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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 19 Sep 2012 (Wednesday) 10:40
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Sideline access for HS football; My unsual encounter with HS Principal

 
PaulMedik
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Sep 19, 2012 10:40 |  #1

Last Thursday I was setting up on a set of steps just outside of the endzone and preparing to get a warming up shot of my sixth grader's middle school team on the opposite end of the field. I was focusing my camera (5D Mk III, 70-200F2.7L and Giottos Monopod) when the High School Principal (Not middle school, but they are combined), approached me and asked who I was with. I laughed and wondered why he would ask since I'd been shooting pics and video for years at the field and at basketball games. (My oldest is a senior on the HS football team, my 15 year old plays mainly basketball, and my 12 year old plays all sports). I replied that I was with myself. I didn't want to claim I was with my son's team, because I have no official relationship with them. He stated that I could shoot from there, but I could not be on the sidelines. I asked if he was serious and he stated he was. He went onto say that it was for people with press passes and was a liability issue. He stated that only the county board of education can grant sideline access.

Since last Thursday I now have a 'Press Pass' and now have liability insurance. I called the County school board and they knew nothing about press passes. I also called all of the County school boards of teams that we play this season and got approval to shoot from the sidelines.

Not being able to shoot from the sidelines at my son's home field is NOT an option. I put my gear back in the truck and watched the game from the stands, but I'm really at a loss for why this guy made this decision. I don't have a pass yet from our County school board since they're still trying to find out why I was told that I had to in the first place.

At first I suspected it stemmed from a semi pro that sells pictures; he was there taking pics and was the most likely suspect. I spoke with him at the away HS football game the next evening and he said the guy was just odd and that he was surprised I hadn't had problems with him before.

Last year our HS team went to the second round of the State playoffs and I shot from the sidelines there with no questions asked (other than about my gear).

I post my pictures on FaceBook and upload to Fotki for anyone that wants full size pics. I am not a professional photographer and do not charge for pics. I'll be making 8x10 pics of all the players on the HS team (40+ players) for free and the school will present them with frames at the end of season dinner. This is the same HS the principal works for.

Our State (WV) has an athletic association (WVSSAC) and they have no rules specifically about photographers or sideline access. They do have rules about video, but not stills.

Has anyone encountered anything similar and if so what did you do? If not, what would you recommend that I do?

My 'Press Pass' is from the National Press Photographer's Association. I joined for $119 just for 'Press Pass' credentials. My liability insurance cost $750. I pay to get in to games and do not wish to access for free; I just want sideline access. I have never yelled nor cheered from the sidelines either.

In the past I have met with the Principal for various issues involving my sons; nothing major and there were no hostile words.


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jra
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Sep 19, 2012 11:32 |  #2

Sounds like a difficult situation. From the principals point of view, I can understand that he wouldn't just want parents to be able to walk the sidelines shooting for their own personal enjoyment. If he allows you to do it, he would then be pressured to allow virtually any parent with a camera to do the same. The liability stance may not be that he's worried about you hurting someone but that he's worried about you being hurt.....which could potentially bring a lawsuit to the school district.
I can also understand that if the school has hired a team photographer who is officially covering the games from the sidelines, that they wouldn't want additional people shooting the game from the sidelines. IMO, that's simply being respectful to the hired photographer whether or not he or she has been granted exclusive sideline access in their contract.

In the end, whatever his reasoning, you'll have to "play" by the rules they set forth and you'll need proper permission if you wish to continue to shoot from the sidelines so follow their procedures, be polite and hope for the best :)




  
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PaulMedik
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Sep 19, 2012 12:43 |  #3

jra wrote in post #15014126 (external link)
Sounds like a difficult situation. From the principals point of view, I can understand that he wouldn't just want parents to be able to walk the sidelines shooting for their own personal enjoyment. If he allows you to do it, he would then be pressured to allow virtually any parent with a camera to do the same. The liability stance may not be that he's worried about you hurting someone but that he's worried about you being hurt.....which could potentially bring a lawsuit to the school district.
I can also understand that if the school has hired a team photographer who is officially covering the games from the sidelines, that they wouldn't want additional people shooting the game from the sidelines. IMO, that's simply being respectful to the hired photographer whether or not he or she has been granted exclusive sideline access in their contract.

In the end, whatever his reasoning, you'll have to "play" by the rules they set forth and you'll need proper permission if you wish to continue to shoot from the sidelines so follow their procedures, be polite and hope for the best :)

jra,

The semi pro is not under contract; he just shows up when he wants to and sells pics via his website.

I have obtained all of the requirements he mentioned; Press Pass, liability insurance, but what I don't have yet is County school board approval; their stance is that they never have issued any kind of sideline passes and aren't sure how to proceed. I'm sure I'll have written permission from the county by Friday, but regardless I will be on the sidelines taking pictures. ;)


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tj3775
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Sep 19, 2012 13:11 |  #4

I'll be making 8x10 pics of all the players on the HS team (40+ players) for free and the school will present them with frames at the end of season dinner. This is the same HS the principal works for.
Normally..I would say tell em to get bent (in a nice way) but as someone else said..you have to play by the rules. I'm curious though...why are you giving them 8x10 for free? If I was the contracted photographer..I'd be pissed too..I mean..thats 40*whatever they charge out of his pocket. Wouldnt make me a happy camper either.

I had a similar situation though..next door neighbor wanted pics of his son at a JV football game and I went...with the sole purpose of taking pics of his son. He didnt have the money to pay the 'team photographer" so I did it as a favor. I mean..that's what friends are for isnt it?
But the 'team' guy got all mad...and went to the AD on me. The AD approached me and give me the riot act just like the principal did you. I listened and when he had his say..I asked to see the contract tht stated he had sole access to the property. He got all mad and refused so I told him that you know..we can make this ugly or you can just let me do my thing. At that point..I really had nothing to lose. The AD agreed and left me alone. I still get teh evil eye from the team photographer but that's all. Maybe that's not the best approach and I"m certain there are better ways to deal with this issue but that's the stance I chose. I've been to other HS and never ever had any problems. I always offer the coach a copy of the pictures (if asked).




  
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charlesu
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Sep 19, 2012 13:18 |  #5

I've had stuff like this come up before but the issue has almost always been that there is already a "pro" shooting for $$$. When I point out that I am just a hobbyist who is not charging, their concerns usually fall away.


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dwarrenr
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Sep 19, 2012 13:25 |  #6

You know...you're shelling out over $100 of free prints, and you want to take his crap? He has the right to limit access, no question there. But if I was you I'd tell them it's a two way street. No access, no 40+ prints for free. Let the coach know that and let him work the magic.

And save yourself the other $119.00, the press pass you got is not worth the paper it's printed on much less $119.00. ;-)a Just say'n...and JMTCW. :D


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Staszek
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Sep 19, 2012 13:40 |  #7

dwarrenr wrote in post #15014702 (external link)
You know...you're shelling out over $100 of free prints, and you want to take his crap? He has the right to limit access, no question there. But if I was you I'd tell them it's a two way street. No access, no 40+ prints for free. Let the coach know that and let him work the magic.

And save yourself the other $119.00, the press pass you got is not worth the paper it's printed on much less $119.00. ;-)a Just say'n...and JMTCW. :D

I agree about the prints. You should make it clear to the principal what you do and how much expense you have.

Secondly, I believe the sideline decision is the Athletic Directors, not the principals. At least it is in my location.

Thirdly, dwarrenr, you obviously know nothing about NPPA. The membership to join the organization is $110. The plastic printed press pass (more of an identification card really) is $20. :lol:


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dwarrenr
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Sep 19, 2012 13:53 |  #8

Staszek wrote in post #15014762 (external link)
Secondly, I believe the sideline decision is the Athletic Directors, not the principals. At least it is in my location.

I agree...but if the principal want's to flex his 'muscles' I'm sure the AD is not going to fight him.

Staszek wrote in post #15014762 (external link)
Thirdly, dwarrenr, you obviously know nothing about NPPA. The membership to join the organization is $110. The plastic printed press pass (more of an identification card really) is $20. :lol:

As usual...I stand corrected. LOL


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Staszek
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Sep 19, 2012 14:05 |  #9

dwarrenr wrote in post #15014834 (external link)
I agree...but if the principal want's to flex his 'muscles' I'm sure the AD is not going to fight him.

As usual...I stand corrected. LOL

Haha. I agree with you on both counts :p I've actually never seen the principal at the high school games for my press region. I've seen the athletic directors a lot. Maybe it's different outside of California.


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ajaffe
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Sep 19, 2012 14:30 |  #10

As you now realize, that press pass is worthless. The only pass that is worth anything would be a credential issued by the school itself or by some type of publication or organization that you are shooting for that is recognized by the school.

It still cracks me up to this day the amount of people that try to use their random citizen journalism / free contribution sites' press passes and get irritated when they are turned away because they have not gone through the proper credential process.

In California for high school sports, you can typically obtain credentialing through CIF for a publication/organizati​on/team you are working for. I know that was the case in my situation, my pub applied for a CIF credential on my behalf and that was how I got it. Whenever an official questioned/challenged me I just showed them that credential and all was ok.


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bigVinnie
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Sep 19, 2012 16:55 |  #11

ajaffe, CIF rules state that photos are for editorial use only and not commercial. How does that work with you selling prints on your website?


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MJPhotos24
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Sep 19, 2012 18:02 |  #12

Your pass means nothing from the NPPA as has been pointed out, hope you did not join for that alone.

The principal can deny the credentials all he wants, even my pass issued by the state can be denied if the school does not want me there for some reason or another, it's never happened and I always try to check in with who's in charge, but it could and I have no real say at all except to call the state and hope they take care of any issues. I refuse to leave in the meantime though could land me in handcuffs for trespassing, once asked to leave you have to go. So in short, even if the county approves you being on the sidelines he can still come in and say you can't be there, their house their rules, simple as that.

You bragged about laughing at him when he asked who you are, this would immediately put you at a major disadvantage, want to be treated with respect, show some first. Seriously, why would they let you on the sidelines, because your kid plays and you have a camera, just like the 300 other kids parents at the school who say the same thing? That's all we need on the sidelines, speaking as a coach here, is all the parents!!

Also as a coach or AD could care less about what you give away, I'm sure the semipro who's selling his images to pay bills is a huge fan of you giving it all away so he can't make a sale, but that's his own problem for covering a school with someone undercutting him. Simple fact remains you're not a news outlet that was approved, you probably got the wrong insurance where it doesn't cover you, your gear and everyone you come into contact with, you come off in this post as someone that feels entitled to be on the sidelines because you're a parent with camera, what world do you live in?

My favorite is you're BOASTING about how right you are and how wrong they are, that you'll get your way no matter what, all while on a public board using your real name that anyone can take a look around for less than one minute, find the school you're talking about and email it all the principal without even blinking.


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MJPhotos24
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Sep 19, 2012 18:10 |  #13

tj3775 wrote in post #15014635 (external link)
I had a similar situation though..next door neighbor wanted pics of his son at a JV football game and I went...with the sole purpose of taking pics of his son. He didnt have the money to pay the 'team photographer" so I did it as a favor. I mean..that's what friends are for isnt it?
But the 'team' guy got all mad...and went to the AD on me. The AD approached me and give me the riot act just like the principal did you. I listened and when he had his say..I asked to see the contract tht stated he had sole access to the property. He got all mad and refused so I told him that you know..we can make this ugly or you can just let me do my thing. At that point..I really had nothing to lose. The AD agreed and left me alone. I still get teh evil eye from the team photographer but that's all. Maybe that's not the best approach and I"m certain there are better ways to deal with this issue but that's the stance I chose. I've been to other HS and never ever had any problems. I always offer the coach a copy of the pictures (if asked).

Where do you work? Does someone stand outside the door and offer those about to walk in the same services free? Now they're standing on public ground and not doing anything illegal, just taking away sales so eventually you're not needed anymore and lose your job. It's posts like this that make it so very clear on why this is a dying profession. Very bad job on the AD's part to, he doesn't need a contract and can limit you if he wants to anyways, but probably too lazy to do his job and that's a shame.


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mobei
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Sep 19, 2012 18:22 as a reply to  @ MJPhotos24's post |  #14

Unless you have received prior permission to be on the field as a credentialed photog you are a spectator. Many states have rules on this. Most states will require you to have state credentials not a phony pass. You have no "right" to be on the sideline. Nothing makes you any different from any spectator that simply wants to watch the game from the sideline. You screw up and it makes it harder on all of us.
You need to learn to leave your camera at home when its not your gig.




  
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FJRider
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Sep 19, 2012 18:25 |  #15

I have been shooting HS water polo and swim for 2 years now from the pool deck. Once in a while I find a reef that on there side of the pool does not want anyone within 10 to 15 feet of the pool for the polo games. In this case I just have to shoot around them. Other then that I give a DVD with all of the images to the coaches and to the aquatics booster with a release and all is good.


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Sideline access for HS football; My unsual encounter with HS Principal
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