Being a holiday week, it’s very likely you’ll see me wandering around somewhere with my daughter and a far too heavy camera bag. As is my wont, I will take a lot of photos as I go and will liberally ping them online via my photos sites, stock sites, this blog, Twitter/Facebook etc. Occasionally I will visit somewhere were no photography is allowed. I always respect this. There are very often good reasons not to let a horde of tourists with their incessant point and shoot flash addiction loose on your historic artefacts. There is no better way to degrade light sensitive ancient things.
Earlier this week, I visited a National Trust property that didn’t allow photography. I think that is reasonable, there was enough art about the place to think that the paintings might not react well to a lot of flashes. Thing is, when I asked at the desk to check, the pleasant young chap confirmed no photography was allowed and directed me to the tour guide that was for sale. This again, could be valid. If you want to remember what it was like and you can’t take photos, buy the book. Something I have usually done a lot of.
But it got me to thinking. There must be some cases where the ban on photography is simply an attempt to protect sales of guide books, postcards etc. I wonder if such places need to wake up the marketing potential of allowing photography and the subsequent social aspects of sharing the images. What better way to get people to visit (and therefore increase revenue) then for them to show all their friends how much fun they’re having at your attraction? I bet you could do some research to prove that by allowing the taking and sharing of photographs you can easily surpass the revenue from the, somewhat outdated, media of books and cards. Maybe it has already been done and I’m stating the obvious.
Whenever I enjoy somewhere I always share photography (such as this post on the excellent Camera Obscura) which will hopefully help spread the word and get people to visit. You’ll find a number of similar examples herein e.g. the museum of flight and the national museum).
As I said, I always respect the no photography sign on the basis despite the fact that I never use of flash. I understand that explaining shooting low-light, no flash, high ISO isn’t worth the conversation. Also, the total inability for people to realise that, in a lot of circumstances, their ever-present point and shoot flash will make for a terrible picture gets up my nose a wee bit too.
I’ve seen places where the location charges extra if you want to take photographs (such as the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow). I paid the money and took the photographs. This could be a way of limiting the amount of flashing going in, same applied in the Cathedral in Krakow where that made sense. Although I doubt there was much to be damaged by a flash in the mine (and I didn’t use one) it is at least an honest/overt way of making up for the loss of postcard revenue, my argument for the benefits of allowing the taking and sharing of images still stand.
One thing is sure, the taking and sharing of photos is already massive and will only get bigger (can you imagine?) and tourist locations that find a way to embrace it rather than try to stop it will do better through the door, after all, you can’t sell postcards to people who don’t turn up.
I have no photos of the Postojna Caves in Slovenia as photography wasn’t allowed. Rest assured that most of Europe ignored this!