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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Performing Arts Talk
Thread started 29 Apr 2011 (Friday) 13:23
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High School Play - restrictions on Photography?

Junior Member
25 posts
Joined Mar 2011
Ohio soon to be Texas
Apr 29, 2011 13:23 |  #1

This area of performing arts is not typically my area, but I am a bit puzzled about an issue I have recently run into.

My daughter is in a high school play. I wanted to be able to take a few photos of her, for my own personal use, before/during/or after the performance, whichever is most convenient. I called to make sure this would not be an issue, and I was told that absolutely no photography or video is allowed due to copyright reasons. I asked if there was a professional photographer hired and if photos would be offered for sale and was not given that info, only the previous statement which was repeated. I was never asked to sign a consent for my daughter's image to be released either.

Now, my problem with this is that I am certainly not interested in selling any of these photos. I would not be offering my photos to anyone, because they will be of my daughter. They won't be on the internet, or used to promote my business in any manner. I simply wanted a few photos of my child. I'm not interested in any one else.

I am sure they will not be confiscating all of the cell phones, iphones, and flip camcorders that will be used during the performance, so I'm not seeing the problem if I happen to have my 7D with a 50mm/no flash for my 5 or 6 photos before or afterwards. Yes, I could take photos with my phone like everyone else will certainly be doing.. but to me, it's still breaking the rules, so why not take my own camera and get a decent photo?

I understand and respect copyright issues when there is a photographer hired.. but on the same token, I've never stopped anyone from taking photos when I was the hired photographer. Maybe I've just been lucky enough to not run into a problem, but I've never felt threatened by the dozens and dozens of cameras, cell phones, and the occasional dslr clicking away. Not only that, but I've never ever had a problem photographing my children at any of their school functions until now.

Since they would not tell me if they have a professional photographer hired, does anyone happen to know the laws on photographing an amateur play inside of a high school auditorium? I don't want to infringe on anyone's business in any way, but this almost seems absurd since I haven't been given any information.

Maybe I'll just bring my big purse and be discreet. With all of the cell phones in the air, I should blend in nicely, don't you think?

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1,313 posts
Joined May 2007
Living in his Nowhere Land
Apr 29, 2011 18:52 |  #2

The only legitimate reason that actually concerns "copyright" that I can think of is if this production is an original play and the author does not want photos of it taken. More likely the school is misusing the word and are perhaps worried about people taking photos of underage students without express permission of their legal guardians. If there is a hired photographer for the event, the issue is actually contractual, not copyright based. It wouldn't be the first time a school goes abit overboard because of some issues they have had in the past.

I would bring my camera in your big purse and see what happens when others take photos. If it is a really big deal, they might even make an announcement letting everyone know that no photography is allowed. If that is the case, sit back and enjoy.

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FlyingPhotog's Avatar
57,560 posts
Joined May 2007
Probably Chasing Aircraft
Apr 29, 2011 18:57 |  #3

There are copyrights on the words and/or music of stage plays.

However, I'm with skifurther in thinking they're off base a bit in trying to "protect" the student performers.

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stormwerks's Avatar
101 posts
Joined Mar 2011
Ottawa, ON
May 01, 2011 11:51 as a reply to FlyingPhotog's post |  #4

My daughter has been in each of the school plays since she hit high school. In a couple of them they were told that they could not have a video of their performance due to copywrite restrictions. I shot video and stills at both.

Her final play starts this coming week and they have the same restriction in place and I will be once again at the back with my tripod just with better gear this year. There are always parents taking pictures throughout the plays and nobody is discreet about it. I definitely don't hide what I am doing and nobody has ever said anything to me.

I'm not selling or distributing the photos or video, they are for me and my family only. I would say go ahead, you only get one chance at it, don't miss it on a "maybe". Especially one where you are so unlikely to get questioned in any case.

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whuband's Avatar
1,433 posts
Joined Jul 2007
Jacksonville, Florida
May 01, 2011 18:42 as a reply to stormwerks's post |  #5

I can assure you of two things:
1 High School is not the NFL and no one will check your purse at the door.
2 You will not be the only one with a camera.

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Blurr Cube's Avatar
15,129 posts
Joined Aug 2010
Southern California
May 04, 2011 15:24 as a reply to whuband's post |  #6

Take photos before the play of your daughter if you can. Check out the audience. Most likely other parents will have cameras too. Try not to stand out (using flash or long white lens) when taking pictures during the play. At worst they can ask you to stop. Then take lots of photos after the play of your daughter with her friends. You're a proud parent... how can they hold that against you? ;)

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High School Play - restrictions on Photography?
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