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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Fighting a Losing Battle?
Kate Falconer, Photographer
Santa Cruz | CA | United States | Posted: 3:44 PM on 08.30.13
->> Hey everyone - It's been a VERY long time since I posted on the message boards, but I am still here - still read the msg. board and view pics. I am in the beginning phase of a story I am very excited about. It involves youth in sports and I am wondering if I am screwed from the start because of the little league, popWarner, etc. rules in regards to photographing young athletes. I'd like to shoot team practices and games, but it is looking like I am going to need to get releases from all the parents - obviously, that's a project in and of itself. Just wondering if you have any thoughts about gaining access to youth sporting events. By the way - I am not looking to sell the photos, I am just building a piece for my portfolio. Thanks for any input.
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 4:43 PM on 08.30.13
->> It's not a losing battle. If you want to cover your bases then do the right thing and get proper releases. It protects you as well as the athletes.

EASY WAY: Throw a pizza party and tell the parents what you want to do and have them sign the paperwork.

HARD WAY: Try to locate each family AFTER THE FACT and get permission one by one.

THOUGHTS ON ACCESS: Schedule a meeting with the President of the league(s) and work it out with them.

Delane
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Kate Falconer, Photographer, Assistant
Santa Cruz | CA | United States | Posted: 9:46 PM on 08.30.13
->> Thank you Delane. I definitely want to do the right thing. I appreciate your advice.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 7:38 PM on 08.31.13
->> Delane is spot on. Although a lot of the time, I'm a "better to seek forgiveness then to ask permission" kind of guy, on this one it's all in the preparation. Make the president of the league your friend first - and that should be easy since your work will promote his league. Clear up any concerns or issues he may have before you go to the next level.

Once he's bought in to the project, he will be your ally. He can open the doors for you to walk through.

It's all in the prep. The pizza may be optional, but the prep is anything but.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 8:36 PM on 08.31.13
->> Are you saying that if I attend a Little League game that they will ask me to sign an agreement that I won't publish pictures of the kids? When did that start? Have parents stopped posting images on their Facebook pages or on Flickr accounts?

If the kids are in a public place (like a Little League game) they are just as much fair game as they are walking down a public street.

Of course that doesn't mean that you won't offend people or perhaps reveal the location of a child to an abusive parent. But what rules are you talking about and in what way do you think that they are binding upon you?

A private organization's rules are irrelevant to me unless I have agreed to abide by them.

--Mark
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Mike Burley, Photographer
Dubuque | IA | USA | Posted: 11:52 PM on 08.31.13
->> What Mark said. Since when do you need a release for the editorial use of people in public? So long as you're not using the images in a commercial manner you should be fine.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 1:05 AM on 09.01.13
->> I didn't perceive this as a feature or news story. If it is, Mark and Mike are correct - although I still think a little PR with the League President is a wise move. ....
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Kate Falconer, Photographer, Assistant
Santa Cruz | CA | United States | Posted: 1:36 PM on 09.01.13
->> This is a portfolio piece, and it has been brought to my attention that I should leave the door open for future sales, just in case. I like that idea. But, my primary intent is to delve into a particular part of youth/teen sports and in order to build a portfolio piece around it.
While it's true I can legally photograph these kids playing in public places, it's also true that the field managers and league personnel are very protective of the young athletes and in some cases will not allow photographers on the field. Of course, this is a liability issue for them as well. (right?)
I plan to be very open with the people in charge of these leagues. Doing the right thing is very important to me on many levels.
I totally appreciate everyone's feedback. You are teaching me and others how to best approach this type of project.
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James Broome, Photographer
Tampa | FL | US | Posted: 2:05 PM on 09.01.13
->> You're doing the right thing. While it may be legal to photograph the kids, it may also be 'not right'. You're looking to be right about this. Bravo.

Our local Little League is run in a county park, but they have the right to police that park. Think of it like a mall. While it may be open to the public, the manager of that mall has the right to make you leave.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 7:22 PM on 09.01.13
->> James - a county park open to everyone is in no way like a mall.

A mall is a place owned by a private entity that is open to the public. Typically you can take photographs in these types of places until you are asked to leave, or unless there is specific signage dictating otherwise.

A "county park" is a government-owned (i.e., owned by everyone) and maintained space. A little league organization do not have a "right to police" a public space like a public square or city/county park, and cannot tell you to leave just for taking photographs.

All this being said, Kate, I think you're approaching it the right way. Be open with the league officials and let them know who you are and what you're doing.
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James Broome, Photographer
Tampa | FL | US | Posted: 7:26 PM on 09.01.13
->> Bradly - That may be true where you are, but in Hillsborough county, more and more sports parks are being maintained and operated by the leagues. And yes, those leagues can and do have the authority to escort people off the property.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 7:48 PM on 09.01.13
->> It's always best to get permission obviously, but you would not need releases for what you're trying to do. Shoot our local youth leagues and never have problems selling prints or editorially, obviously can not do anything commercially. LL and other leagues have different rules, so being up front is best way to go.

Personally I'm not throwing a pizza party and putting out expenses to cover games, there's plenty of leagues/parents/etc. that would LOVE to have a professional out photographing their kids. If releases were actually needed it'd be something I'd go directly through the league for during signups early on, have to remember logos and what not in the images may need a release as well.

Bradly, as James said that is incorrect in many cases. The local pro stadium is on "public" land but the games are private, the local youth leagues operate the same exact way in that the land is public but the events (i.e. games) are open to the public but they still have the right to remove someone from the park for breaking their rules. Just like if you rent a gazebo at the local park, just because it's in the public park doesn't mean I can crash every family reunion held there.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 09.02.13
->> James and Mike - there's an important distinction between a "county park" with some publicly-maintained little league fields and a "sports complex" that may very well be on public land but leased to a private organization to operate and maintain it. I was speaking about the former.

Further, while you certainly may not crash a family reunion in a gazebo being rented in a public park, the people renting the gazebo cannot make you leave the public park for taking photographs from a distance of their family reunion in the aforementioned gazebo.
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Thread Title: Fighting a Losing Battle?
Thread Started By: Kate Falconer
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