Photographer Wants to Use Pro Gear For Non Commercial Shoot, Gets Nixed
Okay, yes this is very much a first world problem as they say. With that admitted, lets consider a moment. It’s easy to prove it if I am on a paid shoot. I have correspondence, a signed shot list, maybe even proof of payment. I take that to FILMLA or whatever relevant authority, get my permit(s) & permissions, figure those costs and and it’s all good. Okay but how could I possibly prove the opposite? How does one prove a negative again? Yeah….
Once I own the gear, or just want to ramp up with rental gear to hone my skills and get accustomed to using the gear… In a nutshell I have to practice. I can’t do that on a customer’s time or dime. So D_L and I pack up the gear some of which is way above your usual casual shooter and go. Light stands, big lens, nice tripod, well you guys have seen some of the results.
So if I want to go practice at a park, or out in public how is at all fair or appropriate to make me leave, based on the assumption that fancy looking gear=professional/commercial shoot? Once approached by some Park Ranger or police I can’t risk jail (or worse!) pleading my case.
My feeling on permits is that by and large they serve to shut out the little guy. $500 for a still shoot?! I suspect the city authorities have an exaggerated idea from seeing big hollywood cinematic shoots with semi trucks and catering and hearing big names associated with expensive super models. Think Annie Liebovitz who commands a big day rate and enjoys tremendous celebrity access. That is worlds above my pay grade. One way IMO they argue for big money is “liability”. Seriously? They ignore the liability issue of ordinary people that are out there trampling over barriers, swinging selfi sticks around and generally getting in the way at venues like the Griffith Park Observatory.
I’d like to see a process for non pro photogs. They can have my ID, a sense of when and where I want to do a bigger amateur shoot, I don’t mind. I’d happily address concerns they might have. Heck the LAPD Helicopter guys know my work, a couple times I took images of that big loud “ghetto bird” and even made likely eye contact when I swung my long lens right at the chopper and track with it for images. It was sunset, got a couple gorgeous shots of them in flight. So I sent them a high res image or two-Open licence/gifted and to relieve any worries I may have inadvertently caused the pilot. I think we pretty well understand how law officers view cameras. With great suspicion. And a suspicious cop becomes an annoyed cop or angry cop too easily. Well you get the picture, no?
Photographer Jason Lanier is on a mission to end “discrimination against photographers.” He just posted the video above showing two encounters he recently had with law enforcement while doing a photo shoot in San Francisco. In both cases, the officials noticed his “nice” camera and high-end equipment and questioned him to see if he was shooting commercially without a proper permit (which can cost hundreds of dollars).