By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - A sign that recently went up in Faust Park in Chesterfield had professional photographers so upset they voiced outrage on KSDK's facebook page and asked the I-Team's Leisa Zigman to investigate new fees that seemed to have been enacted over night.
The sign reads "Professional photographers are required to obtain a commercial photography permit to shoot in all St. Louis County Parks."
The effective date was April 1, 2013 and some people wondered if it was an April Fools' Day joke.
It turns out, it was no joke. And, that left long time photographers like Suzy Gorman furious. Gorman, who has worked in the region for 38 years, said, "Photographers don't make a lot of money. Let's keep it real. They can't afford to get a permit every time and passing that expense on to bride or model, it's just not logical."
Not only does the Park's Department want $50 for each shoot, or $200 for the year, a photographer like Gorman has to prove she has $1 million in liability coverage, and $2 million in coverage if she plans to shoot pets in the park.
Gorman said, "Who is to know who the professional is and who the amateur is? While people are getting beat up and robbed and killed, they have police looking for photographers? Come on, they need people to want to come out and take pictures in our cities."
Not everyone is upset with the St. Louis County Parks Department.
Kurtis Hall is on the board of Missouri's Professional Photographer's Association and says a handful of photographers haven't cleaned up after shoots and are leaving parks a mess.
Hall explained, "The $200 didn't bother me at all. There are people who think it's another cash stream for the county, but I don't think that at all. Do I know where the $200 is going? I don't. I hope it's going to help better the park."
There is no ordinance number on the sign because there is no ordinance. A spokesperson for County Executive Charlie Dooley said the parks director should have never put the signs up and that a public hearing would be held if and when it's ever determined there is a need.
All the signs were taken down about an hour after our call.
That is good news for Gorman and others who considered the permits completely arbitrary.
The City of St. Louis encourages photographers to shoot at its parks and does not require a permit. You don't need a permit in Jefferson County, either. Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois do not require permits either. In St. Charles County you need to get a permit for some shoots, but there is no charge.