website to see.

In fact, Allen – need an attorney? We’ll send you ours.

Check back for updates on this emerging story.

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