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06/04/2012 09:52:39 AM · #1
I'm researching some places to use as a setting for photo shoots. how do you handle areas that aren't public property, eg. restaurants, golf courses, wineries, etc.

do i need to inform the owner that I will be there? is it customary to pay for the use of the grounds or simply just have a meal/drink there?

i dont plan to take up lots of space with tons of gear and impede there business and will usually be there during off peak times. i only plan to stick around for a half hour or so get some nice shots with some couples. i also dont think its fair to just use their property and move on.

what is typically done in these circumstances?

06/04/2012 09:58:50 AM · #2
I'd definitely introduce myself to the owner or management of the establishment. Just be nice, compliment them on how picturesque the place is, and explain what you'd like to do and when.

Otherwise... imagine the embarrassment if you were shooting clients on the property and security stopped you and asked you to leave. Not gonna leave a good taste in the mouths of your clients :)
06/04/2012 10:00:50 AM · #3
Originally posted by alanfreed:



Otherwise... imagine the embarrassment if you were shooting clients on the property and security stopped you and asked you to leave. Not gonna leave a good taste in the mouths of your clients :)


yes, that was a big concern. i just wasn't sure what to expect when i called or stopped by.
06/04/2012 10:03:22 AM · #4
You should seek permission a priori.

It can vary depending on the owner(s), from outright denial to requiring nothing. Most places in my city, including public parks and spaces, require a licence if it's work for hire.

There'd be nothing worse than showing up with a couple without asking and management asks you to leave mid shoot. If you don't, it's trespassing. That'd look pretty silly in front of clients.

CS
06/04/2012 10:11:04 AM · #5
Definitely call ahead.

In fact, you might start creating a file of potential sites and who to contact for permission, maybe going so far as to including a few snaps of specific "scenes" you might want to use. Ask to meet with people in charge of an interesting site as soon as you discover it, not when you need a location. Let them know who you are, the kind of things you'd be interested in shooting there, get a feeling for their needs etc. That way, if you have an idea and you've already been in contact with the responsible party at that location...you're not someone they haven't met before. You might also get jobs from them or be able to barter your work for permission to use the site at a mutually convenient time. This is basically what location scouts do.
06/04/2012 11:12:23 AM · #6
If you're using just a camera, I wouldn't think that you need permission (unless you shoot that location multiple times). You'll probably look like tourists, or people on a special outing trying to capture a memory. If you use a tripod and any other sort of equipment, then you're a hired professional and you definitely should ask for permission so you don't look stupid in front of your clients (for the aforementioned reasons.)
06/04/2012 11:20:53 AM · #7
Originally posted by vawendy:

If you're using just a camera, I wouldn't think that you need permission (unless you shoot that location multiple times). You'll probably look like tourists, or people on a special outing trying to capture a memory.

this is fine if you are a hobbyist, but not a good idea for anyone with any professional aspirations. if it's any place you might want to come back to it only makes sense to establish a relationship with the owners and/or managers.
06/04/2012 11:25:26 AM · #8
Originally posted by vawendy:

If you're using just a camera, I wouldn't think that you need permission (unless you shoot that location multiple times). You'll probably look like tourists, or people on a special outing trying to capture a memory. If you use a tripod and any other sort of equipment, then you're a hired professional and you definitely should ask for permission so you don't look stupid in front of your clients (for the aforementioned reasons.)

Didn't realize simply by using a tripod I'm now a professional.

All kidding aside, I had a tough time in the distillery district here in Toronto during the Christmas holidays that using a tripod, along with three remote flashes on stands that I was only a hobbyist. Eventually I convinced management otherwise and they didn't ask me to leave.
06/04/2012 11:33:32 AM · #9
I don't know how it works in the rest of the universe, but in LaLa Land, everyone considers their business to be a potential "location" for movie/TV/fashion shoots, and most expect income from allowing their premises to be used for a shoot. I would never show up anywhere with clients without having first contacted the management of the location regarding permission to shoot there. Fees will range from almost nothing to thousands of dollars.
06/04/2012 11:43:38 AM · #10
Originally posted by tanguera:

Fees will range from almost nothing to thousands of dollars.


now this is important, my photography will be focusing on the people and not the scenery. however i'm trying to determine how important that scenery is.

if the shot has sentimental value to the subject then its important but for any old shoot i'd just like a simple setup that had some nice landscaping to provide some nice alternatives and create some interest in the images.

the problem is i'm not finding much in the way of public places. google earth has yielded some hits.

how do you guys scout out areas?

06/04/2012 11:48:57 AM · #11
Originally posted by mike_311:



the problem is i'm not finding much in the way of public places. google earth has yielded some hits.

how do you guys scout out areas?


move away from NJ....
06/04/2012 11:50:35 AM · #12
Good thread...I have so many similar questions.

I worry too about public places. When do I need a permit?
06/04/2012 11:51:20 AM · #13
Originally posted by mike_311:

how do you guys scout out areas?

it depends on what type of environment you're looking for. is it rural or urban? does it need to be colorful? are you looking for a tight environment where the backdrop may be a brick wall or a wide environment where the backdrop may be an open field? are you looking for a bench, a barn, a beach? are you looking to shoot only in the golden hours, or any time of day?

it's best if you start out with a vision and then go to the places most likely to offer a backdrop meeting your vision.

conversely, you can ride around looking at places at think about what you could do if you were to shoot there.

it's really all about just getting out and scouting around ;-)
06/04/2012 11:51:44 AM · #14
Originally posted by apercep:

Originally posted by mike_311:



the problem is i'm not finding much in the way of public places. google earth has yielded some hits.

how do you guys scout out areas?


move away from NJ....


as if i hadn't already figured that out. luckily i have Delaware and PA really close by.
06/04/2012 11:54:47 AM · #15
Originally posted by Neil:

When do I need a permit?

typically when you are shooting in public in a manner that would impede others, be they pedestrians or vehicles. simply contact the local police department and ask them that question and they'll tell you.

along those lines, many parks require fees if you are going to carry in anything more than a single tripod (ie, lights, reflectors on stands, etc). they need all the revenue they can get and when a photographer is going to use their valuable property as a backdrop for a paid shoot, it only makes sense that the park gets their cut.
06/04/2012 11:55:11 AM · #16
Originally posted by mike_311:

how do you guys scout out areas?

I run just over 100 miles a week, do a lot of scouting while I'm out running. I understand most people don't have that luxury, but running and cycling really help save time in this regard. Plus, it gives me something to think about when I'm not doing a workout.

You could always look at other photographer's portfolios in your area and try to discern where they shoot the photos you like.

CS

Message edited by author 2012-06-04 11:55:38.
06/04/2012 12:00:16 PM · #17
I know that if someone were to shoot anything that vaguely resembled professional in my restaurant we'd ask about it, not because it wouldn't be cool but because it IS our locale and we'd like to know what's happening.

If there were tripods, flashes and reflectors it would be a problem, unless:

the photog were to introduce themselves and ask/explain what the plan was, then it'd be fine i think. Usually.
06/04/2012 12:19:51 PM · #18
Unless you need something really specific (castle, waterfall, gnome factory....), a good location could be as close as your or your subject's back yard.

For public parks, as Skip said, unless you're just taking your camera and a flash, you will need you to fill out an application and pay a fee for shooting in their park. I just visited an awesome "wild west" location in a state park, and you can get in for free, but for shoots they require a permit and proof of insurance. You can, of course, try to get in and out in a quick session and likely nobody would be the wiser, but then you have that pressure hovering over you.

Sidewalks are public property and you can shoot anyone anywhere without having to get permission. But if you want to use a building as a backdrop, you need to make sure that both the subjects and you outside the property line or you may be asked to leave - unless you get permission.

Don't discount your subject's home. Most of my portraits are done that way which avoids all of the above problems. Part of my session includes a few minutes of scouting around the property to find the "set". It also almost always includes clearing out that area of everyday clutter (coffee mugs, paper, remotes, etc.).
06/04/2012 12:24:16 PM · #19
I have similar question! in my area there is an airport that is closed for good and there are three planes (junk) sitting in. it seems like no is taking care of the premise except that it says private property!

I wanted to take some shots but not sure who to reach because it is all empty.
06/04/2012 12:28:09 PM · #20
When scouting for a location I do the following:

1. Google search - For example, if I'm looking for an elegant interior then I'll do a search for historical homes, museums and hotels in the area.

2. Company/organization's web site - Always good to see what's on their web site. If it's a nice place then usually they'll have professional photos of their establishment, which not only tell you which areas are most photogenic but also may give you an idea or two, plus it'll give you info about their business hours which can be helpful (see below).

3. Google Street Maps - Great for finding outdoor locations. Even if you're shooting indoors or have an outside area already in mind, it's still helpful to browse around the area in street maps to see what's near by.

4. Flickr - I find Flickr to be a great resource for narrowing down locations. Since so many people use Flickr you can always find some photos on a particular location, especially indoor locations.

5. Visit the locations - Like what everyone else said it's a very good idea to meet the person in charge and get permission first. You'll probably be more successful in getting permission, and not have to pay anything if you target establishments that have off-hours during the day time (ex. clubs, fine dining restaurants, etc) and plan the shoots at those times. That way you're not interfering with their customers and they'll already be there so they just need to let you in.

ETA: It's also a good idea to have business cards with you. Not only does it give you an opportunity to get future business from the location but it also makes you look more professional. In my case I also have insurance so if the owner was hesitant then I could talk to him about the coverage I have regarding the protection of their property, etc and can also provide a certificate if needed.

Message edited by author 2012-06-04 12:33:25.
06/04/2012 12:49:22 PM · #21
Originally posted by tanguera:

Sidewalks are public property and you can shoot anyone anywhere without having to get permission. But if you want to use a building as a backdrop, you need to make sure that both the subjects and you outside the property line or you may be asked to leave - unless you get permission.

You may need a permit if you are setting up your tripod or any other equipment for a shoot on the sidewalk. Certain buildings/structures are protected by copyright and may require a property release (similar to a model release) depending on the prominence of the building in the composition and intended use of the image.

Originally posted by pgirish007:

I wanted to take some shots but not sure who to reach because it is all empty.

Your county tax assessor's and/or recorder's office should have a record of the legal owner's address.
06/04/2012 12:53:56 PM · #22
Originally posted by mike_311:


the problem is i'm not finding much in the way of public places. google earth has yielded some hits.

how do you guys scout out areas?


I used to scout locations on my drive home from work, which was ~50 miles each way on the freeway, but I often would take the "back roads" which was closer to 60 miles, but much more scenic, going through the country... old farmhouses, churches, towns, barns etc.

If you find a restaurant that looks inviting, try the restaurant, then contact the owner(s), tell them you ate there, and compliment the food as well as the decor and mention that you'd like to discuss using the place as a location for photos and let the dialog go from there. Who knows? You might wind up doing work for them as well...

Public places...you have to find out who's in charge. Lots of times, there's a form and possibly permits/fees etc. depending on what you plan.
06/04/2012 01:18:23 PM · #23
My policy is that in most cases of trespassing, the worst thing that could happen is that someone comes and asks us to leave, which we would then graciously do. So I tend to trespass if I see a nice shooting opportunity that is not public domain.
My second policy is to leave everything the way I found it.

For instance, in this photo, we actually opened up the closed (but not locked) rail cart, because I wanted some pictures with it. I am pretty sure that was decidedly not allowed, but we did it anyways, figuring that at worst we would get chased away.
When we were finished, we closed it again.
It did take all 3 of us pulling with all of our might to open it (and then close it after), so this one is probably one of my worse trespassings.

Message edited by author 2012-06-04 13:20:23.
06/04/2012 01:24:49 PM · #24
Originally posted by KristinaG:

My policy is that in most cases of trespassing, the worst thing that could happen is that someone comes and asks us to leave, which we would then graciously do. So I tend to trespass if I see a nice shooting opportunity that is not public domain.

No, the worst that can happen is that the property will be owned by some nut with a gun ... the second-worst that the owner will have already called the police by the time they inform you that they plan to have you removed and detained -- even if you can convince a judge to release you without bail you'll probably end up missing lunch ... :-(
06/04/2012 01:27:47 PM · #25
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by KristinaG:

My policy is that in most cases of trespassing, the worst thing that could happen is that someone comes and asks us to leave, which we would then graciously do. So I tend to trespass if I see a nice shooting opportunity that is not public domain.

No, the worst that can happen is that the property will be owned by some nut with a gun ... the second-worst that the owner will have already called the police by the time they inform you that they plan to have you removed and detained -- even if you can convince a judge to release you without bail you'll probably end up missing lunch ... :-(


I guess I have never trespassed on anybodies personal individual property. Just business properties and such.
Also, I am from Davis California which is extremely liberal and friendly. So it does depend on where you live. I wouldn't trespass so freely in other places.
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