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Memories denied! (longish post)
Old 04-17-2012   #1
akptc
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Memories denied! (longish post)

I am looking for advice on how to deal with a city which is preventing me from photographing my 9 year old daughter’s softball games. Since her t-ball days, I have been documenting my kid’s sport’s activities including official games. I’ve taken some awesome action shots of her playing t-ball, soccer, and now – softball, which I know she will appreciate even more when she grows up. Starting about a year and a half ago, nearly all of her games are now inside fenced ballparks. Until recently, that has never been an issue as I would simply ask the coaches’ permission to be on the outskirts of the field and snap away with my telephoto lens without getting in anyone’s way. I've never once heard a single complaint from anyone about my presence there.

A couple of seasons ago, while taking pictures of my daughter who was about to hit her home run, the umpire – a 7-foot tall, scary looking monster of a man - charged at me yelling to get the hell out of the field. I will admit that it freaked me out. I complied, assuming some city regulation was being violated by my presence there. I am not sure if the (retired) professional umpires are paid by the city or are doing this as volunteers, but they are definitely acting as the city’s agents.

Subsequently, I spoke with a uniformed city person who supervises events at the ballpark. I asked whether there was some official policy that prevented parents from photographing their children from inside the field. He said no and added that it was up to the umpire and that if I had any troubles with that, just to talk to him.
To be sure, I called the city’s recreation office and spoke with some kind of a Supervisor, who initially was not aware of any policies on the issue but asked his Supervisor in turn. This time I was told that the city prefers that parents not enter the field anywhere (even if it’s at the very end, where no kid stands a chance of hitting the ball). So I asked why that was. His response was that if they allowed one parent, they would have to allow all parents to enter the field. I then tried to explain that I always have the coaches’ permission and stay out of everyone’s way. I politely offered to sign any kind of waiver (assuming that the city was concerned about my safety and their liability) that they wanted. But, the guy kept repeating that what his Supervisor said was law. So I asked him to point me to the official city policy if they had one. He then quickly assured me that that indeed there was one and he would send it to me. That was nearly a month ago and I have not heard back from him.

Now, I am not a fan of causing trouble for me or the city I live in, I just want to have some memories saved for later. But here the city’s response just does not make sense to me. If they are worried about liability in case I get hit with a ball, I offered to sign a waiver. If they are afraid that a herd of camera-wielding parents will overrun the ball field during a game then they’ve never seen a kid softball game here, plus, if that was ever to occur, the coach is “law” on the field.

So, I find myself a bit confused and – frankly – unpleasantly surprised by this turn of events. Before I storm the city carrying a righteously pissed-off parent flag, I would like to find out how this issue is addressed in other US cities. Any softball or baseball parents out there?
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Old 04-17-2012   #2
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Avoid trouble -- get a bigger lens (or smaller digital sensor) and stay off the field
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Old 04-18-2012   #3
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I have photos of SUZUKI Ichiro occupying the whole frame of my film/sensor with just a 70-300 lens, and cheap bleacher seats.

I'd assume that anyone wanting to get on the field to take photos, and wasn't a coach or player, was up to no good.

Get a longer lens. Take a sports photo class.
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Old 04-18-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
I have photos of SUZUKI Ichiro occupying the whole frame of my film/sensor with just a 70-300 lens, and cheap bleacher seats..
That's great but did you have to shoot it through a ~9ft tall chain linked fence? That's the problem here, unfortunately, the fields are completely fenced off on all sides, the bleachers are located outside the fence, so the only way to snap a decent picture is through the fence. Of course, I've tried that, and sometimes it works ok but most of the time it doesn't, regardless of the FL available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy View Post
I'd assume that anyone wanting to get on the field to take photos, and wasn't a coach or player, was up to no good.
Really? Why? Most if not all of the players' parents here know each other, and all I ever got from them was encouragement.
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Old 04-18-2012   #5
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you can't be on the field during a game. i'm with ampguy on this. get a longer lens, or shoot with a dslr/tele combo.
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Old 04-18-2012   #6
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Yeah, I do have some ruined shots by chain link fence, when AF was on and locked to the fence, but many that were properly focused beyond the fence are good, not pro level, but good memory photos.

Our kids are in band, and sometimes are behind taller kids, obscured by most every angle during concerts, so we have to do with video and stills of them before and after, and just of the concert itself, knowing they're in there.

Of course there are more kids in these concerts (band / woodwinds / jazz band / choir, etc.) so there is no way the parents can get up on the stage to take photos of their kids in action like we'd want to.

Perhaps you could get together with the other parents and if all of the team's parents are in agreement, then they could hire, or you could volunteer to take photos for the team or something like that, but I still think you're going to have to stay off of the playing field to keep the coaches happy, especially if it's a competitive game, and not just a practice.
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Old 04-18-2012   #7
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It's probably a liability issue. I can't blame them for wanting parents off the field, they can be a distraction or may get hurt. I also agree that one fan/photographer equals all of them. If you were down there, why can't I be there too etc., etc..
How about the dugout? Get an assistant coach jacket.
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Old 04-18-2012   #8
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Thanks guys, for the advice, I appreciate it. I think I will go with the assistant coach/team photographer idea next season. I have no doubt the other parents will support me on this so it will just be a matter of the ump getting used to seeing a coach with a camera, I guess. Frankly, sometimes I wish my daughter would just stick to tennis
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