Overland Park to require permit to take professional pictures in public parks

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Professional photographers in Overland Park say a new ordinance is out of focus. Starting this week, photographers will have to pony up $50 for a permit for take pictures in public parks. The permit is valid for 5 days or less.

If you have your camera phone and are simply snapping a picture of your kids, or if you have a professional camera but you are capturing nature photos, you won't need a permit.

However, if you're taking engagement, high school senior pictures, family pictures, baby photos, etc., with a professional photographer, be prepared to fork over extra cash.

Ashlee Tollett is upset with the city's sudden change of heart.

Years ago, the Overland Park resident started her own photography business, Ashlee Brooke Photography, and says 90 percent of her shoots take place in parks within Overland Park.

Tollett said the new ordinance leaves her with two options: either pass those extra permit fees onto her customers, or take photos elsewhere.

"Luckily there are a lot of great parks out there in Leawood and Prairie Village as other options, so I think in the end Overland Park may be the ones hurting themselves with this decision because we'll just go to another park in another city," she said.

Beginning Tuesday, the permit ordinance applies to 83 city parks, the arboretum and Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead.

Overland Park's Parks and Recreation Director Greg Ruether said the city council made the change Monday after reviewing the city ordinance which technically bans commercial filming in parks.

That means if a photographer is making a profit, they'll now need a permit. The ordinance specifically pertains to photos taken of subjects, either people or animals.

The city said this will give them a way to keep tabs on professional photographers and protect the environment and atmosphere in the park. They said it isn't intended to make the city money.

"This is not to make a profit. This is intended to have a mechanism to allow certain activities including photography in our parks. Once we get that request, we will discuss what the activity will be and can be aware what's going on out there, so we can determine if a permit is necessary or not," Ruether said.

The permit fee for the Arboretum and the Children's Farmstead is slightly higher: $25 per hour, or $400 for a year.

The city council members debated Monday about the difference between an amateur and professional photographer. They determined a professional photographer is anyone who intends to sell their photos, set up, carry or use equipment such as a tripod, long lenses, light meter, strobes, interchangeable lenses, reflectors or other equipment not normally carried by casual park visitors, or someone who uses models, sets or changes of clothes in their photography.

Ruether said it is too early to determine how they will specifically enforce the new rules.

41 Action News looked into other communities in the area and found most don't have any similar ordinances. However, Johnson County, Kan. does have a similar fee, charging $55 an hour for a commercial photography permit for a resident of Johnson County and $80 for a non-resident.

In Kansas City, all photographers have to get permission to shoot ahead of time.

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