Oh no! You can't take that photo sir! It's got a child in it!
Whilst perusing the website of a well-known British photography publication this afternoon - shocking, but true, my eyes are not for Pixiq's alone - I stumbled across an intriguing article that's set me off on a minor mission. The article reported how a group of amateur photographers from the Chingford Photographic Society (Chingford is a north east London suburb, for those whose geography might be more accustomed to New York than London) had been asked to leave the annual Winter Wonderland extravaganza (for want of a better word) in Hyde Park. Their gross infringement? Photographing some children having fun.
Apparently, the parents of the afore-photographed children were feeling a bit uncomfortable about some guys and gals with a few cameras having fun themselves and taking photos of the people there - adults and children alike. So they reported them to the resident heavies, who asked them to leave. Now, in the UK if you're in a public place you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, which means that you're fair game for photographers of any ilk, be they professional or amateur, worthy of winning l'Iris d'Or or downright terrible. Whether or not an event being held in a Royal Park falls under the auspices of the public or private sphere is debateable, but it wasn't really that which set me off on my investigative trail. As if I don't have anything better to do on a Tuesday evening. It was the PR person's response to our worthy rival's request for a comment. Here's what she had to say:
Our security team had received several complaints from parents that this particular photography group were taking pictures of the children without their consent. As the photographers were not accredited, they were asked to leave.
We request that all photographers from the media and photography groups be accredited before entering Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and adhere to our rules, one of which includes not taking pictures of children.
Yeah, the consent bit riled me, too, but let's set that aside for the minute, okay? The issue is the demand for accreditation and the rule concerning not photographing children. You see, after very careful scouring of the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland website, I can't find any mention of the press or of photography groups needing to have accreditation. There's nothing on the Terms and Conditions page, which would be a pretty obvious place to start. The FAQs section is silent on photography entirely. And the Press section does little more than blow the park's own trumpet. Nothing, nada, niente, nix when it comes to restrictions for photography groups or the press.
If you happen to be wondering, photography in Hyde Park is entirely permissible for non-commerical purposes. Want to make a Hollywood film there? You'll need to get permission first.
As if this hasn't already raised my hackles that love nothing more than a touch of attention to detail, it was point 16 of the terms and conditions that have left me in a state of astonishment.
Please note that CCTV and film cameras may be present at the Park. By entering the Event and/or purchasing Tickets and attending the Event, ticket holders consent to filming, stills photography and sound recording (and its use in distribution (commercial or otherwise) without any payment.
Yes, you are reading that entirely correctly. Little Johnny or Rosie's picture can be sold by PWR, the company that runs Winter Wonderland, with no recourse, no comeback, no payment, and no proper signed and dated model release, and the parents are perfectly happy to agree to that, because without doing so they wouldn't be in the Winter Wonderland in the first place. It's part of the terms and conditions, don't forget.
I can't quite decide which side of this equation is most galling. Is it the sheer stupidity of the parents who were so quick to complain about other people at the event taking photos of their children enjoying themselves, but didn't see an issue with the event not obtaining proper consent or model releases if they want to sell their children's images commercially to any Tom, Dick, or Harry? Or is it the utter hypocrisy of the event organisers who will happily boot out a few photographers who weren't necessarily focusing their almost certainly non-commerical photographic efforts on any specific children and instead were taking photos of people generally having fun, but don't see any problem with them filming and photographing everyone and using the images commercially if they feel like it?
Whichever one it is, my brain can't quite contend it right now.
I have requested a comment from Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, but as yet, nothing has been forthcoming. Should that change, I will of course update you. For the moment, however, I shall attempt to wrap my head around people being asked to stop taking photos for absolutely no good reason.
(And our worthy rival's article is on Amateur Photographer)