Here's a photograph from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina taken on July 28, 2012. I took this photo just before being surrounded by several "friendly" security guards from the Hearst Tower. As I walked down the opposite side of the street of the Hearst Tower I noticed multiple security guards on their radios as I got closer to the building. It was REALLY obvious that I was topic of the conversation. Please note: I was carrying my Nikon D3 with 28-300mm lens attached.
I had been walking and exploring and not sure what direction I wanted to go but I decided that I would cross the street towards the Hearst Tower. I crossed the street and now I'm on the sidewalk of the Hearst Tower. At least four security guards surrounded me. They looked nervous. Good thing for them I did not use my black belt Aikido skills and subdue them. (Ok, the Aikido thing is just a joke). The supervisor told me I could not photograph on the property. I asked if the sidewalk was property of the Heart Tower. She said, yes the sidewalk was Hearst property. I asked the supervisor "If I step off the sidewalk and photograph the building is that ok", She responded that the street is public property and they do not have jurisdiction over the street only the sidewalks to the Hearst Tower.
Truth is I only wanted to walk by and had no intension of photographing from the sidewalk and I communicated that to security. I told them I appreciated the job they had to do and thanks for respecting my rights. They told me that they had trouble with other photographers and were just trying to be prepared. We had a nice chat. I felt comfortable and I made sure that the guards felt comfortable. Ultimately, they couldn't have been nicer. They even gave me a few tips on places to photograph. Morale to this story is be nice and professional but if confronted make sure that you know your rights as a photographer. Have fun!!