Photography at the San Francisco Folsom Street Fair

The annual San Francisco Folsom Street Fair will be September 26th this year and will no doubt be an interesting venue for photographers. The event is photography friendly and there are no restrictions on photography.


Folsom Street Events logoThe annual San Francisco Folsom Street Fair will be September 26th this year and will no doubt be an interesting venue for photographers. The event is photography friendly and there are no restrictions on photography. For those not familiar with the Folsom Street Fair®, it is the largest leather/fetish event in the world and the third largest, single-day outdoor event in California which always takes place on the last Sunday in September. The Folsom Street Fair is a true San Francisco original with over 400,000 people in attendance covering 13 city blocks.

The 27th Folsom Street Fair will offer 250+ exciting and sexy exhibitors and vendors, hot food and cold drinks, and tons of artistic and cultural entertainment. The event hosts two live stages with 16 live alternative acts, a huge dance areas with internationally  renowned DJs, a dedicated area for women (“Venus’ Playground”) and a newly inaugurated Artists’ Area.

There is no entrance fee but attendees are encouraged to make a $7-$10 donation at the gate. Photographers shooting this event for the first time should be aware that there will be public nudity at the fair. While there is no legal requirement to ask permission to shoot, photographers are encouraged to ask permission as a courtesy. In regards to public nudity in San Francisco, there are no Federal laws against simple public nudity. As such, jurisdiction falls to local authorities. Nudity, per se, is not a crime in California unless a person is lewd. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office has consistently discharged public nudity citations because “being naked in San Francisco is not a crime” (D.A. spokesperson Debbie Mesloh, September 2004). Folsom Street Events maintains local community standards, such as at Bay to Breakers and LovEvolution.

Demetri Moshoyannis – Executive Director of Folsom Street Events said in an interview “The fair takes place on a public street and as such, there are no restrictions on photography. We do ask photographers to ask permission as a matter of courtesy and mutual respect.”

Regarding public nudity, Moshoyannis said “SFPD handles public nudity at the Folsom Street Fair the same way they handle nudity at any other San Francisco event or venue. On any given weekend, you may see public nudity in the Castro and simply being nude is not against the law in San Francisco”.

Based on previous experience, lewd conduct does occur and this year fair organizers have made it clear they will be more aggressive in dealing with lewd behavior using a graduated warning system at the encouragement of the San Francisco Police Department. For photographers who happen to capture lewd behavior, while it may be perfectly legal to shoot such scenes, the publication of such material may trigger a 2257 requirement and it’s doubtful you will get identifications from those committing the acts.

Photo gallery of previous years: