City in Kansas Under Fire for Requiring that Photogs Buy a Permit to Use Public Parks

Overland Park, Kansas became the focal point of many a photographers’ ire this week when it was announced that, from now on, professional photographers would be required to purchase permits if they wanted to shoot in any of the city’s public parks.

For many photographers, the local park is an easy go-to if you don’t want to shoot in the studio. You’ve probably seen senior portraits, engagement shoots and more taking place at your local park, but that’s no longer going to be the case in the city of Overland Park, Kansas.

The news broke earlier this week and already the photo community the world over is outraged. After all, tax dollars paid at least in part by professional photographers maintain public spaces, why should photogs be forced to buy permits to shoot there?

Greg Ruther, Overland Park’s Director of Park Services

Greg Ruther, Overland Park’s Director of Park Services

“Isn’t that why you build a public park?” local photographer Todd Davidson told told FOX 4 News. “To have beautiful spaces that people want to spend time in, and take pictures in? I think that’s the idea when we’re building a community.”

The original report doesn’t say how much permits will cost, but the rule went into effect on Tuesday, January 14th. According to Overland’s Director of Park Services, Greg Ruther, the ordinance does not apply to ‘amateurs,’ although we’re curious how park officials will make the distinction when trying to enforce the rule.

(via Reddit)

  • markz

    this is the case with a number of parks in most states of Australia .. while some pro photographers may have issues with this the real problem was, at least in the local parks I used, was that on some days the fact was that you could have dozens and dozens of wedding photographers almost (and sometimes literally push shove slaps and fisty cuffs ) fighting for best spot, best background, best light.

    not only was this not good for the photographers it also was bad for the public. many times I’ve seen over bossy photogzillas photographers trying to get picnickers to pack their stuff up and leave that spot ’cause they were “in the way”.

    the permits give the pros a time window, limits the number of pro photographer groups in the park at any point in time, a non refundable deposit discourages them booking multiple parks and time and just showing up which park and what time suites them pays for policing them.

    and more importantly lessens the disturbance of the vast, overwhelming majority, of tax paying park users from photogzillas.

  • Rabi Abonour

    The local cop isn’t going to see you shooting in the park, ask your name, then look you up. More likely they’ll just tell anyone with a DSLR to get lost.

    This isn’t new though, is it? NYC definitely requires permits for shooting in parks, and I thought other places were the same. It’s not really unreasonable to ask someone to pay a few bucks to use public space for commercial work.

  • The_Michael

    Well then I could file complaints and they wouldn’t get permits next time. Plus, if the fines are high enough there will be rangers/officers crawling all over looking to write tickets.

  • Frodo

    This is the biggest nonsense I’ve heard. Parks are a nice area to shoot, but let’s not pretend that your average park in the city of Overland or anywhere else for that matter is some mysterious and enchanting locale that draws the attention of every photographer all across the city to set up shop.

    Rarely have I ever been aware of a photoshoot, much less seen one in a park. Reading some of the posts in here you would think that photographers are rampaging across city parks all over america and knocking people over with their cameras trying to get a shot of a pretty flower here and there.

  • Rob Elliott

    Who decides if you are selling hotdogs or having a picnic.

    If you are getting money for it don’t do it without a permit. If you have a nice Camera that is nice enough that a police office or a someone comes up to you, then you just talk to them… politely and say we are just out in the park having a little fun.

    People aren’t unreasonable and if the police are going over board or the park people are then you write to your city councillor and say look this needs to be clarified so I can take pictures of my family.

    So few people do that. Get it now?

  • Rob Elliott

    It they say no commercial photography at that point you would need a permit. It’s no longer open for that use. And the city can go after you if you violate the bylaw. I likely used the wrong term, sure.. but you still need permission to sell a photograph of something that requires permission to photograph in the first place. If the City says no for profit photography as soon as you profit you have violate the by-law. will they go after you for it… likely not.. will you need a permit or some form of release from the city likely not… can they fine you, or go after you in other ways after the fact absolutely you violated the bylaw.

    If you shoot something and you then sell it.. you either claim ignorance or you ask first. otherwise you have violated the by-law.

    If you build a deck without a permit the city can go after you after it’s built. If you sell a photo taken some place that requires a permit to shoot Park or no.. you open your self up to issues down the road if you profit from those images. Should the city choose to do so.

  • bob cooley

    Rob, No you don’t.

    A permit is something that is required before the commercial shoot for use of the space while you are on the space itself. It has nothing to do with your commercial rights to sell an image after an image has been taken.
    No where does the city say “no for profit photography” – it says you must obtain a permit to conduct a commercial shoot. There are many cases where a shoot may be created without commercial purpose at the time, but yet the images are later used for commercial purposes. The city cannot restrict the sales of such images, as they have no rights over the images, and the space is public – they cannot regulate the sale of imagery of that public space.

    The “building a deck” analogy doesn’t hold water.
    A deck that is created without a permit is a physical change that adds to the sale and tax value of a property, which is the purpose for those permits and approvals.

    No such condition exists in the sale (no physical change, and no taxable increase) in the creation of sale of a photograph, sold or otherwise.

    You are confusing a number of different laws, and they one does simply not affect the other. That’s not opinion, feel free to ask an IP attorney.

  • bob cooley

    Frodo, No you missed the point of the law – try reading the actual statute before making assumptions. In this case, prior to the use of permits, ALL commercial photography was banned from the park in question. The city did this so they could actually allow commercial photographers to use the park without it being illegal.

  • lololalallll

    LOL small government.

  • Daniel McGarrity

    ok, seriously, what’s the problem here?
    The public et al, pays for through their taxes, for these public places to be designed, cared for, and promoted. For a private business to come in and make a profit on the public’s space, is not in any way outside of what should be happening.
    The public is being restricted, albeit marginally, by portraits, wedding parties, and family photo shoots, from enjoying the space. Requiring a nominal fee, whether per use, or as a city wide permit, like a fishing license…or driving license, seems common sense and a responsible way to charge for professional use.

    To those wishing to not pay for the privilege of using the publicly funded they can instead manicure their own backyards.

    Really, I’ve heard so many times the complaints of the local gentry whenever a film company moves in and disrupts local life, all the while getting a tax credit to entice them. Why any photographer would have an issue with this strikes me as just another part timer not understanding what their professional responsibilities are when it comes to the rest of the community.