The San Antonio Parks Foundation’s photography policy is being questioned after a local mother was mistakenly charged for taking prom photos at the Japanese Tea Garden.
The policy currently states that professional photographers are subject to a $20 permit fee for using the premises for photo shoots.
The money is used to maintain the grounds, which rely on both public and private sources.
Yolanda Estrada was assessed the fee Saturday while she was snapping photos of her son Brandon and his prom date.
“As soon as we got there, the officer approached me and said ma'am, you can't be taking picture unless you have a permit,” Estrada said. “And I showed her my camera and said I'm not a photographer, we've just here to take prom pictures, and she said, you still have to buy a permit.”
Despite using a small, everyday camera, Estrada believes she was questioned because of the formal attire being worn by her son and his girlfriend.
“I think if the photographers have a business and they are getting an income from it, well yeah maybe get a permit because you're getting money from it,” Estrada said. “But if you're just there for your own memories, for your own photos, you're not going to sell the photos, I think it's very unfair to get charged for it.”
San Antonio Parks Foundation President, Howard Peak, said Estrada should not have been charged and is eligible for a refund.
“What we're doing now is fine-tuning policies so that it's going to be as clear as possible and we won't have problems with the professionals and the families,” Peak said.
Peak said often times it’s difficult for park staff or security to discern who is a professional and who is not, and therefore, who qualifies for the fee.
Peak said the foundation will work to better educate all parties involved on their policies.