New Zealand Wine

Father’s Day Tweets

I know the vast majority of you all are not on Twitter, but I thought I would show this little interchange I had yesterday.

@TreyRatcliff At Isabella’s dance recital. They said you can’t take photos. They can pry my 70-200mm from my cold dead fingers.

Among various responses, I received this one, which I thought was touching.

@oceanshaman What’s a dance recital w/ NO PHOTOS?!? I still have photo my dad took of me in my pink tutu! [email protected]

@oceanshaman [Tomorrow] is #FathersDay. My dad died young. Photo he took of me in pink tutu on my bedside table today. Thx Dad! @TreyRatcliff

Common-Sense Photography

A related issue is the silly treatment of parents by these kid-function-authorities. Who are these people that won’t let me take photos of my daughter or record the dance recital? It’s a crazy world… From my observation, there are three causes, all of which are silly:

  • Attorneys and the legal system – Often times, organizations arm themselves with attorneys who defy reason in order to set up situations in which they can make money.
  • Hyper-Scared Busy-body Committees – These do-gooder committees decide that anyone with a big camera must be some kind of child molester.  These people spend a lot of time watching prime-time TV and news reports that help reinforce their largely irrational fear. There is a reason that there is never a statue of a committee.
  • Professional Photographers – I know that many times, there is a professional photographer or video company there, creating products to sell. I don’t know how they get the operation to agree to “banning” photos and video, but somehow they do. Their motivations are obvious and insidious. That organizations actually agree to it – well that’s just insulting to their customers.

What do you think?  Have you run into these issues?  I’ve heard that it’s even worse in the UK than the US. I would wager that the countries that have a more robust legal system are those same countries that make common-sense photography more difficult.

Daily Photo – The Wines of New Zealand

I’m afraid I’m not much of a wine aficionado.  I will not deny that I am always envious of those that are (or, appear to be) quite knowledgeable about the subject matter.  Although I’ve been on about 10 different winery tours, I think I retain very little since I am not a wine drinker.

It’s all very interesting scientifically, of course, the growing and wine-making process.  I’m can’t appreciate any of the end-result, but I do like to listen to people prattle on about it.  I occasionally find myself in small social groups where 90% of the conversation revolves around the consumption of alcohol.  I listen attentively, but can’t contribute…

We stopped at a huge winery in New Zealand, which is becoming quite famous this sort of thing.  After having a great lunch, I walked around the vineyards for a bit to find interesting bits here and there…


  • Dang! Pesky image dust on the sensor. Haha, I’m sure you spotted that already.
    The vineyards would be great to shoot, but living in Ohio where fields and fields of country surround your canvas, you tend to take on other subjects to fill your creativity. Like catching that buggy to fill in your background.

    Anyway, sounds like your having great photo ops. New member to your site, and already you’ve taken up my homepage. Cheers!

  • Great image. I’ve been increasing the amount of HDR photography I’m doing lately and it is a lot of fun!
    As a side note, the second sentence of the second paragraph of your winery blurb should read “I don’t appreciate…” I think?
    Keep up the good work!

  • I run into the third one all the time! The best way to get around this is to become the “official photographer” for the event yourself. I volunteer a lot with the jaycees so I end up being the photog for all their events. Try volunteering at your daughters school rehearsals. While you’re there, make sure to be taking lots of pictures. Someone with power might see that and ask you to be the photographer. The other way I get around this if I’m not the “official photographer” is to use my micro 43 setup at the event. It looks just like a compact camera so the security won’t think you’re a pro.

  • Dude, not allowing photographs… that’s not like. I mean, first: it’s not like they can stop ’em with iPhones & what all. And second… no, that’s just… unethical, I think.

    Although, to be fair: my daughter is close to your daughter’s age. At her recitals and end-of-session reviews (parents go in & watch them go through their routines), they *encourage* us to bring cameras. We selected our place in part ’cause they weren’t anal like yours is.

    Might be time to ditch those guys & go with a different school.

  • “These people spend a lot of time watching prime-time TV and news reports that help reinforce their largely irrational fear. ” Isn’t this one of the major things wrong with society today? News organizations seem to go out of their way to terrify us of everything — and it seems to be largely working. We used to trust our neighbors as extended members of the family, now we are scared to even make eye contact because they are probably serial killers.

    Anyways, good photo! I know next to nothing about wine, as well. I’m getting more and more knowledgable about sake, however 😉

  • I actually work w/a children’s theater and we do place restrictions on flash photography. With young kids it can be REALLY distracting to them when there are flashes going off from the audience. Non-flash photography is allowed….but relatively few folks do it well. We hire a professional photographer to shoot dress rehearsal and the provide an opportunity for families to purchose those photos. In the end, most of the parents are much happier.

    As for video taping, when you pay for the rights to produce a play, you agree that video taping the show if a violation of their copyright. Thus, you HAVE to ask people not to make videos at the show or else you could be subject to significant penalties….and that could ruin a non-profit financially.

  • Nice photo of the winery, Trey, great job. Did you taste the wine?? As for the photography at a child’s dance recital, that’s just crazy to prohibit that. It’s not a play, it’s just little girls performing for their parents and friends. I used to photograph our granddaughter when she did Scottish dancing. What Laura said doesn’t apply to your situation at all. Makes no sense to me, shrugging my shoulders!!! I would just take them anyway. Like Eric said, how would they stop parents from using the cell phones for taking photos!!
    Anyway, I agree totally with you. Just give me a call and I’ll post the bail money 😉

  • Lovely image post Trey. So sorry on the recital issue, shame on them! I am sure it has to do with a contracted studio as you mentioned, your child, your money, your moment – very sad! Maybe a heart to heart with the staff at the studio you support will help, I am sure there are other qaulity programs around that would let you bring in your camera!

  • Hi Trey. I ran into the same problem last weekend at my daughter’s dance competition. The rules stated: “Under copyright law and child protection requirements, the use of cameras (including mobile phone
    cameras), video recorders, cassette recorders or MP3 recorders is forbidden, unless specifically authorised by….”

    I’m not sure how taking a photo of my daughter could in any way infringe copyright. As for child protection, there was a “professional” photographer there taking photo’s of all the children, so anyone wanting photo’s of children for nefarious means could just buy them from the pro. They would probably be better quality than most “amateurs” could manage anyway, although the pro photo’s from her previous recital were pretty dodgy.

  • Thanks for all the interesting feedback… good finds and interesting information.

  • Trey, push it for photographing your daughter in studio and performance. I am a former ballerina and both my husband and were the company’s photographers. The board, company, dancers, parents and media were more than happy to have photography both by pros and audience. The only caveat was “no flash” during performance not for the sake of dancers necessarily as from the stage lights and spots they would be inconsequential but for the sake of the viewing audience and as we know they do not work from seating anyway. I spend 30% of my pro time now in concert-theatre photography and you are the paying “Dad”; it is your daughter, you have the right to photograph her. I take your “cold dead fingers” approach and agree you are entitled and have that right. I would press it with their board. I would like to comment on the wine too but will leave that for another day 8o)) Great photo as always!

  • Trey, my daughter was in a recital a few weeks ago…they told me no photos….I told them that about every single person has a cell phone with a camera….when they take all of them away, then they can ask me to put away my camera! haha!! They allowed me to shoot! =)) Hi-Five brother! LOL Happy Shooting!!

  • Taking a photograph or video as a personal moment of your child’s performance does not violate copyright. When the school hires a professional videographer to sell copies of the play, now THAT has more potential to violate copyright. It depends upon the agreement they sign.

    At any rate, I think they are prohibiting photography out of ignorance, not malice. Just smile, say “that’s sweet” and keep shooting.

  • casusan

    Wonderful shot of the vineyard Trey – too bad about the photo shooting at the recital – what is the world coming to??!!

  • Lovely picture, the sky and the contrast are great, i have always found it difficult to get a good shot with that kind uf sun. As a matter of fact, im one of those guys who are looking after the stormy dramatic sky. But your shots are amazing under any condition and i am beginning to see the sunny days from a different angle. =)

    So sorry to hear about the recital. But this world is becoming more greedy and odd. I read about an Icelandic photographer that was arrested in Azerbajan while taking some pictures from trees and that (maybe a gossip) in some places there in the States it is prohibited to take pictures from certains landscapes, specially city skylines, since they are COPYRIGHTED !!

    But let´s enjoy what world has to offer us and let that greedy guys to remain on their blindness, as long as they don´t become more and more annoying. Regards there in Iceland!! =)

  • Drew Eschbacher

    I would be very surprised that a video made by a parent of a child performing in a play/dance/etc for their own personal use would violate the production rights of a performance. I believe that this particular usage would be covered under the fair use exception of the copyright law. However, any video could very well be a violation of the production rights contract.

    I understand the ban on flash photography. The little point and shoot flashes only illuminate the back of someones head five to eight feet in front of you and annoy everyone else. If you had a flash big enough to matter then it would annoy everyone in the theatre.

    If the organization has hired a professional photographer and prohibits you from photographing the event I would use the magic words “Model Release”. That should shut up any objections real quick. Granted you might have signed away any rights with all the paperwork you had to sign for your child to participate but I’d be surprised if any of those rights were transferred to the photographer.

    Trey — the fourth possibility is that the sound of the camera may be a problem. The sound of 5 frames a second is cool when you are doing it but not so much when you are trying to hear someone speak. Just listen to the cameras going off during a presidential press conference. You might want to offer to stay in the back away from other spectators. That said, I’d be photographing my child or my child won’t be performing.

    Alberto — it’s GOSSIP. City skylines and certain landscapes are NOT copyrighted. You can photograph just about anything from a public area. There are some exceptions (mainly military in nature), one golf course in particular is trying to use trademark law (and is failing the last I read) to restrict photography of a certain very famous set of trees and a lot of security guards and cops would like you to think otherwise but that is just plain BAD gossip.

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  • Ed

    I don’t have children, but if I did and I were in your situation, I would be very tempted to pull my kid out of the recital right then and there. Only bad part, that’s not really fair to the child. Might be a good threat to make, if nothing else.

  • I have heard reports of people being beaten up for taking photos on a beach in england, its a crazy country 😐

  • Hmmmm this one is a interesting dilemma. While I photograph alot of events the only policy we have is no other pro-photographers be allowed at the event to sell their products but we specify that mom and dad, friends, etc are always welcome. For us we have to depend on our access and skill to ensure we get the shots they want to buy versus just depending on Mom and Dad’s photos. But I can also see the point of some of the shows – how do you get someone to attend a show and pay the fee if mom or dad will just video tape and place on the net or allow others to come over and watch the tape. Flash photography with the young ones can be distracting to both the kids or those sitting around you (and annoying).

    In addition if we as photographers won’t follow the rules that are set up (and some that we might expect of others when we are the OP) then how do we expect anyone else to respect the rules we set up? I might not like all the rules out there but being a pro means I abide by them or find the legal way to be granted special permission to be the exception.

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  • I have been through a similar racket at the dance studio my daughter used to dance at. It is a racket and a power trip and they use your kid as leverage. I thank God my daughter made the decision not to dance anymore.

  • Rachel Ivey

    I’m a deputy sheriff, assigned as a school resource officer in several of my county’s elementary / intermediate schools. I’m also a photographer. I can tell you exactly what’s behind the ‘no photography’ rule. What you were dealing with is the same thing that administrators in my schools are dealing with. It all comes down to legal liability plain and simple. Parents in my school district are asked to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions of allowing their child’s name, image, or intellectual property to be published. Most parents allow it, but many do not, citing privacy issues or fears that predators may be able to use the combination of a child’s information and image to locate the child for ill purposes. It really is quite amazing how little information is required to locate someone in person. As a result, parents are asked either not to photograph/record school plays or to not post those images / videos online. We do have some single parents who have fled abusive relationships and who are terrified that their ex will find them or their children somehow.

    Twenty years ago, no one thought twice about parents photographing their kids during school plays or recitals. Film images were developed and printed and stayed in a family’s home or were sent to grandma, not posted all over the internet for anyone and everyone in the world to have access to. With the ubiquity of digital cameras and cell phones, it’s a mere seconds from snap to Facebook. Schools are playing it safe. They’d rather ban all photography (stepping on the rights of parents to capture a moment in their child’s life) than deal with the parents who do not want THEIR child’s image captured and published by someone else. Technology develops faster than our society can formulate rules and laws to properly deal with them. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

  • Excellent insight, Rachel. Thanks for sharing that with us. I can understand it’s a difficult issue. The schools are really in a tough position and are going to get yelled at by both sides. So.. if we make this decision, these parents will yell at and threaten us, and if we make this decision, these parents will ye at and threaten us. It’s easy to see why schools just play it safe these days and restrict everything. Of course, they get yelled at for that too….

  • Bruce Meyer

    Hi Trey

    We have similar restrictions being placed upon photographers here in Australia and it is getting out of hand. No only are we being prevented from capturing those milestone moments in our kids lives such as them playing little league or being on stage in the school play but increasingly even public areas are becoming no-go zones by the photo nazis.

    Our own iconic Sydney Harbour is a classic case in point, here the city council has ‘rangers’ that issue on the spot fines and even try to confiscate memory cards out your camera etc if they deem you to be a ‘professional’ photographer and you don’t have a $380+ per day permit. If you are seen taking pictures of anything within about 100 yards of the water edge such as the famous Opera House or even the Sydney Harbour Bridge, chances are that there is a ranger somewhere close and ready to pounce. Their definition of what makes you a professional photographer is so simplistic that it is ridiculous. Pretty much if you are using an SLR camera with a big lens you will be monitored because you might be a pro, but if you then add a tripod into the equation you can definitely expect to get some heat.

    Ken Duncan who is an internationally acclaimed landscape photographer, has made a ‘call to arms’ within the ranks of every camera club here in Australia and is organising a massive protest rally to be held on August 29 on the Sydney Harbour foreshore. We hope thousands of photographers turning-out and all with their camera’s on tripods at the ready. We might even get arrested and then maybe this whole stupid situation where photographers have become demonized, will finally get some media coverage. If amateur photographers don’t say enough is enough we soon won’t be able to take any photos in any public space and we risk a future without a rich photographic history for our future generations to look back on.

    The action group is called Arts Freedom Australia and if anyone is interested the webpage for more information is…

  • At my boy’s preschool and now elementary school, they have contracted pro photographers come to all the events, but parents are more than welcome to photograph or videotape to their heart’s content. But it’s prohibited at some events (such as recital type events) because history has taught them that there will always be some parents that ruin it for everyone by being disruptive (standing in front of others, popping up and down, etc. etc.). Judging from how disruptive the trying-to-use-the-cell-phone-on-the-sly parents often make themselves, I can only cower in fear at what it would be like without the prohibition.

    I am by far the best photographer Daddy the school has ever seen, but if I’m given the choice of getting photographs of the back of some jerks head, or not getting photographs but actually being able to watch my boy, I’ll choose the latter.

    FWIW, I’m in Kyoto.

  • Thanks all for the long and thoughtful comments…

    Bruce – very interesting to hear all that – I hope progress is made…

    Regarding the legal stuff. It’s all silly… If one child at a school has parents that say “no pictures”, that should not mean that no parents can take photos. If Little Billy ends up in my photo, well, too bad. Keep Little Billy in a closet and not at expositions.

    I’ll keep taking photos of whatever I want, wherever common sense prevails… If I get arrested for it, so be it.

  • Lovely photo. Reminds me of my weeks grape harvesting in Marlbourough. Gorgeous.

  • Martin Beaumont Photography

    Hey there

    Over here in the UK i’m afraid things have been tht way for a while in regard to taking pictures of yr kids and public places. There ws a mass demonstration in London organised by members of ‘I’m A Photographer Not A Terrorist’ not long back but i’m sure it hasn’t done anything to persuade the police and jumped-up security guards to leave us photographers alone as youtube is filling up daily with videos of heavy-handed officers arresting people on suspicion of being a terrorist or paedophile for simply taking a photo in a public place.

    The funny thing is, there never has been and still isn’t a law against taking pictures in a public place and i find a copy of this law downloaded from the Metropolitan Police’s own website and kept in my camera bag reminds them of the laws thet’re supposed to know!

  • Patrick

    I worked for a “pro” photography company that shot private school sporting events. The arrangement was actually the reverse of what you might suspect. Our company bid on the rights to shoot that event and then sell the photos. The school takes our bid money & a cut of the overall sales. Organizations are pretty easily convinced to ban photography in this way.

    At the well-heeled schools we were shooting the parents often had much nicer equipment than our boss would spring for and were none-too-shy about telling us to take our cheap [stuff] and get out of their way.

  • Gareth

    Interesting view there Patrick but it doesn’t surprise me. Over in the UK it has been getting a little difficult. My local county police force admitted they hadn’t received the most recent guidance on stop & search of photographers including what they can and can’t do under law.

    Shopping centre security guards seem to be even worse thinking the law doesn’t apply at all to their little “patch”, a friend was recently taking pictures of store fronts for an art course she was doing, asked permission from the various stores and told by security to stop because she “might be taking photos of children”. She’s only just turned 18 and is at college for crying out loud!

    Best attitude so far was last year in Canada looking to get shots of the dawn breaking from parliament hill in Ottawa. Mounty stopped and I thought I was in for my first “what do you think you’re doing?”. He just wanted to say good morning and comment it was a nice morning for getting some shots. Maybe he was an amateur, maybe they just have better public (dare I say “customer”) service skills?

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