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Photographers Question Hourly Fees for Professional Pictures at Parks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The rules have been around since 2001, but recently photographers have complained about fees for taking professional pictures at Springfield-Greene County parks.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The rules have been around since 2001, but recently photographers have complained about fees for taking professional pictures at Springfield-Greene County parks.
 
Many professional photographers don't have studios; instead, they have their camera and their car. Their clients choose a location for their shoot.
 
It's $25 an hour to use the city's public parks for photo shoot, but many photographers are unhappy with what they call unclear regulations and lack of enforcement.
 
"I certainly can understand the city wanting to regulate who's doing business in their parks," says Craig Heidemann, a professional photographer.
 
Photographers in the Ozarks are not annoyed by the fee they must pay to use public parks for their shoots, but there is something they are annoyed by.
 
"I don't think the regulations are clear enough to give a practical mechanism that professional photographers can use to get the permit, to display the permit," adds Heidemann.
 
"I think $25 per hour is just a bit steep, but I do think they need to charge something on a yearly basis. I think it would be easier for them to keep track of as well," says Debby Stratton, another professional photographer.
 
The Springfield-Greene County Park Board says it is clear on ParkBoard.org. It also says the city ordinance that requires a fee has never changed, but some photographers say times are changing. 
 
"We have lots and lots of photographers," adds Stratton. "We used to have 10-15 photographers in town that were considered outstanding photographers, and now we have 200-300."

And many feel that the regulations are not clear.
 
"There are inconsistent charges to shoot, for instance at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden versus shooting at Close Memorial Park, or the Botanical Garden -- there's just a lack of consistency for photography," says Heidemann.
 
Heidemann says he gets a different answer depending on who answers the phone at the Park Board. He says he just wants one thing: "a clear policy that applies to everyone, all the time, so that we don't have to guess."
 
The Park Board denied an on-camera interview, but they say now that this has been brought to their attention they will address these concerns during their annual review. They have been in contact with parties interested in meeting with them.
 
"Nothing is more uncomfortable than having a docent from the Botanical Gardens or a park ranger approach you while you're shooting, with you as my client, who may have paid me a substantial sum, and be stopped and have them ask you for your permit or whether or not you've paid your permit for that day," says Heidemann.
 
Many photographers agree that an annual pass to shoot in all of the parks would be helpful, as well as something to clip to their bag as proof that they paid.
           
The Park Board says enforcement is currently an honor code. Photographers feel that this is also unfair when it comes to stopping photographers who aren't following the rules.
 
The Park Board says its more than happy to take all of their comments into consideration.
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