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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

black friday photography
Jonathon Bird, Photographer
Port Clinton | OH | United States | Posted: 9:17 AM on 11.23.09
->> I have to cover the Black Friday shopping for the paper. We contacted Wal Mart but they say no media is allowed in any Wal Mart store on Black Friday and they will not answer to the media on Friday as well. In our small town of Port Clinton all we have is Wal Mart we don't have any other stores that are having Black Friday specials. My question is if they don't let us in the store can I legally hang out in the parking lot to get pictures or can they stop me from doing that. We were told the store will be open 24nrs and they have areas in the store for people to line up so it doesn't even sound like there will be large crowds outside of the store either.
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Margaret Bowles, Photographer
Houston | TX | | Posted: 9:35 AM on 11.23.09
->> Why don't you contact the store manager ahead of time and set it up so you won't have any issues with their security personnel? The store manager can give you ideas about where the crowds will be.
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 9:44 AM on 11.23.09
->> You can hang out and take pictures in the parking lot until they tell you that you can't. Since you're on their property they have the right to tell you to leave.

If you contact the store manager ahead of time there is a good chance he will say no right away and then you're completely out of luck.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 9:55 AM on 11.23.09
->> At this point, go over the store manager's head to the district manager and/or Bentonville, Ark. if you have to. And if that doesn't work, remember this when they want you to come over for some kind of photo. Then return to this discussion because this always cuts both ways.
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Jack Howard, Photographer, Photo Editor
Central Jersey | NJ | USA | Posted: 10:01 AM on 11.23.09
->> Jonathon, I strongly recommend that this is a question you should be asking and discussing with your Photo Editor, Exec Editor, Publisher and Corporate Attorney for how to proceed–not a message board of people who will probably not be in a position to go to bat for you to bail you out should the local Walmart management and constabulary decide that their in-advance refusal to your paper to talk/work/play nice/allow you on their property on the day after Thanksgiving also encompassed their parking lot and that your presence is an act of willful and defiant trespass.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 10:07 AM on 11.23.09
->> He means, ask your boss to get involved on your behalf before Friday morning so you don't get your ass thrown in jail.
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Amy Wallot, Photographer
Frankfort | KY | USA | Posted: 10:49 AM on 11.23.09
->> Support your local store owners/small businesses and take pictures of people shopping there instead. Could be an interesting angle. Will holiday sales help local merchants enough that they won't have to lay workers off/go out of business? Have laid off workers been able to find find time work in retail sales during the holidays? You probably won't get the "big crowd" picture, but it doesn't sound like you were going to get that at Wal-mart anyway.
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Marc F. Henning, Photographer
Bentonville | AR | USA | Posted: 10:50 AM on 11.23.09
->> "At this point, go over the store manager's head to the district manager and/or Bentonville, Ark. if you have to."

good luck with that.

marc
(bentonville, ark.)
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 11:01 AM on 11.23.09
->> Marc, I guess you would know better than most. We did do that once and we got some action. Once.
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Adam Vogler, Photographer, Photo Editor
Kansas City | Mo. | USA | Posted: 11:07 AM on 11.23.09
->> Marc's right. The last two years I've had the same gig. Store managers say you have to talk to corporate and I never was actually able to get through to anyone there. Same old story the paranoia over possible negative stories prevent positive stories.

I'd try to find out where residents in your area are shopping. Are people traveling to a larger city? Maybe you could arrange to go with a group who are going somewhere out of town and document their experience.

I tried to sell this idea to my editor at my last paper (after getting told no by Wal-Mart) but it got nixed due to having other things to cover that day. Ended up at OfficeMax.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:12 AM on 11.23.09
->> After the death/injuries from last year, the last thing that Wal Mart or any other large retailer wants is photos/video of someone having CPR done in the store entrance while shoppers steam by with their plasma tv's.
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Marc F. Henning, Photographer
Bentonville | AR | USA | Posted: 11:14 AM on 11.23.09
->> yeah. once upon a time you could. i'm not saying it's impossible. but a small daily is probably going to have a difficult time getting permission from the Home Office this close to Black Friday. the Wall St. Journal, however, is a different story. considering last year's incident where a Walmart worker was trampled to death at a store in Long Island, N.Y., it's understandable if corporate wants to limit the number of cameras in their stores.

marc
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 11:34 AM on 11.23.09
->> I know this may be different, but it may be worth a try. There are other Christmas stories to be done other than Black Friday. I know that's a biggie, but if retailers are tying your hands before you even get to the front door, you really don't have any other choice other than to go a different direction.

There are tons of charity organizations that are looking for a little free press to help advance their causes and no better time is there than at Christmas. The Salvation Army in our town is very active and always doing something, for example. The senior citizen's center gets involved with making gifts for people and that could be an angle.

Will Santa make his first appearance there on Friday? You can get a lot of photos from these ideas and do a Black Friday story by interviewing people that have shopped locally or wherever. You don't have to ask them where they shopped, just ask them what kind of deals they got and leave the store name out. It's all about the people you serve and their names are more important than the store they shopped at.

You can then take what you gather locally and fold it into a national wire story about the first official shopping day and add your photos and come up with a pretty interesting package.
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 11:42 AM on 11.23.09
->> I don't think the cause of mankind would be especially improved by doing another 'black Friday' story at a WalMart or any other big box store. So ignore them...

Look for other stories; mom and pop stores in your area struggling to get by, maybe places that try to do something good this time of year. Be innovative!
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Chip Litherland, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 12:15 PM on 11.23.09
->> For what it is worth, Target has always been really open to us going in their stores...just hit them up early. Also, if you have a mall, they are generally pretty good about letting you shoot in the common areas. Be forewarned that once you start shooting storefronts and such, you will be harassed. That's when, not if. Also outdoor/walking outlet malls have let us do all sort of things down here like shooting from their rooftops down onto lines. It is all about getting the permission early from contacts you have worked well with in the past. Other stores we've had decent success with are Home Depot, hhgregg, Toys R Us, Best Buy.

Other than that, obviously, local stores and chains that have a more regional market than national are always game to have us in there.

Otherwise, Wal-Mart is a different ballgame altogether. They have been the source of a myriad of negative pieces all over the spectrum. My guess is the aforementioned incident from last year will have lasting effects on that company as well as a trickle down to other stores.

As mentioned, they can make you leave their parking lot. If you absolutely have to have that photo, shoot it from a public sidewalk with long glass. I would definitely leave this up to your editor, though, who should be doing most of this fighting for you. My belief, though, is that if any company is fighting you on access, it isn't worth it to give them free advertising, which is what essentially all these stories are...just move on to the next.

I know that doesn't help you as much, but it might help someone else out there.

Chip
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Jonathon Bird, Photographer
Port Clinton | OH | United States | Posted: 12:23 PM on 11.23.09
->> We did contact the store manager early last week he would not work with us so we contacted corporate and they were the ones to tell us No media in any Wal Mart on Black Friday and nobody will comment on black Friday. As far as me and the reporters are concerned we all made the similar argument Ian has made. As far as Jack is concerned working with our exec. editor, publisher so I don't get thrown in jail is a another topic for another day.
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Matt Barton, Photographer
Lexington | KY | USA | Posted: 12:24 PM on 11.23.09
->> I would walk in 15 mins before they open the line and click away until someone told me to leave. Take one camera and no bag so they won't think you are a shoplifter. Everyone will be so concerned with the crowd, I doubt they will even notice you until you are done.

Naturally be very up front about what you are doing when approached by management. Then play dumb, i.e. My editor talked to an assistant who said it was ok...etc, etc. Just be overly nice about it. You'll probably get kicked out but you should get a few frames.

I also agree with Amy. Wal-mart doesn't need any more help destroying the country. If you have any say in the matter, ask for a local store to cover instead.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 12:38 PM on 11.23.09
->> I'm not surprised they are being uncooperative-last year, a store employee was killed during a stampede on Long Island (NY) on Black Friday. They are probably worried if something gets out of hand, you are there to shoot it and they don't want that
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Thomas Cain, Student/Intern, Photographer
New Haven | CT | USA | Posted: 1:06 PM on 11.23.09
->> This post made me think of a site I stumbled upon the other day.

http://www.pictureblackfriday.org/main.html

"Picture Black Friday is an open call for photographers throughout the U.S. to go out and produce images that document Black Friday- how you see it, on your terms. Imagine this project as an open assignment: you have freedom to approach this event from any angle you wish, returning with single images or even a mini-project that documents Black Friday like no other media outlet will."
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 1:47 PM on 11.23.09
->> I would walk in 15 mins before they open the line and click away until someone told me to leave.

Not exactly a professional way of doing it, do you think? You know you need permission, you do it anyway until you get kicked out, lying about it all in the process. Sure for that one day, that one shoot, it's all on you.

The problem is it makes it hard on the rest of us that try to do it the right way next time around. A Wal-Mart local manager gets his butt chewed because a picture winds up on the front page and corporate didn't know about it. Corporate might have even approved of it if asked, but the manager will get chewed if he doesn't follow procedure. So he has to spend a bunch of time explaining to HIS boss how this happened. Next time around, what do you think the answer is going to be from that manager when a photographer comes in and asks for permission? Do you think he'll even meet with the shooter? No way.

Everything from rushing the sidelines to going around caution tape to taking pictures on railroad tracks when you KNOW you're not supposed to be there. It's that same attitude of "if you get the shot, you win." You might get your shot. Once. But the rest of us have to live with the fallout.

Don't take shortcuts. Do it right, or find another shot. As many here have already said, it's not like it's once-in-a-lifetime breaking news. It's a stock shot.
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Chris Riley, Photographer
Vallejo | CA | USA | Posted: 2:12 PM on 11.23.09
->> I have shot Black Friday on several of my 15 years as a newspaper photographer covering many different angles. Many times inside of Wal-mart. The situation basically comes down to they are too busy to escort media around inside the store on a day when there are thousands of people shopping. Truthfully they have bigger things to worry about than a newspaper photographer taking pictures in the parking lot. They most likely won't hassle you, it is positive press after all. You can go early and get the line outside especially if that's the only place in your town to shop. I would suggest going back an hour or so later. By then you should have people wheeling out shopping carts full of stuff. Good luck and have fun.
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Jonathon Bird, Photographer
Port Clinton | OH | United States | Posted: 2:31 PM on 11.23.09
->> Chris

Thats kind of the shot I'm thinking of going for (coming out of the store with a big tv in a cart, etc.) They have places set up in the store for people to gather since they will be open 24 hours so I'm not even expecting to see crowds outside of the store. I figured if I get hassled for being in the parking lot I'll just leave and what I got will have to be good enough. To be honest I'd rather not go inside there's a reason I dont go out on black friday :)
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 2:39 PM on 11.23.09
->> Matt, that is very poor advice. The local store manager has declined as well as corporate. Jonathan won't be able to do anything with handcuffs on. You can bet the store will have security there to handle any issues so as to not have a repeat of last year's disaster. An alternative approach is in order for this story and it doesn't have to involve Walmart.
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Peter Wine, Photographer, Photo Editor
Dayton | OH | USA | Posted: 2:53 PM on 11.23.09
->> I shot black Friday last year for the paper, and because we have a large number of stores having BF sales, it was impossible to be at more than a few in the minutes leading up to the store opening.

I was covering the lines outside more than the shoppers, but did get permission to shoot inside the local mall.

After what happened at Wal Mart last year, I've heard they are going back to the open 24 hours concept, and not be closed to allow a line to form.

In the past what this means is they put the items out at midnight, people roam the store for five or six hours with the stuff in their cart, and line up at the cash registers at the appointed time.

Anyone coming into the store after the stuff is put out won't have any chance of getting the items on sale at all.

They are a big fish, and have lots of good deals, but in proportion to the number of shoppers, the odds are not good you'll get to purchase one of them.

I've seen lines at many stores come close to the pandamonium they had at WalMart last year in the last few years (as both a photographer and shopper.)

Haven't heard whether I'll be shooting black Friday this year (as I do free-lance not staff shooting) but I'm ready for it.

Here's a link to the gallery from last year:
http://projects.daytondailynews.com/cache/galleries/News/Local/112808ddnbla.../
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Nina Zhito, Photographer
bay area | CA | | Posted: 7:00 PM on 11.23.09
->> unrelated to black friday but an entertaining project related to walmart...

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 8:42 PM on 11.23.09
->> *IF* you're even slightly creative on the small business angle, there's a story that's not been told.

Some independents will open early. 6AM or there abouts. Why not a story about them getting up, getting ready.. getting to the store, getting ready to open ...and then opening. What they have done to bring crowds in. One local retailer will run a frontload washer and dryer PAIR for $577, under cutting a national chain.

Ask your advertising sales manager who's advertising a early opening that's not a chain and has a big ad.. some local person. There's no real mystery to Black Friday: This is low end, closeout or popular stuff priced below cost for 4 - 6 hours.

Trust me, the story is out there. Email me if you need more information.

Michael
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Matthew Bush, Photographer
Hattiesburg | MS | USA | Posted: 8:55 PM on 11.23.09
->> Bird- If all you have in your town is Wal-Mart find out where people are traveling to to do their major shopping. I know because I have covered black friday in Hattiesburg (one of the larger citys in Mississippi) and shot people from all around a 120 mile area. Find a family that is traveling to insert town name here, follow them through the day, bring a reporter and find out why they are not shopping local (most likely lack of options).... I have in the past shot inside Wal-Mart but corperations seem to think we are evil. I got the run around at a University book store last month when I was with a Univresity PR representative....that was a fun argument between the PR director and a very new Bookstore assistant manager....

Smile because I have to shoot blackfriday and the Southstate championship Friday but all is well because I am shooting Monday Night Football next week


That or go commando with your G9.... (Kidding guys)
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Matthew Bush, Photographer
Hattiesburg | MS | USA | Posted: 9:00 PM on 11.23.09
->> Oh on the parking lot stuff I shot from the truck last year with a 300mm and got a cool shot of a woman walking in front of car lights with a huge tv in her buggy.... but that was because my reporter was grabing coffee from the attached McDonalds in our Walmart and I just so so happend to have the gear in the front seat of my truck.
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Mike Ullery, Photographer, Photo Editor
Piqua | OH | USA | Posted: 9:02 PM on 11.23.09
->> Considering the problems in the New York Wal Mart last year, I am not surprised that they won't let you in either.

Wal Mart usually has a manager escort photographers and that is a busy day for them.

Having said that:

I find it interesting that Wal Mart has no problems calling us when they have something going on and WANT the publicity but we have to jump through hoops to get what we want/need.
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Chris Peterson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia Falls | MT | USA | Posted: 9:29 PM on 11.23.09
->> In Montana, we almost always get some poor guy out on the sidewalk holding up a cardboard cutout asking for help. The sidewalk is public property. The bum always makes a better story. The last guy I talked to said he rode trains through the country.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 10:05 PM on 11.23.09
->> "I find it interesting that Wal Mart has no problems calling us when they have something going on and WANT the publicity but we have to jump through hoops to get what we want/need."

OK, someone's gotta say it:
Papers have no problem running toward Walmart when they need a shopping story and ignore the folks that actually buy advertising. What's up with that?
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Bill Gaither, Photographer, Assistant
Galesburg | IL | United States | Posted: 11:48 PM on 11.23.09
->> I spent a good hour today going to what I'd call the 'norm' and making contacts with potentially new stores for this Friday's coverage opportunities. With it being a smaller community, the large crowd shots can only happen at a handful of places at 4 and 5 in the morning. One of the places that we'd not covered in two years is now letting us in, thanks to my efforts to contact another store in their chain and find out that the actual corporate policy states that it's up to the store manager's individual discretion, at which point then my editor made a call and now we've got the green light. By no means am I hoping and begging to get into places. Ultimately it's the effort to get something DIFFERENT from the annual coverage that we do on the shopping frenzy that has pushed me to work a little harder at the access.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 9:07 AM on 11.24.09
->> Matt Barton-

Your advice was quite possibly the worst advice I've read in a long time here on Sportsshooter. David did a great job outlining just some of the reasons why that advice is so bad and I'd like to add one... it's obnoxious.

I'd normally just shake my head and read on but the fact that your advice will now be archived and available to students and aspiring photojournalists to read for years to come makes me want to further outline how utterly foolish tactics like that are.

I don't know about you, but I'm a working, professional photojournalist. I worked hard to get a foothold in this, very competitive, profession and I take the responsibility of being a photojournalist very seriously.

I'm not a "photographer" - I never have been and I likely never will be. I'm a journalist, and as such I have to insure that I'm trustworthy and accountable for everything I say, do and print.

My clients know that no mater what, when they give me an assignment, that I'm going to deliver solid, story-telling, accurate images by deadline... but guess what else they know about me.

Guess what is actually more important to my clients than coming back with "the shot"? They know, with absolute certainty, that while I'm out on assignment representing them (or any other client) that I'll conduct myself in a professional/ethical manner. They never have to question that. Ever.

"Photographers" are, I'm sorry to say, a dime-a-dozen anymore. I can go to the mall and find a few right now taking snapshots of toddlers dressed up as bumble bees. I can find a bunch standing on the sidelines of any youth sporting event with their cameras dialed to "Green Square", or hanging out in the local camera store talking about megapixels and debating which lenses that they've never owned have the best "bokeh" (I've been in this business since I was a kid and still have no idea what that is). Look, there's nothing AT ALL wrong with being a "photographer" or a "camera enthusiast" but it takes a certain skill set and mind set to be a photojournalist. Simply possessing a camera and a Flykr account doesn't cut it.

If anybody is really the type of person who will outright lie and knowingly trespass to, to use your words "click away" at ANY story (but seriously" a Black Friday story?) then they're not a professional photojournalist and I suggest they find a portrait studio to go "click away" at or a camera counter to lean on somewhere. Either way I'd hope that they'd hold of on dispensing any paparazzi-esq advice to aspiring professional photojournalists on this board.

Sorry if this seems personal Matt, but I'm just so tired of this type of attitude and behavior degrading a profession that I take very seriously.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 9:55 AM on 11.24.09
->> ........Look, there's nothing AT ALL wrong with being a "photographer" or a "camera enthusiast" but it takes a certain skill set and mind set to be a photojournalist. Simply possessing a camera and a Flykr account doesn't cut it........

While I agree with you that Mr. Barton's advise was VERY poor. I can't help but to be somewhat offended that you would think that PJ's are a cut apart in the area's of integrity, honesty, or whatever other golden rule / boyscout credo you what to apply. Or that they are somehow the ones who know what the other boxes on the dial (green square? must be a Canon thing) are for.



Sometimes SMALLER brushstrokes accomplish more.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:07 AM on 11.24.09
->> Eirc,

I can see, after rereading that, where one would think that was my point or my position but that's not even close to what I meant. I'm inspired and impressed constantly by all photographers but what I was saying is that you HAVE to have honesty and integrity be a PJ.... not that it is in ANY WAY limited to us. But I do see your point Eric.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 10:14 AM on 11.24.09
->> I'm going to go on the record as agreeing with Eric's post. The notion that a photojournalist is somehow more professional than other professions or even persons using a camera is not supported by my personal experience. The truth is, the PJs I've met run the gamut. As have people I've met with the title 'journalist'. Some have been incredibly professional and I've run into some that are rude, obnoxious and some downright dishonest. They are no better or worse than people in any other walk of life.

I agree with the notion that photojournalism is more than taking photos. And I agree with the notion that a person should behave in a professional, ethical manner. But I disagree with the notion that just because someone is a 'journalist' or 'photojournalist' by profession they somehow automatically possess these qualities. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Just like with every other profession out there.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:19 AM on 11.24.09
->> John,
Read my post above I NEVER suggested that PJs are More professional, just that you HAVE to be professional to be a PJ. WE didn't corner-the-market on professionalism. It's not limited to us... nor is it universal... there are plenty, as you have pointed out, that are dishonest and they're the source of my rant above.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 10:26 AM on 11.24.09
->> Brain fair enough, I've typed things that I wish I could restate in the past.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:33 AM on 11.24.09
->> Yea, Eric... my wife is a youth sports photog... and also the LAST person I'd want to offend ;-) and I've never caught her on "green square".
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 10:58 AM on 11.24.09
->> I would have marked Matt Barton's post as "inappropriate", but it's not "rude, racist, or blatantly disrespectful". It is however, incredibly stupid advice. Like Brian said, you must act as a professional to be treated as one. Go through the proper channels/pr people to get the access you want. If you can't then figure something else out.

I too would look for another angle to Black Friday, instead of the throngs at Walmart. I'll be shooting in my state and I'm working with local mall PR people to get access.

-sM
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Sandy Huffaker, Photographer
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 1:12 PM on 11.24.09
->> Just to play Devil's Advocate here. I think the very definition of being a journalist involves having to sometimes poke around illegally, which means we have to break the rules every once in awhile to get an accurate account of the story. I feel very comfortable in saying that most of us have had to do this from time to time. I would however always go through the proper channels first. Let's say I called WalMart to shoot Black Friday and they turned down my request. I had heard they were doing some un-ethical things like only letting people with green shirts in and were denying service to people with red shirts. I would feel inclined to get in there, without permission, and investigate so our readers could get a bird's eye view of what is really going on. I might even risk being arrested if the cause was worthy. It's not something I like to admit but there are times when it is the only way. I don't do it to "win"either. It's all about getting the best possible shot to describe the story.
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Barbara Perenic, Photographer
Springfield | OH | USA | Posted: 3:02 PM on 11.25.09
->> Mike,

Interesting point! We are breaking our "no hand-shakes, no check-passing" policy to shoot Wal-Mart donating money to Operation Santa, yet we have received a resounding "no" to shooting on Black Friday. We are shooting the donation photo more to support our local police department. I'd rather have PD on my side for spot news than have Wal-Mart on my side for Black Friday. And so it goes.

BUT we have Black Friday events with small, local businesses in both Clark and Champaign Counties. I've stopped shopping at Wal-Mart anyway, it's like going to the zoo.
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David Brooks, Photographer
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 11:02 PM on 11.25.09
->> Hey Sandy-
Awesome, no wonder you make such pretty pictures! I have a BF assignment but where I shoot and how I get in is top secret... anyway... I was very informed by your informative post, I wish I could hug you right now... by the way when is the next photo night?! Hurry quick while I still have a job! ;)

David
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Jamie Roper, Photographer
Boulder | CO | United States | Posted: 12:53 AM on 11.26.09
->> Aside from Huffaker's take, this is the least encouraging conversation I've observed on this site in a while.
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Matt Barton, Photographer
Lexington | KY | USA | Posted: 12:56 PM on 01.04.10
->> Yeah, this is an old thread but there are a handful of things I need to address before it can be put to rest.

I made some hurried suggestions about Jonathon's assignment that were not appropriate. Looking back, I was thinking more along the lines of Chris Riley's parking lot idea but didn't think it all the way through. Once you hit POST, it's etched in stone around here. Jonathon's problem is one of those gotcha deals editors love to assign but they never really consider the photographer's dilemma. It's easy for people on this board to say "just ignore the editor and shoot something else" but that's not always possible when you work for someone else. Particularly in this work environment.

Jonathon, I sympathize with your situation and I hope you worked it out.

David/Brian/Etc, Thank you for taking my comments with a grain of salt and resisting the urge to grandstand about things well beyond the scope of this thread.
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