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Photographer sued for topless photo shoot at Empire State Building observatory

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The folks in charge of the sky scraping Empire State Building in New York City have levied a $1 million lawsuit against professional photographer, Allen Henson, for an impromptu photo shoot he supervised wherein he was shooting pictures of a model gone topless on the 86th floor observatory of the towering structure.

The topless photo shoot occurred last August, according to a Jan. 13 report from Reuters. Henson was using the camera in his cell phone to take the shots.

"We were doing a social experiment," said Henson, adding he has been photographing fashion models for three years and also shot photos of topless women in Central Park and in Manhattan's Peninsula Hotel.

The 30-year-old photographer’s social experiment turned out to be a successful one as his topless photo session went viral on the web.

One reason the management of the Empire State Building got upset with the topless photo shoot is that the observation deck was crowded with families and young children at the time.

Another reason for the lawsuit states that the photo shoot was taken on as a commercial enterprise.

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."

Henson said he was testing out the implications of a May, 2013 New York City memo that “prevents police officers from arresting women who expose their breasts in public.” Henson may have felt somewhat empowered when he realized that the guards on duty at the building were not interfering with his picture taking.

In his defense, Henson says that the topless photo shoot was not for commercial purposes.

"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.

Henson went to say, “On a side note, she had wonderful breasts."

The Art Deco style, 103-story Empire State Building is one of New York City’s hottest tourist destinations and has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

For more on Allen Henson's topless photo shoot at the top of the Empire State Building, and the resulting lawsuit, see the video accompanying this article.

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