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Shooting from Stands
Jason Heffran, Photographer
Natrona Heights | PA | USA | Posted: 3:53 PM on 03.30.10
->> I tried to find previous thread, which I am sure exists, but had no luck. The question should have a simple answer, although the common sense factor gets in the way.

So, I happen to have great tickets for Penguin games. The last one, I thought, "Gee, I could bring a camera and get some good shots." I also noticed that, in most cases, the porthole 8 rows away seemed to always be vacant.

I contact the Pens to see if they're able to permit me to take some shot from this position, if vacant. I receive a very nice email and am told that only a pre-approved list of media is permitted to be credentialed. Okay, makes sense to me. I'm bummed, but oh well.

Also, a piece of info that the average person would not know was passed along. Apparently no professional equipment is permitted unless credentialed. Again, makes sense - to a point. I am sure that some "average" people own a 1D.

I leave the 1D at home and bring my 50D without the grip (easily can be bought by any consumer at Best Buy). I leave the "white" 70-200mm home and bring the kit lens. To me, that is not professional equipment.

I get there and see no less than 2 "white" lenses in the stands. The guy in front of me has a digital camera with something like a 20x zoom. Here I sit wondering why this rule isn't being enforced if it is such a big deal.

Obviously wanting to hook up with one of the local pro teams here, I send some of the images to the team photographer through a Communication director. Who knows? Maybe he'll like them and give me a call.

Now, the last sentence of an email reply says, "Be careful when shooting from the stands. Professional photography from the stands is not permitted." Again, very polite and professional. Not confrontational in any manner.

Does anyone have a simple way of explaining this to me? Is it because my images might have been better than a GWC? I'm sure the girl with the "white" lens had pretty good shots, too.

Funny part is that I was originally was told that the NHL did not permit lenses longer than 4". Well, that's not the case. After further research, the San Jose Sharks allow 6".

So, for someone who knows, what is the "real" rule as it pertains to shooting a professional event from your seat.

And here I was just wanting some cool images of the Pens to show. Confusing.

Thanks in advance. I apologize for this being a long question and even moreso if it has an answer I should already know. Forgive the ignorance.
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Ryan M. Kelly, Student/Intern, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 4:09 PM on 03.30.10
->> I can't speak for the stated rules, whatever they may be, but I think the real effect might be felt more practically, in enforcement. Even if there are clearly stated rules regarding "professional" vs. "amateur," or specific lens lengths, or anything regarding what gear is or is not allowed, chances are that security and other venue and team employees aren't aware of the rules or, at best, don't fully comprehend the intricacies of them.

That was a lot of words to say basically no matter the rules, even if you follow them, the toughest part will be convincing the guy at the door that you're allowed to have what you have.
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Peter Blake, Photographer
Tokyo | Tokyo | Japan | Posted: 4:36 PM on 03.30.10
->> isn't it about controlling the images?
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 4:40 PM on 03.30.10
->> Jason, I have noticed this the last couple of arenas for the NCAA's. The rules clearly state "no professional lenses" and apparently size does matter as they also said "no lenses longer than three inches". I saw several uncredentialed photogarphers blasting away in the stands before and during the game and they didn't seem to be having any trouble. I fear your biggest concern would be the random over zealous rent a cop who decides they want to enforce the rule at the entrance you choose to enter. if that happens you would probably have to go all the way back to your car to put the gear away.....unfortunately it probably will vary from night to night and security person at the door.
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April Tse, Photographer
Mountain View | Ca | | Posted: 4:44 PM on 03.30.10
->> San Jose enforces the six in rule length (with lens fully extended) and they check bags as folks enter the HP Pavilion by measuring against the long side of the ticket scanners. I have seen people sneak in lenses, but have also seen people who had their gear taken away upon entry. For the people that sneak in gear, I've seen then hide the lens when security does their rounds each period.

In general, for any pro event in which I don't have a credential, I start by researching the venue itself (start at the FAQ), I checkout web site of the event (the team pages, etc) and will even sometimes contact them.

Most security/ticket people see any dSLRs and consider them as "professional" which is why I print out a copy of the policy and bring it along with me.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 5:49 PM on 03.30.10
->> Rules for what photographic equipment is or is not allowed in a venue can vary quite a bit ... what many of us here would consider "professional" and how leagues, conferences, owners, officials and venue operators would classify the terms and conditions may have no rhyme or reason ... I just go with the flow and obey house rules ... and those rules can change from event to event depending upon the mood of those in charge ... heck, the rules can be different from gate to gate ....

I gave up shooting from the stands a long time ago ... either I am at such events in a professional capacity ... or I buy a ticket, leave the cameras at home and holler at the refs for not paying attention ....

You have to learn to separate work and play ... Kinda like a plumber ... rarely do they take a pipe wrench to a game on their day off ... :-)
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David Manning, Photographer
Athens | GA | | Posted: 6:25 PM on 03.30.10
->> When i go to a game these days, I want to watch the game, not look through the viewfinder.

Inevitably, these are the games where something AMAZING happens and i think to myself "Wow, if i had a camera, i'd have overlensed that with the 4 & a teleconverter and totally missed it anyways"

Just enjoy the game.
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David Dermer, Photographer
Cortland | Oh | 44410 | Posted: 6:53 PM on 03.30.10
->> I know if your ever at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as a fan and try to bring in a lens that is over a specific lengh fully extended they will make you return it to your car. The ushers have a ruler and a table marked to measure the lens.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 7:19 PM on 03.30.10
->> At 4.7 inches this will do the trick from the stands.... assuming you can run up your iso's
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Nate Ryan, Student/Intern, Photographer
Northfield | MN | | Posted: 12:14 AM on 04.01.10
->> Eric, Too bad that lens has the word "Pro" right on the side.
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Tom Theobald, Photographer
Descanso | CA | USA | Posted: 4:04 PM on 04.02.10
->> Been clear sailing at Olympics so far with big glass. London 2012? For reference (my own experiences doing OG from the stands), Robert let me write a long article here...
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Tami Chappell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 11:20 PM on 04.02.10
->> Jason, A few years ago, I would sit at my photo spot during MLB coverage and look around at all the folks sitting in the stands behind me shooting with their 300mm and 400mm lenses. But the difference was I had signed a contract in order to get my credentials stating I would not sell my pictures in any manner outside the MLB rules. A couple of years or so after I noticed it they started stopping people from bringing in "professional looking" gear. Now I only see point and shoots. I suspect the reason that most facilties are stopping people is for that reason. They can go out and sell their pictures with no repercussions as per the MLB, NFL, NHL etc. rules. I have known photographers that have had their credentials pulled for that reason alone as selling outside the "rules".
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 3:12 PM on 04.03.10
->> Yes Tami ... it's mostly a matter of the leagues and venue managers controlling their product ... in this day and age ... it's not so much someone buying a ticket and dragging along their 400 2.8 in the stands and then "selling" the resulting images ... but flat out giving them away ... as with all digital files ... once they are out in the market place ... there is little to no control over how they are used ....

I've seen discussions on other forums where those who purchase a ticket don't feel they should be restricted as to what equipment they take along to the venue ... or that the promoters have any right to restrict opportunities to photograph the event ... whereas in reality ... the purchase of a ticket only entitles the ticket holder the opportunity to witness the event ... not make a record of it ...

Eventually ... we may see a complete ban on cameras in the stands at events if it ever gets to the point where the promoters think it is in their best interest to do so ....
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Jason Heffran, Photographer
Natrona Heights | PA | USA | Posted: 10:45 AM on 05.07.10
->> Well, thanks for all the great tips and info. I am now able to get credentials to shoot pretty much what I want in town. I am still wanting that "golden ticket", since I love the Penguins... but things are going well so the "shooting from the stands" issue really isn't one now.

BUT... I saw a fan shooting a Canon consumer body at an MLB game from behind home plate with a white-ish off-brand lens (had a wide black rubber ring/grip that said AF on it - had to be 3in long) that I have never seen. I did see, that on the "ring" is said 100-400mm. This thing was at most 4-5in long and about 2 1/2 - 3 inches in diameter.

Anyone know what this was? I was curious.

Thanks in advance if anyone knows.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:03 AM on 05.07.10
->> Several years ago, two of our area high school teams played at Busch Stadium to years in a row. While looking for info to contact the sports info people there for media credentials I came across this:

"Cameras/Video Equipment
Both still and video cameras are allowed in Busch Stadium, as long as they do not obstruct another guest's view. Credentialed professional news crews/cameras are only allowed on the concourses and are not to film any game action unless given permission by the Cardinals."


Not sure this policy is in place at other facilities but I called the customer service people to confirm this policy was actually observed. It sounded too good to be true. Long story, very short...I was told on the phone that if I bought a ticket I could sit in the stands with my 500mm and shoot away as long as none of other patrons/fans complained about not being able to enjoy the game.
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 11:26 AM on 05.07.10
->> Clark,

If any of us central Illinois shooters ever get a block of tickets to a ball game for a social outing, I'm putting it in writing right now that I am NOT sitting in the seat right in front of you. I'd hate to be used as a human monopod!
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 10:20 PM on 05.07.10
->> That's one of the things I like about Wings games at Joe Louis. Instead of vague "no professional camera" rules that are open to wide interpretation by every rent-a-Barney, or rules about 6" lens (at full wide or tele???), they clearly state that the only lens over 80mm in focal length are prohibited. A D3 with an 18-70 is perfectly kosher. When I bring a camera they check it most of the time, and they quickly look at the printing on the front of the lens and if the big number is 80 or less, then you're "in".
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Thread Title: Shooting from Stands
Thread Started By: Jason Heffran
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