In my bio you’ll see that I have photographed PGA tournaments, NHRA drag races, amusement parks, air shows, zoos, wildlife preserves, and a lot more. I used to take a camera with me just about everywhere.
You can add to that list renaissance fairs, theatrical performances, music concerts, auto racing, even rodeos.
Somewhere along the way GREED took over. MLB (major league baseball), for example, stopped allowing interchangeable lens cameras in sports arenas. Try to carry a good DSLR camera into a golf tournament, a concert hall, or many news-worthy events. You won’t be allowed.
Let me tell you about Walter Iooss
Walter Iooss was a Yankee fan. He used to attend baseball games at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NYC. Yeah, the “House that Ruth Built” (Babe Ruth, the old Home Run King). Walter was there taking pictures so much that all the professional photographers and sports journalists had seen him at one time or another.
One day a Sports Illustrated writer was there to cover the game when his photographer did not show up. He paid young Walter a bit of money to photograph the game for him. That was the start of Walter’s career.
One of the most iconic of all sports images was that of Mark Spitz with his seven Olympic gold medals slung around his neck. It was taken by Walter Iooss. In fact Walter has had more Sports Illustrated covers than any other photographer. It all began in Yankee Stadium.
How do you suppose Walter learned his trade?
Professional Photographers are Made, not Born
I often wonder what the future holds for photography. How are young photo-buffs going to learn their trade when they are not permitted to carry DSLR cameras to sporting events and concerts. It’s all about money. Thanks to greed, MLB wants to license and control every image with a recognizable face, uniform, or stadium. Every record label wants to get intellectual property rights for the faces and stage sets of performance artists.
Not long ago I wanted to photograph a rodeo in my town and I was told that I could not carry a camera into the event with a lens longer than a two-inch wide angle. What?! At a RODEO?! It was the American Quarter Horse Congress. This is the biggest equestrian event of the year and in my town, but, I was not allowed to shoot.
A small local newspaper in Colorado was taken to court when they published pictures of a PGA tournament on their sports page. What?! The last I heard, sporting events were considered NEWS-WORTHY. Evidently, for the love of money, that is no longer the case.
The point of my editorial is this: We used to be able to take pictures in sports venues. We used to be able to shoot at concerts. I shot performances for Ukulele Player Magazine and, if not for a press pass I might not have been able to do so.
For the sake of future generations of photographers, we have to protest. We have to reverse this trend and regain what we once had. What can we do to ensure that there is a future for the next Walter Iooss?
Get vocal about it. Shout from the rooftops. We want to take pictures! Photographers have helped bring fame and notoriety to celebrity athletes and major league baseball, the NFL, the NBA, PGA, and, yes, even professional rodeo.