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Did Redskins fumble on camera policy or was it fan error?

In our continuing chronicle of the battles between amateur photographers and big institutions that somehow feel threatened by cameras, now comes Washington Redskins fan Nick Eckert, who says he has joined the ranks of local photographers who have had run-ins with security or police over a camera. Eckert's confrontation came at FedEx Field, where he says Redskins security officers tried to stop him from bringing his camera to a game. Redskins officials say, however, that the issue was with the size of his bag, not the camera.

Eckert, 44, a civil servant who lives in Herndon, has been into photography for several years. He says he brought a Canon EOS 7D SLR camera to the stadium last Saturday -- a camera he says is "well suited for sports photography because it shoots eight frames per second. The lens that I brought in a bag with me was a Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 for Canon. It is a big but not enormous lens, and I've always been careful to make sure no one sitting on either side of me is getting blocked by it." He used the same equipment at games last year and no one bothered him.

Eckert says he was indeed told at the first preseason game this summer that the camera bag he was carrying was too big to bring into the stadium, so he showed up on Aug. 21 with a smaller canvas tote bag that fit within Redskins regulations. He says it was the lens that the security officers objected to, not the bag, contradicting the Redskins' account of the incident.

"At the end of the game, I saw a fellow amateur photographer with an EOS 7D camera and a short lens on it," Eckert says. "I asked him if he had brought in a longer lens and he said he had a Canon 70-200mm one that was just a couple of inches shorter than my lens. He said the security guards did not give him any problems getting into the game."

Here is the e-mail exchange between Eckert and the Redskins official:

I am writing to complain about the way I was treated by Fedex Field security guards at the 21 August pre-season game at Fedex Field.

The security guards did not want to let me in with the camera and lens I had because the lens was "too big" and that cameras with "detachable lenses" were "professional ones" and not allowed.

This is despite the facts:

1. The policy on cameras posted on your website makes no such statements about any restrictions about cameras with detachable lenses (SLRs) versus small cameras ("point and shoots") that the security guards believed were the only ones allowed.

2. I showed the security guards my copy of the policy statement but they refused to believe my camera (a Canon EOS 7D with high quality zoom lens) was an allowable camera.

3. I also showed them a copy of the Washington Post article about how a fan had been harassed by security guards at Fedex Field in 2007 because his SLR camera was supposedly not allowed. As it turned out, the Redskins Front Office stated that the security guards had been in the wrong and apologized to the fan. (Link added.)

When I showed the security guards my copy of the article, they insisted that the policy had changed, but they were unable to show me anything that said that an SLR camera like mine was prohibited.

4. I also attended the pre-season game on 13 August and the security guards had no problem with my lenses. When I pointed this out to the security guards on 21 August, they insisted that the ones on 13 August had been in the wrong.

5. They initially tried to get me to check my lens (which costs almost 3,000 dollars) at the fan assistance office. Then they told me I could bring it in but did not want me to use it (which would have voided the whole reason why I went to the game in the first place.

6. Finally, after much to-ing and fro-ing, I got told I could take it in and use it. By the time I reached my seat, I had missed most of the first quarter including the one and only time the Redskins scored.

7. At the end of the game, I ran into another amateur photographer who had the exact same camera I had with a lens only a couple of inches shorter than the one I had. He told me that the security guards gave him no problems about bringing his equipment in.

I recognize that the Redskins are entitled to set whatever camera policy they wish for Fedex Field and I have to abide by it or not attend any games. But I very much resent a situation like what happened on 21 August. Even if Fedex Field has changed its policies about SLR cameras (which I somehow doubt), it is very unfair to fans to leave up a policy statement about cameras that would give any reasonable person the impression that SLR cameras are permitted ... especially those familiar with the 2007 incident the Washington Post wrote up.

And if the security guards were once again in the wrong (as they were in 2007), someone needs to tell them that they need to go by what the rules as published state and not invent new ones or decide on their own what a digital camera is and what one is not.

very respectfully,

Nick Eckert

----- Message from "Lon Rosenberg" on Mon, 23 Aug 2010 12:31:55 -0400 -----
To: "Nick Eckert"
cc: "Shauna Smith," "Chris Bloyer"
Subject: Camera and lens

Hi Mr. Eckert,

Thanks you for your time and I apologize for you inconvenience.
I have discussed and remind our staff and our security company that all cameras and lenses are allowed as long as they are not in a bag that is larger then 4”x12”x10”.
Please keep this e-mail in your pocket and show to the security at the gate if you have any further issues.

All the best.

By Annys Shin  | August 24, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
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Is that an e-mail in your pocket about the size of your camera bag, or are you just glad to see me?

Posted by: mike8 | August 24, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't the Redskins want a fan to feel apprecicated and be able to take photos? What's wrong with the Redskins for having these lame rules about cameras and lenses? Guess they don't realy like some of their fans, who may not be fans long.Whith all of this Haynesworth stuff going on you'd think they'd want every fan they could get!....

Posted by: 1soccerhead | August 24, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

So just to clarify, the Redskins will not allow into a game a bag exceeding 12" by 10" x 4" - of ANY sort, right? That includes purses?

And any camera and lens combination on a strap is allowed in if it is on your shoulder.

Got it.

Thanks, Redskin organization. How friendly.

Posted by: cibor | August 24, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Good to see Chris Bloyer is still, presumably, running Operations with an iron fist and the tact of a benevolent dictator. :/

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | August 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm the fan and photographer in question. I think that I may have given the Post the wrong impression on something.

The issue at the 21 August 2010 game was definitely the size of the lens. The previous week, it was the bag that a security guard said I couldn't take into the stadium. In that case, they were okay with the lens.

On the second time out, I put the big lens in a small bag that met the guidelines and that was when I ran into the security guards who gave me a problem about the lens.

Posted by: maskirovka77 | August 24, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

There's an old Monty Python skit about "Getting hit on the head lessons.."

Why do you enjoy paying major money for being abused by the rent-a-thugs? Send the Redskin money machine your message by NOT buying ticket$ and staying home.....

Posted by: j_oper | August 25, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

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