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Thread: Getting a Photography Permit to Shoot for Family Photos?!

  1. #1
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    Question Getting a Photography Permit to Shoot for Family Photos?!

    Hey folks!

    I am just wondering if anyone has run into this problem... I was shooting at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and a park ranger came up to me and told me I couldn't shoot here without a permit. Why? Because I'm charging my client. What I didn't tell him was that this was a LivingSocial deal that I am making hardly any money on. Even when I do charge my clients, it's still only about $150-200. If I am reading this correctly, they want $231 each time I do a shoot. It's labeled HERE as "exterior fashion/product" but without assistants or equipment, this is really the closest thing to what I'm doing, and the CHEAPEST permit they have. This seems a bit like a scam to me! haha! I'm not submitting these photos to a magazine for print or having them as part of an ad campaign. These are photos for "personal use" but I'm selling them to the families, so it's not really "commercial" photography, at least in my definition, but according to them it is because I'm selling the photos.

    Does anyone else run into this problem? Any experience or info you have on the subject would be appreciated!

    HERE IS THE PERMIT I NEED TO FILE: for such a small shoot and doing it one or two days a week every week seems silly to have to submit this every time.

    www.freshphotoblog.com

  2. #2
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    Well, it seems a bit steep for a guy with an SLR taking a couple shots, but it doesn't seem to be a ranger misinterpreting things in an over-broad way. It actually does look like policy.

    http://sfrecpark.org/PermitsAndReservations-FilmVideoPhotoProduction.aspx

    "Commercial film, production is defined as any activity that results in a film, video or photograph being sold, or any activity involving filming or photography for which crew and/or talent is paid. This includes "non-profit" productions. This also includes wedding pictures if the photographer is paid. It does not include photography or video for personal use, however tripods even for personal use are restricted in certain areas."


    I'd say find another suitable alternate location to offer clients. Let your clients choose, knowing that in order to shoot at that location you need a $231 permit, and that you'll pass that cost to them directly (ie: no profit will be made on the permit). If their hearts are set on that location, $230 won't stop them. If it was just a nice idea, but your other location is just as good, hey, you saved them money.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Andy Stringer's Avatar
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    I think that the owner of a property is entitled to set conditions on photography at that property, which may include prohibiting all photography or making a charge. As you say, you are not doing fashion or product photography, so you could argue that it falls outside the scope of the published charges, even if you are doing it for money.

    [Edit - I hadn't read all the small print that David posted just now. Looks like they've got you. If you're selling the image, it's a commercial venture.]

    They can't impose restrictions if you are shooting the property from a public area outside the site boundary, but of course this may not be possible for the shot that you want.

    I guess the lesson here is to research these things in advance so you know whether you can complete the shoot without being hassled, try to get the charge waived, or build the extra cost into your fee for the job.
    Last edited by Andy Stringer; 09-05-2012 at 08:31 PM.

  4. #4
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    If you are selling prints then it is "commercial", I don't see how you think it wouldn't be if you intend to make a few dollars.

    It is not uncommon for popular public parks or venues to charge fees like this. There are a few public parks in my town that are popular wedding and photography places, and I think they are very justified in charging. One such place the City spent between 30 and 40 million to renovate not long ago, and they charge $25 an hour for photo sessions. It offsets the inconvenience of wedding and photography activities and helps pay the staffs wages.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ham's Avatar
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    I would do the photography for free and then charge the family for printing services.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ham View Post
    I would do the photography for free and then charge the family for printing services.
    That would still be commercial use, but will probably work for once or twice. However if you are doing it once or twice on a weekly basis I doubt you'll be able to sell this story
    The same goes for telling the ranger that you're shooting for friends. However again this will be hard to sell if you become a regular customer.

    In this case I think you would need the permit each time. IT is quite a steep price, but then I must admit that it is probably a lot bigger and more beautiful than the parks around here where you'd pay something about 25 bucks for a weddingshoot.
    The reservation costs for a wedding in this park are 50 bucks an hour(minimal 2 hours) for specific areas. I'm not sure if that includes the rights to shoot photos there, but if you have one specific spot in mind, this could be the cheapest option.

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