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02-28-2016, 09:53 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by r0ckstarr Quote
I was there in 2010 with a camera for about 2 hours and nobody said a word to me.
Just having a camera and walking around isn't a "shoot". They are trying to control commercial shoots, portrait photographers shooting people and their families, etc. Wouldn't you like to be able to use the park without photographers hogging the nice spots all day doing their paid business? That is what happens at popular spots, and as long as the restrictions are kept reasonable for those sort of activities, I'm all for it.

02-28-2016, 09:53 AM - 1 Like   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Where was this? Was it perhaps overly close interpretation of the Park regulation?
Discovery Green park in downtown Houston.

Here's the story: this weekend was an anime convention at the convention center across the street from the park. About 30-40k people show up for this over the course of 3 days. If you're not familiar, these sorts of conventions are frequented by thousands of cosplayers. Photos are obviously very common. We have a whole network of hobbyists, cosplayers and photographers, who get together at events like this to shoot photos. Some people charge but most don't and when money does change hands, it is *very* menial (like $50 for an hour session to get 8 photos), far, far, far below what a pro session would cost.

This convention, along with three others like it (dedicated to comic books those ones are), happen at this site EVERY YEAR. This past con has been there for 10 years. So the park should know what this is all about.

Anyway, I was in the park shooting with a friend of mine in costume. It was early Friday (10:30 am or so), which is before most of the con goers arrive. Some other friends of mine were shooting with others there as well. There were five of us doing photos and about the same in costume. Security came up to us and told us we'd need to buy a permit. We were told it was $10. Went to the office to buy it and they told us it was $10 per hour. She knew about the con and exactly what was happening and decided to be "nice" and said we'd only be doing random shots throughout the day so instead of charging us $120 for the whole convention hours, she charged us $20.

On Saturday, there's about 500 people or so in the park from the con doing this exact thing. I didn't buy one for Saturday and had no issue. Security just told us to keep out of the flower beds. In fact, the five of us are the only ones who got shaken down for a permit.

This seems to be the definition of a shake down.

---------- Post added 02-28-16 at 10:56 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by r0ckstarr Quote
Guidelines for Photography and Filming -Discovery Green, Houston, Texas

Read their Guidelines for Photography and Filming.

What a load of crap. I'm not paying them $10. Just trying to park around there is horrible and costly enough. When did this start? I was there in 2010 with a camera for about 2 hours and nobody said a word to me.
OMG, what a coincidence on this post! See content above.

I've shot multiple conventions there without issue. This year they were jerks about it all.

---------- Post added 02-28-16 at 11:04 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Wouldn't you like to be able to use the park without photographers hogging the nice spots all day doing their paid business? That is what happens at popular spots, and as long as the restrictions are kept reasonable for those sort of activities, I'm all for it.
Wouldn't you like to sit in the park without people taking up all the tables for 5 hours for their picnics? Or be able to walk around without kids running into you? Or people who take up tons of park space to toss a football back and forth? And then when they throw badly might injure someone? You can make a list of any use of the park that would annoy some people.

The fact is that the fees don't any professionals away. The fee gets built into the shoot charge. What the fees do keep away are normal people, the ones who want to shoot their kids growing up or take some nice family portraits. It keeps out the artists who want to create stuff. The fee basically says "Family portraits that aren't taken with a cell phone are not permitted."

It's simply a way to make money, plain and simple. It doesn't put an end to commercial business, merely takes a cut of their profit. But as a side effect, ordinary people are discouraged from doing the same thing, simply because "SLR = OMG you mutz be TEH PRO" logic.

Last edited by MadMathMind; 02-28-2016 at 10:09 AM.
02-28-2016, 10:09 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Just having a camera and walking around isn't a "shoot". They are trying to control commercial shoots, portrait photographers shooting people and their families, etc. Wouldn't you like to be able to use the park without photographers hogging the nice spots all day doing their paid business? That is what happens at popular spots, and as long as the restrictions are kept reasonable for those sort of activities, I'm all for it.
I get what you're saying, but it does say:

QuoteQuote:
A permit is required:
For all photography and/or video.
Would I have needed a permit to shoot this photo?

02-28-2016, 10:21 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by r0ckstarr Quote
I get what you're saying, but it does say:

Would I have needed a permit to shoot this photo?
Security told us they wanted to make sure people were not there shooting photos of kids. Seriously. The camera has somehow got this association with terrorists and pedophiles in our paranoid society.

So yes, you'd need a permit for general photography. In fact, you'd probably get more hassle than I would because all they'd suspect me of trying to make money while they'd think you're a criminal.

02-28-2016, 10:57 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by r0ckstarr:
A permit is required:
• For all photography and/or video.
It does not say that (at least I can't find it). It says "A permit is required for all photo & video shoots." A shoot being an organized event, probably with models and so forth, the photographer may be with an assistant, etc. Not just anyone with a camera. And that (Discovery Green) doesn't even look like a truly public park (i.e. city/county park), so they can probably make whatever rules they like. Although I'm not sure exactly not being from Houston.

QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind:
Wouldn't you like to sit in the park without people taking up all the tables for 5 hours for their picnics? Or be able to walk around without kids running into you? Or people who take up tons of park space to toss a football back and forth? And then when they throw badly might injure someone? You can make a list of any use of the park that would annoy some people.
You're making my point with tortured examples. If a park is crowded and popular we all need to cooperate. Restrictions on commercial activity when you want to do the stuff in the public park that you pay your taxes for -- picnics, recreation, or even taking photos -- just not "doing business" in a way that disrupts those other people, at least without giving something back (i.e. paying for it).

QuoteQuote:
The fact is that the fees don't any professionals away. The fee gets built into the shoot charge.
It won't keep them all away, nor should it. But it will regulate it, and then there is a rule to point to when it gets out of hand, and also gives the photographer some rights when people are in-fact annoyed that they took care to reserve their time, etc.

QuoteQuote:
What the fees do keep away are normal people, the ones who want to shoot their kids growing up or take some nice family portraits. It keeps out the artists who want to create stuff. The fee basically says "Family portraits that aren't taken with a cell phone are not permitted."
None of that is true, although in some cases the artist might need that permit for something "big" (as they should as that would be "shoot" like any other). Family portrait takers (no pro involved) don't sit there with a case of equipment, using giant reflectors, doing setup after setup, stopping to adjust someone's hair, with possibly with another family's appointment in the same spot 30 minutes later. Normal people doing normal things are not affected with these sort of rules (in general, obviously I can't speak for every overzealous whoever). And in most places that do have rules, no one will even ever know if you follow them or not because there aren't a million people there all the time.

QuoteQuote:
It's simply a way to make money, plain and simple. It doesn't put an end to commercial business, merely takes a cut of their profit.
Appropriately for a true public place you are disrupting. And if it is private property (even if open to the public generally), then they can demand whatever they want.

QuoteQuote:
But as a side effect, ordinary people are discouraged from doing the same thing, simply because "SLR = OMG you mutz be TEH PRO" logic.
I don't think so. Certainly never stopped me. But obviously the more crowded a place is, the more everyone needs to consider others. I think this idea of having some regulations is quite different from the overzealous security or police problem, which happens everywhere and with no particular relation to whether there is a permitting rule at that place or not...

Last edited by vonBaloney; 02-28-2016 at 11:30 AM.
02-28-2016, 11:07 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
Security told us they wanted to make sure people were not there shooting photos of kids. Seriously. The camera has somehow got this association with terrorists and pedophiles in our paranoid society.

So yes, you'd need a permit for general photography. In fact, you'd probably get more hassle than I would because all they'd suspect me of trying to make money while they'd think you're a criminal.
Go to the city council meeting - each and every week and complain during the public comment periods. They need conditional use permits for all the baby buggies, and especially all the bikes that scoot around the park terrorizing the walkers. They need permits for all the folks sitting on the grass, they need a 10 foot fence around the entire park to make sure that no one gets any enjoyment from the park with out paying their fees. They also need a $10 per window per day fee for each building overlooking the park. We don't want any visitors or office workers deriving any enjoyment with out paying their fair share.

02-28-2016, 11:43 AM   #22
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There is an issue in parks with some wedding photographers trying to block off areas for their exclusive use, using disruptive lighting, trying to run generators in a quiet park, etc. Permits are supposed to help control that. The problem with permits is that after you create well-intentioned rules, the people hired for enforcement can misunderstand the rules.

Note that increased permit fees and park entrance fees are partially because of cuts to park budgets. My State Parks used to be free a long time ago. The State budget kept cutting park funding, so the parks had to charge fees to stay open.

QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
Security is always rude, hostile, and power tripping. I haven't yet had a positive encounter with private security, which usually just come up and say "You can't do that" without telling me what "that" is. Is it that location? The use of flash? Photos at all?
Stay calm. Explain that you are not taking the photographs professionally. Ask them to explain the rule that they think you're breaking. Ask them to call their supervisor if you think they are misinterpreting the rule. If a guard makes threats or tries to take your camera, call 911 (assuming your police force is any good).

Note that the guards do not create the rules. If there is really a "no photography in a public park" rule you will need to take that up with the park administrator.
02-28-2016, 11:48 AM   #23
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To many photographers over the past 5 years stepping on every possible ground to take images. To many people taking nudes at places that where not ment for that. From your local park to the Great Wall in China. So some of this hostility has some grond.

02-28-2016, 11:50 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by mgm2 Quote
This is a touchy topic. Many folks don't think its proper to bait wild animals for the purpose of taking photographs. In fact, many states in the US make it illegal to feed any wild game animals regardless of the purpose.
Illegal or not, there are people (not necessarily photographers) who bait animals with handouts. This causes serious problems for the animals and people as well. I am into wildlife photography but the wildlife shot I am after is the wildlife being wild in their natural habitat, not one begging for handouts. The other serious ramification is artificially altering the animals natural behavior. I have seen people, despite the conspicuous warnings against it, tossing things in the water or at the waters edge to attract alligators. Little do they realize they are artificially conditioning the alligators that anything that lands in or near the water is meant for them to eat, pets and people included.
02-28-2016, 11:53 AM   #25
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The hostility will disappear like a morning mist once money is paid.
02-28-2016, 11:57 AM - 1 Like   #26
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Discovery Green is sort of private property

After reading about Discovery Green I think the Park Rangers acted hastily in your case, but actually, what you were doing (photographing a group, in costume) borders on what they want to regulate. It was probably a matter of interpretation. There are several mentions of prohibitions against photographing minors (can't shoot at all near the fountain) and exercise classes. Houston, we've got a problem - with something.

If you go to the Discovery Green website you will see the 'Park" isn't a public park mat all in the sense that it is owned and controlled by any city or any parks department. DIscovery Green is rather a private entity donated by a group of philanthropists in 2008. It is provately endowed, has a Board of Directors, a Mission Statement, etc., as any charitable public-private partnership would have.

Discovery Green, therefore, has the right to make any rules it wishes to preserve its space for the intended uses and to further accomplishment of its Mission. Taking that into account, maybe photographer fees help pay to keep the park open and free for all the other users.
Discovery Green is a beautiful, vibrant 12-acre park in the heart of downtown Houston that opened to the public in April 2008. The park was envisioned by several committed Houston philanthropists, who saw the space as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an urban park that would redefine the landscape of downtown. In less than four years, the site that became Discovery Green was transformed from an undeveloped, concrete eyesore into a beautiful and vibrant destination adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Discovery Green exemplifies a successful public-private partnership between the City of Houston, the Houston First Corporation and Discovery Green Conservancy, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that operates and maintains the park. The Conservancy produces hundreds of free events each year and receives no direct city funding.
Discovery Green was created for the enjoyment of the people of Houston and its visitors and guests. While in the park, please respect the rights of others by allowing free and open access to all areas of the park at all times.

For the safety and enjoyment of all, Discovery Green manages park activity very carefully. See below some of the general rules of the park. For a full list of park rules, please click here (PDF).

Park hours are 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., unless otherwise posted.
Visitors must comply with directions from Park Personnel. Please obey all posted rules. Specific rules for each feature in the park are clearly posted.
Discovery Green is a smoke-free zone.
Please keep our green spaces clean! Look for our silver recycling containers adjacent to trash containers all around the park.
Rollerskating, rollerblading, bicycling, or using other similarly wheeled equipment is prohibited, except where Bike Routes are posted. Skateboarding is not allowed.
Possession of weapons is prohibited.
Pet owners:

- Pets must be leashed except in the dog runs
- You must pick up and dispose of pet waste

No glass containers or outside alcoholic beverages are allowed.


Please be aware that a permit from the park is required for the following activities:

Functions involving groups of 20 or more. Hold your event at the park
Use of amplified/electronic sound devices
Selling or promoting food, drinks, merchandise or services. Corporate Product Sampling at Discovery Green
Exhibiting or performing to derive revenue
Conducting commercial photography or video; consent of a child’s parent required. Photography and Video Guidelines Link
Using any park area for a special use
Operating a motor vehicle or riding a horse

Last edited by monochrome; 02-28-2016 at 12:08 PM.
02-28-2016, 12:15 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I'll spare the latest stories but what is with the open hostility toward photographers in general? I'm not even talking about street or candid stuff but the number of bad encounters I've had has been steadily increasing in density.

Public parks now require permits to take photographs of people you brought with you (not candid!). At event conventions, where there's thousands of people taking photos of each other, the surrounding areas that benefit from having full parking lots and entirely booked hotel rooms shuffle people taking photos out. And it seems to be all about the SLR, which apparently security believes no one but pros own. It feels like if you're not using your phone to take photos, you must be up to no good. Security is always rude, hostile, and power tripping. I haven't yet had a positive encounter with private security, which usually just come up and say "You can't do that" without telling me what "that" is. Is it that location? The use of flash? Photos at all?

Was it always this way or is it recent? It's like all these places are terrified of someone making a few bucks (which I don't) or ending up on social media.
I used to do wedding photography in Los Angeles area (stopped in 2007) . Some of the well known parks with entrance fees, required fees as high as $600 to allow you to photograph there. The fee was sliding scale based on the numbers in the wedding party. The local garden variety (no pun intended) parks did not ask for anything. Someone in the city hall wised up and they started charging as much as $100 if you wanted to photograph the bride and the bridal party at the park across from where you lived. It is the law and violations will cost you a lot more than the $50 or the $100 they are asking.

The most expensive one that I came cross was the private park surrounding the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena. As a guest you had free access. However, for non-guests, at the time (2006), the fee was $1,800 to allow you to photograph in "the park."
02-28-2016, 12:26 PM   #28
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madmathmind,

I am sorry, but I am not seeing your problem here. This specifically relates a couple of very, very old buildings in downtown Philadelphia. Here are the first few paragraphs:

~~~~~~~~
A permit is generally not required for personal, noncommercial filming and photography activities within normal visitation areas and hours. However, filming outside normal visitation areas and hours and all commercial filming will require a special permit.

Commercial filming means filming that involves the digital or film recording of a visual image or sound recording by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience. This includes recordings such as those used for a documentary, educational program, television or feature film, advertisement, or similar project.

For the purposes of NPS policy, filming and photography encompass any technology that may be used for recording images or the sound tracks associated with them.

Still photography and audio recording (whether commercial or noncommercial), in accordance with Public Law 106-206, and 36 CFR 5.5 will not require a permit unless

it takes place at a location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed, or
it uses model(s) or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities, or
it uses equipment that requires mechanical transport
it uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a battery pack; or
the National Park Service would incur additional administrative costs to manage and oversee the permitted activity to: avoid unacceptable impacts and impairment to resources or values; or minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public.
Commercial media coverage of breaking news may require a permit if the activities are of such size and scope that a permit would help manage the activity to minimize possible damage to park resources and visitor use conflicts or authorize entrance to a closed area.
~~~

I have taken thousands of photos in US National parks. One day about thirteen years ago, I had three top of the line black SLRs I was carrying on my person, one with a 400mm lens, another with a 300mm lens, a third with a 24mm lens, and a large satchel full of other lenses. It was very obvious that I had "professional" gear. I was in Rocky Mountain National Park on the main road that went over the crest. I saw several Rangers and lots of visitors. The only problem I had to deal with, other than the weight of the equipment, was a handful of photo bombers.
02-28-2016, 12:26 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
You're making my point with tortured examples. If a park is crowded and popular we all need to cooperate. Restrictions on commercial activity when you want to do the stuff in the public park that you pay your taxes for -- picnics, recreation, or even taking photos -- just not "doing business" in a way that disrupts those other people, at least without giving something back (i.e. paying for it).
My point is that there's a lot of activities people do that are annoying and disruptive to others. If you're not in on the activity, someone will be annoyed but it. Some people get to the park at 7am to stake out all the tables for their big picnic that lasts for 10 hours. That doesn't cost them any money yet totally blocks the park from anyone else using it. And no one stops them. But I find some corner of the park where no one goes--I don't want to be bothered just as much as I don't want to bother others. Fact is I'm not "doing business" because I don't get paid. They assume that because I use a flash I must be a pro.

This time, the park was NOT crowded. There were like 20 in the park in total. The next day there was 500 people in the park. It was crowded. The con largely took it over and causal visitors (if any) were probably not able to enjoy the park. Rules were not being enforced in this circumstance. They were only being enforced when it didn't make a difference, except to put $100 in someone's pocket. That's what is most annoying: the rules are enforced not when they would have helped make the park better for others but only when it was easy to do so.

Rules should be for a purpose. But if you only enforce them when it's convenient, then it becomes obvious they are there to make money or hassle people. It's like the security staff has to go hassle someone because they have nothing else to do at the moment.

QuoteQuote:
also gives the photographer some rights when people are in-fact annoyed that they took care to reserve their time, etc.
This is a good point that actually makes the park worse for people because of the permit. The park is going to side with a paying customer, especially if the permit is expensive. It's the definition of irony: the permit which is intended to give other people more access actually removes them.

QuoteQuote:
None of that is true, although in some cases the artist might need that permit for something "big" (as they should as that would be "shoot" like any other). Family portrait takers (no pro involved) don't sit there with a case of equipment, using giant reflectors, doing setup after setup, stopping to adjust someone's hair, with possibly with another family's appointment in the same spot 30 minutes later. Normal people doing normal things are not affected with these sort of rules (in general, obviously I can't speak for every overzealous whoever). And in most places that do have rules, no one will even ever know if you follow them or not because there aren't a million people there all the time.

Appropriately for a true public place you are disrupting.
But this is not what is happened here. We didn't take over large sections of the park. We didn't block walkways or stop people from walking through areas. We found some little corner out of the way. My point is that what we're up to is no more disruptive than what many others do without restriction. But someone sees dollar signs from all that fancy gear.

QuoteQuote:
I think this idea of having some regulations is quite different from the overzealous security or police problem, which happens everywhere and with no particular relation to whether there is a permitting rule at that place or not...
Read the story above.


QuoteQuote:
If you go to the Discovery Green website you will see the 'Park" isn't a public park mat all in the sense that it is owned and controlled by any city or any parks department. DIscovery Green is rather a private entity donated by a group of philanthropists in 2008. It is provately endowed, has a Board of Directors, a Mission Statement, etc., as any charitable public-private partnership would have.
As far as I know, the city owns the land. They owned part of it and purchased the remainder after a number of years ago. I doubt they donated or sold it to the organization. It's true that the city doesn't run it but they can't do something like hire private companies to put up "No demonstrations here" rules to make suppress all political speech. By virtue of being publicly owned things are a bit more complicated.
02-28-2016, 12:28 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
It does not say that (at least I can't find it). It says "A permit is required for all photo & video shoots."
Click the link again.

http://www.discoverygreen.com/guidelines-for-photography-and-filming

2nd paragraph under the picture of the people sitting on a bench says :
QuoteQuote:
Please refer to our Guidelines for Photography and Filming in Discovery Green park before planning a shoot to ensure the protection of the park and the safety of our visitors.
What I put in bold is a link. Click that.

Also, I don't disagree with you, but it is worded to sound like it includes everyone with a camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
As far as I know, the city owns the land. They owned part of it and purchased the remainder after a number of years ago. I doubt they donated or sold it to the organization. It's true that the city doesn't run it but they can't do something like hire private companies to put up "No demonstrations here" rules to make suppress all political speech. By virtue of being publicly owned things are a bit more complicated.
It used to be a parking lot. Peoples tax money built that park.

Last edited by r0ckstarr; 02-28-2016 at 12:42 PM.
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