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PPA Protests NYC Photo Permit Proposal

ATLANTA—Planning a photography shoot in New York? You may soon have to add lengthy steps to that process. The proposed inclusion of Chapter 9 to Title 43 of the Rules of the City of New York would require photographic permits for a long list of visual artists and businesses, placing undue strain on photographers’ businesses.

Representing over 30,000 photographers through its affiliated organizations, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) recently wrote in protest of this action. The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) has been very willing to listen to all opinions…in fact, they are currently redrafting the proposed ordinance in light of the comments received in the past two months, including PPA’s.

An estimated 4,700 PPA members reside in and around New York City. PPA believes that ordinance, as it stands, will handicap these (and other) photographers’ abilities to complete assignments, potentially harming their business relationships. In addition, the time between applying for a permit, receiving a response, and entering an appeal if needed will not allow a photographer (or his or her client) ample time to make alternate arrangements should the permit be denied.

The permits, granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, would be required for motion pictures and still photography, as well as for the use of television cameras, transmitting equipment or radio broadcasts “on or about city property.” City property, per section 9-01.(a) of the ordinance, has been defined as “any street, park, marginal street, pier, wharf, dock, bridge or tunnel within the jurisdiction of any City department or agency, or involving the use of any City owned or maintained facilities or equipment.”

The original ordinance further stipulates that permits are required when specific numbers of people are gathered for a pre-defined amount of time. Basically, a small group of photographers operating for a limited time on or around a city street, park, etc., would be required to seek a permit from the MOFTB. For example, two people gathered at a site for 30 minutes or more need a permit. And a permit must be obtained when five or more people using a tripod gather for 10 minutes or more.

Once MOFTB has reviewed and issued a revised ordinance, there will be another opportunity to submit public comment (30 days). Photographers and other visual artists can again state their opinions on the new policy. PPA also anxiously awaits the revised policy, as it could benefit photographers (special attention will be paid to the two sections that specify the amount of people, type of equipment, and length of time spent at a venue that require a permit).

The original ordinance is quite unnerving, considering the professional and economic hardship this ordinance will place on photographers. The final decision will greatly impact not only the photographers in New York City but those nationwide as well, for it will set a precedent encouraging other municipalities to enact similar ordinances.

Professional Photographers of America (PPA), an international nonprofit association, exists to assist its more than 19,000 members in achieving their professional, artistic and fraternal goals; to promote public awareness of the profession; and to advance the making of images in all of its disciplines as an art, a science, and a visual recorder of history. PPA is joined by its partner organizations the Society for Sports & Event Photographers (SEP), Commercial Photographers International (CPI) and the Student Photographic Society (SPS), which, along with affiliated organizations, represent over 30,000 professional photographers across the US. Visit for more information.

The Society of Sport & Event Photographers (SEP) is a private, non-profit association dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of sport and event photographers. SEP marshals the resources of the event photography industry and delivers them to its members via their exclusive online content, Action News publication and live events. For more information, visit

Commercial Photographers International (CPI) is an energetic, non-profit membership organization focused on the changing needs of commercial photographers. Led by successful commercial photographer volunteers and a skilled professional staff, CPI has put together information, resources and materials for photographers in this rapidly changing industry. For more information, visit

The Student Photographic Society (SPS) was founded in 1999 to provide career-building resources, networking opportunities, and information resources to photography students and instructors. Visit for more information.

For more information on the MOFTB’s proposed ordinace, visit