In parks, photogs need license to click

Officials are looking at ways to eliminate unpermitted photography at city parks.

Pedestrians cross the Stone Arch Bridge on Tuesday. The city of Minneapolis' parks department will begin notifying people that photography and gatherings are not allowed on the bridge without a permit from the city.

Maddy Fox

Pedestrians cross the Stone Arch Bridge on Tuesday. The city of Minneapolis’ parks department will begin notifying people that photography and gatherings are not allowed on the bridge without a permit from the city.

Hannah Weikel

Wedding parties and high school seniors looking to city parks for a portrait backdrop may soon have officials to dodge. 
 
After an explosion of unpermitted professional photography in Minneapolis parks, the city’s Parks and Recreation Board could begin to enforce an existing policy that requires photographers to obtain permission from the city at least 10 days before a shoot.
 
A spike in rogue events in city parks — weddings, food vending, fun runs and professional photography — led community members to ask the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board to enforce its little-known policy. 
 
“The problem is starting to get way out of hand,” said Jan Morse, president of Marcy-Holmes Neighborhoood Association. 
 
The increase of violations is largely due to an increase in visitors to the Minneapolis parks system — which was named the top park system in the United States the last two years — over the last decade, said Stenzel Shane, Parks and Recreation Board permit manager.
 
Morse said she brought her concerns about the frenzy of activity on the Stone Arch Bridge to the parks department a few months ago after experiencing the busiest summer she has ever seen.
 
“A wedding party had set up a fun run one Sunday morning,” she said. “There were at least 60 people in the group, all taking turns sprinting five abreast down the length of the bridge.”
 
The group held up car traffic and asked pedestrians and bicyclists to stop and make way for their runners, she said.
 
“When I asked if they had a permit to hold the event and stop traffic,” she said, “they asked me what my problem was.”
 
Stenzel said many people don’t realize permits are needed for events and commercial activity in the city’s parks.
 
Professional photography is the most frequent violation in the parks system, Stenzel said, and will be hardest to regulate because personal photography is allowed. 
 
Nicole Leand lives near the Stone Arch Bridge and said that’s where she and her husband had their engagement photos taken last year. 
 
“We didn’t have a permit to take the photos,” she said. “Taking photos shouldn’t be infringed on. Almost every time we come down here, we see professional photos being taken.”
 
Freelance portrait photographer Lisa Nemitz was shooting senior pictures on Saturday on Stone Arch Bridge and said that she didn’t know permits are needed at the parks.
 
“Getting a permit is not the first thing I think of when going somewhere to take pictures,” she said. 
 
To conduct a professional shoot, a fee of $45 for an hour and a half or $300 annually is required. 
 
Minneapolis resident Scott Bean said he visits city parks every weekend with his dog Jillie Bean and enjoys seeing the parks busy.
 
“I don’t think there should be a permit for everything in life,” he said. 
 
The parks department will document the frequency of violations in parks throughout the city and will identify areas with recurrent violations, Stenzel said. 
 
“Running around and ticketing people for violations isn’t going to help,” he said. “We want everyone to enjoy the park equally.”