Forums > Photography Talk > Can you shoot in a fair/carnival?

Photographer

Ally Moy

Posts: 416

New York, New York, US

I want to shoot a personal project fashion concept later this year in the NJ state fair or something similar, but I can't figure out if I'd run into any problems with being asked to leave or denied admission because of photography. I won't have much photo equipment, but we'll have big garment bags of clothes.

I'm just so used to almost everywhere having no professional photography rules. I realize I could possibly call them but I don't want to make myself suspicious in the case that i might be able to 'sneak by undetected' or confuse them and have them think it's a huge commercial shoot.



Please no judgement. It's the same 'can i?' ordeal with hotel rooms and abandoned buildings only we'll have a check point per se to go through.

Apr 23 13 03:43 pm Link

Photographer

Bob Helm Photography

Posts: 18220

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US

Sounds like a case where it is better to ask up front with a full explanation of what you want to use the images for.

Kinda hard to be invisable in what it sounds you want to do.

Apr 23 13 03:59 pm Link

Photographer

ybfoto

Posts: 668

Portland, Oregon, US

There is no way of knowing, each event would have different rules...If you do it Guerilla style then I dont see a problem....BUT you pop out some huge reflector or use lights my guess is you will get tha boot. If you want lights and reflectors then you should ask

Apr 23 13 04:20 pm Link

Photographer

Will Snizek Photography

Posts: 1387

Beckley, West Virginia, US

I'd say ask or be discreet about it.

Apr 23 13 04:22 pm Link

Photographer

IrisSwope

Posts: 14857

Dallas, Texas, US

I feel like you could get away with it (except maybe getting the bag of clothes in). Usually State Fairs are so packed, no one would notice.

Apr 23 13 04:24 pm Link

Photographer

William Kious

Posts: 8841

Delphos, Ohio, US

Purpose becomes, I think, part of the issue, too. If you capture passing strangers, you might need releases. I don't know.

Better to ask than wind up with pissed off fair patrons.

Shoot them an anonymous email and ask:

http://www.newjerseystatefair.org/

Apr 23 13 04:26 pm Link

Photographer

Laurence Moan

Posts: 7806

Huntington Beach, California, US

The fair will most likely have a photography exhibit that the locals can enter. Get a phone number for that and inquire about many things regarding it and the possibilities of staging a shoot whilst the fair is in town. They should give you some kind of idea of your chances, or at least point you in the right direction of the person to ask.

Apr 23 13 04:29 pm Link

Photographer

MichaelClements

Posts: 1739

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Play safe. Contact their PR tell them your intentions, who knows they may facilitate you prior to public opening.

Apr 23 13 04:45 pm Link

Photographer

SayCheeZ!

Posts: 18520

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I shot an affair once and almost got punched out by the guy that the girl was sneaking around wi...

...oh wait, you said "a fair".  Nevermind, that's different!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

In all actuality do as other people have suggested and contact the organizer of the event.  If you don't want to cause suspicion (and you won't, but who am I to say) then just call using a different name.

Many events distribute media kits which among other things may include free passes and passes to areas that may be off limits to the general public, so it will be in your best interest to contact them.  It really will!

Apr 23 13 05:22 pm Link

Photographer

Ally Moy

Posts: 416

New York, New York, US

Do you guys think the 'media contact' is the right person to go to? I don't see an obviously better option.

And just for the sake of understanding what I'm doing, i'm not bringing ANY big equipment in. It's not my style anyways. People in the background will be unidentifiable...depth of field and whatnot.

Apr 23 13 05:35 pm Link

Photographer

MMDesign

Posts: 18647

Louisville, Kentucky, US

It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

Apr 23 13 05:45 pm Link

Photographer

L Raye

Posts: 5040

Petaluma, California, US

Since it is a state fair, it is probably considered to be a public place.  As long as there is no commercial intent, you can probably shoot whatever you want to since there should be no expectations of privacy and it should be like shooting in any public place.  That said, sometimes the security guys can be pretty snotty if you have to challenge them.

I'd just go ahead and shoot, but be prepared to apologize if necessary.

Apr 23 13 05:56 pm Link

Photographer

ybfoto

Posts: 668

Portland, Oregon, US

Ally Moy wrote:
Do you guys think the 'media contact' is the right person to go to? I don't see an obviously better option.

And just for the sake of understanding what I'm doing, i'm not bringing ANY big equipment in. It's not my style anyways. People in the background will be unidentifiable...depth of field and whatnot.

id say go for it without the permission then, just dont stay in one spot too long...if anyone asks just say you just got engaged that evening and your taking momento shots of the glorious occasion.

Apr 23 13 06:09 pm Link

Photographer

OTSOG

Posts: 141

Benicia, California, US

MMDesign wrote:
It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

It is easier. But it's better to get permission in front than beg forgiveness from jail.

Apr 23 13 06:17 pm Link

Photographer

G D Peters Photography

Posts: 3442

North Platte, Nebraska, US

I did so a few years ago without asking permission at a county fair, and had no problems, though other states may be different.  I would recommend contacting a PR person before you shoot, as you may need a permit.  If you derive your sole income from photography you probably would be considered a professional photographer, and a permit required.  If you do not derive your sole income from photography, you might be considered a semi-professional and maybe a permit wouldn't be required.  Hope this helps.  Good luck.  smile

Apr 23 13 06:31 pm Link

Photographer

Kerri Sullivan Photo

Posts: 98

Red Bank, New Jersey, US

Your profile didn't give me any hints as to your age, but if you're young, you could always call and say it is a student project shoot. People who don't know anything about photography or photographers or photo shoots could be put off by a "professional fashion shoot" happening at their location, but they might be more understanding toward students doing a homework assignment.

Apr 24 13 08:29 am Link

Photographer

Rick OBanion Photo

Posts: 1351

Saint Catharines-Niagara, Ontario, Canada

Here, at least, anything like a fair or 'Open to public' outdoor event is fair game for shooting unless posted. No reasonable expectation of privacy. People always have cameras. Just use a long lens and no one has a clue what you are shooting. If you look all 'photographerish' most will think you are with the press.

Apr 24 13 08:47 am Link

Photographer

John Horwitz

Posts: 2918

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

MMDesign wrote:
It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

especially when you are wearing handcuffs - LOL

Apr 24 13 08:54 am Link

Photographer

American Glamour

Posts: 38251

Denver, Colorado, US

How much risk are you willing to take?  Without asking the organizer, it may or may not end up being a problem.  So I ask again, how much risk are you willing to take?

Apr 24 13 08:59 am Link

Photographer

JR in Texas

Posts: 317

Tulia, Texas, US

It's a tough call to me, whether to ask or not. How important is the project and how much would you lose if you get thrown out? How do you plan to use the photos?

If it is a very important or commercial job then you definitely want to ask in advance and get permission in writing, in case there is any question while you are there. Not all of the security people will know all the rules. If it is commercial you may be asked for proof of liability insurance.

You could call anonymously and ask a general question about what are the rules for photography. That would give you a general idea.

Someone suggested calling with a false name, which might work but could backfire. What do you do if they say "we'll send a letter of permission," or "can I see your website"?

Apr 24 13 09:07 am Link

Photographer

Yingwah Productions

Posts: 1353

New York, New York, US

OTSOG wrote:
It is easier. But it's better to get permission in front than beg forgiveness from jail.

Exaggerate much? the worst that can happen is security llama herders you out without a refund, if there was an admission fee even

Apr 24 13 09:07 am Link

Photographer

American Glamour

Posts: 38251

Denver, Colorado, US

OTSOG wrote:
It is easier. But it's better to get permission in front than beg forgiveness from jail.

Yingwah Productions wrote:
Exaggerate much? the worst that can happen is security escorts you out without a refund, if there was an admission fee even

That isn't entirely true.  Some of these things, like fairs, are done on state or country property which require a permit to shoot.  In that case, you could get cited, but I doubt that you would go to jail. 

In some cases, terms of admission could prohibit commercial photography.   I agree, on private property, they would eject you and would have no right to seize your camera or CF card.  On the other hand, Disney has sued people for doing commercial photography without consent.  They don't do it often.  In fact someone did a feature film there recently, guerilla style without repercussions, but there have been trademark suits, etc.

So depending on the exact situation, there can be consequences.  That is why I asked her how much risk she was willing to accept.  My experience is that you can usually get away with these things, unless it goes wrong.  As rare as it is for there to be a problem, when you have one it can be a pain in the arse.

Apr 24 13 09:15 am Link

Clothing Designer

GRMACK

Posts: 3107

Bakersfield, California, US

The fair's media person might help you.  That's part of their job.  Might get a free media pass, parking permit, and some official looking "Media - Leave Me Alone!" badge too.

I'm wondering if it is a State Fair, and say in California, if it falls under their film commission's rules since it is probably on State's property?  Especially the DPR245 thing?  http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/471/files/film.pdf   Probably could pull that one out of their hat - if needed.  However,  I've seen people photographing their 4H kid's and their pigs and sheep at the fairs so who knows where it leads.  Some stuff may be off limits in certain areas too, and the media person might clue you in too if there is.

Guess it all boils down to the security, sheriff, police, or whomever else you end up interacting with too.  I've had my fill of Park Rangers and Tribal Police asking "Where's your permit?"  All it takes is some woman yelling or calling in on her cellphone, "Some man is trying to photograph my child!" and you get what results out of it even if you didn't.  Our local county fair has a very strong sheriff presence, especially the carnival area where they screen people going in:  No beer.  No weapons.  No gang affiliation clothing memorabilia, or whatever.  Don't know about the larger camera part in that area as I've never felt comfortable hauling my camera stuff into it.

Stuff is really a mess at times.  May as well take up stamp collecting.

Apr 24 13 09:35 am Link

Photographer

Albertex Photography

Posts: 16627

Mansfield, Texas, US

If you get to know someone that works there, just about anything is possible.  This is at the Miami/Dade County Fair before opening because I knew the guy that did the old time photos.  No-one stopped or asked anything. 
http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/090420/13/49ecdb9fa11da.jpg

Apr 24 13 11:20 am Link

Photographer

GeorgeMann

Posts: 1148

Orange, California, US

After The recent Boston bombing, my guess is that you will not even get through the gate with "Big garment bags".

Apr 25 13 11:34 am Link

Photographer

Ally Moy

Posts: 416

New York, New York, US

GeorgeMann wrote:
After The recent Boston bombing, my guess is that you will not even get through the gate with "Big garment bags".

Well they have bag check people. I don't see how that would cause any issue since they will, in fact, check the bags. Even if we get held up for specialist to come by and do the check, it's not an issue.

I believe it's also in August so there will be a bit of time in between current events and the fair.

My whole confusion is over that fact that they really don't have many rules laid out on their website. So I don't even know if there is an issue. I'll be contacting the Media person soon in any case. It seems too complicated to leave it up to 'see what happens.'

Apr 29 13 04:52 pm Link

Photographer

billy badfinger

Posts: 830

Tampa, Florida, US

I really don't think the garment bags are gonna' be a problem...think about the nature of a state fair......people in all manner of costumes and funny outfits...dancers,musicians,cowboys,kids AND adults wearing crazy make-up...
As someone already has said...try not to look too professional with assistants holding reflectors and 8 foot light stands all over the place...keep your set-up super simple
and you should be able to shoot all day...

Apr 29 13 06:29 pm Link

Photographer

Select Models

Posts: 36284

Rancho Cucamonga, California, US

Can you shoot in a fair/carnival?

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire welcomes photographers... and you can take some award winning photos there (spyder fairy in center image)... borat

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v330/GaryAbigt/POTW4_zps764f56e3.jpg

Apr 29 13 08:01 pm Link

Photographer

Carlos Occidental

Posts: 10558

Glendora, California, US

What Select says is true.  They allow all cameras everywhere at Renaissance Faires here in L.A.  Maybe, they have a Ren Faire where you live?  They're almost everywhere now.  Some are small, some are huge.  All I've been to allow cameras.

Apr 29 13 10:39 pm Link