One city plans to charge photographers to take photos in public places

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Professional photographers will be required to purchase a permit to shoot photos in public parks as of Tuesday.

The new requirement doesn't set well with pro photographers like Todd Davidson, who operates a photography studio in Stilwell.

Davidson said he is often hired to shoot family portraits and wedding photos in public parks, which he has been doing for the past 18 years.

Davidson said he'll cooperate with the law and purchase a permit to use Overland Park’s public spaces. However, he does think the new rule is unfair since those parks are supported by taxpayers.

“Isn't that why you build a public park? 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,” said Davidson.

Overland Park's Director of Park Services, Greg Ruther, said the new ordinance will not forbid amateur photographers from taking family photos or anything similar, only professionals.

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  • Krisi

    Perhaps all of the professional photographers should just go to a park in Leawood or maybe olathe or even KCMO? I can’t think of any logical reason for this rule except to attempt to collect another fee. If I were a photographer, I wouldn’t give them a cent. I would simply find another place to take pictures. What a ridiculous requirement!

  • Joe

    If your office happens to be in a public taxpayer funded park, I see no reason why the city shouldn’t charge a fee. I costs the city to keep that park looking good and if you use it for professional paid events, a permit should be required. Few things are free but there are people who continue to search and take all they can.

    • Wayne Finn

      They are already paying taxes to the city of Overland Park that helps pay for those parks. ITS ALSO PUBLIC!!! PUBLIC. If it was more of a private setting like the arboretum, designated gardens and such, which already has those rules then I can see that. Not just in some park. I use professional equipment, I also shoot some professional events too but it’s not a major business. Now if I am in a park with my son and have my Nikon with me (almost need a professional camera with children anyway unless you like blurred and poor looking quality pictures your phones give, that’s another topic though) and decide to take a picture of him then they can classify me in that group too. Just another scheme by OP to collect money.

    • Rachel E

      It’s for public use. It costs them to clean up the park yes, but they are going to have to clean it up no matter what. If photographers are being a nuisance or doing damage, than ticket that photographer, don’t but a blanket tax on people just trying to make a living in an already tough industry.

  • MIlt

    I say if you live in O.P you have paid the fee in your taxes to keep it looking good, If you are a hobbyist taking pictures, umm isn’t that why you take the pictures because it’s pretty??? Makes no sense. Just another way to drain the pockets of the population for governments that cant control their spending because the leaders are …. Hobbyists..not professionals.

  • Robert Wade

    if the pros are blocking an area that people use for a private shoot, then they SHOULD get a license. The park is for everyone. I have seen many wedding shots in parks were the photo crew take over an area and block access to prevent people from wandering into the shot. It only takes a few uncaring pros to mess it up for the rest of them.

  • don f

    They are NOT attacking the primary reason for the damage caused during photographing of families or children. It is NOT the true professional photographer who is damaging the flowers, pathways, going into the water, dangers of people on boulders. It is the new influx of what is commonly known as Mothers With A Camera…. I have seen many of them not caring about the parks and beauty only to get their photo, then don’t care. One case in point was a girl and her client of 2 children. She instructed the kids to walk into the middle of a lovely flower area and sit down, she then told them to pick the flowers around them and look like they were smelling them. I was pissed off and said something to the so called photographer, she shrugged it off and continued to another area where she did the same thing. That tricked my trigger and called Parks and Rec, a couple minutes later they come and saw first hand what she was doing and instructed her to leave the park immediately and not return…… multiply this by hundreds of others like her and you can clearly see the problem……. And according to the city they will still allow friends to take photos and not charge….. charge the groups that cause the problems and not the professionals who strive to keep the park nice for not only themselves but others….

  • Jon Bowers

    Overland Park drops the ball once again. As if not getting Google Fiber wasnt enough to fire up their own residents they are supposed to serve. As small of an issue this is, this is just shocking. Good to know what city council is concerned with. It also lets us know Overland Park is going in the wrong direction. I have seen cities tumble due to lack of good leadership.

    Way to go, so instead of shooting professional photos in OP spend your time in a city that doesnt make it harder for professionals to work in. What snobs, and of course its dollar driven. Is Overland Park hurting that bad? Seems like the behaviors of Mission city council have weaseled their way south.

  • Melissa Schartz

    Just for everyone’s FYI Overland park has had this policy for years It has not been reinforced until NOW. I got chased out of Overland Park arboretum when trying to take some photos of my daughter for her senior pictures. I am a professional however I was not with a paying client so I was technically a mother with a camera and they came right up in my face and said Moms do NOT carry cameras like yours, you need to leave.

  • James Morgan

    I’m a freelance news photographer.. does it mean I have to get a permit to shoot a newsworthy event that happens at any park (5K run for Cancer.. Rotary Club BBQ.. or something else).. it’s a bad law, and probably won’t pass constitutional muster. Plenty of good amatuers with decent equipment so who says if you’re a pro or not.

  • Jason Foster

    NOT LEGAL. FREEDOM OF PRESS AND RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. Those rights extend to photographers.

    I guarantee that if this is in effect when I’m out west chasing storms, at the end of my trip, I will make a point to practice a bit of civil disobedience as I also see it as a great rights fight.

  • Chris Sokol

    Natural Touch Photography…first of all, calm down and quit attacking people for giving their opinions. Rational, well thought out rebuttals are one thing, but your move to Mexico rant…well, enough said. Secondly, I can promise you that most photographers are not making anywhere close to the $200 and hour that you stated above. But then again, looking at your website it would seem that your biggest selling point is in essence making every other photographer sound like cheats and idiots. Third, as a business entity, the photographers pay the city in sales tax, business license, studio costs (permits and inspections) if they have a physical location, etc. I would say that, constitutional issues aside, they are already entitled to use the public areas to shoot on. And fourth…you live in New Mexico, so honestly it really isn’t your place to comment on the practices of photographers halfway across the country from yourself, and it isn’t your battle to fight on either side. If you want to discuss paying a fee to use a location, shall we contact all of your favorite places to shoot and see if you are paying fees per shoot there?

    “Four Hills Country Club, Crowne Plaza hotel, Tamaya Resort, Sandia Casino, Inn at Paradise, Marriott Courtyard, Bio Park, Old Town, Elena Gallegos picnic area, UNM Campus, Albuquerque Academy, Prairie Star Restaurant, Los Poblanos bed ad breakfast, Hotel Albuquerque, Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque Garden Center, Hacienda Doña Andrea, Hacienda Vargas.”

    That’s quite a list, with a lot of public locations listed…taxpayer paid locations.

    You have attacked so many folks here who live in the area…people that you know nothing about. As your entire business model based on your website seems to be geared toward trying to make every other photographer in your area sound like bumbling crooks, I guess that none of us should be surprised. And I am sure that you will have some scathing reply directed towards me once you see this as well. Personally, I could care less. I just felt that since we are all speaking our peace here that I would add my own two cents.


  • ted spence

    The whole idea, is the PARKS belong to the people. Your tax dollars don’t just go for police & fire protection, it also supports the parks. So, in esssence, the people (OR anyone) wanting to use the park, is being charged second time. That almost makes me think of TAX on TAX, or double taxation. Just another way for the Government to get in your pocket.

    Let me see, why did we leave England all them years ago???

  • Caleb

    This is a joke. If I must pay a fee to shoot at a a PUBLIC park, I want a number where I can call to complain. The park better not have any trash, dead plants, or tree branches down! Will there be photographer police out an about to ticket haha? How will they enforce this rule?

  • Justsayin

    I could only understand this fee if he had sole access to the park, and could keep everyone out for his allotted time. Didn’t you guys ever have church picnics or family reunions growing up? You would have to rent a shelter, pay a small fee, but you had it to yourself. That is the only reason I could maybeeee understand this, but it’s reaching for sure.

  • William Morris

    How is this law to be enforced? It begs the question, who decides who’s a pro and who’s not? I have a reasonably expensive DSLR and a couple of lenses and I take a lot of care while I’m taking pictures, so I might look like a professional; however, I do not sell my photos, thus I’m a hobbyist. So am I to be cited because I look like a professional?

    This story doesn’t give enough details to start making judgements about the ordinance. If I want to shoot a movie on a public street, I can get away with it for free until I start blocking the street off for the safety of the actors. Then I need a permit, same as if I was sponsoring a parade or a bbq competition. Does the ordinance make the distinction? Would it not be reasonable to assume the permit idea allows you to have exclusive run of the location, as if you’re renting the space? The article doesn’t say.

  • Jim

    I guess it’s OK if you wear ruby slippers and click your heels together before you tiptoe through the flowers. On the other hand, unless this is the only flower garden in Overland you may want to consider a different location.

  • Ray T

    Its all about Money unfortunately. I live in new Orleans, and we saw the slow creep across the south where fees were being charged in parks and public spaces, mostly in major metro areas because they are the prime green spaces in those areas. Every time one city sees another city making a few extra $$ in a new way, everyone wants to jump on board. Many of the fees have actually been on the books for years, but enforcement has not been worth the effort or money, unless a movie was being filmed which is actually disruptive. As a pro I now add the fees into my services, but upon contacting those fee charging venues to ask for a yearly permit or pass, they have no idea what to do, and they are usually understaffed and untrained in how to deal with it. Often the rangers approach you and treat you like a criminal, harrassing you until they see that permit. I don’t feel that the concept has been completely thought out and its still floundering a bit. At the very least they need to have a greater plan and reasoning for doing it, and a solid explanation of your rights and recourses. Right now its just creating bad blood.

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