(WSVN) - For 60 years, he has been a South Florida photographer, snapping shots of everything from the Beatles to the kids growing up in Miami Springs. Now he is being told by that city that he can’t take pictures at their event, and so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Wally Clark is truly a part of South Florida history.
Patrick Fraser: “You just mentioned The Beatles.”
Wally Clark, South Florida photographer: “Yeah I photographed them at the Deauville when they were rehearsing for the Ed Sullivan Show. I photographed Elvis. I can’t remember where.”
For 60 years, Wally has captured South Florida, in particular Miami Springs.
Wally Clark: “I was an unofficial city photographer for 30 years.”
Pictures of faces, fashion, friends — but Wally’s love are kids.
He has taken thousands of pictures of Easter egg hunts. The Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts.
Wally Clark: “The kids, they’re the most fun. They don’t get all uptight and everything.”
There is also an event that Wally looks forward to each year: the Miami Springs Daddy Daughter Dance.
Wally Clark: “I get precious pictures of them dancing with Dad and their eyes closed. It’s just the sweetest thing ever. Of the hundreds of things I photograph every year, this is my absolute favorite thing to photograph.”
Twenty-five years ago, Wally shot the first dance, but he won’t capture the faces at the 2020 dance.
Wally Clark: “I asked them why I’m not allowed to go. ‘Oh, we have a policy.'”
Wally always took pictures of the dance for the Miami Springs River Cities Gazette. When they hired someone else this year, the city told him he could not come to the event.
Wally Clark: “I’m not allowed to take pictures because I’m not with the publication.”
The dance is a city event, and when parents who have known Wally for decades found out he was barred, they offered a solution.
Wally Clark: “People have offered to hire me personally, but I’m not allowed to take pictures.”
Wally believes the real reason he is being told to stay away is, to put it politely, he says he and the city manager don’t see eye to eye.
Wally Clark: “It’s all personal. It’s the city manager’s decision.”
Wally isn’t doing it for the money. He gives the pictures to the parents and posts them on his Facebook page, “Beautiful Miami Springs,” where thousands of people see them each month.
Wally Clark: “I’m doing it for the people. I hate to sound sappy, but this is for the kids and their moms and their dads.”
Well, Howard, can a city block a city resident from coming into a city event?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes. A government agency has the right to only allow credentialed media into an event, so in this case, they can block Wally because he is an independent photographer.”
Wally went to the dance and was not allowed in. He stood outside where he greeted fathers and daughters he knows.
Miami Springs City Manager William Alonso told me told that tickets are $55 for the event, and the city controls who enters. As for Wally’s claim the city manager is doing it because they don’t get along, Alonso said, “It’s not personal. We just don’t allow independent photographers.”
Wally Clark: “I am not allowed to go in under any circumstances.”
One parent bought tickets and wanted Wally to use them, but the city manager said Wally could still not come in because he didn’t bring a daughter or granddaughter, and the tickets had to be in the name of the person at the event. They were in the name of the person who bought them and not Wally’s name.
Howard Finkelstein: “The city can put those strict rules in to determine who gets in, but if Wally can prove the policy was being used to target him, then the city may have stepped over the legal line.”
The city is convinced they did not step over the legal line and it’s not personal. Wally says it is.
Wally Clark: “So I am going to sue the city, of course. I mean, they violate my rights, who else are they going to violate?”
If Wally sue and wins, he might not get much money, but the city would have to allow him to shoot pictures of the dance next year, which is all he wanted in the first place.
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