Modesto could charge commercial photographers who use the McHenry Mansion, McHenry Museum and other city-owned property for their wedding, prom and other photos.
The City Council’s Healthy Economy Committee will discuss this proposal Wednesday at a meeting packed with several other proposals, including raising fares to ride a Modesto Area Express bus, increasing the cost of parking in one of the city’s downtown parking garages and parking lots, and having the Amgen Tour of California return to Modesto in May 2018.
The committee cannot make final decisions on any of these items but can forward them to the full council for approval. The committee meeting is open to members of the public, who can ask questions and make comments.
Charging commercial photographers a fee is part of a proposed city ordinance for commercial photography and filming on city-owned property. Those engaged in commercial filming also could pay a fee.
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A city report says there are problems and conflicts involving photography with the mansion, museum and McClatchy Square. “The most common issues involve wedding and prom photography that interfere with public use and private-rental of the facilities and sites,” according to the report.
“Photographers set up virtual studios on Mansion grounds, using them all day with multiple clients,” according to the report. “Professional photographers are realizing economic gain from the use of City properties, and there is no regulation or incentive favoring commercial photographers with business licenses vs. those who are unlicensed.”
Modesto officials are proposing a range of fees based on what city property is used and whether the shoot is for photography or filming. A proposed fee schedule says Modesto could charge $100 an hour with a two hour minimum for a photo shoot outside of the museum or mansion during nonpublic hours. The city could charge $100 for up to four hours for a photo shoot outside the two buildings during public hours, according to the schedule.
Commercial photographer Cory Warner said he understands the city’s concerns and there probably should be some sort of regulation. “I see photographers almost tripping over themselves at the museum and mansion,” said Warner, who owns Modesto-based Studio Warner.
But he questions how the city would enforce the regulations and whether it is fair to charge professional photographers while amateur photographers use city-owned facilities for free. “Everyone and their uncle, and their nephew and their cousin are photographers,” he said. “Even high school seniors are doing their own senior portraits. Is it fair for me to be charged?”
The committee meets at 1 p.m. in room 2005 on the second floor of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316