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Author Topic: Permits  (Read 4992 times)
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« on: June 04, 2003, 01:36:08 PM »
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No, I don't carry extra insurance.

Be aware that what is law and what is enforced law can be two different things.

While I wouldn't advocate being a scofflaw I'd say that many of these regulations are more honoured in the breach than the observance, to quote Bill the poet.

Michael
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Hank
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2003, 09:51:38 AM »
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We carry fairly extensive liability insurance because of our studio, but have only been asked about it when discussing the need of permits for doing outdoor portraits in parks. I haven't had that discussion in California state or local parks, but when the topic has come up in other states liability insurance was expressed more as "a good idea" than a requirement for doing the portraits. I had established good rapport with the park staff over the course of the conversation, and they seemed to be expressing more of an individual concern versus a policy issue. They simply hoped that if someone got hurt while I was photographing them, the park might not be held liable. My having the insurance seemed to reassure them that there would be at least a modicum of alternatives to court in a worst-case scenario.

The real virtue in having the insurance has been in exempting us from "letter of the law" treatment, so far. I say that because in most parks with which I am familiar the dividing line between needing and not needing a permit is the use of a model, a product (as in product shots), or a photo crew. They regarded a permit to allow me (without a crew) to take individual or family portraits as overkill, something beyond the real intent of the permit process. Park staff said they consistently have the most problems with television or movie crews or product shots, and occasionally with photo classes or workshops. Based upon past atrocities, for those types of shoots they want a schedule of activities and will often asign a park ranger to accompany the crew at all times.

As a professional or at least someone using "professional-looking" gear, if I anticipated permit issues as appears likely in some California parks, I would make the park headquarters my first stop as a matter of course. I might have to buy the permit and show my proof of insurance, but I doubt it- In my experience the staff are anxious about the activities of photographers based upon past abuses and are not really concerned about reasonable activities of individuals, especially those that care enough to make an appearance at the park headquarters.

A friendly and professional approach to them for information and a willing attitude on my part has gone miles to reassure such nervous caretakers, who are in fact professionals in their own rights charged with protecting their domain. I hope that doesn't change, but it won't take too many incidents such as the fires in Arches to change the landscape for all of us. My rule of thumb is "If in doubt, make an appearance and smile."

Hank
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Erik M
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2003, 01:21:11 PM »
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I guess this question is for Michael more than anyone else.

Michael,

I came across an interesting summary of permit policies regarding photography in National, State and Local parks in the US. www.calphoto.com/policies.htm.

The policies for commercial fine art shooting in national parks are liberal. But I was shocked to learn that to shoot in California State Parks one needed a permit and a certificte of liability insurance, even if your purpose was still photography for fine art. You need such a permit and insurance to shoot in San Francisco's parks, and parks in Los Angeles as well.

Since you sell your prints, do you carry liability insurance? Has this been an issue for you in your career? I understand how local or city parks would want to restrict tripods. But it seems outrageous that if my purpose was to sell a fine art print of a macro shot of a flower in a San Francisco park I would be violating the law if I did so without a permit and a 1 million dollar liability policy!
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chrisso
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2003, 05:42:29 AM »
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With regards to the 'Land of the Free' article I think Michael's reply also applies.
I just got back from Tuscany - where the local government have reportedly copyrighted the landscape. There are 3 or 4 classic locations, you see them on every postcard, where you might (just might!) have a problem if you turned up with serious looking pro equipment. Apart from that there are hundreds of superb locations. I found myself alone or ignored most of the time. There are not many police around anyway and as you can see by their driving, many Tuscans regard their laws with a relaxed attitude.
So, IMHO, no problem enjoying a photographic holiday in Tuscany.
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Erik M
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2003, 10:40:25 AM »
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Thanks, Hank. Your response makes sense. A single tripod and a person isn't something I bet they are concerned about; however, at least in California, they should write that into law so that there is a clear distinction between one man/one tripod and a commerical shoot with models/crew etc. Currently California regulations, unlike Federal regulations, make no such allowance.
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