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02/03/2007 01:53:34 AM · #1
So today as I was walking around two different Missions in San Antonio that are owned by the Catholic Church but managed and paid for by the National Park System (there is a separation on who pays for what ... kinda). When I pulled my tripod out here comes a Park Ranger to ask if I was professional photographer. If you are professional they say Congress requires them to collect an additional use fee. The application paperwork is $50 and the one day permit is an additional $50. So to do a Bridal or family portrait or even to take scenic or landscape photos and you look like a professional it will cost over $100 per day.

What a rip-off, they say they need the money to operate the parks, yet the gov't keeps opening new parks. If they can't afford what they have they need to stop opening more.

So beware, leave your tripod in the car and they will probably not bother you.

NPS Link

Message edited by author 2007-02-03 01:58:00.
02/03/2007 02:01:10 AM · #2
Doesn't sound completely crazy...

When is a permit needed?

All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park system require a permit. Commercial filming includes capturing a moving image on film and video as well as sound recordings.

Still photographers require a permit when

1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or

2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the locationís natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or

3. Park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How many of us is that going to really affect?
02/03/2007 02:02:47 AM · #3
I ran across this last winter at The Alamo.... don't even take your SLR! Those guards are quick! The photographer I was with had gone to the offices and filled out papers to get permission for us. He did not mention paying any sort of fee but we were only shooting editorially for a newsletter for an organization that held their yearly National Convention in San Antonio. However night shooting on the riverwalk was a blast!
02/03/2007 02:08:00 AM · #4
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Doesn't sound completely crazy...

When is a permit needed?

All commercial filming activities taking place within a unit of the National Park system require a permit. Commercial filming includes capturing a moving image on film and video as well as sound recordings.

Still photographers require a permit when

1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or

2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the locationís natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or

3. Park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How many of us is that going to really affect?


They are not interpreting it as the rules state. Basically if you have a tripod that counts as a prop and if you tell them you are a pro photog you will be asked to pay or leave. They are much more restrictive than Congress meant.
02/03/2007 02:11:26 AM · #5
Originally posted by Ristyz:

I ran across this last winter at The Alamo.... don't even take your SLR! Those guards are quick! The photographer I was with had gone to the offices and filled out papers to get permission for us. He did not mention paying any sort of fee but we were only shooting editorially for a newsletter for an organization that held their yearly National Convention in San Antonio. However night shooting on the riverwalk was a blast!


The Alamo is privately owned, it is not operated or controlled by national, state or even city governments. Just like the NPS, if they think you are a pro they will come and ask. Normally if you don't have a tripod or models that are posing you'll be ok. Even the McNay Museum garden in San Antonio that was always very popular for Bridals started to charge photos of any kind last year. The free pass is going away everywhere.
02/03/2007 04:25:46 AM · #6
Originally posted by PhantomEWO:

So today as I was walking around two different Missions in San Antonio that are owned by the Catholic Church but managed and paid for by the National Park System (there is a separation on who pays for what ... kinda). When I pulled my tripod out here comes a Park Ranger to ask if I was professional photographer. If you are professional they say Congress requires them to collect an additional use fee. The application paperwork is $50 and the one day permit is an additional $50. So to do a Bridal or family portrait or even to take scenic or landscape photos and you look like a professional it will cost over $100 per day.


Were you, in fact, shooting professionally? If not, did they require you to stop shooting, or simply ask the question?

If they just asked the question, I don't see anything unreasonable about that.

~Terry
02/03/2007 11:19:30 AM · #7
Same here... it's a standard NPS policy that professional photographers need a permit. Otherwise, using a tripod just has a few rules, like don't block the trail.


02/03/2007 11:29:18 AM · #8
here's a way to prove you're not pro - even if you think you are... save a few images on the memeory card that are complete crap. when they come to inquire about your pro skills - explain that you are just trying to learn the ropes and show them the crappy pictures you have taken...

joking of course - but it might work.

02/03/2007 11:31:59 AM · #9
It doesn't even take that... if you tell them you're not shooting professionally (i.e. to sell the prints), there's not usually anything else they'll say.
02/03/2007 12:24:07 PM · #10
Ya, it does seems like an odd rule because all you would have to say is "no, I'm not a pro" and that would be that (barring of course the model and reflectors, etc.)

If they want to interpret the rules differently then I'll play their game. No, I'm not a pro.
02/03/2007 12:30:11 PM · #11
No sir, I'm just a very serious amateur. So, are you a professional park ranger? :-)
02/03/2007 12:31:13 PM · #12
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

No sir, I'm just a very serious amateur. So, are you a professional park ranger? :-)


Im a pro if your gonna pay me. Otherwise leave me and my 1600 dollars worth of photgraph taking credit card debt alone! (D200)

Message edited by author 2007-02-03 12:31:33.
02/03/2007 12:38:22 PM · #13
It's sad that the Park Service would "liberally interpret" that rule. It's clear that the intent of the rule was to offset costs to the Park Service for those shoots that would involve extra expenditure to the Service. Their interpretation seems intended to generate additional revenue, and that is unfortunate.
I had heard this before, but never ran into into it myself. I suppose it's only really a matter time. Bottom line, if folks write their representatives and congressmen, and enough folks do it, then perhaps the Park Service will be forced to relent.
02/03/2007 12:45:16 PM · #14
So why are we all sitting here whining? We should be starting a petition to literally enforce instead of liberally enforce. We own them, right?

Anyone know how to do that?
02/03/2007 12:47:31 PM · #15
Originally posted by wavelength:

So why are we all sitting here whining? We should be starting a petition to literally enforce instead of liberally enforce. We own them, right?

Anyone know how to do that?


Look I Multitask okay!
02/03/2007 12:50:42 PM · #16
Be carefull of what you try to get relented though. I've also been to places that were so over run with "professional" photographers doing weddings, stock photography, portraits, and other activities, that it was impossible for anyone to get good pictures to just hang on the wall or post on the web site. Then you have the problem of the place being left a mess, with trash and damage from all the "professional" photogrpahers. And no, it's not everyone. Most of us are very concensious about how we treat the environement that we go out and shoot. But it only takes a few amoung the hundreds to ruin it for all of us. And this is what has happened. A few in every bunch has caused problems, year after year. Add on that more non-photographers are going to a lot of the places we like to photograph, but are pushed out of the way or blocked by view until they are fed up with it as well. So they complain as well.

Frankly, I like seeing controls and limitations in place. And with all the cut backs and raising costs, our park services deserve to get some compensation for all they do. I worked at BLM for a year and half. I've heard and seen the stories from the ranger's side of it.

If you are going to write and complain, don't complain that it isn't fair or that there shouldn't be any restrictions. Complain that they should be written better and enforced equally... Maybe add a photographers option to the park and recreation passes that are required at most government run places now.

Mike
02/03/2007 01:00:40 PM · #17
Mike, you present a well-reasoned counterpoint. It's true that if there were no restrictions, things would be a mess. What we really need is the current restrictions to be enforced in the spirit in which they were written.
02/03/2007 01:04:13 PM · #18
Originally posted by MikeJ:

Be carefull of what you try to get relented though. I've also been to places that were so over run with "professional" photographers doing weddings, stock photography, portraits, and other activities, that it was impossible for anyone to get good pictures to just hang on the wall or post on the web site. Then you have the problem of the place being left a mess, with trash and damage from all the "professional" photogrpahers. And no, it's not everyone. Most of us are very concensious about how we treat the environement that we go out and shoot. But it only takes a few amoung the hundreds to ruin it for all of us. And this is what has happened. A few in every bunch has caused problems, year after year. Add on that more non-photographers are going to a lot of the places we like to photograph, but are pushed out of the way or blocked by view until they are fed up with it as well. So they complain as well.

Frankly, I like seeing controls and limitations in place. And with all the cut backs and raising costs, our park services deserve to get some compensation for all they do. I worked at BLM for a year and half. I've heard and seen the stories from the ranger's side of it.

If you are going to write and complain, don't complain that it isn't fair or that there shouldn't be any restrictions. Complain that they should be written better and enforced equally... Maybe add a photographers option to the park and recreation passes that are required at most government run places now.

Mike


That's good info, and I wasn't planning on saying that no fees should be charged.

Certainly those photoshoots that are more like invasions that experiencing the environment should be charged, and remediations need to be made by those parties.

But I don't think that people that just "have a tripod" should be charged for the service of photographing public lands. Even video photographers with only 1-2 people and a tripod are free to come and go, why should I get dinged when I go to glacier with my FIL/MIL this summer, and we ALL have SLR's, and at least two tripods. But we'll also have three munchkins roaming around with us, obviously not a professional trip.

The rules need to ammended, and enforced literally, not liberally. Period. A single park ranger can't just make up in their head what they think determines a pro or non-pro. A kid in photo school could be using the same equipment, are thy a pro? Certainly not. In nature photography, I don't get paid, and they shouldn't get a fee if I'm not going in as a pro.
02/03/2007 01:05:02 PM · #19
Originally posted by kirbic:

Mike, you present a well-reasoned counterpoint. It's true that if there were no restrictions, things would be a mess. What we really need is the current restrictions to be enforced in the spirit in which they were written.


right.

A bit more succinct than I. ;)
02/03/2007 01:07:44 PM · #20
Okay, I've set up an account at thepetitionsite.com, what Senator should we send it to, and what should the petition say?

edit - I'm leaning toward language that would encourage congress to fund the NPS, so that the rangers don't feel they need to extort the money out of people to survive. It's not the NPS, its the Federal Government not funding the parks properly.

Message edited by author 2007-02-03 13:10:16.
02/03/2007 01:08:16 PM · #21
Same at Toronto's Guildwood Park. Did you get a photo of the ranger?

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Message edited by author 2007-02-03 13:08:27.
02/03/2007 01:11:21 PM · #22
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Same at Toronto's Guildwood Park. Did you get a photo of the ranger?

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One country at a time Slippy ;)

Besides, I can't help it that you live in a communist nation :P
02/03/2007 01:12:25 PM · #23
Originally posted by kirbic:

Mike, you present a well-reasoned counterpoint. It's true that if there were no restrictions, things would be a mess. What we really need is the current restrictions to be enforced in the spirit in which they were written.


To be fair, we don't know that they aren't being so enforced.

All we know so far is that the OP was asked if he was a professional photographer. We don't know whether he was asked to stop shooting.

For that matter, we don't even know if he answered "yes" to the question. The OP does shoot stock, and if he was in the park for that purpose, it may be entirely appropriate for NPS to require a permit.

In any case, though, all we know at this point is that the ranger saw a photographer with professional-caliber equipment and asked if he was, in fact, a professional. I think that's an entirely reasonable action for him to take. If Don said no and the ranger still told him to stop shooting, then I'd have a problem with it -- but until we know that to be the case, I think it may be too early to judge the actions of the ranger.

~Terry
02/03/2007 01:15:27 PM · #24
Originally posted by ClubJuggle:

...I think it may be too early to judge the actions of the ranger.

~Terry


Agree, in that case. I've seen quite a few reports of overzealous enforcement of these rules, though. It's definitely not a non-problem.
02/03/2007 01:24:54 PM · #25
Problem is this: Professional photographers are seen to have an incentive to make their pictures look as good as possible, and would be willing to move things around (and possibly damage them) in the process. While this probably isn't the case for most "artistic" photographers, professional or amateur, there are other types of professional photographers.

If you were shooting an M&M commercial of a kid at the location sneaking a snack, you may be willing to subtly move objects around to get the shot you want. This is especially true with movies, where there have been times where serious damage was done by lugging equipment around (someone turns and the tripod they are carrying knocks something over) and stuff like that. Trails have gotten damaged from movie crews.

So, these limitations were probably not intended for you. Even if you are a professional photographer, if you were taking pictures recreationally, then at that moment you are not working as a professional photographer. If you were taking them professionally, but still would comply with a leave-no-trace philosophy, then it's a grey area where i can see them going either way... not an exact science, and that guard probably didn't want to get in trouble in case their boss came through. If it's a true professional job, then some sort of registration card may make sense.
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