When Naming Rights Collide with Reality


Fans attending a concert in the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater this summer might find it ironic that they're forbidden to use a DSLR camera, even one made by Nikon. Isn't that like being told that you can't pull out your credit card in Citi Field? Read the rules posted about the amphitheater at Jonesbeach.com and it states: "No professional cameras. No audio or video recording devices."

Actually, the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater policy isn't as Orwellian -- or as straightforward -- as it seems. "No professional cameras" implies that Coolpix-type cameras are cool, even if the Nikon D700 is not. But most every point-and-shoot camera these days also takes video (with audio) and a lot of them take high-def video. So, what's a camera enthusiast planning to see Jethro Tull with very special guest Procol Harum on June 11th supposed to pack? Do you say yes to Yes and Peter Frampton on June 26 or do you just say no? As for Foreigner and Styx with Kansas on June 19, Toto, I don't think we want to be in Wantaugh anymore.

I asked my brother-in-law, who attends at least one concert a year at the Jones Beach Theater, about his experience at the gate. He said, "We're normally told that cameras are not allowed. They also do a search at the gate of bags being brought in as well as a quick pat down. A SLR would have a hard time making it in. Cell phone cameras are no problem; a compact one (point-and-shoot type) could be gotten in or it could be stopped. It depends."

So we took our confusion directly to Nikon (since you only get a robotic menu by calling the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater or a very apologetic operator who answers the phone at Jones Beach and explains that they never answer the phone at the theater and she wishes she could be more helpful, but she represents just the beach).

This is what Nikon told me by email:

"Camera policies vary by venue, by artist and from concert to concert. For instance, Madonna may have a different camera policy than The Wiggles."

Nikon explained that there is an "official" Nikon at Jones Beach Theater camera policy. It states that "photography is subject to artist approval and varies by event. Please call on the show day for more information." Good luck with that!

It continues: "For shows where cameras are prohibited, guests will be asked to return them to their car."

Then, there is an unofficial policy, according to Nikon. "In broad strokes, DSLRs are not permitted in venues but smaller point and shoot cameras are. The reason for this is that artists want control of their image and likeness. They don’t want images of them circulated or published without their consent. With a powerful lens a DSLR is easily capable of capturing quality images that may be circulated, much more so than with a point in (sic) shoot – which is why these are allowed. Video recorders and free standing video cameras are strictly prohibited; however, we do not prohibit devices with this functionality. Meaning we don’t prohibit people from using their Blackberry, iPhone, Coolpix, etc – all devices with video capability. These devices are part of daily life and prohibiting them would not be in the best interest of the fan experience."

I feel so much better now. At least I did until I emailed the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center to check its policy about using Kodak products in the place that hosts the Oscars and Cirque Du Soleil. The no-nonsense response was prompt: "Sorry...no photos or videos allowed in the facility."

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This is the same policy at the new Giants stadium arena in New Jersey. Bottom line, if your camera has a detachable lens or is a sole purpose video recording device, it is prohibited.

I guess it is the new trend.

I just shot a bunch of pics with my Panasonic FZ28 at a Carrie Underwood concert last weekend. In my experience, that's about the most camera you can bring in to most shows around here. Sometimes they look at it closely, but since it doesn't have "a removable lens" it's allowed.

Here in LA the Annenberg Center for Photography they get very, very upset if you even look like you are going to take a photo. This even happens out in the lobby BEFORE you even enter the Center.

Really, watabug -- you go to a lot of shows where people with DSLRs are the problem? Anytime I go to a show it's every idiot with an iPhone, holding the phone right where it will block my view so they can take 400 mediocre photos and send video to their friends. They're inconsiderate and ubiquitous.

I love this stuff. It reminds me of the first time I encountered braile signage at a drive-up ATM.

I went to a Roller Derby show for the first time. I had my Nikon D300 with me. Saw that they had signs about no "pro" photography but made it past the ticket takers. When I was taking shots secruity said I'd have to have a Press Pass. So I went with them to the office and they gave me one. I shot whereever I wanted after that. I'm not a pro but I'm on the edge I guess. I have been paid for my work before on many occasions.

This seems to be the same policy at most Malls. I've been told to take my DSLR out of the mall, but any other size camera seems to be OK. I don't think the secruity guys know what the rules are and some will try and kick you out no matter what. I heard once that a girl was stopped from taking a photo of a sunset in the mall parking lot. I'm pretty sure they have no right to stop you outside the doors.

What's not to understand?

"...artists want control of their image and likeness."

All this other play on words is just nonsense.

When I go to a show - I don't want to be next to, in front of, or for that matter - anywhere near some ditwad with a DSLR and monster flash blasting away throughout the show.

Wanna take pix at a show? - get a press pass and get in the pit like the rest of the pros do. I mean real pros - working photogs - not the poseurs trying to prove they're the next Leibowitz or Gruen.

I'm paying to enjoy the artists performance.

I don't want to be distracted by Johnny-wannabe machinegunning 50,000 frames a second. And who needs 2000 SB900s popping off all night in their face?