If you’ve been reading my Digital Camera Resource Page website in the past month, you probably know about my recent battle with Stanford University over the right to take my test photos there.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I suggest reading this first for some background.

In a nutshell, because of wedding photographers and people using Stanford’s image to make a profit, I am no longer permitted to take the same five test photos that I’ve been shooting for 10 years.  They gave a variety of reasons why I was no longer welcome, and I tried to address each of them in a recent letter to the President of the University (which was ignored).  Here they are, with my response:

Them: We don’t want to give the appearance that the University is endorsing your commercial website.
Me: Okay, though I doubt anyone thinks there’s some kind of endorsement, I’ll add a disclaimer on the gallery page.

Them:  We want to protect the privacy of our students, faculty, and staff
Me: I’ve always strived to keep peopel out of the photos, and will redouble my efforts.

Them:  I may be disrupting school business or endangering the safety of the students/faculty/staff.
Me: Okay, I’ll leave my tripod at home so nothing’s in the way (even though I bring it like twice a year)

Despite my willingness to work out a compromise, the University has been completely inflexible. “We’re really sorry, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out” has been the message I’ve received from them. Even with the bad PR generated by this story, they’ve shown no interest in supporting a local business that, if anything, has shown the school in a positive light for the last decade.

Naturally, the University does make exceptions for commercial photography. If you’re having a wedding there, or if you’re someone with a Stanford connection who is having wedding pictures taken, that’s okay. In other words, if you’ve paid them, that’s okay. But everyone else can take a hike.

In the meantime, I’ve been unable to find a suitable replacement for the most beloved of all the Stanford photos — the purple fringing tunnel of doom.  I’ve found something decent, but it’s on private property, so I might be setting myself up for trouble all over again.

SJ Mercury News article - click for larger