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How rulebreaking is impacting professional photographers

You could pay someone to photograph you proposing to your girl at the edge of the world; swept up in love at the top of Waimea Canyon with the Pacific Ocean stretching into the background.

But it would be illegal.

You could pay someone to photograph your remote beach wedding, beautifully styled under a driftwood arch, surrounded by 50 of your closest family and friends.

But it would be illegal.

You could hire a photographer to show you the “off-the-grid” trail that leads to the bottom of Wailua Falls, where you could do a photo-shoot dancing in the ever-present rainbow and swimming in the tropical pool.

But it would be illegal.

Professional photos are some of the most popular souvenirs coming out of Kauai now days, and it’s not just stunning wedding portraits people are displaying on their walls — and social media feeds. It’s jungle adventures, epic hikes, underwater scenes.

But, many places on Kauai are completely off-limits for professional photography and videography — places like the bottom of Wailua Falls and Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e.

Additionally, the state has a set of rules that apply to beach weddings, rules that could land wedding professionals in hot water if they’re broken — that is, if those professionals are caught.

Enforcement of these rules is the responsibility of the state’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), which has limited staff on Kaua‘i, and so often times photographers can find ways to skirt the rules.

It’s an action committed both by local companies and by photographers who travel to Kaua‘i with their clients and it’s causing companies who follow the rules to lose out on business.

Recently, several industry professionals gathered around the table in The Garden Island boardroom to discuss how rule breaking is impacting their business.

Around the table were seated Sue Kanoho with the Kauai Visitor’s Bureau, wedding planners Diana Gardner and Dale Rosenfeld, Michael Dandurand with Kauai Wedding Professionals Association, and professional photographers Jessica Frabotta and Sandy Swift.

“People see epic photos of these places and ask me to shoot at those locations. When I tell them I won’t do it because it’s illegal, they just go hire someone who will break the rules,” Swift said, explaining how she’s lost business multiple times in this scenario.

Frabotta echoed Swift: “We’re losing clients because of this”.

Gardner and Rosenfield said they’re constantly informing couples aiming to tie the knot on Kaua‘i of the ceremony ‘I Do’s and I Don’t’s’ — like the fact there’s a limit to the number of people allowed on the beach and objects like arches and chairs are banned.

Kanoho pointed out the state has threatened to completely shut down the wedding industry because of these repeated violations and the disruptions it causes for other beachgoers — a threat that’s still lingering in the background.

The crux of the issue comes down to three factors: a lack of knowledge, a failure to respect Kauai’s rules, customs and culture, and gaps in rule enforcement.

There’s no doubt professional photographs of those once-in-a-lifetime Kaua‘i moments are valuable, nay priceless. With the list of incredible, legal locations for photoshoots it makes no sense to disrespect the island and the local industry by choosing illegal locations.

By choosing to follow the rules, both as clients and as professionals, we ensure the local industry can continue to thrive.

So, before you strike a pose, get in the know — learn what companies operate within the rules and which don’t; learn the ‘I Do’s and I Don’t’s’ of the industry before you schedule your wedding, and contact the professionals with questions.
Source: The Garden Island

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