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Old September 15th, 2016, 08:41 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 230
Media/Press/Photo Vests?

More and more I am being stopped and asked to put on a safety vest while shooting.

I have always received specific vets at professional sports events and will always have to use theirs for that, but more and more nonprofessional events are requiring vests to separate the working photogs form the masses and they usually have some you can borrow.

Now local police are requiring that I must have a vest when covering public events that take place in city parks and/or on closed streets, covering police or fire activity, journalism activities, etc.

I know that if I am in the street/traffic for any reason shooting, I must have a vest.

I'm good with all this - and I do have my own vest that is always in my truck - but now I am being told that my vest must identify who I am as in it must have MEDIA, PRESS or PHOTO (something) clearly marked on the back in large letters that it can be read form a distance - like my camera or video gear doesn't convey that enough?

I understand why they want this and there are Pros/Cons to identifying yourself, but that's a different post.

I don't know what the proper etiquette is; what it should say, size, colors? This is a fairly new trend and standards don't seem to be available yet.

I'm a freelancer - so I don't have a organization specific vest and I don't always shoot for news - most of my work goes to magazines, blogs and different websites - even to companies/manufactures/sponsors. For example, I'm a frequent walk on at Pikes Peak International Raceway and I do very well selling images to sponsors of drivers that compete.

On the flip side I also shot a lot of Commercial Real Estate Development that puts me in the street quite often smack in the middle of traffic.

Like I said, I understand the need for a safety vest and I also understand the need for identification so that someone (police or otherwise) knows why/what I am doing.

But how do I identify myself? Am I MEDIA, PRESS or do I try to find a patch that says PHOTO? PHOTO patches over 5" are very hard to find.

Chris Sgaraglino
Widow Creek
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Old September 15th, 2016, 12:49 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,040
Re: Media/Press/Photo Vests?

I carry steel-toed leather boots with leather laces, two hard hats, two reflective vests (I happen to have my logo on mine), and two sets of eye protection. I carry two so the producer can have one (they never carry that stuff). Usually if PPE goes farther than this, it's provided by the client.

If somebody asks me to put PPE on, I do it.

I don't shoot in active roadways. I'm sure it's illegal and I know it's dangerous. When I was young I used to do crazy stuff like that. Now I stick to highways.

I don't cover news anymore. When I did, PPE was not a thing. I do see it now. Part of me thinks it's a good idea and part of me rolls my eyes at the idea that wearing a $8 vest will save me from being hit by a car.

Your local PD has a public information officer (PIO). That would be a good start to see what the PD interprets the law to say. Not what the law is, mind you, but what they interpret the law to be. I have found PIOs to be quite reasonable, and a good start to trickling word through the chain of command. If they have a law, comply with it. If they don't, ask the PIO what's up with that and see if you can get a briefing done.

On the street, your choices are pretty much do what the cop says or end up in handcuffs. If you are legitimately shooting news, you may have a first amendment case on your hands if you end up in handcuffs. (In my experience, you will end up "detained" more than you ever end up arrested.) Choose wisely when you get detained. Try and have somebody else get it on camera. Consult an attorney first. There can be a payday for you there, and if there is $$ paid out, department policy will quickly change.
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Old September 16th, 2016, 03:24 PM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,488
Re: Media/Press/Photo Vests?

I say put PHOTO on the vest. Photo is a representation of Media but works for every situation. You will not be falsely representing yourself. I have photo credentials from hundreds of events. Photographers are often given the greatest access at events because organizers not only recognize we need it to get the shot they want us to get the shot.

And, besides that........ writers just want to sit in the media center and drink coffee in front of their lap top. They only travel to the event for credibility. All they see first hand is the stars that are forced to sit down in the press room. Everything else they see is on the monitors :-)

Steven Digges
Still learning twenty years later.
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