Don’t fence me in… Getting access to nature

Fenced out in Fall Colors Colorado shootI’ve had the pleasure of shooting beautiful photographs for many decades now. As a professional photographer I’ve enjoyed shooting on location both for myself and clients in the advertising, editorial print and film industry. Yet increasingly, our access to nature is being closed off and fenced in like never before. Add to that, the means of communicating the “Private Property” message is getting bolder and nastier.

Painted by hand on a large ugly plywood board, in bleeding red letters was the following:


Lovely, first we have lawyers who are ready to sue you as a property owner for someone on your property who trips and stubs their toe. Then you have skyrocketing insurance rates for those owners, and now everyone is putting up fences and barbed wire even when they don’t have cattle to keep from roaming off property.

Needless to say, this makes shooting beautiful films or photographs that much more difficult. Being restricted to fence lines isn’t any way to capture ideal imagery.

For the work I do, getting permission and insurance coverage on short notice to capture a beautiful scene for these projects, let alone come up with location fees for a 30 second shot is daunting indeed.

So I have a suggestion for both property owners and photographer/cinematographers who want to find a way to get along.

1. If you have land with cattle on it and you need to have fences up, put up the Private Property / Do not Trespass signs, and put a phone number on them so people can contact you and ask for permission. You might even get paid, and get a free portrait out of it, heck, you might even find a creative person who will can provide you with visual material you could use for any number of reasons in the future.

2. If you don’t keep cattle, take down the costly fences and post the same Private Property signs as mentioned about with your contact phone number and save the costs of repairing those fences and gain the same benefit that could come from being a good neighbor.

Most people will respect your privacy, and if you don’t have fences, they may go over your imaginary line for a short bit, but more likely they will call and ask permission. Who knows, you both might end up meeting some delightful folks who really envy the beauty you get to enjoy every day.

And consider this, the folks who might do you harm won’t be stopped by cattle or even cyclone fences let alone threatening hand painted screeds. Those only turn away the good folks who don’t want to know anyone like you anyway.



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