Saturday, June 20, 2009

Before You Take a Camera to a Reds Game - What you Need to Know

It seemed like such a great idea at the time - let's take out the toys and see an inter-league game at Great American Ball Park (GABP). So, let's check the Reds website in advance to learn about any potential issues with a camera in the ballpark. Click here to go there now. My problem was that I read the policies, but I forgot one small part - camera support systems are not allowed - no tripods, no monopods, no support systems of any kind. As far as the camera itself, as long as it is within these dimensional restrictions, it should be allowed inside: 16x16x8 inches.

Now, here comes the fun part. Eric Curby and I bring the toys to the game. Eric has his D80 with 70-200 mm zoom (well within the size limts), and bring my D300 with 200-400 mm zoom, which is, let's say, subject to interpretation at best. If I were to disassemble it, the component parts would fall within those size limits. Also, I am bringing in my monopod, which I had forgotten was against the policy. But, hey, we got in and no one at the ticket or admission area said anything.

We get to our seats in the Blue section. I am sitting in an aisle seat, and there is no one in front of me or behind me. There were some people next to Eric, who was seated to my left, but they were illegal, and we knew this because we had to ask them to move when we arrived (they were sitting in our seats). After about twenty minutes, a security guy approaches. "Sir, you cannot use that camera. It is against the regulations," he tells me. "Which regulation?" I ask. "Tripods are not allowed," he tells me. So, now that I have re-read the policy, I know that he was technically correct, but he didn't explain it correctly to me. He motions to one of the other security guys to come over. He tells the second guy, "The customer here tells me this gear is allowed according to the web site." To which his buddy replies, "Yes, monopods are allowed." He very graciously tells me he is sorry for the inconvenience, and goes back to protecting the public from terrorists with cameras.

I guess it was about ten minutes later (the game had not started yet), when he came back. "Sir, the Chief of Security just informed me that you cannot use that camera. A customer has complained." So, I ask, "What was the complaint? No one has complained to me," "I think someone complained that the guy next to you bumped into them," he said. The guy next to me is Club member Eric Curby. "You can take your camera up to the "top deck" if you want to use it," he continued. So, I look back to see what he means and I notice the last 10 rows or so of the Blue section are empty. "How about we move back a few rows in this section?" I asked. "Yeah, OK, do that and I think that will be fine," he said.

My point in writing this post is that, even when an organization such as the Reds posts a policy about cameras, it is not certain that their security staff will have a consistent understanding of that policy. Next time, I will do two things differently. First, I won't take my monopod, which means I also won't take my 200-400 zoom. Second, I will print out the policy statement from the Reds web site and have that with me. This is also a good idea for any public event. Good luck and good shooting!

1 comment:

  1. Here is another great reference on Photographer's Rights.

    The author is an attorney, specializing in media stuff. He recommends printing out a copy to put in tour camera bag - for what that might be worth when you have to deal with Barney Fife at the soccer game.