BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Tamera L. Reuvers

Sports Photography Etiquette

I had a very interesting thing happen at my daughter's softball game. Over the last 4 years, I started selling photos, making small collages at the end of the year for seniors and doing about a dozen senior shoots a year. Yesterday, I went inside the fence at the game and started taking pics. A local photographer came up to me and asked who I was shooting for. I replied that it was for myself and others. His reply was that the area inside is usually only for people asked to take photos and he was sure I was only shooting "my daughter".
I left the area, rather confused and didn't take another picture. For the most part, I was taking pictures of friends' kids, a senior I have business for, and my daughter. The coach said it was OK for me to take pics, and even mentioned that it would be neat to make a poster at the end of the year. I think I may have stepped on the other photographer's toes, but really, I am doing this as a little lucrative hobby, not my full-time job. I think I will call the school and see what the policy is there, since it is high school sports.
Was I in the wrong? Do I need permission first? I don't want to break any rules and, by all means, am not as good of a photographer as the professional (but I am working on it!).
I charge less because I feel my quality can't compete yet with others in town. I guess my question is what is proper etiquette in sports photography in the case of other photographers and other team-mates of my daughters?

To love this question, log in above
4/28/2010 5:29:57 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  It's not really etiquette. He may be the one that the school has made an agreement with to do the pictures that will be put together for collages that will go into the yearbook. Mostly seen for seniors. So under that circumstance, it would be similar to someone shooting for the local paper. They have a legitimate reason to be inside the fence. Whereas parents would have to stay in the stands, or shoot through the fence.
On the other hand, if it's just a person, even if he has a photo business that one or a group of parents had asked to shoot games, he's not that different than you.
Some photographers who make deals with youth leagues to shoot a season will stipulate that no other person be allowed to shoot from the sidelines. This is not only because of the parent that will decide to go on down to the field, but also so a team won't bring somebody to be on the sidelines taking pictures.
Technically, a high school game is like any other game, pro or college, and I'm sure the school or school district has rules that say only part of the team or media are allowed down on the field. However, everybody knows how casual a high school field can be. If there's only a few people, and nobody gets in the way, you'll probably be okay. But one extra parent who wants to do it too can easily turn in to a crowd that's not supposed to be there.

To love this comment, log in above
4/28/2010 3:45:44 PM

Tamera L. Reuvers   Thank you for your response. I am going to contact the athletic department to see if they have contracted somebody, if so I guess I don't belong there. From what I have gathered this photographer is similar to me, has a full time job but does photography on the side. I am hoping I can get an answer from the school as far as what is allowed and what is not. If the photographer was hired to shoot particular people, I don't really see any harm in my shooting my daughter and other team-mates as long as I don't try peddling my work or get in his way . He didn't show up until half the game was over and I was already in there. I capture my kids and their team, if anything else comes from it, it's a bonus for me. I really am just trying to support my hobby so I can purchase new lenses and other toys...
Anyway, thanks for an answer.

To love this comment, log in above
4/28/2010 6:44:34 PM

Erica Murphy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/25/2003
  For high school games, Max Preps photographers are welcomed. They usually have a lanyard identifying them as such. I do sports photography and senior photography but as a parent at a game, I stay behind the fence. Especially baseball. Very dangerous and I can do just as well behind the fence. I was on the field at varsity football games with a lanyard and permission to be there.

To love this comment, log in above
4/29/2010 6:12:53 PM

Beth Verser
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/14/2007
  I do photography on the side and I am also a parent. One of my favorite things to shot is baseball games. I have a good relationship with coach who does not mind me being inside thhe fence. I usually get to the game early and also as the umpire about being inside I have never been told no but think it shows respect. I also shot the whole team and at the end of the season we enjoy a slide show the boys love it

To love this comment, log in above
5/11/2010 10:36:39 AM

Howard Greenberg   If the coach told you can do it, than tell the other photographer that you have cleared it with the coach and if they have issues, to take it up with the coach.

I have done the same thing with school and league games. In the case of the league games, I have asked not only the coach of our team (I always distributed the pics to everyone on the team) but also the league office.

I have been asked by the other team's coaches about being on the field, and I reply that the league has sanctioned me being there.


To love this comment, log in above
5/11/2010 11:01:05 AM

john brennan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2006
  I also do this sort of thing (High school varsity baseball). The local paper then asked if I would take some pics for their paper. Just last week the umpire kicked me off the field. The next game I went and talked to the home field coach. He told me that the home field coach sets the ground rules and that I was given permission by him to stay on the field. I am by the first/third base, in foul territory, bu in clear view for some shots. Talk to the coach and clear it with him/her.

To love this comment, log in above
5/12/2010 1:03:51 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  All this can also vary depending on the situation. If you have enough equipment just to make people think that you work for some newspaper, then for a high school game(also depending on where the game is played) you can walk up to the front gate, tell whoever is taking the money "I'm with the newspaper" they'll let you in and you just head to the field.
But you could also actually work for a newspaper, have your i.d. on a lanyard around your neck, but prove to be a nuisance and be asked to leave.
So in the instance of John B. being kicked off the field, the newspaper asked him to be there, but it could have been that the umpire didn't think that was the reason he was actually there for. And that could have been merely by looking at what kind of lens he had and thinking, "that looks like a parent". Or it could have been he didn't have anything identifying him as being with a newspaper.
I've been to some softball/baseball games where umpires felt they had to start checking people to see if they had some kind of i.d. thing that designated you were working for somebody. And that was because of too many parents wanting to go inside the fence. And also, there can be games where a parent will go inside the fence, and by virtue of there hardly being anybody else out there, nobody bothers them or nobody even notices them.

To love this comment, log in above
5/12/2010 3:27:33 PM

john brennan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2006
  I think it has to do with the umpires disposition on a particular day. If lugging a Nikon VR 200-400 lens around with my monopod constitutes a mere parent taking photos, I shutter to think (pun intended) what a 'pro' spends on his lenses. The ump had even mentioned that 'he knew I had a job to do, but he didn't care'. He was basically in a lousy mood that day.
Bottom line? In Illinois high school athetics, the home field coach sets the ground rules. Its always best to extend a courtesy hello to both managers. Probably 99.9% of the time people don't mind you inside the fence as long as you aren't in harms way or the players way.
My suggestion would be to know the rules/bylaws of the governing body. Next time, I will know that he can't just kick me off the field.Just my 2 cents and that's all its worth.

To love this comment, log in above
5/13/2010 2:07:04 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Actually he can. Whether it be a bad past experience or just trying to prevent you getting in the way, if the umpire or any referee doesn't want somebody on the sidelines, they have the ability to remove you. Be it parent or working individual.
But like you said, most of the time refs/umpires don't mind.

To love this comment, log in above
5/14/2010 1:11:23 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.